You might be familiar with E.E. Smith's Lensman novels, but you've probably never played the 1969 classic Lensman wargame. Out of print since the 70s, copies of the original Lensman game are so rare they're hard to find even on ebay. Now, original designer Phil Pritchard is overhauling the game for re-release, hopefully later this year. Here's why Lensman's retro charm is still shining after all these years.
Pritchard self-published Lensman in '69, hand-drawing the map (pictured above) and stenciling most of the pieces. Loosely inspired by the Lensman novels, it was the first space wargame and also the first "4x" game (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate). As revolutionary as it was, Pritchard himself admits that, "the designer's creativity exceeded the components' capacity to support the design."
The new components will be double-sided and die-cut, showing the original maps and markers on one side and a new version with modern colors and graphics on the other (modern map pictured above). You can play three different versions of the game: a quick version that will last two hours or so, the 4x version that involves exploring nearby star systems, and another version with deep tactical combat that includes orbital fortifications, mines, tractors beams and other goodies.
Keep in mind that even the updated Lensman will be strictly old-school. There are no fancy miniatures with clicky bases, just lots and lots of cardboard chits and a hex map to move them on. There are forms to track your systems and your ships. It's pretty hardcore grognard stuff. There's no set date for the release yet, but they're close enough that they had a booth at Origins last month promoting it. Images by: Phil Pritchard.