Deep Space Navigator has one of the best vector movement
systems ever invented for a space ship game. You play on a piece of
paper, using different colored pens to represent different ships. A
dot represents your current position. Each turn you take a plastic
template (provided with the game), line up your current position and
your past position, then make a mark equidistant forward in a straight
line. This is where your space ship would end up if you don't apply
any acceleration. (In the pure physics of spaceship movement beyond a
gravitational field, slowing down, speeding up, and turning are all
acceleration.) The template is graduated forward and backward, in left
and right arcs, and you may change your course by picking a different
spot on the paper, then counting out the number of change marks. This
tells you how much fuel you spent to change course, and you mark off
fuel. Each ship has a limited amount of fuel. (Too much, actually,
but we reduce it by half or even by three-quarters for more
There are various beam weapons and torpedoes available, and the game
has rules for them. A ship record sheet includes compartments - the
ship can be hit from any of 12 sides. As you take damage, you tend to
turn your wounded side away from the enemy - the game reflects logic in
The game is excellent, and includes paper preprinted with an asteroid
field in case you want to try combat there. The few faults are: the
weapons systems and hit location systems are adequate, but a bit
lackluster, and it's hard to play with many ships - six is about the
limit before things get messy. Also, the box cover art is some of the
worst I've ever seen - a prime example of why game designers should
hire graphic artists to do the art work instead of doing it
Still a fine game, and if you can find one (long out of print, the
company is gone), snap it up!
Boulder Games has a limited
number of copies of Star Fighter, an Italian remake of
Deep Space Navigator. While the ethics involved are
somewhat questionable (claiming it came out of their school days, in
a search for the perfect starfighter game - when it's obviously copied
from Jim Craig's game), they have in fact improved the game in some ways.
And, unfortunately, made it worse in others.
The improvements are:
The debasement is unfortunately fairly major: the plastic template
has some problems:
- A point-based system to build ships with, improving on some of the
lackluster details I mention above.
- A better combat resolution for some of the weapons.
- A different approach to shields, which I've actually combined with
the original to create my own hybrid rules I'm very happy with.
- Rotated the ship sectors to resemble a clock - I like this better,
but can't really use it since it doesn't match the original plastic
template, which I prefer - see below.
The last fault is actually fairly easily remedied: ignore the third
change-of-course arc on each side, and do not allow ships to change
that much. You can then either add a new arc between the first
arc and the midline, or simply have only two arcs, and charge +3
for a double change in course.
- The material is poorer quality - still serviceable, though.
- The cut-out spaces are punched, deforming the template slightly.
- Such single holes are also not as useful as the arcs in the
- They've changed the numbering system in a bizarre way - adding one
to each distance for no reason I can comprehend.
- They don't number the front arc, which is where you need it the
most. You have to rotate the template constantly to check distances.
- And worst of all, they've broadened the turning arcs making it
easier to maneuver. This means you can make a major blunder and
get out of it fairly easy. Deep Space Navigator
requires more planning, and punishes bad moves more severely -
which feels true, to my mind. A tactical-based game should
punish major blunders.
Aside from that, the game is fairly good, and adds some good ideas
which I've used to spice up my games of Deep Space
Navigator. I'm glad I got it, over all.
Back to SOS' Gameviews
Back to Steffan O'Sullivan's Home Page