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Holy War

Entry updated 2 March 2012. Tagged: Game.

Board and counter Wargame (1979). Metagaming Concepts. Designed by Lynn Willis.

Holy War's framing narrative describes the creation of a Pocket Universe in which time passes at a greatly accelerated rate by a vast alien entity. After the construction is complete, this being realizes that life has appeared on one of the planets orbiting the handful of stars in its microverse. While the entity is considering the ethical implications of this development, an intelligent species evolves, discovers the creator's monitoring devices, and splits into factions which worship the being as a nurturing God and regard it as an alien creature to whom their existence is a random accident. Soon, a microcosmic war has begun between these two groups – a war which is the subject of the game.

As in the designer's earlier Godsfire (1976), the game offers a fully three-dimensional representation of its artificial space. The unusual Physics of that space and the unlikely natures of the combatants justify a variety of exotic features, including sun-towing spacecraft, instantaneous travel along fault lines in the microversal reality, and the Psionically empowered "luckships". Despite some potential for confusion and a sense that too many good ideas have been crammed into too small a space, Holy War is undeniably one of the most novel of the many science-fictional Wargames of the 1970s. Ironically, either player's victory can result in the destruction of the combatants' entire universe, either because its architect is disrupted by suns thrown at it through its sensory apparatus in a misguided attempt to escape into the larger reality, or because the creator turns off the microverse in self defense. [NT]

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