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.
Spaceplan is what we refer to as an "advanced level" game, while Star Chase is its "basic level" cousin (easier to play, with rather less depth and detail). The difference in the length of rulebooks and game reports is around double. There are plenty of players who prefer Star Chase: 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 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. Star Chase will get you into the action quicker and easier and it's probably one of the best games to start with if you haven't played this type of game before.
The first big decisions in Spaceplan 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 Spaceplan you normally start playing by joining a new game, and there are always waiting lists open. You may have to wait a few weeks for a game to start playing. Once started, all run with two-weekly deadlines (so you've fourteen days between turns).
Turnfees in Spaceplan are £2.50 for one, £10.00 for four, £20.00 for ten and £36.00 for twenty. There are further discounts available if you play in more than one game. Click here for more details of turnfees.
We welcome players from outside the UK. Click here for more details of overseas players.
Normally reports are sent to you by email, so you'll have your result within minutes of the game being played, but players can receive their results by post if they wish. For more details on play-by-email click here.
Your instructions are normally sent through our active website. Click here for more details on play by email
To join Spaceplan you'll need to send £5.00 (payable to Ab Initio Games) along with your name and address, which covers the cost of your rulebook, setup and first three turns. When you send in your application please give an empire name and indicate which version of the game you wish to play.
To join the game immediately just click here to pay your startup fee by credit card via our secure server website. When you send us your payment please also email Danny McConnell with your Empire name then we'll be able to get you started in a game even more quickly. If you'd rather submit your application by post, please print off the form below and include payment when you send it to us.