Mark Buetow
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McHenry
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Consumer Marketing Disclaimer

I'm a fan of tactical space combat games. I've played Federation Commander: Klingon Border, Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game, Star Wars: Armada, Starmada: The Admiralty Edition, Talon, and last but not least Attack Vector: Tactical (among others.) I'm not averse to trying older games. But why have I never heard of Triplanetary!? Oh, probably because when it was first published in 1973, I was only 1 year old! OK, how about 1981? Beats me. I was playing a few games back then. Heck, I probably ran into it at a game store at one point but never looked at it. Oh, Steve Jackson loves it, got the rights to it in 1991 and finally published a Third Edition using Kickstarter? Never knew that. Until last week when our FLGS (Games Plus, Mt. Prospect, IL) posted a pic of it along with other new stuff they got. Wait, what? Spaceship combat? With vectors? But simple? I'm in. Hold me a copy at the store, please.

So my wife and I headed over to the store for some Friday gaming and got a few games in.

Game 1: Biplanetary

Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the running of the Biplanetary race. Corvette Orange will be launching from Venus and Corvette Red will depart Mars. Objective: reach the other planet in fewer turns than the opponent.


Preparing for launch.


A short hop out to Mars but will it be the quickest hop?

Boosters fire; launch! Fuel to enter orbit. Fuel to depart orbit and on course. Speed up; set the speed. Full to slow down, enter orbit and land. Corvette Orange: 12 turns. Corvette Red: 15 turns. To be fair this was my wife's first time playing a vector-based space game so I had a small advantage. (I guess she's going to have to try Bolide!)

Game 2: Corvette Duel

This wasn't a published scenario. More of a "Let's take two small ships and duke it out to see what happens" sort of thing. We entered from opposite sides of the map, duking it out between Terra and Mars.

The first thing we noticed is that as we approached each other, our relative velocity was too high for effective shots with guns. The necessitated slowing downing working into more close-in dogfighting (as much as you can in hexes that are millions of miles across!).

Well my wife (Red) got the better of me. I managed to hit her for D2 (2 turns of doing nothing but following the last vector while damage is repaired). I couldn't really follow up effectively (turn to tail her in time) and she managed to claw her way back. Then I was hit and damaged for a few turns. Then it was easy for her to match my course and unleash her guns until we were destroyed.


Vector trails show how the fight was engaged and ended.

Game 3: Lateral 7

One of the scenarios in the book. A space-liner is departing from Venus out to Ganymede. The asteroids are hiding three pirates (and a host of decoys), but the Navy has a dreadnought on station in the asteroids too). My liner. My navy. My wife's pirates. But then this became a tale of an incompetent liner captain, inexperienced pirates, and a dreadnought captain with a single purpose.

With only 10 fuel, my liner had no business accelerating out to speed 4 past Mars. I just didn't have the fuel to slow and turn for an orbital entry at Ganymede. (I went via Mars which is longer but clearer). As she neared Mars, the pirates winked on their drives and headed out of the asteroid field. Once the first one hit the Mars detectors, our Dreadnought came on line and headed out.

My poor wife was all over, going way too fast to effectively get near the liner. The liner was completely out of it, unless we could use the gravity well of Jupiter and Ganymede to slow and get us into orbit. Complete miscalculation because the gravity actually sped us up slingshot style!

Pirates manage to hit the liner as she comes around Jupiter, delaying her further. She uses her last bit of fuel to slow slightly but then is headed off the map. The Dreadnought, moving in between Jupiter and Ganymede, manages to vaporize one Pirate Corsair. (Never got to release her mine or torpedo). The other two pirates are too low on fuel to pursue the liner and the game ends with the liner headed off the board, a captain committing sepuku and passengers emptying the booze lockers on their way to a cold death in space. No winner!


Left: Pirate arcing back to pursue the liner. Middle: The liner trying (unsuccessfully) to calculate gravity effects and make it to Ganymede's orbit). Right: Navy Dreadnought inbound.


Closer in view of the liner zooming along and the Dreadnought headed in to cover her. Pirate out ahead of the action on the right.

Game Notes

Ok, this was really fun! The movement is simple but "real" enough you have to plan and take care. Combat is really simple too. For an old game (third edition doesn't really change anything), it's still playable and enjoyable.

The components are really nice. Simple. The board is huge (two pieces) and nicely coated. The markers included work well but will smudge the counters of you're not careful; you need blank backs for some scenarios! The counters are large, 5/8 inch, good thickness, and punch out effortlessly. There's a little makeup sponge included as an eraser and a single d6. The rules are clear and the game includes a one-sheet Reference with basic info on one side and the Advanced Combat rules on the the reverse. For what it's worth, we prefer Crayola Dry Erase Crayons for the board. They don't smudge the counters and the variety of colors would be great for multiple players. (We use these in crayon rail games, too).

If our FLGS thought that Kickstarting games and having them to sell and then posting pics on Facebook to get people interested was going to make them money, well, they planned correctly! Triplanetary is a great space combat game and I look forward to introducing it to other gaming friends who will likely enjoy the fast action of space combat around our Inner Solar System!
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B Clarke
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Triplanetary is so simple and yet such a lot of fun to play.
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Edward Kendrick
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Redditch
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But then this became a tale of an incompetent liner captain, inexperienced pilates, and a dreadnought captain with a single purpose.

Maybe they hadn't done their exercises ...
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Mark Buetow
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Barbarossa wrote:
But then this became a tale of an incompetent liner captain, inexperienced pilates, and a dreadnought captain with a single purpose.

Maybe they hadn't done their exercises ...


I bet when they designed this game, they didn’t envision a world where the computers thought they knew better than their users what word to actually place on the screen.
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
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An outstanding article!

Quote:
So my wife and I headed over to the store for some Friday gaming and got a few games in.


Quote:
I look forward to introducing it to other gaming friends who will likely enjoy the fast action of space combat around our Inner Solar System!


How did other customers in the FLGS react to the game as you and your wife were enjoying this session?
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Mark Buetow
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pete belli wrote:
An outstanding article!

Quote:
So my wife and I headed over to the store for some Friday gaming and got a few games in.


Quote:
I look forward to introducing it to other gaming friends who will likely enjoy the fast action of space combat around our Inner Solar System!


How did other customers in the FLGS react to the game as you and your wife were enjoying this session?


“Wow, is that Interplanetary?”
“Haven’t seen that since the Carter Administration!”
“Been a long time since I played that!”
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Philip Reed
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Kyle
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pete belli wrote:
An outstanding article!


Seconded! That was entertaining.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the game. Our team has shared this on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/SJGames/status/1014168164391890945
 
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Tom H
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Basil Hilder KIA Lone Pine, Gallipoli
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Great game. Thanks for the write up.
 
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