Homeworlds Settlers

Homeworlds Settlers
Bruno Curfs
Players vie for resources on a conquered Homeworld.
:Players Players: 2
:Time Length: Medium?
:Complexity Complexity: Medium
Trios per color: 3
Number of colors: 4
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: 4
Five-color sets: 3
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
Homeworlds Settlers Board
Setup time: 1 minute
Playing time: 15 minutes
0.25 Hr
- 40 minutes
0.667 Hr
Strategy depth: High
Random chance: None
Game mechanics: Movement, Placement, Capture, Color powers, Turn-based, Resource management
Theme: Space
BGG Link:
Status: Complete (v1.0), Year released: 2020


Homeworlds Settlers is a deep abstract strategy game for two players that uses a Homeworlds Set. Players vie for the resources and territory on the Homeworld that was conquered in the prequel: Homeworlds. Homeworlds Settlers borrows thematic elements from Homeworlds.

Setup

Place the board (see Homeworlds Settlers Board) between the players, tilted 45 degrees (like a diamond), so that a corner points to each player.

Set up the Bank. To do so, stack the pyramids by size and group them by color: Large to Small from back to front; the colors in the order Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue from left to right. Put the bank next to the board where both players can reach it.

Gameplay

Decide who begins. Players take turns.

On your turn, you get one or more actions, based on the size and color of a piece you own on the board. See Using Actions.

Passing is allowed and you can forfeit any action. If during your turn you don’t have a valid action available, you are forced to pass or forfeit that action.

Using Actions

Action Choose a piece you own, this is the action piece. Its color determines the action type: Red ~ Conquer, Yellow ~ Move, Green ~ Build, Blue ~ Trade/Upgrade. Its pip-size determines the number of actions of that action type. Note. If you don’t own a piece, you can Build (see under Green). In particular, your first turn consists of building a Small Green.

Definitions.

  • Bordering - Two fields are bordering each other if they are horizontally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent. A piece on a bordering field is called a bordering piece.
  • Having Space / Out of Space. A Green piece with an empty bordering field is said to "have space"; if it doesn't have an empty bordering field, it is said to be "out of space".

For each pip of the action piece, you get one optional action of the action type associated with its color. You can choose how to use each action according to the following. Unused action pips are forfeited by the end of your turn.

  • Red ~ Conquer. You can conquer an opponent’s piece bordering your Red action piece if a.) the piece you try to conquer is not larger than your conquering piece, AND b.) the total pip count of all of your Red pieces bordering the opponent’s piece is larger than the total pip count of all the opponent’s Red pieces bordering it (and if the attacked piece is Red, then its pips must also be counted). To conquer a piece, turn it 180 degrees on its field, pointing away from you. Note. Red pieces can therefore attack (on your turn) and defend (on your opponent’s turn). Once you conquered an opponent's ship, it counts as yours, even during your current turn if you still have actions available.
  • Yellow ~ Move. Make a partition (n1, n2, n3) of the number of pips n of your chosen Yellow action piece, such that n1 + n2 + n3 = n. For each number in your partition, choose a moving piece, EITHER the said Yellow action piece OR a piece bordering to where said Yellow action piece now is; move the moving piece the corresponding number of bordering spaces using only unoccupied fields. Note. If n = 1, there is only one partition, i.e., (1): you can only move 1 piece over 1 space. If n = 2, there are two partitions, i.e., (2) and (1, 1): you can EITHER move 1 piece over 2 spaces, OR 2 pieces over 1 space each. If n = 3, there are three partitions, i.e., (3), (2, 1), (1,1,1): you can EITHER a.) move 1 piece over 3 spaces, OR b.) 1 piece over 2 spaces and another piece over 1 space, OR c.) 3 pieces over 1 space each.
  • Green ~ Build. For each pip of your chosen Green action piece, check these conditions:
    • If your chosen Green action piece has space, you can use one of its bordering empty fields to Build a piece there from the Bank in any color; take the smallest piece in that color available from the Bank, and place it there.
    • Otherwise, if your chosen Green action piece is out of space, choose any other Green piece you own that has space. Continue as if you started your turn choosing this as your action piece. Note. Consider this a bonus turn. The unused actions of the previous action piece are forfeited. The successively chosen Green piece can be of any size, providing that many actions. You can have more than one of these bonus turns, if a successively chosen Green piece runs out of space and you still have one or more unused action pips.
    • Otherwise, if NONE of your Green pieces have space (or if you don’t own a Green piece), your unused actions are forfeited, but you may build the smallest Green piece available from the Bank on any empty field. Note. Consider this a bonus turn. If there aren’t any Green pieces left in the Bank, you can not use this action and you must forfeit it. If any of your Green pieces has space, it follows that you will build there first, before being able to use this build option.
  • Blue ~ Upgrade/Trade. You can Upgrade or Trade the chosen Blue action piece or any bordering piece you own. To Upgrade a piece, replace it with a piece of the same color and exactly 1 pip larger, available from the Bank. To Trade a piece, replace it with a piece of the same size and different color, available from the Bank. Clarification. If the Blue action piece is Traded or Upgraded, the new piece in its stead becomes the action piece, and behaves as if it did not change: for all intents and purposes it remains Blue until the end of turn, and your remaining action pips are not affected. Note. If the piece you need is not available from the Bank, you can not use this action. Any piece you return to the Bank is immediately available for the next Upgrade/Trade, if you have unused actions. If you have 2 or more available actions, you can Trade AND Upgrade the same piece (in any order), OR Upgrade the same piece twice (to get a Large).

End

  • End. The game ends when all pieces are placed, OR both players pass consecutively.
  • Win. Each player scores the number of points equal to the total pip count of the pieces they own on the board. Max score wins. Note. If one of the players has more than 36 points, they win.
  • Tie Break. In case both players score an equal number of points, then the player with the most number of Large pieces wins. If it’s still a tie, the player with the most number of Medium pieces wins. If it’s still a tie, then the game is a draw.

Sample Game States

Hover over the pics to see a short description.

Midgame game state

Oppponent just moved

Strategy

  • This game is quite deep and, just as Homeworlds, has a large number of options available during each move. Beginners will likely be overwhelmed with the possibilities. Play the game a couple of times to understand the dynamics. See also the Variants.
  • Keep Green pieces that “have space” positioned at the border of your settlement. If you don’t have any empty fields bordering a Green piece you own, and the Bank doesn’t have Green pieces, you can’t build. If this happens, it is unlikely that you will be able to build again. But you could have a clever move using a Medium (or Large) Blue piece: trade one of your Greens for another color available from the Bank, and then another of your pieces at the border (bordering to the Blue action piece) for that Green you just put back in the Bank.
  • The beginning of the game seems to be about the power balance of Red. It is a quite balanced battle, but the use of Yellow can shift the balance. There is a Yellow/Red dynamic that allows Red pieces to infiltrate and wreak havoc if unchecked by the opponent. Stay on guard for the possibilities of Red pieces moving to unexpected places.
  • During the middle game, there is a Green/Blue dynamic that allows for rapid (exponential?) growth if unchecked by the opponent.
  • The endgame may allow the use of Yellow/Red to conquer a few more pieces, and smart use of Yellow/Blue/Green to Trade/Upgrade/Build another few points.

Variants

Redless. Play by the same rules except remove all Red pieces from the game. Note. To practice the use of Green/Blue, it is instructive to try the game without using Red at all. There will be only 27 pieces in the game, so not the whole board will be occupied by the end of the game.

Handicapping. The weaker player starts with a Medium or even a Large Green, but the stronger player gets a bonus turn on their first turn.

Acknowledgments

Chris Cieslik designed a game called Landing Zone and published the rules on the Facebook Starship Captains group. It inspired me to design Homeworlds Settlers. Here are the Landing Zone - rules.

Creative Commons

This game is designed by Bruno Curfs licensed under the Creative Commons International BY-NC-SA 4.0 License.

Official rules (V2) can be found here: Homeworlds Settlers Rules. Note. The official rule document has some extra info regarding acknowledgments, designer notes, and the board dimensions.

Feedback Welcome

Questions, remarks and suggestions are welcome. (Use the Talk: Homeworlds Settlers page for discussion.) Thank you.

Links

Bruno Curfs. Facebook Starship Captain Group entry since Dec 16, 2020.

Change Log

20210418 - Small edits; Green actions clarified with the use of a definition of "has space" and "out of space"; Handicapping corrected.

20210210 - Added the link to Landing Zone, the game that inspired Homeworlds Settlers.

20210207 - Added a clarification for the Blue ability. You are free to trade or upgrade your Blue piece, and it doesn't affect its ability until the end of turn. You don't lose or gain pips, but the ones you spend.

20201225 - Added caption Links and a link to Facebook announcement, corrected categories (theme, equipment, mechanics, etc.), referenced uploaded board.

20201223 - Updated board (V2), adding mechanic "perfect information", with no effect on list of "Category:Perfect_information" games.

20201222 - Updated rules (V2), clarifying the third option for Green actions. You forfeit your unused actions, but are allowed to build Green. Clarifying that conquered Red ships can be used on the same turn. Some minor edits.