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Subject: Worldkiller - Simple Yet Serious rss

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Ian B
United States
Virginia
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WorldKiller is an old SPI/Ares Magazine game published in 1980. I have the boxed version. The game simulates a planetary invasion in the far future.

The game itself is very simple; a double-page size map, four pages of rules, a one-page handout and 100 counters. The map is interesting, being a 3-D representation of space. Each "cube" actually has 7 levels; three above and three below the 0-level plane. In effect, the map represents are area 8x12x7 cubes in size. Located on the map are a single planet and four fortresses protecting it.

One player is the Alien Intruder and the other is the Human Planetary Defender. Ships are rated by attack, range, defense, and jump range. Combat is a simple 1d6+(Attack-Defense). Ships with damage equal to defense are crippled and must be repaired. If damage is double the defense value the ship is destroyed. Each turn, a ship can take one of four actions; Jump (move), Attack, Pop (a combination move+attack that causes damage to ship) or Repair. For the Intruder there is also Stretch which is a delayed jump but with a longer range. To counter the Intruder special Stretch ability the Human defender can place his ships adjacent to each other for a defensive benefit.

The game is actually very simple; counter density is low and tactics are not all that innovative. The Intruder has longer range weapons and can Stretch but the Human is more numerous and if he uses his ships together he has a defensive benefit. The "gimmick" in Worldkiller is obviously the map; a 2-D representation of a 3-D battle. In many ways the game feels like an experiment in how to make a 3-D space battle game. I say experiment because the game is very rules "lite." Without the map gimmick the game is unremarkable and unmemorable.

All that said, the gimmick works. The game is simple enough that players concentrate on maneuver; in three dimensions. The very simplicity of the game allows players to enjoy the maneuvering around the cubes. This game should belong in the collection of every serious space-gamer as an example of 3-D movement on a 2-D map.
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Victor Garcia
Venezuela
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I think the 3D mechanism was pioneered in Vector-3

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/4353/vector-3
 
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Ian B
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Vector-3 certainly preceded Worldkiller by a year but it looks to me that the SPI folks were still experimenting with how to portray a 3-D environment. Whereas Vector-3 appears to use a map grid, Worldkiller uses cubes. Click on the image below to get a larger view. Note that each cube has a "0" block in the lower left corner; within each cube you can be at that 0-level or above the plane (the + corners) or below the plane (the - corners). For instance, two ships in the same "cube" but one at altitude +3 and the other at altitude -3 are range 6 apart. The cubes are a simple graphical view of a 3-D environment. The major drawback is that you need a distance chart (provided in the rules) to compute distances.
 
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