The Pentagon War game

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

This webpage was last modified on 9-April-2002



The moment James Charter returned to the Solar System, long-range radar probes picked up a spacecraft emerging from the Alpha-Centauri hyper hole.  He sent the new, experimental Dee fighter from the carrier Zelta to challenge this menace.  The Alpha-Centaurians, notorious for their reliance on secondary weapons, would get a big shock out of Zelta Dee's new radiation gun and directional screens.  But Zelta Dee was in for an even bigger shock from the Alpha-Centaurians' new liquid metal gun.

Initial setup: one Solar System fighter (sample SSD "Zelta Dee") in hex 1534, facing A, velocity component A of +6.  One Alpha-Centaurian fighter (Sample SSD with one liquid metal gun) in hex 1501, facing D, velocity component A of -4.  The C velocity components of both spacecraft are 0.

Play continues until one spacecraft is destroyed or has disengaged.  If you destroy the enemy spacecraft, you've won a tactical victory; if the other spacecraft disengages, or if they are destroyed but you are crippled, a marginal victory.  If you are crippled and the enemy spacecraft disengages, you're as much of a loser as the other side.


Usually only single fighters engaged each other in combat.  Armed and armored spacecraft were expensive to build, fleets were often spread thin, and even groups of fighters from the same base (carrier) coming at each other would often spread far enough out so that one-on-one confrontation was the only action possible.  However, certain concentrated offensives of the War required whole groups of three or more fighters to be clustered.

Initial setup: Each side must choose or build three unmanned spacecraft whose total costs do not exceed 2000 points.  One player sets his spacecraft up in hexes 1334, 1534, and 1754, velocity component A is +6.  The other player sets his spacecraft up in hexes 1201, 1401, and 1601, velocity component A is -5.  Velocity component C for all spacecraft starts out at 0.

The object is to destroy as many points worth of your opponent as you can.  You earn one victory point for every point worth of spacecraft that you destroy; that is, if you destroy an entire spacecraft, you earn its point value in victory points, but if you only damage some of its interior systems, you only earn as many victory points as the destroyed systems cost.  The player with the highest point total at the end of combat wins.


Once the Pentagon war began, "gate guard" protective battle stations were constructed next to the hyper holes to guard the gates between the star systems.  These bases were huge (size class IV) and were quite effective against almost any single spacecraft the enemy could throw against them.  However, a squadron of spacecraft could (and did) blow down a gate guard and leave open the route to invasion.

Initial setup: one hyper hole in hex 1516.  One gate guard (use the sample SSD and tailor the guns to the system) base in hex 1320, "facing" direction A.  The enemy squadron cannot cost more points total than the gate guard.  It emerges from the hyper hole on turn 1, facing at the option of the owning player, velocity component C of 0, velocity component A any negative value at the option of the owning player (but all spacecraft must start out with the same speed).  The base has its proton and electron cannons warmed up, but has no other weapons charging.

Play continues until the gate guard is destroyed, or until all spacecraft have been destroyed or have disengaged.  Spacecraft may disengage by being out of range, by acceleration, or by leaving through the hyper hole, and may not return for the course of the scenario.

If the base is destroyed, the invading player wins.  If the base is uncrippled when the scenario is over, the defending player wins.  If the base is crippled, or if one or more spacecraft eacapes to the inner star system uncrippled, the battle is a draw, and more enemy action (possibly more scenarios) will follow.


Once the Solar system's Alpha-Centaurian gate guard was brought down, huge fleets of Alpha-Centaurian craft were free to pour through the hole and reach the military center of the Solar system: a gigantic star spacecraft hangar orbiting Jupiter, nicknamed Station Jove.  Of course, both sides were prepared far ahead of time to meet heavy enemy resistance.

Initial setup: Station Jove in hex 1607.  Station Jove is only a hangar and is not counted in combat.  However, it does contain 10 spacecraft all facing direction D and ready to be launched (both velocity components 0).  All enemy craft (about equal in points to whatever is on board Station Jove) emerge on the lower mapside (any hex ending in xx34), velocity component A of +7, component C of 0, facing at the option of the owning player.

The entire top side of the map, i.e. all hexes ending in xx03 or lower, is the atmosphere of Jupiter.  Any spacecraft passing through this area takes one damage point per impulse per point of speed it's travelling at (difference between the two components) for as long as it's in the atmosphere.  Station Jove lies this close to Jupiter because the planet is rich in fuel and energy.

Play continues until all units of one side have been destroyed or have disengaged.  Victory conditions are determined by ratios of point-costs retained by each side after the battle: a spacecraft is worth its point cost in victory points if it is destroyed, half that if it disengages, one-third that if it's crippled.  The one with the higher victory point total wins.  Generally, however, the winner should be obvious, or the close battle was won by no one.  ("We . . . won. . . ." <plop>)


For a while, the Sirians held back on their war efforts, which was strange considering the aggressive nature of their government.  Then, they re-emerged, blasting their way past a gate guard and heading not for the main military hangar, but for the very homeworld of the race they were fighting.  This was the first time the war had turned from a race of technological superiority to an actual attempt at genocide.  Naturally, the defending system sent out its nearest available spacecraft to thwart this effort, but they hadn't counted on one thing: the reason the Sirians had held off from war for so long was that they were gathering the antimatter necessary to make another hyper bomb.

Initial setup: One planet in hex 2412.  This is the defender's homeworld.  Two Sirian fighter deployers (sample SSD "fighter deployer") and one sirian fusion spacecraft enter from the left mapside (hexes beginning with 01xx), velocity component C of +6, velocity component A of 0 or +6 as appropriate, facing optional.  One of these spacecraft has the hyper bomb, but which spacecraft it is need not be revealed to the defending player.  The defending counterforce, whose total point costs cannot exceed that of the Sirians' by over 50%, enters from either the top or the bottom of the map (at the option of the owning player) on turn 2 (not turn 1), velocity component C of 0, velocity component A of +9 or -9 as appropriate.  [In case you are wondering why nobody starts out at maximum speed (12), it's because it gives more tactical flexibility to decelerate slightly before entering a battle].

The planet can sustain 200 damage points before all life on its surface has been obliterated.  Although range is determined from the hex of the planet, the planet itself actually extends into the six hexes surrounding the counter.  Missiles, including the hyper bomb, must reach the planet's hex to do full of damage (if they are destroyed in one of the perimiter hexes, the planet takes 1/2 damage).  If the planet is hit with the hyper bomb, there is not even a surface left for life to have been obliterated from.

If the planet sustains 200+ damage points or is hyper bombed, the defending player loses.  If the planet sustains 100-199 damage points before the Sirians are destroyed or have disengaged, the battle is a draw.  If the planet sustained fewer than 100 damage points, the defending player wins.

There is a possibility that the attacked star system will be Human Centauri.  In this case, the planet is actually a gigantic plate one hex thick by six hexes long (actually, the plate is curved, but not enough to be reflected in game terms).  Each section of the plate can sustain 100 damage points before being destroyed.  In this scenario, the Human-Centaurian spacecraft may have double the total point costs of the Sirian spacecraft, but each Sirian spacecraft will have a hyper bomb.

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