been having a great time lately, playing Homeworlds
online at Super Duper Games.
I just got into it last week, and I've become instantly addicted
to it. Already I've finished up 10 games! It's great! I'm finally
just about getting enough Homeworlds, since I can now be in lots
of games at once (with people from anywhere in the world!) and
whenever I go back to my desk, it's my turn somewhere!
I'm doing pretty well, too: Thus far, I've only lost once!
(Good game, Jesse!)
Super Duper Games is an online gaming website, featuring numerous
different games, with a really nice system for keeping track
of which games you're in, and when it's your turn and stuff.
Most of the games they have are new ones you've never heard of,
but several are Icehouse
Games, including Pikemen
(featured in Playing
with Pyramids), Branches
& Twigs & Thorns (featured in Hypothermia
#15), Sprawl (Winner of IceGameDesign
contest #1), and Blam! (runner-up of Contest
#3). All of those are very cool, of course, but it wasn't
until I heard they'd implemented Homeworlds, that I myself got
into it. (But now that I have, I can't stop playing!)
It really is a nice system. As shown here, the graphics are
quite basic, but they do the job just fine and their simplicity
gives the system universal compatibility. (It works great on
our Macintoshes, unlike a new computerized version of Fluxx
I've been hearing about.) The ever-changing gameboard is nicely
handled with an extendible series of square patches of space,
with each player's map of the galaxy shown from their point of
view, i.e. with your ships pointing up and away from you, as
But what's really neat is the way you issue your orders. Since
a turn in Homeworlds can often consist of a series of cascading
actions, you type all the details of your move into a text box
and hit "submit orders" only when you're really ready.
It's like programming! You write a little block of code, and
if you make a syntax error, your whole set of orders, i.e. your
program, will be rejected by the system until you submit bug
The implementation of the rules is perfect, too! That said,
there was one little problem I discovered early on... there was
a small bug in the system's handling of a strategy we call "Cashing
in an Investment," but actually, this wasn't a problem with
the software, it as a misunderstanding on the part of the programmers,
who didn't know the action of said strategy was even possible.
But I'm very pleased to say that Super-Duper Aaron was able to
update the system to allow me to perform the Investment Cash-In,
without any restart or delay in the game I was in, that very
Of course, as with all online-gaming, I do miss the reality
of the experience. You don't get the fun of handling those lovely
little pyramids, to say nothing of the facelessness of the world
of computerized gaming. But there are advantages, too, of course...
the pieces never get messed up! More to the point, it's allowing
Homeworlds fans to find each other for a game no matter where
they are physically, which is letting a whole lot of people get
into the game who haven't been able to before. And playing online
is great practice for those face-to-face events... maybe for
the annual tournament at Origins
next year, I'll be competing against people I've previously played
only via computer!
Also, I'm enjoying the extra fun you get in naming the star
systems. There's no point in assigning names to star systems
when playing on the tabletop, but on the computer, it's a must.
Whenever you discover a new system, you give it a name. This
means one needs a steady supply of system names!
Different players obviously have different naming conventions
they use when choosing names... sometimes people use real star
names, other times they just use names they find amusing or meaningful.
But it adds a fun little dimension to things... for example,
I was able to discover who one of my opponents is from the clues
I was getting by the system names he was choosing. (And you're
playing an excellent game, too, Rob! I'm worried I'm going to
For myself, I'm developing a naming convention that I'm using
from one game to the next, so that I can expect certain systems
to be certain colors because of their size. For example, I'm
naming big blue stars IBM, since the company has the nickname
Big Blue. I name little yellow systems Different. (Remember those
ads for that painkiller? "Little. Yellow. Different.")
I name large green systems Paradise or Garden, just 'cause they're
big and lush, and I've been naming large Yellows after Clampett,
in honor of the famous millionaire hillbillies. (Why? The large
Yellow system is the real-estate you invest in early in the game
to become rich with later, by using the aforementioned Investment
But my favorite system names are those inspired by the 2 character
codes for the icehouse pieces, which are always the first letter
of the color followed by the number of pips (ie. a G3 is a 3-point
green piece). I name B1 systems Bomber, and B2 systems I call
Stealth, in honor of the flying-wing shaped B2 Stealth Bomber.
I have yet to ever go to an R2 system, but when I do, I'll name
it R2D2. But the one I like best is Plugh, a Y2 system. (It's
Cave text adventure joke, if you don't get it, don't worry
Anyway, I've obviously been spending way too much time on
this, but I'm having a great time with it, and if you're into
Homeworlds, sign up and challenge
me to a game!
And here's more fun Super Duper News! Aaron says the next
game he's doing will be my own Martian
Chess! I won't be able to resist playing that, either!