Game description from the publisher:
"When you launch a rocket, you're not really flying that rocket. You're just sort of hanging on." Michael P. Anderson
It's 150 years in the future and mankind has spread throughout the solar system. To supply far-flung colonies, they look to the Rocket Jockeys! The planets depend on timely cargo arrivals – but this is not enough for the rocket jockeys. They compete with one another to see who can complete the fanciest maneuvers, transport the most important cargo, and visit the most planets.
In Rocket Jockey, you must be daring and you must be quick. You must also be tough, for first contact with alien life is near at hand. Deliver your cargo with the most flair and speed and you will win the game!
Place 9 numbered planet cards in a row, with a random cargo card, showing a DIFFERENT destination planet, under each one. Players are each dealt 2 maneuver cards, which allow maneuver between 2 specific planets; the rest of these cards forms a draw deck, from which 3 are placed face up. Players also each start with 4 Copilot cards. The 2nd time through the maneuver deck, shuffle an Alien card into the bottom several cards.
On your turn, draw a maneuver card from the deck, the 3 face up cards, or the top of the discard pile. Then, either draw another or make a delivery run. When making runs, may start on any planet and pick up that cargo; use maneuver cards to chain, until you get to destination planet. If possible, may pick up that cargo and begin new chain ... all stops in these consecutive chains count towards the number of stops; chains with more stops are worth more VP. Alternatively, may make multiple deliveries with different starts/ends, but you must calculate VP for each such chain separately. Save all delivered cargo in your score pile; at end of game, you get bonus VP for having visited more planets. You can use Copilot cards in 2 ways:
- use max 1/maneuver card, to alter one of the 2 planets shown by 1
- place on a cargo to reserve it until your next turn; if someone else takes it, they lose 5VP; if you fail to make the run next turn, you lose 5VP and the card. Otherwise, you get your card back next turn.
At the end of your turn, draw up to a hand size of 2 (if you had fewer), then replenish the face up display. If you reveal the alien, place it at just beyond Pluto. At the end of each turn, it advances 1 step. Alternatively, it can be picked up like cargo and delivered to Earth. Score planets at the end of each run through the deck. The game ends immediately if the Aliens get to Earth; most VP (from deliveries during game + bonus for number of planets delivered to) wins!