Binary Homeworlds

From Looney Pyramid Games Wiki
Binary Homeworlds
John Cooper
A 2-player variant of the standard Homeworlds game
:Players Players: 2
:Time Length: Long
:Complexity Complexity: High
Trios per color: 3
Number of colors: 4
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes:
Five-color sets: 3 matching sets
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
Setup time: 3 minutes
Playing time: 30 minutes - 60 minutes
Strategy depth: High
Random chance: None
Game mechanics: Color powers, resource management
Theme: Space
BGG Link: Homeworlds (2020)
Status: Complete (v1.0), Year released: 2004

Overview[edit | edit source]

Binary Homeworlds is Andrew Looney's name for the two-player variant of the game Homeworlds, designed by John Cooper. The popularity of Homeworlds is attested by its featuring in several of Looney Labs' packagings of the pyramids and multiple online implementations.

Materials[edit | edit source]


36 pyramids in four colors (3 trios in each color) are needed to play.

Goal[edit | edit source]

The object of the game is to cause your opponent's Homeworld to be empty of his own ships. A player may still have many ships on the board at different star systems, but if none of his ships are at his Homeworld by the end of either of your turns, he has lost.

Star Systems and Wormholes[edit | edit source]

This game is played on a flat surface with nothing but pyramids. Pyramids represent either star systems or ships visiting those star systems.

::M ::MPR
Pyramids standing up
are star systems
Pyramids lying
down are ships

Most star systems consist of a single pyramid standing up. All star systems are connected to other star systems through a kind of wormhole technology that lets any two systems connect to one another instantaneously, regardless of the distance between them in our conventional measurements. The catch is that the wormhole will only work if the two systems contain no pyramid sizes in common. For instance, a star system consisting of a medium pyramid is connected to all small and large star systems, but no other medium star systems.

::L::SPR ::M ::L ::S
The blue ship at this large-pyramid star system can travel instantly to these medium or small star systems, but not the other large-pyramid star system.

There are also binary star systems, consisting of exactly two pyramids stacked atop one another.

::LL ::ML ::SL ::MM ::SM ::SS

All possible combinations of binary systems

Since binary star systems often contain two different sizes, they can be even more limited in what they connect to.

Ships will always be right next to these star systems, never off on their own on the table. Any size and color of ship may belong to either player. So how can we tell whose ships are whose? Orientation. If a ship is pointing away from you, it's your ship. If a ship is pointing at you, it's your opponent's.

Player 1 ::MPR::LPL::SPR Player 2
In this case, all the smalls and mediums are owned by Player 1 (they are pointing away from her) while all the larges are owned by Player 2 (they are pointing away from him).

Homeworlds Technology[edit | edit source]

::L Yellow Ability Move
::L Green Ability Construct
::L Blue Ability Trade
::L Red Ability Attack

Stars in Homeworlds grant their visitors the usage of different kinds of technology depending on their colors. Ships do the same for their owners. The actions are explained in detail in the Actions section. If you own a ship in one of these colors, or if your ship is visiting a star system of these colors, you can perform the associated actions at its location. This is important to keep in mind, because you are about to create a star system and a ship.

Setup[edit | edit source]

  1. Place a bank of 36 pyramids off to the side in 12 neat stacks, one for each size and color of pyramid.
  2. Flip a coin.
  3. The winner builds a binary star system out of any two sizes and colors she wishes using pieces supplied from the bank of 36 pyramids off to the side. She places this on the table in front of her. This binary star system is her Homeworld, and to stay in the game she must always keep at least one of her ships at it.
  4. She then selects any large pyramid from the bank and places it on its side as a ship, next to the newly-formed star system. The ship will be facing away from her to indicate ownership.
  5. Her opponent now does the same.
The layout on the table will eventually look something like this:
Player 1 (south) has chosen a binary homeworld made up of a medium green and a small blue.

Player 2 (north) has chosen a binary homeworld made up of a large yellow and a small green. The single pyramids standing up in between the two players represent the star systems that will be discovered during the course of the game. (No ships are shown in this example.)

Whoever won the coin toss and set up her binary system first now takes the first move.

Actions[edit | edit source]

On their turns, players select a star system and perform one action in that system. The actions available for a player to take depend on the colors of pyramids in the star system where the action is taking place. The power to do these actions can come from the color of the player's own ships or from the color of the stars that make up the star system that ship is in.

::L Yellow Ability Move
::L Green Ability Construct
::L Blue Ability Trade
::L Red Ability Attack
  • Movement Take one of the ships you have in any existing star system and move that ship to a new system. The destination system must be connected to the star system the ship began in. So if the beginning star system consists of ::SL, then the ship can only connect to a star system made of a medium pyramid ::M. The traveling player does not have to limit himself to visiting star systems that already exist on the table: he can send his ship out to Discover a new medium star system by taking a medium-size pyramid of any color from the bank and placing it on the table, then placing his ship next to it.
  • Trade Change the color of your ship. Take one of your ships and return it to the bank of pyramids not in play. Then replace a pyramid of the same size from the bank, but a different color.
  • Build Look at a star system where you have one or more ships. Look at the colors of those ships. You may take a new ship in one of those colors from the bank, placing it in the star system alongside your other ships. The new ship must be in smallest size available from the bank in the color you chose.
  • Attack In a star system where both you and your opponent have a ship, you may be able to turn one of their ships around to change ownership of it to yourself. To determine whether this is the case, ask yourself about Tech and Size.

1) Are there any red stars in this star system?

Yes — You have access to attack technology. Look at the ships' sizes next.
No — Ask yourself:

2) Do I own any red ships in this star system?

No — You cannot attack. (You lack the technology.)
Yes — Ask yourself:

3) Is my biggest ship in this star system equal to or larger than than the size of the ship I want to capture?

No — You cannot attack. (Your ships are too small.)
YesYou can attack by reorienting this ship so it becomes your ship.

During an attack, ships are never removed from the board or returned to the bank. They just change ownership.

  • Sacrifice Instead of taking your one free action, you may sacrifice one of your ships during your turn by returning it to the bank. This will let you perform 1-3 actions associated with the color of the sacrificed ship, one action for each pip the ship had. You are not limited to performing the resulting actions in any particular star system; they can be performed in any star systems where you have a presence.

Catastrophe[edit | edit source]

When a star system contains four or more pyramids of the same color, it becomes Overpopulated and unstable. Either player can then declare a catastrophe and return all pieces of that color from the star system to the bank. If the star itself gets returned to the bank as a result of this, then ships of all colors that were at that star system get returned to the bank, as well. Players are not required to declare the catastrophe.

Rules Clarifications[edit | edit source]

  • You can't attack another player if the only source of red technology at that star system is your opponent's ship. The tech must come from the star itself or from your own ship.
  • Sacrificing a piece counts is done instead of taking a free basic action. So you cannot move to a new star system and then sacrifice a large yellow ship at that star system in order to get four movement actions in a row. The maximum number of any action you can take on a turn is three, and only by sacrificing a large.
  • A catastrophe can occur at a player's homeworld star system, and can result in the player's binary star turning into a single star system. That star system still functions as the player's homeworld, and that player is still alive and in the game as long as there are ships at his once-great system.
  • Players are allowed to try to engineer catastrophes at each other's homeworlds.
  • Players are not allowed to deliberately throw the game by destroying their own Homeworlds.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

A less common topology puts the homeworlds nearer each other

Binary Homeworlds differs from the original multi-player Homeworlds in that it discards the Werewolf aspect; the game is simply a fight to the death between two players. The topology of a Binary Homeworlds game is simpler than the topology of a multi-player game, because there are at most two binary stars. If the two players choose homeworlds of different sizes, then the galaxy can be laid out in rows between the two players so that movement "toward" and "away from" a homeworld maps directly onto movement across the table.

External links[edit | edit source]

Play online[edit | edit source]

Play offline[edit | edit source]

  • Homeworlds is available in Ai Ai (requires Java), with an AI
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