Ab Initio Games

Retro Interactive Sports, Historical & Sci-Fi Games

Online & Postal Games since 1986

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Star Chase

Galactic Exploration, Diplomacy and Conquest

The Old Empire

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away there existed the greatest empire the universe has ever seen. All the stars, all the planets and every stray asteroid all through the galaxy were known and settled. All the worlds teemed with life and bustled with industry. Huge starships crossed the voids between the stars in hardly more time than to climb free of the gravity wells of the planets that launched them. Communications flashed from one side of the galaxy to the other in the blink of an eye.

The Fall of Empire

For many times a thousand years the Old Empire thrived. Vast automation provide the necessities of life throughout the empire while sentient life everywhere pursued culture, creativity, enlightenment and the mysteries of life itself.

It was this automation that finally brought the Old Empire down. The otherwise harmless system virus H2305B, becoming self-aware but failing to perceive the nature of the life around it, imagining itself to be the primary life form of the universe and supposing other sentient life to be parasitic infections to expunged as soon as encountered spread like wildfire across the galactic net. All across the Empire, all races, all species, everyone was lost. Billions upon billions died in the scouring of the galaxy.

The Rise of the New

But not quite everyone. Scattered here and isolated there remained a few pockets of survivors. An undetected fault in the imperial automation, propagated to only a handful of sector capitals and inaccessible outposts, proved lethal to H2305B and permitted a counter-attack that destroyed the very network that had allowed the virus to live.

And so begins the long climb back to civilisation and empire as the survivors must re-learn the primary skills that were forgotten, re-built their worlds and set out to re-conquer the galaxy. But this time, without the benefits of automation, of law, of government and of peace, the galaxy is going to be a very different place.

This is where Star Chase begins.

Start Positions

In Star Chase you begin with a single planet and a single star, a handful of cruisers with which to explore, a few fighters for self defence and a single colony ship with which to re-settle the galaxy.

The technologies you require to build an empire in space are at rock-bottom, and the cost of maintaining your starships is already eating into your budget.


As you explore the galaxy you’ll find the ruins of the Old Empire all around. Everywhere you go you’ll have to stop to sift through the wreckage, to search for survivors and deal with anything dangerous. In the process you’ll find all sorts of useful stuff.

Every new location that’s visited for the first time yields some sort of discovery, which might be technology, population, usable industry, salvageable starships, or merely bank vaults stuffed full of cash (err, that’s game money by the way, not the real stuff…).

In addition to gaining technology through exploration it can also be bought outright (this soon becomes very expensive) or traded with other players, and also expands steadily through research (which is free, but what you get is more of what you’ve already got).

Game System

A lot of effort has gone into Star Chase to ensure the game works smoothly as possible and to make sure the balance of play is different from other (and earlier) games in the series. Wherever we think a rule was a nuisance we removed it or replaced it with something simpler. Where we figured the orders were difficult to write we introduced new actions to make them simpler.

The balance of income, build costs and supply costs is very close, as is the balance between attack and defence. You can’t go on building ships forever, because supply costs will eat into your income and leave you with nothing to spend, but even when you’ve done that you can still use the ships you’ve already got.

No Random Numbers

There are no random numbers in the battle routines in any of this series of games, as uncertainty (“friction” in military jargon) is provided by a unique processing system, under which “fog of war” increases as the turn progresses. The best laid plans come into conflict with the best laid plans of your opponents.

If you’re first in the process order, your first action will be made against a situation that will be exactly known. By the time your second action happens, everyone else will have made their first action, and the situation will have changed a little. By the time of your last action everything will gave changed, and your actions had best be things that don’t depend on what other people do.

The order of play in each turn varies according to what you spend on initiative in the previous turn. The more you spend the sooner you move, but the less you’ve got left to spend on other things.

Empire Names

Along with your startup you'll want to choose an empire name (24 characters maximum, including spaces). The majority of names seem to come from TV, film and books, and it’s been interesting to see how they’ve changed in this series of games over the years.

At the start we had lots of names from Star Trek (mostly Klingons and Romulans) and Dr Who (usually Daleks and Cybermen) with a few from SF literature. The Kzinti were an early favourite while the Vogons still make regular appearances.

Then came a rush of empires with themes from Babylon 5. We’ve had Narns, Centari, Minbari, Vorlons, Shadows and any number of Earth Alliances.

Most recently we’ve started to see the first few with names like Manticore, Basilisk, Grayson and Haven from David Weber’s Honor Harrington novels.

Occasionally we get empires from the books of C.J.Cherryh. The Mahendo’Sat and the Kif seem the most popular and we’ve yet to see the Hani. Maybe it’s because they’re all girls?

Optional Rules

On top of that we’ve added some optional rules that should make ordering simpler still. The results of using “smart actions” will be less predictable, but they’ll need less effort if time is short.

Mostly you’ll be able to do better yourself with a little more work, but there are plenty of situations where the smart actions really will be smarter, and even the most expert players will be using them.

Game reports

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.

Sending Orders/Play by Email

Your instructions are normally sent through our active website, but can also be sent by post or fax if required. Click here for more details on play by email

Games and Turnfees

You start by waiting for a new game, or by taking over an existing “standby” position where the previous player has dropped out. You may have to wait a while for a new game to start, but standby positions and “short handed” games are normally available very quickly. One option is to take one of these to learn your way around the game while you wait for the list to fill. Once started, games normally run with two-weekly deadlines (so you've fourteen days between turns).

Turnfees in Star Chase are £2.50 for one, £10.00 for four, £22.00 for ten and £36.00 for twenty. Click here for more details of turnfees

We welcome players from outside the UK. Click here for more details of overseas players.

How to Join

Star Chase is run by Steve Coombs, so we'd recommend contacting him before you send your startup fee and Steve will be able to confirm the position of waiting lists. Once you've confirmed with Steve, you need to click here to pay your startup fee by credit card via our secure server website.

For more information please contact: Danny McConnell

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