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Entry updated 29 March 2015. Tagged: Game.

Board and counter Wargame (1976). Metagaming Concepts. Designed by Lynn Willis.

Godsfire is a simulation of strategic warfare between the governments of fifteen solar systems in an isolated galactic cluster. The background has a strong Hard SF flavour; notably, most of the game's Starships are restricted to Sublight speeds, despite their use of such exotic power sources as microscopic Black Holes. A brief Future History describes the destruction of civilization by the eponymous event, a catastrophic wave of lethal radiation which swept across the cluster when too many advanced technologies were deployed in the same region of space, tearing a hole in reality. The conflicts depicted in the game are wars of reconstruction, as the cultures which survived the disaster struggle for control of local space. In wars which involve Faster Than Light spacecraft – a technology which is assumed to be rediscovered during the reconstruction – players can trigger Godsfire themselves, restarting the cycle of destruction and regeneration.

Considered as a game of military conquest, Godsfire plays similarly to such contemporaries as Stellar Conquest (1974) and Imperium (1977) (see Traveller). The game is notable, however, for its emphasis on politics. Players act as their civilizations' overgovernments rather than as the all-powerful and all-knowing commanders typical of such games, godlike entities who are in total control of their cultures' resources. In Godsfire players are instead positioned at the top of an unstable coalition of competing interests, including the governments of individual planetary regions and civilization wide political parties. These factions must be placated or, on occasion, deposed; internal rebellions are a constant threat. Such sociological mechanics, along with the use of a fully three-dimensional map and an economic model which restricts ship production, make Godsfire a markedly more convincing representation of possible interstellar conflicts than most of its contemporaries, though on occasion quite a complex one to play. [NT]

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