Full Thrust gameplay tends to be fast-paced and the rules are fairly simple and straightforward. One distinguishing feature is that each player secretly writes out movement orders for his/her ships at the beginning of each turn, which forces the players to try to predict their opponents' moves. The ratio of ship durability to weapon damage makes the game unforgiving of tactical blunders. The rules are available as free .pdf downloads from GZG's website, http://www.groundzerogames.net
The factions of the Tuffleyverse can be divided into the 'initial group,' made up of the four powers that took part in the 'Third Solar War' and were introduced with the initial publicaiton of the game, and the later additions, most of which are second-tier and minor powers (the exception being the United Nations Space Command, which is effectively a fifth major power). Three alien races (the Kra'Vak, Phalons, and Sa'Vasku) have also been introduced as major powers in their own rights, each with their own unique technology sets but still mostly following the same core mechanics.
The game contains examples of:
- Area of Effect: Phalon plasma bolts and human antimatter torpedoes both function this way.
- Beam Spam: The principal attack form for human ships, regardless of faction. Though some fleets deliberately eschew missiles and other 'heavy weapons' to cram in even more Beam Spam ability.
- Deflector Shields: Called screens. Not all ships can spare the mass to carry them, and there are weapons that ignore them completely, but they can save your bacon against beam-spam attacks.
- Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: Many ships' heavier weapons are this, in order to conserve mass for other purposes.
- ISO Standard Human Spaceship: A lot of GZG's miniatures lean towards this, but it's still easy to tell which fleet any given ship belongs to.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Played with; Kra'Vak K-guns can be incredibly powerful and ignore screens, but are inaccurate at long ranges and usually have narrow firing arcs that require careful maneuvering to bring to bear.
- Macross Missile Massacre: A speciality of some fleets.
- Old School Dogfight: Fighters have to get very close to engage anything, much less other fighters.
- Point Defenseless: Averted, nearly all ships carry some point defenses, and some specialized ships carry little else specifically to swat down enemy fighters and missiles.
- Space Fighter
- Space Is an Ocean: Played completely straight in the basic rules, with what's called 'cinematic movement.' Optional vector movement rules provide a partial aversion, but the for the sake of playability, the published rules contain no provisions for three dimensional movement.
- Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Obviously
- Standard Starship Scuffle: This game would not exist without this trope.
- Techno Babble: Discussed, and referred to as "PSB" for "pseudo-scientific bullshit". None is included in the game, but players are invited to make up their own if it helps suspension of disbelief.
- Wave Motion Gun: Included in the rules only because it's a generic game and some backgrounds (not Tuffleyverse) include them.
Tuffleyverse contains examples of:
- The Berserker: The Kra'Vak have something they call roh'kah, an aspect of their physiology that substitutes for a human's fight-or-flight response, and essentially forces them into escalating versions of this when under great stress, especially life-or-death situations. The worse the situtation gets, the madder they get; left unchecked, it can reach Leeroy Jenkins levels, as they become (temporarily) too enraged for rational thought. It's thought to have evolved as a survival trait against the native predators of their home planet.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The Kra'Vak go through a life cycle in which they go from being asexual to male to female back to being asexual over the course of about 40-50 years (and they can live to be 150), in addition to the roh'kah mentioned above; the Phalons have three sexes, male, female, and neuter, a carapace shell, and a single eye with three seperate lenses, and the Sa'Vasku are basically big hyperevolved jellyfish-looking things.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Especially in Human-Phalon relations.
- China Takes Over the World: Or a big swath of the Asian mainland, anyway, including most of Russia.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: A major problem when dealing with the Phalons. Even for other Phalons.
- Divided States of America: A second American Civil War in the game's backstory briefly went nuclear, leading to Anglo-Canadian intervention and to the formation of the New Anglian Confederation, an amalgamation of the three countries under the British Crown.
- Middle Eastern Coalition: The Islamic Federation.
- Nicknaming the Enemy: "Kravs" or "Kraks" for the Kra'Vak, "Shellies" for the Phalons (because of both their outer shells and the vaguely snail-like designs of their starships), and "Spikeys" for the Sa'Vasku (again, for the shape of their ships). There's also at least one mention of Eurasian Solar Union forces referred to as the "Euries" by New Anglian infantry.
- Organic Technology: The Sa'Vasku don't so much build starships as breed them, while the Phalons use artificially created organic materials the same ways that humans use plastics and metals.
- Political Officer: The Eurasian Solar Union's military is said to have these. The Kra'Vak are an inversion: they have Sia'na, a small caste made up of those who from some quirk of their genes aren't affected by roh'kah, who act as moderators on Kra'Vak commanders and keep them from throwing away lives and equipment in futile attacks brought on by screaming blood rage.
- Reporting Names: For all the alien species' ships, and even the names are even aliterative (K-for-Kra'Vak, P-for-Phalon, and S-for-Sa'Vasku), courtesy of the United Nations Defense Intelligence Agency.
- Starfish Aliens: The Sa'Vasku, almost literally. In 'verse, no human has ever seen an actual Sa'Vasku; the closest anyone's ever come is encountering one of the quasi-robotic bio-constructs they use to interact with the 'younger races.'
- United Europe: Averted; Europe is divided into the New Swabian League (Germany and most of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire), the Scandanavian Federation (which includes a reluctant Finland), the Romanov Hegemony (mainly Slavic Eastern Europe), and the Federal States of Europe (dominated by France, but including Spain, Italy, and most of the rest of the Continent).
- United Nations: The fifth major human power because somewhere along the way, they got their own military (the United Nations Space Command), which polices the Sol system and some of the other Core systems. They also coordinate and help lead the fight against the Kra'Vak invasion.