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Andrew Parkin
United Kingdom
Wakefield
West Yorkshire
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WorldKiller » Forums » Reviews
Worldkiller – a short review
The game depicts an attack by an alien fleet on a human settled planet and its defending fleet. It was originally published in the first issue of SPI's short lived science fiction and fantasy magazine Ares.


1.The physical package.

This is a small game consisting of an 11” x 16” map, 100 counters and 4 page rules.
The map is divided into squares with a series of altitude (for want of a better word) markings in each square. The orange on black colour scheme is an unusual but pleasant choice. Subsidiary items such as the intruder set up zone, planet, square's identity numbers are printed in white. There isn't much that space maps can do to look impressive but this generally gives a good impression.

The counters come in three colours; red for the intruder (alien) spaceships, blue for those of the human defenders and grey for markers – mostly to record damage. They are clearly printed and perfectly functional but a little uninspired. The silhouettes of the ships aren't very evocative, especially the aliens which consist of nothing more than circles and connecting lines while their torpedoes could have been launched from a battleship at Jutland !

The rules are clearly laid out, each major rule is printed in boldface then additional information and examples to clarify are set out below in regular font. A few diagrams further help where necessary. There isn't really that much to explain but the rules do it in a clear, unambiguous manner.


2.The game play.

Play proceeds with first one player moving/firing/repairing a ship, then the other player doing likewise until all ships have acted. Player may opt to pass, but if both do so in succession the turn ends. Each ship may only perform one action in a turn.

Movement is by jumping to a new location without passing through the intervening squares. The distances in three dimensions are shown in a small table at the back of the rules (e.g. If you are moving 2 squares forward, 2 left and one up the table will give the distance as 3). This table would be better on the map (the far corners are little used) to avoid flicking back and forward in the rules.

Combat is via a simple attack strength plus die roll minus target's defence strength calculation. This makes damage quite variable but several hits are usually needed to destroy a ship. Hits reduce a ship's defence strength and eventually stop it attacking. A ship may make a combined move and attack at the cost of some damage to itself.

Repairing will remove a number of damage points from a ship. In general it seems more effective to keep firing so this is only likely to be done when one side has broken off the action.

Each fleet has a special ability; the aliens may lengthen the jumps they can make by waiting a few turns while the humans increase defence strengths by being within one square of each other.


3.Overall conclusions.

All this makes for an interestingly different vision of space combat rather than the all too common dreadnoughts in space type of game. It should also provide an challenging set of tactical problems and hence a good game . . . there are however a couple of problems.

The first problem is physical, the representation of height in the squares is an excellent idea but in order to fit in seven levels ships which are in the same square with one level difference overlap each other by half a counter. When you add in damage counters on many of the ships and the clustering that the human ships must engage in to get their defence benefit things can get quite awkward.

The second problem is tactical. The human ships are generally both shorter ranged for pavement and firing. In the standard scenario only two of the fifteen human ships are able to engage an alien ship at their maximum range, even if using the damaging move/fire option. All the alien player need do is eliminate these and he can bombard with impunity from long distance. This problem is not insoluble, there is an alternative scenario and additional ship types are available. An interesting alternative would be to swap the fleets special abilities; the less numerous alien ships would produce less clustering while the extended movement for the humans would give a counter to the aliens long range fire.

So what's the opinion overall. If space combat is your thing I think this game is still worth a try. It's pleasant looking if unspectacular, the mechanics are simple and give a game with novel challenges, as long as you avoid that standard scenario. I would assume that replay value may be limited given the small countermix but I haven't played it enough to be sure.

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Magister Ludi
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Re: Worldkiller – a short review
a_parkin_w_o_w wrote:
The first problem is physical, the representation of height in the squares is an excellent idea but in order to fit in seven levels ships which are in the same square with one level difference overlap each other by half a counter. When you add in damage counters on many of the ships and the clustering that the human ships must engage in to get their defence benefit things can get quite awkward.


Why don't you try colour copying the map up say 120% and that should help ease the congestion?. I do this for a lot of the old SPI games in particular and it seems to assist making the play a bit smoother.
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