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Subject: The Baker-Kelley Variant a.k.a Planet Busters! rss

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Kev Kelley

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This variation on the basic rules of Solarquest revises one fundamental aspect of the game, fuel, and augments the advanced "laser battle" system, in effect giving players the ability to develop and use guided missiles to destroy property.


Since Planet Busters rules does away with fuel altogether, you will need to keep the metal fuel hydron game pieces, as they will be used as ammunition markers.
Players start with three (3) units of ammunition, and receive one unit of ammunition upon landing on the following properties:

Federation Station IV (orbiting Uranus)
Earth (players will also receive one (1) unit of ammunition every time Earth is passed)

Players may also choose to receive one (1) unit of ammunition instead of collecting X number of Federons from a Federation Station.


In order to deploy Planet Buster technology, players must first acquire a PLANET (Mercury, Pluto, Mars, Venus). After the deed card has been obtained, players must transfer four (4) of their ammunition units to the Federation, and pay a fee of $2000 to construct a weapons factory. Players may operate as many as four (4) weapons factories during the course of a game, all depending on the number of planets owned!

Should a player pick a Red Shift card ordering a "WIN a dispute with any player of your choice," that player MAY select an opponent's weapons factory. It is possible to acquire a factory without paying. However, the Planet Busters themselves are non-transferable in this manner.

NOTE: Weapons factories do not effect rent or resale value in any form.


Obtaining a "bomb" is easy. Whenever a player lands on or passes the planet where their weapons factory is located, they receive a single Planet Buster. As many as four (4) bombs can be stockpiled at once during the course of the game, under normal circumstances (see below). In a two-player game, extra spaceship pieces were used to indicate the placement of a bomb.

Once a property is owned and a factory is built, Planet Busters are free of charge.


Now comes the fun part - using the Planet Buster bomb. There are two methods:

ONE, launching the Planet Buster.
TWO, drop-off.

The first option involves a player firing their Planet Buster at a designated target, and manually guiding the weapon into a target lock-on. Here's how this is done.

Planet Busters are designed for use within planetary systems, I.E., within a stable orbit. Let's say Player One wishes to launch his Planet Buster into orbit around Jupiter. Player One is currently situated on Callisto, and wishes to launch at Ganymede. Planet Busters obey the same rules as regular spaceships. Player One would place his Planet Buster piece next to his spaceship, and roll two dice to fire the missile. As Callisto is five spaces away from Ganymede, Player One would need to roll a five to land his missile on that moon and activate the Remote Detonator. If Player One rolls more or less than a five, he will continue to roll for targeting until his target is confirmed. All rolls for targeting MUST be done before actual player moves.

IF --- and this WILL happen --- IF Player One rolls doubles during the targeting roll, a Red Shift card MUST be drawn. The player will obey the card, sending the Planet Buster to that location. The Planet Buster is then considered a DUD, and cannot be activated, and will come to rest on whatever property determined by the Red Shift card. Any player can now acquire this "dud" simply by landing on it --- the dud will become as good as new. ALSO, if the Red Shift card drawn is a "WIN a dispute" or "Roll Again" type card, the drawing player is entitled to the effects prescribed by the card. In the case of a Roll Again, or Meteor Shower card, the Planet Buster must be rolled for, or lose its turn, according to the card.

Planet Busters CANNOT bypass BLACK DOTS (gravity wells) --- should a Planet Buster be fired in a straight line at a target (launched from Pluto, at Venus, for example), it must rendezvous with its target, or risk certain destruction. Should a Planet Buster attempt to cross Black Dots, it will self-destruct. The most effective way to assault those hard-to-reach bodies not located in a stable orbit is to make use of the Drop-Off method.

DROP-OFF is much simpler. Basically, all a player must do is deposit the bomb on the chosen property and the Remote Detonator will be activated.

To USE the Planet Buster once the Remote Detonator is activated, a player must roll DOUBLE SIXES. This will have the effect of destroying the targeted body, rendering it a BLUE DOT for the remainder of game play. Double Sixes can be rolled from anywhere on the gameboard, and a Red Shift card MUST be drawn as usual.

If a player is in battle and has a Remote Detonator active, and rolls Double Sixes, the Planet Buster WILL detonate as planned. We call this the "hair trigger" effect.

Should a player have a stockpile of Planet Busters and acquire several duds, that player may continue to build their stockpile past the limit of four --- it is possible to have as many as six or more Planet Busters! Also, if a player does NOT have a weapons factory, that player MAY acquire and use duds.

NOTE: Planet Busters cannot be directly used against opponents' ships.


After a property has been destroyed, place the deed card face-up in a distinct pile. If there is a corresponding Red Shift card, remove it from the deck, and re-shuffle the deck. No further rent, trades or any transactions can be exercised upon a destroyed property --- it's gone for good.


It is possible to disarm a Planet Buster. Here's how!

A player must land on the property with the activated Planet Buster. After that point, any Double Sixes rolled by that player will disarm the Remote Detonator. In order to retrieve the diffused weapon, the offending player (or the defending player) must land on that property --- just as if the bomb were a dud. The offending player may choose to re-arm the Planet Buster, but this must be VERBALIZED.


The laser battle rules have been reworked to give this game a more competitive edge.

Battle can be done between as few as two (2) players. Players may be directly over, or no more than three full spaces distant from their opponent to do battle.
For example, if Player One wants to attack Player Two, and Player One is on Earth, while Player Two is on Solar Space Dock, this is OK. If Player Two is on Federation Station I, this is no good.

To do battle, players must place ONE of their ammunition units on the gameboard, and will sacrifice their turn to roll for damages. The order of battle is simple:

Player One attacks Player Two.
Player One ends their turn.
Player Two may choose to retaliate, costing ONE ammunition unit, and ending their turn. It would then be the next player's turn to roll.
Player Two may use their turn to roll and move on.

...And so on. When a player runs out of ammunition, they can no longer attack or retaliate, but can still be fired upon.


Since the fuel system has been completely revamped, there's no need to throw away your fuel usage chart. Instead, this sheet will be used to keep track of ship armor.

Ship damage is a straight-forward concept. There are only three ways damage can accrue:

ONE, in battle with another player.
TWO, when a player draws a Meteor Shower card (causing three (3) units of damage)
THREE, if a player is within directly over or one full space adjacent to a Planet Bust.

All players begin the game with FULL armor (25 points). Damage in combat is assessed in FOUR ways:

FIRST, by subtracting the lowest number of pips from the highest number of pips between the dice (I.E ., Player One rolls a 6 and a 4. 6-4=2, so Player Two is dealt two points of damage. The same would work if Player Two rolls a 5 and a 4; the result is 1, so Player One would receive one point of damage.)
SECOND, if Doubles are rolled, the number on the pips is equal to the amount of damage ( I.E., a 3 and a 3 equals three points of damage, a 5 and a 5 equals five points of damage.)
THIRD, if Double Sixes are rolled, this is considered a major hit, and twelve (12) points of damaged are assessed.
FOURTH, the "Critical Failure". This occurs when a player rolls Snake Eyes (1 and 1), and results in the attacking player missing their target and doing one point of damage to their own ship --- and surrendering a free shot to their opponent! The defending player may fire at will without sacrificing their next turn to roll for movement.
Remember, if a hair trigger situation exists, Double Sixes in battle will either detonate or disarm the Planet Buster!

When a player's ship armor drops into the gray area at 11, that player is considered to have a "Crippled Ship." When a player's ship has been Crippled, that player MUST roll for movement with only ONE die. Thus, no Red Shifts can be enacted. However, battle still uses two dice, and normal battle rules continue to apply, including the Double Sixes rule for hair triggers.

Damage from a Planet Bust is slightly different. Due to the enormity of the explosions created by a Planet Buster, players would do well to steer clear of the vicinity of an exploding world. Assuming a player's armor is at FULL, and if that player is DIRECTLY OVER a planet when it is destroyed, the player's ship armor will be brought down to 11 damage and considered Crippled. If that player is one full space adjacent to a Planet Bust, the player's ship armor will be brought to 13.

If a player's ship is already Crippled, and a direct blast is suffered, that player's ship armor is considered CRITICAL, and brought down to 3 on the damage chart. For an indirect blast (one full space adjacent), the ultimate armor level will be 5.

Should a player's ship armor be at 3 or lower when a Planet Bust occurs within the immediate vicinity, the player's ship is obliterated.

The same goes for Meteor Showers; if a player's ship armor is at or less than 3, a Meteor Shower will be fatal.


In order to repair damage, a player may land on a Federation Station and repair ONE point of armor, land on a friendly Space Dock and repair ONE point of armor, or pass Earth and repair ONE point of armor. If a player LANDS on Earth, ALL damage is repaired. Repairs are free of charge.


If a player's ship armor drops to or below the "EMPTY" marker on the fuel card, that player's ship is destroyed. Players should agree before the game begins what course of action will be taken when a player "leaves" the game in such a manner!
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