The Pentagon War game

by Roger M. Wilcox
Originally begun on 27-December-1983

This webpage was last modified on 9-April-2002


The game is divided into turns, of which there can be any number, depending on how long a particular scenario lasts.  One turn represents one (1) minute of real time.  The course of play during a turn is as follows:

  1. Velocity determination phase
  2. Initial Capacitor Power Allocation phase
  3. Radar Lock-on phase
  4. Impulse procedure (repeat 12 times each turn)
    1. Rotation segment
    2. Acceleration segment
    3. Movement segment
    4. Point Defense segment
    5. Self-Destruction and Ramming segment (optional)
    6. Launching segment
    7. Direct-Fire Decision segment
    8. Direct-Fire Announcement segment
    9. Screen Reinforcement segment
    10. Direct-Fire segment
    11. Damage Assessment segment

The impulse procedure is repeated twelve (12) times throughout a single turn.  Thus, one "impulse" lasts approximately five (5) seconds in real time.  (Of course, the players can take as long as they need to play out any one impulse; it just represents 5 seconds for the spacecraft.)


A cardboard counter is not enough to represent a playing unit in this game.  Spacecraft are very complex entities which produce power, move, fire weapons, and often take damage.  Every spacecraft in this game requires three separate sheets to keep track of it:

  1. Its Spacecraft Systems Display (SSD),
  2. A Capacitor Power Management Form (CPMF), and
  3. An Acceleration Record.

SSDs are collections of labelled boxes that describe the equipment of a unit.  Each box represents one system.  The Acceleration Record of a craft determines how fast it is going and in what direction.  Capacitor Power Management Forms are used to keep track of how a unit expends and budgets its capacitor energy from turn to turn.

Bases — i.e. units without engines — must also have an SSD and a Capacitor Power Management Form.  However, since they do not move, they don't need an Acceleration Record.

Drones (tiny spacecraft described in the Spacecraft Systems section) have no SSD and are not required to keep track of their power.  They still must keep an Acceleration Record, though.

These three record sheets — a unit's SSD, its Acceleration Record, and its CPMF — are public; that is, your opponent (or any other player) must be allowed to look at them at any time.  The exception to this is during the Initial Capacitor Power Allocation phase, where each player's Capacitor Power Management Forms are secret until the Initial Power Allocation phase is over.


With the exception of Radar Invisibility, ECM, and ECCM, capacitor power may be used for anything requiring it in the middle of a turn.  In fact, this is how it is usually used, as most secondary weapons require capacitor power at the moment of use.  This is known as "instantaneous power" or "drawing off reserves." When a capacitor is discharged mid-turn, the use it is discharged for is tallied on the appropriate line of the Capacitor Power Management Form, the Total Capacitors Discharged tally (line 13) is updated to match, and if the owning player so desires a dot may be placed in the discharged capacitor boxes (on the spacecraft’s SSD) to indicate that they are empty.  This ability can be used to fire weapons that only take a single turn to arm, to activate or reinforce screens, for magnetic beams, or to run anything that doesn't have to be started up ahead of time.

  1. Capacitors Available: At the start of the turn (during the Initial Capacitor Power Allocation phase), write down the number of charged capacitors on board the spacecraft, that is, capacitors that are not destroyed or discharged due to Alert Status.
  2. Radar Invisibility: If a spacecraft has radar invisibility, it may allocate power to this line to become radar-invisible.  The power cost of this is five (5) points of power per size class of the spacecraft using it.  Any power allocated here must be devoted at the start of the turn, during the Initial Capacitor Power Allocation phase.
  3. ECM: This is optional.  See the section on Electronic Warfare.  Like Radar Invisibility, ECM may only be allocated at the start of a turn.
  4. ECCM: This is also optional.  See the Electronic Warfare section.  Like Radar Invisibility and ECM, capacitor power may only be allocated to ECCM at the start of a turn.
  5. Double Magnetic Beams: Tally one point of power on this line for each magnetic beam fired (or maintained) at double strength on the current turn.  Power used for this purpose, as well as power to all the lines below, is tallied during the turn the instant it is used.  (Exception: magnetic beams maintaining a hold on something from the previous turn must be doubled during the Initial Capacitor Power Allocation phase.)
  6. Fire Mag. Beam at LMGB: Magnetic beams may be fired at Liquid Metal Gun Bolts (LMGBs) as though the beams were proton cannons.  For each beam fired as such during the current turn, tally one point of power on this line.
  7. Rail Launch Missile: Each point of power tallied on this line will allow one missile (q.v.) to be launched at speed 12, the maximum speed in the game.
  8. Reinforce Screens: The screening protection of a spacecraft may be reinforced all the way up to double its normal level.  For every point of extra screening generated by reinforcement during the current turn, tally three (3) points of power to this line.  Note that no screen generator box may ever produce more than two units of screening.
  9. Fire Laser: Tally one point of capacitor power to this line for every laser fired during the current turn.
  10. Fire Proton Cannon: Tally two (2) points of capacitor power to this line for every proton cannon fired during the current turn.
  11. Fire Electron Cannon: Tally one point of capacitor power to this line for every electron cannon fired during the current turn.
  12. Power Lost to Damage: If a spacecraft takes more "Capacitor" hits during a turn than it has discharged its available capacitors to that point (i.e. if the hits must be scored on "full" capacitors), each excess Capacitor hit must be tallied to this line.  This represents the physical capacitor getting destroyed and the power within it dissipating.
  13. Total number of Capacitors Discharged: Every time a point of capacitor power is tallied to any of lines 2 through 12 above, tally one point to this line.  The total tally on this line may never exceed the number of available capacitors on board the spacecraft.

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