Airships: Conquer the Skies is an RTS created by indie developer David Stark/Zarkonnen.
Set in a world where the widespread proliferation of airships is possible thanks to "Suspendium", a greenish crystal that creates a gravity-defying field around it. Players can design both air and land ships, as well as static fortifications, using modules that perform a variety of different functions. These modules are in turn operated by individual crew members who walk about delivering artillery shells, repairing damaged compartments, putting out fires, and heroically giving their lives in the line of duty.
The available game modes are:
- Conquest, a lite 4X where you command a nation on a global conquest. In this mode your funding is limited by your cities' income, thus limiting the design of your airships and requiring you to create efficient designs that perform well in combat and don't wreck your budget.
- Design & Battle, a more open sandbox mode where you can design and edit vehicles and buildings, then pit them against each other. In combat mode, you can even have AI take over the control of your ships if you just want to sit back and watch the battle. Ships designed here are available in Conquest mode, as long you have the required parts unlocked.
- Multiplayer, both LAN and online.
The following tropes can be found in this game:
- Applied Phlebotinum: The aforementioned Suspendium. Ore veins of it can found floating in the sky amidst chunks of land. Some animals, like turtles, appear to naturally contain some suspendium in their body, which allows them to fly.
- Arcadia: The combat generally takes place on a vast green grassland with rolling hills and a few trees scattered about. Sometimes small villages and cities can be seen in the distance.
- Artificial Brilliance: The AI will try to flank your ship, move into their blind spots, or (if possible) even ram your ship at every opportunity. In some situations, the AI can will even ram your ship horizontally in order to detach fragile parts of your ship that stick off the main fuselage.
- Building Swing: Air grenadier and arachnids can do this if the targeted ship is far away, or if there are floating islands or ships (both friendly or hostile) between them and their target.
- Boarding Party: The air marine, arachnid, and air grenadier's primary purpose is to take over enemy ships and buildings by force. Air marines get to their target by jumping, thus you have to position your ship close to and slightly above the target. Meanwhile, arachnid and air grenadiers are equipped with grappling hooks, which allows them to swing onto their targets from a distance.
- Cannon Fodder: Air marines and arachnid, in comparison to air grenadier.
- Chicken Walker: Smaller legs available for your landships have reversed joints.
- Clockwork Creature: The mechspider. Unlike other troop types, they can't defend the ship they're stationed on, and can only board enemy ships. They are quite vicious, and their strength allows them to easily overpower the ship's crew. However, they can't operate ships, so once they capture one, it will probably plummet to the ground immediately once the lift engine runs out of fuel.
- Computers Are Fast: The AI can immediately place orders as soon the command cooldown finishes, allowing them to easily outmaneuver slow players.
- Cool Airship: The main appeal of the game. With the editor you can build all sort of things, from gasbag airship, literal flying boats, to flying wooden box with guns.
- Elite Mook: Air grenadiers. They're tougher than arachnids and air marines, and carry grappling hooks that allows them to swing from ship-to-ship and onto their target, rather than just suicidally jumping at enemy ships like air marines. Naturally, they also come in smaller numbers.
- Floating Continent: Suspendium veins sometimes float out of the ground, taking some landmass with them. In game, they blocks your airship movement (but not your shots), can be used by arachnids and grenadiers to swing with their hooks to enemy ships, and can be perched on by ships running dangerously low on coal.
- Fragile Speedster: Either you have a fast and maneuverable airship with paper-thin armor, or big and bulky airship that is only a few meter above the ground from being classified a building. This is because lift modules, such as suspendium chambers or gasbags, can only carry so much weight. Heavier ship can only fly at lower altitude and speed, but to create lighter ships you either have to shave away some modules or armor, reducing the combat effectiveness of your ship. The latter results in this trope.
- Ramming Always Works: A viable tactic, and one of the greatest weakness of blimps because of their fragile gasbag. You can attach a very durable ram module, and if your ship is able to reach full speed before impacting the enemy, look out.
- Tank Goodness: Landships, basically fortresses on tracks (or legs). Because they stick to the ground, it's practical to give them more weapons or heavier armor, making them generally hardier than airships of the same weight and price. However, their primary weakness is their gun elevation: an agile airship can easily outmaneuver them and attack from outside the firing arc of their weapons.
- Those Magnificent Flying Machines: Other than gasbag-lifted airships, the design of airships generally follows no real life physics, mostly thanks to suspendium. Thus, many ship designs are basically giant flying boxes with flapping sails or propellers to move them around.
- Schizo Tech: We have levitation machines, clockwork automata, and primitive targeting computers. But the ships carrying them are usually made of wood, the cannons are still muzzle-loaded, and ramming is still practical in combat.
- Steampunk: Gloriously so.
- Walking Tank: Installing legs instead of tracks on your landship pretty much turns it into one.
- Wooden Ships and Iron Men: Takes some inspiration from the trope. Early or cheaper ship designs are generally armored with wood, and the weapons mounted on your ships are showed to be muzzle-loaded cannons similar to those of wooden ships. Finally, your crewmen are sailors in striped shirts who brave all manner of dangers in order to keep their beloved ships afloat.
- Zeppelins from Another World: You can build airships lifted by giant gasbags, similar to Zeppelins and other more traditional airship design. Said gasbags, filled with suspendium dust rather than a full crystal, are cheaper than suspendium chambers. But because of their size and fragility, gasbag airships can be more easily shot down than ships with armored suspendium chambers.