Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

[Icehouse] Homeworlds!!!

  • FromAndy Looney <andy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateThu, 09 Apr 2009 19:21:06 -0400
Greetings Homeworlds Fans!

Sorry to be so long in writing this but I'm suffering from a bad case of Way Too Busy. Moreover, the backlog of messages in this thread has become so huge that it's just not practical for me to go back through it all and find specific quotes to reply to. But I've been reading it all with interest and I obviously have responses to many points, so I'll just ramble a bit with this things I remember that I've been wanting to say and hopefully fill in the gaps by answering follow-on questions later.

OK, so on to various topics...

Second Player Builds First: OK so it sounds like this is a bad rule. I find this kind of funny actually, since I've been playing it that way for a couple of years now and it seems like it works OK to me. But obviously, that's because I haven't seen the fool's mate case described. I guess that's because I also long ago decided the best homeworld is a half-red homeworld, which I think nullifies the case. Anyway, I guess I need to retract it, but I think that's unfortunate, because I do feel the openings are not balanced.

Terminology: OK, here's where I have to get all whiney. Haven't ANY of you Homeworlds players gotten a copy of 3HOUSE? It seems clear from these discussions that no one in this conversation has. I guess no one understands this, but I spent a lot of time crafting new material about the game for that little booklet. The Homeworlds section is NOT simply a reformatting of the material on the web, nor even of the section from Playing with Pyramids about the game. I wrote many new sections and drew lots of diagrams and tried my best to present the rules in a fresh way based on my years of experience with the game. Anyway, please check it out sometime. Meanwhile, Two-Short's new glossary (Thanks TwoShort!) has most of my terms, and some good new ones, such as the Gun Rule, which is rule #2 on my list of 4 Practical Tips for Defending the Homeworld.

Rule #2? But What's Rule #1? "Keep a Large ship at the Homeworld at ALL times." I like to call this the Primary Directive, but I usually just call it Rule Number One.

What about Rules 3 & 4? They don't have pithy names either, but it'd be good if they did. #3 is "Diversify and minimize your local defense fleet," which boils down to keeping exactly 2 ships at your Homeworld, these being ships of the two colors not in your star. Rule #4 is "If your star is halfway gone, monopolize the other color."

Doomsday Machine: This should totally be added to the glossary. A Doomsday Machine is a fleet of 9 specific ships, located at particular locations, with can be used to cause the total destruction of the enemy's Homeworld, in exactly 2 turns. Once fully assembled, it's pretty unstoppable. A Doomsday Machine consists of 2 large Yellows, 3 ships of each of the colors of your enemy's Homeworld, and 1 last ship to keep at home (in accordance with the Primary Directive).

Is Banker Really That Strong? I think it is. I feel that if I'm playing a skilled opponent, and they are Banker, and they get to go first too, that I'm at a distinct disadvantage. I have to travel further to get to the Investments and I don't even have Tempo -- I'm always a turn behind. I also think Fortress is the most difficult position to play. So even if we play using the Starship Captain's Agreement and both eschew Banker, I still feel that the first player gets to take the better opening and therefore gets a double advantage. And that's why I suggested that new rule. (Incidentally, one of the ways I can tell no one here has read 3HOUSE is that I brashly went ahead and put my new rule into print therein. Oops! But I guess it's OK since no one took notice.)

Handicapping the Junior Officer: My preferred solution here is to let the new player have 2 or more bonus moves after the players have chosen their homeworlds, so that the newer player has a headstart. How big of a headstart depends on the gap between the skills. I call this the Second Turn Timewarp.

Red Alert: Another good rule for a Captain vs. Ensign situation is for the Senior Officer to provide warnings as required whenever the Junior Officer is in a situation where failure to take a certain action (reducing an overpopulation at the Homeworld, for example) will leave them open to near or total destruction. It's kind of like saying Check in Chess, except that the code phrase is "Red Alert!"

Non-Binary Rules: I almost never play any version other than Binary. I consider the Good-Evil rules totally flawed unless all players are very skilled Starship Captains and even then I usually don't want to play that way. Sinister has flaws too but seemed like the best multi-player option. Last Captain Standing ends up as a two player game anyway, so why not just play it that way to begin with.

Whew! OK, it think that's enough for y'all to chew on for now. Who's got a follow-up question?

-- Andy Looney

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