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SpaceWar

Introduction

This game is broken. It is currently in the Games Garage Bay 1 for repair.

Groups of spaceships maneuver to attack an enemy flank. Beams of coruscating force flash out from several ships, converging on one hapless enemy. Missiles fly through enemy and friendly formations alike... I was repeatedly told as a child reading all that sf would destroy my brain. Well, they were right. This game is an homage to all that great space opera that contributed to a misspent youth. It uses segmented turns, multi-piece movement and cooperative "rifle" capture. Force fields affect piece movement, ships may deflect attacks on neighboring ships, and expended missiles may be replaced. Destroy both your opponent's motherships to win.

Setup

Click on above picture to get preset.

The board is 12x16. The setup is:

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Pieces

Each player has 2 kinds of pieces, ships and missiles. All ships have a large side/icon and a small side/icon. At the beginning of white's movement [phase 1] and at the beginning of black's movement [phase 5], all pieces are turned large side up. This indicates the piece hasn't used its "special power" yet. When it does, the piece is flipped to its little side to indicate it can no longer use its power until after the next ship movement phase, when all pieces are flipped to their large icon side.

Mothership - royal piece - king [K] - This piece slides 1 or 2 squares. It may not jump. It may change direction during its move. It may not make a null move [move off and then back onto its starting square].
May load an adjacent missile [pawn] into an adjacent gunboat for immediate firing during the missile phases.
May close with, board and capture an enemy ship by moving onto the same square as it. The enemy ship is captured, not destroyed. It changes color and is placed in any empty square adjacent to the capturing mothership.
Motherships cannot capture enemy motherships. Instead, when one mothership attempts to capture another, both are destroyed.

Tractor - Dabbabah [D] - Move: a linear slide up to 3 squares orthogonally. It creates a field that may pull one piece within 3 squares toward itself. It may neutralize one pressor or its effects within 3 squares.

Pressor - Elephant [E] - Move: slides up to 3 squares diagonally. The pressor field pushes a piece away from itself. It neutralizes one tractor or its effects within 3 squares.

Immobilizer - kNight [N] - Move: a standard knight's move, leaping intervening pieces. Its 2-square range field reduces a piece's [remaining] movement to zero. It neutralizes and is neutralized by another immobilizer within 2 squares.

Gunboat - Rook [R] - fires missiles [pawns] that the mothership loads it with. Moves as "Q3", a 3-square sliding queen.
May ram enemy ships to destroy them. Must stop on the destroyed enemy piece's square. If a gunboat rams another gunboat, both are destroyed.
If, at any time during a missile movement phase, a gunboat is adjacent to a mothership which is adjacent to any missile, friendly or enemy, the gunboat may fire that missile at the opponent's back rank. The mothership picks up the missile, and passes it to the gunboat. The gunboat then fires it 2 squares. The missile is fired into any 1 of the 3 squares in the next rank [closer to the opponent's back rank] adjacent to the gunboat, then travels 1 more square "forward".

Missile - Pawn [P] - Exists in 2 states: Fired and Unfired. Fired pawns move 2 squares directly "forward", toward the opponent's back rank during each missile movement phase. If one hits a piece, both pieces are immediately removed from the board.
All pawns start out Unfired, on the back rank. An unfired pawn may not move.
A fired missile can be captured by an adjacent mothership at the very beginning of missile movement, before any missiles move, if the missile can be loaded and fired at the other side's back rank immediately.
Missiles may be replaced during the game. Any replacement missile is placed in the owning player's back row, at the owner's discretion. A missile is replaced if it hits an enemy ship or goes off the board, or collides with [hits or is hit by] an enemy missile in the missile movement phase. If it collides with a friendly piece or is destroyed by beam fire, it is not replaced.

Rules

Sequence of Play:

1] White moves 1 - 4 ships.
2] Black initiates force combat.
3] All fired missiles move 2 squares straight ahead.
4] White initiates force combat.
5] Black moves 1 - 4 ships.
6] White initiates force combat.
7] All fired missiles move 2 squares straight ahead.
8] Black initiates force combat.

All pieces are set up large side up. White moves 4 pieces; Black then attacks 1 white ship with one force weapon from any one of black's ships within range. The attacking ship then shrinks in size to indicate it has "fired". Or black passes. White may reply or pass. Then black may reply or pass. So one player may fire weapon after weapon without the other side replying. When both sides pass in a row, this part of the turn is over. Next comes missile movement. Both sides move all their missiles 2 squares directly forward. Remaining beam weapons may be fired, until both sides pass one after the other. All pieces are turned large side up. Then black may move [up to] 4 pieces. Then beams. Then missiles. Then more beams, and the turn is over.

Movement I:

A player must move at least 1, and may move up to 4* pieces; either all of 1 type, or 1 of each type. Losses may reduce the maximum of 4 pieces moving, depending on what group is chosen. Any group or particular pieces may be chosen freely for movement even if [some of] those pieces were moved in the previous turn. The minimum requirement for a move is that the player must move 1 piece per turn. As long as this one piece is being moved each turn, there is no requirement that any other friendly piece be moved at all.
The 4 types are:
1] Immobilizer [knight]
2] Tractor [dabbabah]
3] Pressor [elephant]
4] Motherships and Gunships [kings and rooks]

Ramming. When a moving piece enters a square containing another piece, both pieces are destroyed and removed from the game, with 3 exceptions.
1] When a gunship moves into ["rams"] a square containing any piece except another gunship, only the other piece is destroyed. Both pieces are destroyed when the other piece rams the gunship, or one gunship rams another gunship.
2] When a friendly missile hits an enemy ship, the pawn is placed back on the board in the back row, where it sits and waits to be fired. If a friendly missile is destroyed by being rammed by an enemy ship or by hitting a friendly piece, it is not replaced. when 2 missiles collide in the missile movement phase, both are replaced.
3] When a mothership captures an enemy.

Force Combat:

Tractor and pressor effects are range 3, covering a 7x7 49-square area centered on the piece.
Immobilizer effects are range 2, covering a 5x5 square centered on the piece.
There are two types of force combat, beam and field. A player must specify whether a piece is using beam or field combat.
Tractors and pressors may perform field combat. Tractors, pressors and immobilizers may perform beam combat. Tractors, pressors, and immobilizers all project a field which affects enemy movement.
A single field attack will move an unprotected piece 1 square by pushing or pulling it. One piece may be the subject of several field attacks and get moved several squares during the force combat phase.
Force *field* combat is not strictly sequential. An enemy force field attack may be nullified by a friendly response in the immediately following action/"turn". The response may target [ie: reach] the square the piece was moved from in the previous action. The response results in the moved piece being replaced in its original square by its owner.
All fields are able to affect pieces directly behind other pieces.
Tractor and pressor field effects are directional. Every target square is in the center of [up to] 8 other squares. Of these 8 squares, 3 are farther away from the field generator, 2 are "next to" the target square and about the same distance from the field generator as the target square, and 3 are closer to the field generator. The piece doing the pulling or pushing has the choice of which of the 3 squares, closer or farther away respectively, the piece will wind up in.
Facing of the target piece is never affected by a field, no mater how far it may be moved.
Any ships forced off the board are destroyed.
Any 2 [or more] different uncancelled beam types hitting a target destroy that target. The piece is removed from play.
All beams are selective and unblockable by intervening ships within their range.
An enemy beam trying to destroy a friendly target may be nullified by a friendly counter beam if that friendly beam can hit either the firing ship or the target.
Force *beam* combat is strictly sequential. Any result, ie: a destroyed ship, from a force beam attack is applied immediately, before the opposing player gets a response.
Any destroyed pieces are always removed before the next player action.

Movement II:

Movement and Force Fields.
All force fields block opponent's piece and missile movement through them unless the force fields are neutralized.
To neutralize an enemy force field, a friendly non-moving ship of the correct type [tractor neutralizes pressor; pressor neutralizes tractor, and immobilizer neutralizes immobilizer] must be within range of the friendly moving piece at each square it moves to in the field, or within range of the enemy ship generating the field. The friendly ship that is doing the neutralizing may not be moved at all during that movement phase; and does not count against/is not one of the 4 ships to be moved during the friendly movement phase.
If there is more than one enemy ship projecting a field into a square, each individual enemy ship must be neutralized by individual friendly ships that can't move in that turn.
During missile movement, friendly fields don't affect friendly missiles. Enemy fields do affect friendly missiles and vice versa, just like they affect ships. Enemy fields may be neutralized by friendly fields, allowing missile movement.

Notes

This game has several influences. The main game influence is Ultima; this is sort of a different version. The multi-move feature is from wargames. The inspiration is, of course from bad movies.
It was originally conceived for face-to-face play, but it was impossible to translate that original game into a playable game courier version without major changes. The initial idea was that players alternated single moves with unlimited forcefield and beam combat in each square they traversed. So a single piece's 3 square movement could entail a dozen rounds of movement and force combat. This is not practical for a play-by-mail game that you want to finish in less than several years. So the idea was translated to play-by-mail rules. This is the result so far. I hope you enjoy it.
This is an experimental game. It may well need to be tweaked. [Bit of an understatement there, be a miracle if it didn't.] The missile rules are somewhat worrisome, and also somewhat sketchy. And I'm sure the other rules will bring out the usual group of questions, if not questioners, to help me make them comprehensible to all, or at least within reach of the handful of people who have read this far.
Finally, there is the very real question of: "Is this chess?" The best answer I can give is that it is chess-like.


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By Joe Joyce.
Web page created: 2007-01-30. Web page last updated: 2007-01-30