Board and counter Wargame (1973). Third Millenia (TM). Designed by William Gemmill, Randall Thomas.
Between the release of Lensman in 1969 and the start of the science fiction Wargame boom in 1974 with the publication of Starforce: Alpha Centauri and Stellar Conquest, several other games were created which modelled future conflicts using physical maps and counters. In the UK the most prominent such work was 4000 AD (1972); in the US a number of Wargames of this kind were released by then small publishers, of which the best known may have been Triplanetary (1973) and Empire I. These works were very probably the first games to be commercially sold which were set in their own original science-fictional milieux. Some of these early efforts were, however, more successful than others. 4000 A.D. has what is probably the most interesting background and the most innovative mechanics, while Triplanetary offers the best simulation of spaceship combat. Empire I's most intriguing characteristic is perhaps its early combination of all the core elements seen in later games of interstellar conquest as diverse as the Traveller related board and counter Wargame Dark Nebula (1980) and the Computer Wargame Star General (1996): starship combat (here using vessels designed by the players), planetary assaults, the production of military units with economic resources and the colonization of new worlds. Empire I's background is extremely simplistic and its gameplay is slow and requires excessive amounts of note taking, but the game is still of historical interest.
Related works: The board and counter Wargame Second Galactic War (1973 TM) designed by Vernon Stribling is loosely associational. [NT]