Stellar Conquest

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Stellar Conquest
Designer(s) Howard M. Thompson
Publisher(s) Metagaming Concepts
Publication date 1974
Genre(s) Science fiction, board game
Age range 10+

Stellar Conquest is a science fiction board game designed by Howard M. Thompson that was published in 1974.[1] It is a prototype of the 4X strategy game genre.

The game was rejected by the Avalon Hill Company in 1973,[1] and was published the following year as the first release from Thompson's own company, Metagaming Concepts. It was eventually republished by Avalon Hill in 1984.

The game featured various interstellar ship types represented by counters, those of which were used to transfer populations around the game's universe, populate planets, and ultimately defeat opponents by slowly improving technological, movement and offensive capabilities.

The board[edit]

The board is a hex grid map, with certain hexes containing stars of varying colors. Stars in a hex may have planets that are suitable for a planet colonization. Blue stars could feature nurseries or areas undergoing accretion, which impedes movement through those hexes.

Basic rules[edit]

In Stellar conquest, at the beginning of a game, each player starts in an opposite corner of the board, each with a number of markers that represent ships of various types. For the first four turns the corner square counts as a populated planet. In addition, all ships may move only two spaces, but it is possible to purchase movement upgrades that improve the rate of travel speed. Units must follow the quickest path to a named destination, and their destination can be changed only when the route causes the unit to stop on a star hex. The distance that ships of any type may travel will not precede more than eight hexes away from a populated planet that is owned by the same player; this limitation can be rescinded by research.

Research points must be spent on military units (ships that can attack other ships) before they can be built. A non-military unit unaccompanied by a military unit landing in a star must roll a d6 (standard six-sided die), and is destroyed on a roll of one.

When a player's piece lands on a star, the star's ability to sustain life is randomly determined, the chance of success is dependent on the color of the star. Upgrades may improve a planet's ability to sustain life.

Every four turns a "production phase" occurs in which planetary populations increase by one-fifth their current population number. Any player may move population units into CTs, and earn Industrial Unit Output (IUO), Industrial Unit Output is the currency with which players purchase upgrades and extra ships.

The number of ships a player begins with depends upon the number of players, the scenario, and the preferences of the players.

Alternate building options[edit]

In addition to offensive spacecraft used off-world, players can opt to build stationary Missile Bases (MBs) and Advanced Missile Bases (AMBs). Essentially acting in the same manner as a grounded starship (that is, with particular combat statistics) it is immobile, and remains on the planet it was built on. Since Missile Bases are inexpensive compared to the equivalent starship, they may provide an economical way to defend a player's planets.


The game is credited with influence on early computer 4X games such as Reach for the Stars, Anacreon,[2] Stellar Crusade, and Master of Orion. Stellar Conquest was ported into a computer game itself as Armada 2525. There is also the 1994 shareware game Stellar Conquest III: Hostile Takeover which became open source Freeware in 2006.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b Preface to the third printing, Stellar Conquest rule book, Howard Thompson, June 1978.
  2. ^ Pournelle, Jerry (January 1989). "To the Stars". BYTE. p. 109. 
  3. ^ Stellar conquest 3 hostile takeover on MobyGames
  4. ^ NecroBones DOS Shareware/Freeware Games & Demos by Ed T. Toton III on (2006)

External links[edit]