As a teen I received this game for my birthday one year:

Fred Saberhagen's BERSERKER

Fred Saberhagen's BERSERKER

This isn’t a photo of the actual Berserker game I received, and I wonder what happened to that one. It was, in fact, missing the Berserker tracking sheet, but it was fairly self-explanatory and my brother and I worked up our own.

This shot is, actually, a copy that I purchased new a year ago or so from Flying Buffalo. They’re still selling them new for $6.95 plus shipping.

Other than the name and the general concept, this game is not anything particularly noteworthy. The idea of fighting off gigantic killer robot-ships from space is old hat these days, but back when Fred Saberhagen first published the stories it was something new. And the coolness of the setting continues to resonate.

The battle is on! (And that C-Plus Cannon Ship is <em>way</em> too close.

The battle is on! (And that C-Plus Cannon Ship is way to close.

What does make this game a bit special is the same simpleness and ease-of-play that many will find off-putting.

Despite a ruleset only 8 pages long (plus two pages of corrections and additions that weren’t available when I first fought the death machines) the quick set-up and fast pace makes this a fun little game to play on the spur of the moment. My son enjoys it, though he’s been on the receiving end of Berserker destruction far more often than he’s been able to dish it out. I think that in games between him and me the Berserkers have always won, though I know that back in the day my brother and I won as humanity almost as often as not.

I’ve also got to admit that the idea of a “Stone Place” scenario consisting of ten complete sets and a large number of commanders on each side sounds like an afternoon of fun.

    Our House Rules:

  • Planet sets up first within 5 hexes of one map edge
  • Berserker(s) set second up touching map edge opposite planet
  • Human ships set up last within 3 hexes of planet
  • Divide Planetary Production by 10

UPDATE: My son corrects me by pointing out that humans have won several games against the Berserkers. In fact, now that I think about it, that must be why we scaled back human planetary production.

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