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FAQ for Homeworlds

Info taken from FAQs in file area and various forum threads, consolidated into a Wiki page so that people can more easily find all the info in one place and update it.
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Official page

Rule differences between Playing with Pyramids and 3House

There are 4 known rule differences, as discussed in http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/720926/differences-between-homeworlds-rule-printings

1. Catastrophes at end of turn or any time during turn

PwP says a player may only trigger a catastrophe at the end of turn.
3H changed this to say that a player may trigger a catastrophe at any time during their turn.

Andrew Looney suggests that the new rule makes the game more strategically interesting.

2. Passing

Various rulesets are inconsistent, but Andrew Looney has confirmed that you are allowed to pass on your turn.
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/25222703#25222703

PwP explicitly allows passing a turn and allows doing an action which does not change the game state (e.g. sacrificing a G1 to build a G1 at the same star).
3H is silent on the issue.

(But both agree that not all sacrifice actions must be used.)

3. Number of pieces

PwP has a flat 5 nests in 4 colors.
3H has n+1 nests in 4 colors for n players.

4. Starting ship

PwP allows a ship of any size to be taken at start.
3H limits the choice to a large ship.

Of course in practice a player will always want to start with a large ship.

Online play

http://superdupergames.org has a nice implementation for 2-4 players with an active player community.

Number of nests needed of each color

Originally Homeworlds was for 3-6 players and used 5 nests of each color. This is the version published in Playing With Pyramids.

Later the 2-player version Binary Homeworlds specified 3 nests of each color since 5 was found to be looser and slower and less pleasing. Then Andy Looney suggested 4 nests for 3 players. This led to saying n+1 nests for n players.

Conveniently for new players purchasing their own sets, this means n+1 Treehouse sets are good for n players.
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/141940/what-do-you-mean-by-a-standard-4-color-icehouse-se

How to do an action

To do an action (regardless of which of the 4 types of action), you need that color ability at a system. You can have it in one of 3 ways:
1. The system has a star of that color.
2. You have a ship of that color at the system.
3. You have sacrificed a ship of that color anywhere in the galaxy.

Building a ship requires a ship of the same color at the star

E.g. to build a red ship at a star, you must have a red ship already at that star.

Sacrificing a green ship which is the only ship at a star

If a star has no ships, it immediately returns to the pool. So if you sacrifice a green ship, the star's pyramid enters the pool and might affect your build possibilities.

The blue action makes ships trade color, not size

There is no way to directly "upgrade" a ship to a larger one. The blue action lets you change a ship to a different colored ship from the pool with the same size.

Yellow sacrifice points can make a single ship move several times

Yellow sacrifice points can make a single ship move several times, or make several ships each move once, or a combination (in the case of a Y3).

How attacks work

You don't need a red ship in the system! You need the red ability (either because you have a red ship at that same system, or because the system has a red star, or because you sacrificed a red ship). And you need some ship that's no smaller than the target ship you are capturing. If you have a red action at the star (for whatever reason) and you have a ship at least as big as the target ship at the star, then you can take control of the target ship.

Actions from a sacrifice are all optional

You don't have to use all actions gained from a sacrifice. Of course normally you prefer not to waste them.

Various multiplayer versions

  • Good/Evil (the original version, published in Playing With Pyramids): Players have secret Good and Evil roles. An Evil player wins by eliminating any other player. Surviving Good players win by eliminating all Evil players.
  • "Win by eliminating all other players": self-explanatory. :)
  • "Sinister" variant: win by eliminating the player on your left. If that player gets eliminated by another player, then whoever was on their left becomes your new target to eliminate. (Andy Looney proposed this variant in September 2005: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/85427/sinister-homeworlds)

An eliminated player's ships remain in play

An eliminated player's ships remain at their locations; they do not return to the pool. They could be captured, or contribute to a catastrophe.

Eliminating your own homeworld to eliminate an opponent

Can you eliminate your own homeworld to eliminated an opponent, thus tying? This is a contested rule point.

Andy Looney posted that he and John Cooper discussed it and decided yes: If you eliminate your own homeworld (e.g. by sacrificing or moving away the only ship there) in order to eliminate an opponent in the same turn, then you and the opponent are both considered equally eliminated, i.e. it is a tie between you and the opponent.
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/21140352#21140352

But Bruno discussed it with John Cooper who said no: it is illegal to make a move on your turn which leaves you without a homeworld at the end of your turn.
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/193248?commentid=9396313#comment9396313

But then in the Pyramid Quartet edition, it was further clarified that you can eliminate your own homeworld to eliminate your opponent, which causes a tie!
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/991015/article/35438036#35438036

Basic strategy

Some wiki pages exist with useful strategy notes:
[What Links Here]