Boldly go where no bug-eyed floppy-tentacled being has gone before in our games of the exploration and conquest of space. Critical decisions of population growth, industrial development, military power and technological investment in the early game will decide your fate in the struggle for galactic domination.
At the start of the game you control a single star system and your home planet, with a handful of population, a little industry, a few ships and just enough technology to make them fly. Plus a reasonable reserve of cash ("build points", in fact) in your treasury to spend on more.
First you'll plant your flag and your first colonies on whatever other planets are in your home system while your cruisers fan out to nearby stars in search of new worlds to conquer. But other people are out there, doing the same thing, and this is where the trouble starts.
There are two versions of the game: we call Spaceplan II an "advanced level" game, while Spaceplan I is a "basic level" game. The difference in the length of rulebooks and game reports is around double.
Although Spaceplan I is an earlier version of the game there are plenty of players who prefer it: people often characterise our "basic" games as one where you spend less time working out what to do, and more time actually doing it. Spaceplan II on the other hand takes more time and effort to pick up, and it's much more challenging to play: many players prefer the extra depth and detail.
The first big decisions in Spaceplan II are over which technology best deserves your investment. Economic factors, so that you'll have more to spend later? Weapons technologies and ship designs so that other players can't steal what you build?
There's a wide range of technlogies to choose from:- agriculture, birth labs, cosmology, culture, defence tech, echo tech, fighters, hyperspace construction, hydroponics, income, industry tech, jump tech, life support, mines tech, space marines, orders, petrochemicals, probes, robots, supply, terraforming, transport, treasury & weapons.
Four major resources control build and supply costs throughout the game. The availability of each of Food, Hydrocarbons, Isotopes & Minerals is decided by the resource prices in each system: this rises with demand and falls with supply.
Food is needed to feed your workforce and your fleet, and is provided by population toiling in your agricultural colonies on whatever earth-like worlds you can find, or by industry & hydroponics in space colonies. Hydrocarbons are needed to power your industry (except for space industries which can use "solar" power) and can be mined on the moons of jovian planets (or by petrochemicals technology & industry in star systems).
Isotopes are the core of the space drives of your ships and the power systems of our space stations, and can be mined on the rare "satan" worlds or produced by industry among the asteroids. Minerals are needed for construction as your population and industry expand, and are mined on asteroids and any world you're prepared to dig up and destroy.
An important part of your economy will be your independent "merchanters". These run from system to system, in and out of your empire, shifting resources to wherever they're needed (buying where they're cheap, and selling where they're expensive) and paying useful docking fees and taxes wherever they touch.
The ships you begin the game with are simple cruisers, but you can also add more powerful and flexible assault carriers which carry additional fighters (as "riders") and space marines. When empires collide it will be these ships that decide your fate.
Essential to your empire will be the construction of a network of space stations that link your industries together and allow your fleets to dash from one end of your empire to the other in the twinkling of a single action, and then beyond. Without your "net" you're consigned to plodding from system to system, a single hyperspace jump to each action, and with lengthy real-space transfers to delay your further.
Warfare revolves around strategic shipyards and breaking the opposing net. If you have an active net and your opponent does not, then you hold interior lines and can concentrate your strength, no matter what the shape and relative size of the empires.
In comparison to the advanced version (Spaceplan II), you'll find the rules of Spaceplan I are much more straight forward. All the economics stuff is gone (or rather, it was never added) along with all the variable costs. Everything is action-driven: instead of building shipyards to build ships, and having to balance their costs within your income, you simply use an action to make builds when you choose (when you've got Build Points to spare).
Each action in Spaceplan I has a fixed cost, so it's easier to keep track of your spending and the consequences of your actions fairly easily. This is the biggest difference: whereas in Spaceplan II you set all sorts of processes and motion and see where they take you, in Spaceplan I you're firmly in charge, every step of the way.
The number of ship types is reduced (there are no merchanters, transports or carriers) and the range of different technologies is much narrower. There are no resources to deal with.
Although Spaceplan I is an "older" version of the game it has recently been updated with a number of features developed in the later version. So if you played the original version, the additions include multiple probes, deep space movement and hyperspace construction
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