The Pentagon War game
by Roger M. Wilcox
Originally begun on 27-December-1983
This webpage was last modified on 9-April-2002
COURSE OF PLAY
The game is divided into turns, of which there can be any number,
depending on how long a particular scenario lasts. One turn
represents one (1) minute of real time. The course of play during a
turn is as follows:
- Velocity determination phase
- Initial Capacitor Power Allocation phase
- Radar Lock-on phase
- Impulse procedure (repeat 12 times each turn)
- Rotation segment
- Acceleration segment
- Movement segment
- Point Defense segment
- Self-Destruction and Ramming segment (optional)
- Launching segment
- Direct-Fire Decision segment
- Direct-Fire Announcement segment
- Screen Reinforcement segment
- Direct-Fire segment
- Damage Assessment segment
The impulse procedure is repeated twelve (12) times throughout a single
turn. Thus, one "impulse" lasts approximately five (5) seconds in
real time. (Of course, the players can take as long as they need to
play out any one impulse; it just represents 5 seconds for the
A cardboard counter is not enough to represent a playing unit in this
game. Spacecraft are very complex entities which produce power,
move, fire weapons, and often take damage. Every spacecraft in this
game requires three separate sheets to keep track of it:
- Its Spacecraft Systems Display (SSD),
- A Capacitor Power Management Form (CPMF), and
- An Acceleration Record.
SSDs are collections of labelled boxes that describe the equipment of a
unit. Each box represents one system. The Acceleration Record
of a craft determines how fast it is going and in what direction.
Capacitor Power Management Forms are used to keep track of how a unit
expends and budgets its capacitor energy from turn to turn.
Bases — i.e. units without engines — must also have an SSD and a
Capacitor Power Management Form. However, since they do not move, they
don't need an Acceleration Record.
Drones (tiny spacecraft described in the Spacecraft Systems section) have no
SSD and are not required to keep track of their power. They still must
keep an Acceleration Record, though.
These three record sheets — a unit's SSD, its Acceleration Record, and
its CPMF — are public; that is, your opponent (or any other
player) must be allowed to look at them at any time. The exception to
this is during the Initial Capacitor Power Allocation phase, where each
player's Capacitor Power Management Forms are secret until the Initial Power
Allocation phase is over.
CAPACITOR POWER MANAGEMENT
With the exception of Radar Invisibility, ECM, and ECCM, capacitor power may be
used for anything requiring it in the middle of a turn. In fact, this is
how it is usually used, as most secondary weapons require capacitor power at
the moment of use. This is known as "instantaneous power" or "drawing off
reserves." When a capacitor is discharged mid-turn, the use it is discharged
for is tallied on the appropriate line of the Capacitor Power Management Form,
the Total Capacitors Discharged tally (line 13) is updated to match, and if the
owning player so desires a dot may be placed in the discharged capacitor boxes
(on the spacecraft’s SSD) to indicate that they are empty. This ability
can be used to fire weapons that only take a single turn to arm, to activate or
reinforce screens, for magnetic beams, or to run anything that doesn't have to
be started up ahead of time.
- Capacitors Available: At the start of the turn (during the Initial
Capacitor Power Allocation phase), write down the number of charged capacitors
on board the spacecraft, that is, capacitors that are not destroyed or
discharged due to Alert Status.
- Radar Invisibility: If a spacecraft has radar invisibility, it may
allocate power to this line to become radar-invisible. The power cost of
this is five (5) points of power per size class of the spacecraft using
it. Any power allocated here must be devoted at the start of the
turn, during the Initial Capacitor Power Allocation phase.
- ECM: This is optional. See the section on Electronic
Warfare. Like Radar Invisibility, ECM may only be allocated at the start
of a turn.
- ECCM: This is also optional. See the Electronic Warfare
section. Like Radar Invisibility and ECM, capacitor power may only be
allocated to ECCM at the start of a turn.
- Double Magnetic Beams: Tally one point of power on this line for each
magnetic beam fired (or maintained) at double strength on the current
turn. Power used for this purpose, as well as power to all the lines
below, is tallied during the turn the instant it is used.
(Exception: magnetic beams maintaining a hold on something from the previous
turn must be doubled during the Initial Capacitor Power Allocation phase.)
- Fire Mag. Beam at LMGB: Magnetic beams may be fired at Liquid Metal Gun
Bolts (LMGBs) as though the beams were proton cannons. For each beam
fired as such during the current turn, tally one point of power on this
- Rail Launch Missile: Each point of power tallied on this line will allow
one missile (q.v.) to be launched at speed 12, the maximum speed in the
- Reinforce Screens: The screening protection of a spacecraft may be
reinforced all the way up to double its normal level. For every point of
extra screening generated by reinforcement during the current turn, tally three
(3) points of power to this line. Note that no screen generator box may
ever produce more than two units of screening.
- Fire Laser: Tally one point of capacitor power to this line for every laser
fired during the current turn.
- Fire Proton Cannon: Tally two (2) points of capacitor power to this line
for every proton cannon fired during the current turn.
- Fire Electron Cannon: Tally one point of capacitor power to this line for
every electron cannon fired during the current turn.
- Power Lost to Damage: If a spacecraft takes more "Capacitor" hits during a
turn than it has discharged its available capacitors to that point (i.e. if the
hits must be scored on "full" capacitors), each excess Capacitor hit must be
tallied to this line. This represents the physical capacitor getting
destroyed and the power within it dissipating.
- Total number of Capacitors Discharged: Every time a point of capacitor
power is tallied to any of lines 2 through 12 above, tally one point to this
line. The total tally on this line may never exceed the number of
available capacitors on board the spacecraft.
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