Homeworlds FAQ

If you don’t see your question answered among these, please email us at:
FAQ@looneylabs.com

Q: If there is more than one color in a system at Catastrophe levels, can a player trigger the Catastrophe for only one of them?

A: The situation whereby there might be two colors meeting the criteria for a Catastrophe is highly theoretical. It’s just not something which happens under normal circumstances. However, should such a situation arise, we would rule that someone can trigger a Catastrophe on just one of the colors if desired. Of course the other color is still… a Catastrophe waiting to happen…

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Q: Can a catastrophe happen at any point in a turn or does it have to happen only at the end of a turn?

A: According to John’s original rules, and the ones published in PwP, it’s at the end of your turn. Either through confusion or Andy’s tampering, it changed to any point during your turn, as of how they are in the 3HOUSE booklet and in the newly reformatted PDF and webpage versions.

Except note: SuperDuperGames implements it by the “old” rules, while Looney Labs’ Pyramid Arcade lists the current rules which say you can do this any time during your turn.

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Q: In Homeworlds, if I sacrifice a piece, is that piece available immediately in the Bank to use as a result of that action?

… For example, if I sacrifice a small yellow, can I immediately use that small yellow to become a star system being traveled to with that move?

A: Yes, when you sacrifice a ship, it goes immediately into the Bank, and is available to use as a result of the action. In fact, it’s key to several different important game strategies.

In addition to your example above, where the sacrificed yellow is used immediately as a destination star…

One can also sacrifice a green, return it to the Bank, and (if it’s the smallest available) immediately grow that piece back again.

Less common, but still an option: one could sacrifice a blue, and then use it to turn a ship into the blue piece that’s just been sacrificed.

Red is the only power for which this is not relevant, since sacrifice of a red ship does not use up any pieces from the Bank.

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Q: In Homeworlds, can a player pass? Can they choose to take only partial benefits from a sacrifice?

A: Yes and yes. Though it’s very rare that anyone would choose to pass, it is an option, as is not taking complete results of a sacrifice (for example sacrificing a large yellow, and choosing to only move two ships.)

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Q: For Homeworlds, is the size of the Bank always (number of players) +1 = (number of nests of each color)?

…So for two-player Homeworlds it would be three nests of each color, for four-player Homeworlds it would be five nests of each color.

A: That’s an established change to the early versions of the game. In fact, that’s really all that Binary Homeworlds is – playing regular Homeworlds with only two players and the once-new restriction to only 3 stashes.

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Q: In Homeworlds, does one’s starting ship always have to be a large?

…In most cases, this is what someone would do anyway, but there are some cases where starting with a small could be beneficial.

A: It can technically be any size. One way to handicap a stronger player is by making them start with a small ship.

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Q: Do you have any extra resources to help new players learn Homeworlds?

A: Yes! Here’s a link to the Homeworlds Tutorial.

Also check out Homeworlds Theater, a series of sample games.

And don’t forget all of the other Looney Labs videos!

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Q: I have seen different versions of the Homeworlds rules about who builds first, and who takes the first turn. What is the official rule?

…The rules I originally saw had Player A building first, and then Player B taking the first turn, but that’s not how it works on SuperDuperGames.

A: The rules you originally saw must have been in the small booklet 3HOUSE. It had originally been simply Player A build, Player B build, Player A goes first. In the 3HOUSE booklet, Andy changed the rule, because it somehow seemed fairer to him at that time… but it turns out that that makes it possible for Player B to execute a two-turn win (in Chess known as a “Fools Mate”) which is inescapable by Player A, unless they specifically design their homeworld to defend against it (severely limiting their options).

If Player B takes both the second build and the first turn, the Fools Mate goes like this:

Player A builds their homeworld and first ship, and no pieces are red. Ex: b3y1 g3
Player B builds their homeworld to deliberately create a “tiny universe” (in which their homeworlds are a single move apart, instead of three as would be more common for better defense of both systems) and their first ship is red. Ex: y2g2 r3
Player B builds r1
Player A builds g1
Player B moves r3 to Player A’s homeworld
Player A is doomed: Moving away doesn’t help, and even changing their large to a red is futile, since Player B has the drop on them to take over all ships at their homeworld.

ANYHOW, when this fatal flaw was discovered, of course Andy abandoned the “player building second takes the first move” rule, and went back to alternating turns from the build, i.e. Player A builds, Player B builds, Player A takes first turn, and so forth. This should be considered the current correct game beginning sequence. This is how it is executed on SuperDuperGames as well.

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Q: Is there a rule in Homeworlds against simply undoing the previous move?

…Each of us kept attacking the same small piece to capture it to our side, and we just kept undoing the previous move. After weeks of analysis, we concluded there was no better move for either of us. Do we just end the game in a stalemate?

A: There is no formal rule barring simply undoing your opponent’s previous move. Sometimes there is some other opportunity to sacrifice a piece somewhere else that could tip things and break the stalemate… but if neither player is willing to change their move, yes, you’ll just have to call it a draw. The good news is that now you get to play another game of Homeworlds!

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