A Fistful of Planets



Play-by-email game of stellar conflict in which two players battle for control of a star cluster. Both players start with a single homeworld and expand from this base until they come into conflict. Victory is achieved by capturing the enemy homeworld.

The Map

The game is played on a map of the star cluster. Different stars have different colonization capacity, indicated by their color. Solid lines indicate the possible movement routes for transport ships, which carry colonists to new star systems. Warships have greater range, and are thus not necessarily bound by these routes.

At Start

Each player chooses a star as a homeworld from either rows 1-10 or rows 23-32. The player's homeworld begins with a maximum colonization level. Neither player begins with any ships.

The Turn

Turns are conducted simultaneously. Players alternate resolving the turn, with the player who chose his homeworld first beginning the game by sending his orders to the other player. After recording his own orders, that player resolves combat and sends out his orders for the next turn along with an updated list of fleet and colony positions. This continues until one player's homeworld is captured.

Turn Order:

Phase I (resolved separately by each player)

1) Colonization
2) Fleet Reorganization
3) Production

Phase II (resolved simultaneously)

4) Fleet Orders

A transports which is at a star which does not already contain colonies may be landed. The transport is removed, and a size 1 colony is established at the star.

Fleet Reorganization
Each player is limited to a total of 26 fleets. All of a player's ships must be in a fleet. During the Fleet Reorganization, fleets at the same star can be combined into one fleet, divided into several smaller fleets, or transfer ships from one to the other. When fleets are combined into one, the vacant fleet designation can be assigned to other ships at any star, either newly produced or divided from an existing fleet.

Each star is rated from 1-5, depending on its color. This is the maximum size of the colony it can contain. Production points from more than one star may not be combined to produce a large item, and they cannot be saved up from turn to turn (i.e. size 1 colonies cannot produce anything). Systems cannot produce the same turn they are first colonized. Every turn, each star may use its production points to make any of the following:

Ship typeCost
Transport 2
Scout 2
Cruiser 3
Fortify star system3 x 2 turns
Add 1 to colony size

all the system's production points
(only if less than maximum)
Ships can be produced directly into an existing fleet at the same star system.

Fortifying a star system takes two consecutive turns, and the cost of 3 is paid each turn. If the star is captured in the middle of fortifying, the first turn is lost.

Fleet Orders

Each fleet may be given one of the following orders:
  • Move
  • Defend
  • Withdraw if attacked
  • Recon (only if using Fog of War rules)


Fleets have the range of the slowest ship. Ships have the following ranges:

Ship typeRange
Transport 3
Scout 5
Cruiser 4
Two rules govern movement:

1) Fleets must move from one star to another in one turn--they may not be ordered to a star out of the range of the slowest ship.

2) Fleets may never be ordered to move to a star which is more than 5 hexes from a friendly colony. Exception: Fleets containing only scouts are not restricted by this rule, but may move to any star within range. (Thus, scouts can be sent on raids "behind enemy lines," while cruisers and dreadnaughts must remain within 5 hexes of a friendly colony.)


Fleets ordered to defend will fight to the death any enemy ships that move to their star system. This is the default order for fleets which are not given orders.

Withdraw if attacked:

A fleet ordered to withdraw if attacked will move to a specified star (within range) which contains a friendly colony if any enemy fleet moves into its system. No combat takes place between the two fleets.

Recon: (requires neutral GM)

A fleet must have at least one scout ship in order to recon. For each scout in the fleet, one star system within 5 hexes (even if farther than 5 hexes from a friendly colony) can be scouted, giving that player complete information on the composition of enemy fleets and size of his colonies at that star. This information is collected after any movement or combat is resolved.

Fog of War Rules (requires neutral GM)

When a GM is available, the Fog of War rules can be used. The only information a player receives every turn is the location of enemy fleets and colonies. He does not regularly know the composition of enemy fleets or the size of his colonies unless he has one of his own fleets recon. The turn report will give complete information on fleets which meet at the same star, even if one withdraws without a battle.

Turn Resolution

Players alternate resolving turns. The procedure is as follows:

1) Move fleets as ordered (unless illegal).

2) Check to see if opposing fleets occupy the same star. If so, check the orders of the fleets involved. If one is ordered to withdraw, move it as ordered. If an enemy fleet is at the star it moves to, check to see if it is ordered to withdraw, etc.

3) After all withdrawals are complete, resolve combat at any stars where opposing fleets still remain. Combat at a star continues until only one player's ships remain. Combat procedure goes as follows:

a) Pair up ships in the opposing fleets from strongest to weakest. If one fleet outnumbers the other, begin again matching them with the strongest enemy ships. Transports are not included in the combat lineup--they are destroyed if the escorting fleet loses the battle.


Player A has 2 dreadnoughts, 1 cruiser and 1 scout. Player B has 1 dreadnought and 1 cruiser. The ships are matched up as follows:

Player APlayer B
D, C D
D, S C
b) Find the match on the combat chart and roll a die for each pair. If more than one ship is attacking, only the strongest has a chance of being destroyed. The other(s) roll, but only results which eliminate the enemy ship are applied.

c) If ships from both sides remain, go to step a. Repeat until only one player's ships remain.

4) After all battles are resolved, check the status of colonies. If enemy fleets occupy a system containing a colony, the colony is either captured or besieged, depending on whether the system is fortified.

a) Fortified colonies are besieged by enemy fleets. Besieged systems which still contain enemy fleets are captured (but are no longer fortified).

b) Unfortified colonies are immediately captured by an enemy fleet.

5) The player who resolves the turn should send the other player a turn report including his orders (from the previous turn) and the new positions of fleets and location of colonies.

Combat Chart

Ship matchup 1st Elim/2nd Elim
S vs. S; C vs. C; D vs. D 1-3/4-6
S vs. C; C vs. D 1-4/5-6
S vs. D 1-5/6

The Order Sheet

The following information should be included on a player's order sheet each turn:

  • List of fleets--location, composition and orders
  • List of colonies--location, size, and whether fortified or not

The Turn Report

The following information should be included in the Turn Report each turn:

  • Withdrawals
  • Battles--starting fleets, and the surviving ships of the winner
  • Final locations and composition of all fleets (unless using Fog of War rules)
  • Final size and status of all colonies

A Fistful of Planets: Copyright 1995, Warhorse Simulations

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