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Galac-Tac, a 4X Space Game

Cartoon of spaceship coming out of wormhole into trouble

Galaxies currently waiting for players

The following Galac-Tac galaxies have some players signed up but are awaiting more players to join in to fill up the number of positions available so they can begin play. If none of these are to your liking, you may start up a new galaxy with the configuration you prefer. To sign up to play with us, visit our Home Page.

Galaxies Filling
# Turn Interval Star Density Empire Count Positions Filled Start Date
25 2 days Normal 10-15 Several Filling
130 1 week Normal 10-15 Many Filling
Currently Active Galaxy Statistics
3 regular galaxies are currently in progress.
The next approaching due date is July 21, 2024.
21 solo galaxies are currently in progress.

What is Galac-Tac?

Quick! How do you say 'You're' our Prisoner' in Azurian?!!

Galac-Tac began in 1982 as a traditional play-by-mail (PBM) game, and has been in play ever since. The original PBM style of play is simple: players write down and mail their chosen orders (or “actions”) to the Game Master (GM). At a predetermined interval, all the actions are processed at once, and then printed reports are mailed back to the players showing what happened. Anticipation of the turn arriving in the mail is just as exciting as it was in the 1980s! Turn-based games like Galac-Tac are fun not because of fast-paced virtual action, but because they challenge the mind. Complexity, diplomacy, long-range planning, and time to form your own strategic plans are the hallmarks of PBM games. You can develop your plans at any convenient time between processing dates, without having to coordinate with someone with a different daily schedule, living in a different time zone, or even playing from another part of the world. Your allies (and enemies) have the same freedom, as the interaction builds over months of careful planning and execution. PBM gaming is a unique hobby that offers excitement over time, rather than instant gratification.

In today’s world players may, and most often do, enter their actions and receive their reports via the web, but the same game rules apply. Turns-by-mail can still be accepted and processed (see below), but web-based PBM games can turn around faster and save the costs of printing and postage. Games can include both forms of play as long as the interval is set long enough for mail to be delivered in a timely manner. Thus the old meets new on an even playing field, with only the input method differing.

Originally, players paid by turn submitted, but today they have a much more affordable option. Playing by web today only costs $5.00 per calendar month, regardless of how often you play in either live or practice (solo) games. There are also currently significant sign-up bonuses of free play time – visit our Home Page for more details. The turn interval varies by game and is coordinated in advance by the game's players, but is commonly about 1 or 2 weeks per turn.

Each independent game of Galac-Tac is called a “galaxy”. Each galaxy is composed of a few hundred stars scattered around a 100×100 grid, upon which you begin by owning only one (your Home World). Among the remainder are hiding your opponents’ Home Worlds. Each player may only play one position (“empire”) in each galaxy, and usually 10-15 empires compete for galactic domination. Players agree on a fixed turn processing schedule before the game begins. Beginning with a simple “You Are Here” map and identical sets of “starter ships” for exploration, development, and defense, each player crafts their own strategy, designs custom ships, and sets out to conquer the galaxy. Players must claim stars, collect resources, build defenses, scout out enemy territory, and plan and build attack fleets for conquest. Of course, as you race to claim and develop as much territory as possible, the other empires are doing the same thing, and eventually you’ll run into each other. Will you agree to a border, or rattle your light sabers at each other? Co-exist (for now) in peace, or immediately attempt to destroy your new neighbor? It’s up to you! Use of occasional diplomacy will help keep from making enemies on all your frontiers at the same time, unless you decide to attack everyone else on sight. Beginning or updated star maps show all the star systems available for conquest, identifying those stars you have claimed and developed. You can print and mark up your own map as you expand your knowledge and control of the galaxy, or request new printed maps as the game progresses. Better yet, use an off-line tool (such as The GTac Assistant) to display maps on your own computer screen. Creativity with your empire gives the game a more personalized feeling! Inventing a cultural or star-species “theme” for your empire can add more fun and diplomatic flavor, especially in your communications with other players.

Galac-Tac is a “closed-ended” game with a specific goal: take over the galaxy! The game can continue for as much as a few years as players explore and stake their claims among hundreds of untrammeled star systems. Empires invest in colonization, harvest the raw materials, and develop “production centers” where fleets of custom-designed ships can be built to secure their holdings and expand their domains. Eventually, there can be only one… the game ends when a single empire emerges victorious, or a random time limit (at least 85 turns out) is reached, when the most successful empire takes the prize.

To help motivate players to complete the conquest of their galaxy, the winner, and runner-up if there is one, are awarded additional free play time based on the amount of competition they've defeated.

Before a new player begins playing in their first galaxy, usually while waiting for a regular galaxy to fill with players, the new player should sign up to play in a “solo” galaxy. This is for play against only computer opponents so a new player can get used to the game, make beginner mistakes without serious consequences, and practice strategies to be used later against human opponents in a regular galaxy. Solo games may be played at any speed desired by pressing a button whenever the player is ready for the next turn to be processed. The computer opponents are not particularly agressive militarily, so it's a perfect way to have fun while trying out anything that comes to mind. Some players play a number of solo games using different styles, to see what they like best. Simply drop out of your solo game when it has served its purpose and start up a new one if desired.

How do you play?

Planting the Flag

From your home page on the web, select the galaxy in which you are playing to see basic statistics of your empire and any diplomatic messages that have been sent to your empire. Here you will also find places to view your reports, enter new actions, send messages, view current game maps, calculate costs of new ship designs, and other options. Any of these things may be done at any time.

Your first important step is to display your current report. It is shown directly in your browser and may be printed if desired. This report can be shown at any time, as can any previous report from turns past. (See below for an example.) Review this report for all your current information, including:

Your next important step is to decide what you want to do for the next turn. Write up a list of actions you wish to perform, some of which are empire-management activities (such as designing new types of ships or researching new technology) and others are ship-specific (such as giving them exploration, development, or defensive orders). Once you've decided on your plan of action, go to the web site and type in your desired actions using a strictly-coded system of commands and arguments. (See below for an example.) The web site will store what you've entered and will warn you about any obvious problems it notices in advance. This will not detect all possible problems so you still must be vigilent about what you enter, but it will help, particularly with new players. Actions may be changed any time prior to the next game processing date.

It may seem like Galac-Tac is a simple game with simple rules, but appearances can be deceiving. It is the way these rules are put together to bring about your desired objectives that can be so rich. The game encompasses all the different levels of conflict: strategic, tactical, and operational. So don't expect that purposeful play will be dull or boring. Make good use of your actions to continually advance toward your empire's objectives.

Rule Book

The main rule book for Galac-Tac gives you all the details of play. Some players may feel overwhelmed by the amount of detail packed into 55 pages, but most of it is best used as reference when needing to look up a particular point. For the most part, your first reading through it should probably just concentrate on getting the “feel” of the game. Anything you need to know about in more detail you can always re-read more carefully at that time. Some players have reported that they feel like some sections contain too much math, but by and large you won't need to worry about that. For instance, the costs and related calcuations when designing new ships are much more easily handled by using the ship design screen on the web site. Combats are handled for you automatically and the calculations for that are only there for those who take a deep and abiding interest in such details. But before reading the rule book from cover to cover, you might get an easier introduction by first reading the introductory articles to the game (described below), which introduce you to the game basics more smoothly.

  (Requires Acrobat Reader)     (Or use right-click to download it to your system.)

Additional sources of information

A number of magazine articles about Galac-Tac have been published in Suspense & Decision magazine and copies are available here for your convenience. The most important of these are the first two on the list:

These are the two articles that should be read before starting play, possibly even before reading the rule book. They contain the most basic information that is needed to get through the first few turns of playing Galac-Tac for the first time. The rule book contains all this information, too, but requires much more reading in order to get started. The rule book itself will make sense more easily after becoming more familiar with the game from playing the first turns (using the introductory articles above).

In addition, other articles are also available there, some offering general information and others with specific details about various facets of game play. In addition, there is a fictional episodic story being published that is set in the Galac-Tac universe. It provides an entertaining counterpoint to the game itself.

The web site's Contact Us page contains email addresses as well as various forums and discussion groups. GM or community assistance is available upon request via any of these methods.

An FAQ page is accumulating common questions that players have had, so that may be of some help as well. Please feel free to contribute any additional questions that you feel may be useful.

A commentary on Galac-Tac and its history is also available on our WikiPedia page for those that are interested.

In-game activities available during play

Attack on the Home World

Once you're actively playing in a game, the following game options are available directly from the web site:

The GTac Assistant

While Galac-Tac can be played perfectly well with paper and pencil (or electronic equivalents of same), it's surely a lot easier and more fun with some software assistance. One such program is available for download from the web site, called The GTac Assistant. It was originally player-written and has evolved over many years, though improvements are still planned. It makes playing Galac-Tac much, much easier than the traditional PBM method. (See below for some screenshots.)

Any players with some knowledge of programming are also encouraged to write and publish their own versions of an assistant program as well, which may well do a better job and appeal to its own group of players. One interesting suggestion has been to write an assistant that caters to helping blind players to play!

Some of The GTac Assistant's major capabilities include:

(Contributed add-on software, under development) Last updated: March 25, 2024
(or just get the most recent update file to bring your copy of GTac up-to-date, or click on Help→Update in the GTac menu to download it automatically)

Note: If you encounter a programming problem, please contact us at <galactac@talisman-games.com>.

Paper mail services

We offer additional paper mail services for those serving in our military overseas, in our prisons, or other restricted areas who wish to play Galac-Tac without the availability of a regular Internet connection. Actions may be submitted on paper or sent via email, as desired.

Examples From Playing the Game on the Web

A Portion of an Economic & Fleet Report


09-65 Jabba 100 (10) PV, 187 PI Home System
Empire Valuation: 100th percentile
Imports: 321 PV in-system; 15 PV expected next turn
1003 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S None
1004 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S None
1005 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S None
1034 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S None
1035 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S None
1036 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S None
1037 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S None
1306 FXXV Freighter /;;25/16-1 5S None
1307 FXXV Freighter /;;25/16-1 5S None
1402 FXXX Freighter /;;30/14-1 6S None
1403 FXXX Freighter /;;30/14-1 6S None
2101 ST1 Station 20P/20;;/ 40S Defend
Also in fleet: #2102
2001 CV1J Carrier, Jeep 4P/4;4;/14-14 10S Patrol
Hangars: FT1#1601, FT1#1602, FT1#1603, FT1#1604
2201 SK1 Skirmisher 2P//11-1 2S Joined to #2001
Also in fleet: #2202
2301 PB Patrol Boat 1P//-20 1S Patrol
Also in fleet: #2302, #2303
1101 FXV Freighter /;;15/16-1 3S Shuttle 05-72
Shuttle route: 05-72, 09-65   (PV in cargo: 15)
1102 FXV Freighter /;;15/16-1 3S Shuttle 11-59
Shuttle route: 11-59, 09-65   (PV in cargo: 15)
1103 FXV Freighter /;;15/16-1 3S Shuttle 22-63
Shuttle route: 22-63, 09-65   (PV in cargo: 15)
1201 FXX Freighter /;;20/16-1 4S Shuttle 02-75
Shuttle route: 02-75, 09-65   (PV in cargo: 18)
1202 FXX Freighter /;;20/16-1 4S Shuttle 20-55
Shuttle route: 20-55, 09-65   (PV in cargo: 18)
1301 FXXV Freighter /;;25/16-1 5S Shuttle 04-63
Shuttle route: 04-63, 09-65   (PV in cargo: 24)
1401 FXXX Freighter /;;30/14-1 6S Shuttle 20-66
Shuttle route: 20-66, 09-65   (PV in cargo: 27)
1010 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S To
1011 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S To
1012 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S To
1017 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S To
1018 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S To
1019 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S To
Cargo: 1 available, 9 PV

09-56 Unnamed Star System 6 (2) PV Colony System
1002 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S Shuttle 09-65
Shuttle route: 09-65, 09-56

11-50 Unnamed Star System 24 (8) PV Colony System

11-59 Unnamed Star System 15 (5) PV Colony System

17-60 Unnamed Star System 12 (4) PV Colony System

20-66 Unnamed Star System 27 (9) PV Colony System

20-84 Unnamed Star System 21 (7) PV Colony System
1024 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S None

21-58 Unnamed Star System 12 (4) PV Colony System

22-63 Unnamed Star System 15 (5) PV Colony System

22-72 Unnamed Star System 9 (3) PV Colony System
1001 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S Shuttle 09-65
Shuttle route: 09-65, 22-72

22-76 Unnamed Star System 18 (6) PV Colony System

25-70 Unnamed Star System 24 (8) PV Colony System
1021 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S None

28-73 Unnamed Star System 24 (8) PV Colony System
1022 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S None

99-66 Unnamed Star System 18 (6) PV Colony System

99-72 Unnamed Star System 12 (4) PV Colony System

04-81 Unnamed Star System 3 PV Colonizing
1032 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S Colonize
Cargo: 5 available, 5 PI

14-48 Unnamed Star System 6 PV Colonizing
1027 FX Freighter /;;10/20-1 2S Colonize
Cargo: 5 available, 5 PI

00-38 1518 SC1 Scout Ship //19-1 1S Scout

04-91 1514 SC1 Scout Ship //19-1 1S Scout

09-37 1515 SC1 Scout Ship //19-1 1S Scout

09-92 1509 SC1 Scout Ship //19-1 1S Missing

11-95 1511 SC1 Scout Ship //19-1 1S Scout

A Sample Action Input Screen

Action name Argument #1 Argument #2 Argument #3 Argument #4 Argument #5

GTac Assistant Examples

An Action Input Screen

An Empire Status Report

The Ship Designer Window

A Simple Map Showing Empire and Neighbors

A Galactic Map Showing Claimed Territories

An Economic Map Showing Raw Material Transportation Routes