PBM Mailbox

Here’s another extra large portion of PBM news ’n’ views. This month Brendon Kavanagh tries out a new weapon, gives us some hints on Starglobe and the Forum goes football crazy.

A SHINY NEW WEAPON

The Weapon is a science fiction based wargame designed by the US gaming company, 4 Sight, and moderated in the UK by Harrow Postal Games (of, er, Harrow) under a very strict licensing deal. A game for up to 15 players, The Weapon is one of the most complex games to be mentioned within these pages so far.

The player is ruler of a technological world which has recently discovered hyperspace travel, opening routes to the distant worlds for the first ever time. You must use your squadrons of starships to explore and conquer game space, mapped out as a 20 by 20 grid of hexes. Hexes may be empty, dangerously cloudy, or occupied by worlds.

WORLDS

Worlds have several game functions: some produce rare crystals required to construct and operate THE WEAPON (a very gruesome device), some produce economic output, and others can be mined for minerals. Worlds are a very important part of this game, since its points system is partially based on the worlds you own (and for how long you have held them). Thus, worlds must be defended by your Star Troopers while they produce goods for trade and cash for your coffers.

STARSHIPS

All players start the game with a small squadron of vessels, but as the game progresses you may design and construct more, and more, and more.

THE OBJECT

The somewhat bland object of The Weapon is to amass as many points as possible before the game ends. Games last for between 15 and 30 turns, so you never quite know how much time you have left to raid all those planets within fighter range... As well as for holding worlds, points are gained by destroying enemy starships in combat. Incidentally, you lose points if you lose any ships in battle!

HOW D’JA WIN

To play The Weapon, you must (as in all games) utilise your limited resources to their maximum potential. Basically, you must discover, conquer and defend new worlds, maintain economic growth within your empire, produce crystals for use in THE WEAPON, develop your combat and navigational expertise (ie. fight and move about!), establish trade routes to your benefit, and engage in diplomacy.

The more successful The Weapon players have amassed points by working together in small alliances, called treaties. Treaties can be very beneficial but they are also risky: a treaty means that your automatic defences will trust someone who may not necessarily be all too trustworthy...

STRATEGY

In play, the game is VERY strategic and exceedingly fast moving. You are deeply engrossed in the game within three turns. Being something of an advanced hybrid of Capitol and Vorcon Wars, The Weapon requires a lot of careful diplomacy to enjoy while if your battle strategies are poor then you won’t have too many worlds to be diplomatic over!

If you have never played (or won) a strategic game then I doubt you would enjoy playing THE WEAPON. However, very strong strategic aspects will appeal to readers of Frontline, and any experienced PBMers vaguely interested.

LOW PRICE

The Weapon is quite a low priced game, for its type. As a special offer to CRASH readers, Jim Gibson of HPG has agreed to reduce startup prices. The rule book will cost £1.00 instead of the usual £1.50. A set up and one free turn will cost £4.00 rather than £5.00 and the cost of the first five paid turns has been halved to £1.00 each.

Each turn thereafter costs the usual £2.00, the game being played on a 14 day turnaround. Be sure to mention CRASH in all correspondence!

I strongly recommend you to buy the rule book before you set up in The Weapon, as it is a fairly complex creation (in monosyllabic terms, it’s HARD). If you are grasped by what you read, play. If not then pass the book onto a friend.

Part of the order shoot for THE WEAPON...

... and a section of the turn printout received at Chateau Kavanagh as a result of playing THE WEAPON