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Planetary Sand

Space  Battle Game

Copyright 1998 - T. Sheil & A. Sheil - All Rights Reserved

A simple, fun game for kids of all ages.  Play it on the beach, in the backyard or the living room rug!

You command a task force of galactic troopers against enemy forces on distant planet.  Your Planetary Infantry, supported by Space tanks and all-atmosphere personnel carriers, take on the opposition on desolate asteroids, bizarre planets and far-off space stations.  Your troops are armed with the latest particle bean cannons, ray guns and zap rifles in their quest to make the Universe safe for Humanity.

What You Need to Play

Here's what you need:

Making tools:

String should be cut in lengths of 4 feet, 3 feet, 2 feet and one foot. Each string is then divided by thirds. You can tie a knot to separate each 1/3.  These are Range Cords representing distance, and noted as R1, R2, R3 and R4.  They measure both movement and weapons range.  For larger figures, you can make the cords longer - for instance, R4 can be 8 foot instead of 4.  Doubling or tripling distance also helps when you have large armies in a large area..

Each cord is divided into 3 to represent Close, Medium and Long ranges

The disk has to be four quarters. Draw a cross over the center to do this.

Click here first - The Basics of the Sandy Hook Battle Games

The Planetary Battlefield

A backyard, rockpile or beach make excellent environments for Planetary Sand.  Indoors, you can use any large floor to play.  For smaller scale troops (30mm and 1/64 or smaller) a large table will suffice.

Basic game: divide the battle into three rectangular zones.  The center zone is "No Man's Land," an unoccupied region between the two armies.  Each army takes one of the ends.  They will advance toward each other, passing into No Man's Land on their way to join battle.

Defensive: one army sets up to defend an area or objective, the other tries to take it.  The defense wins by driving off the attackers.  Offense wins by taking and holding the objective for six consecutive turns.

Objective: each side has an objective in the other's territory.  For added fun, have one in No Man's Land that is wanted by both sides.  He who takes and holds the enemy objective for six consecutive turns wins.  However, he must prevent his objective from being taken.  If you have a third objective, the winning side must hold its first objective plus the one in No Man's Land to win.


In the simple game, players flip a coin.  He who wins decides who moves first.  From then on, the game play is: side 1 move, side 2 move, both sides fire (fire is treated as simultaneous).

We have not given precise measurement, bit prefer to have a flexible measure.  Depending on space available and the scale of your troops, each unit can be six inches, a foot, two foot, etc.  Each unit of measure is given as a Range.  Thus R1 is 1 Range unit, R 6 means 6 Range units in length.

These distances are how far an object can move.  There are two kinds of movement: Earth Gravity (EG) and Lunar Gravity (LG).    You must determine the gravity of your battlefield prior to play:

Infantry: EG -1, LG - 1 1/2

Space tank: EG - 2, LG - 2

Wheeled Speeder: EG - 2, LG - 3

Space Carrier, Rocket or Gun carrier, Tracked: EG - 2, LG - 3

Space Carrier, Rocket or Gun carrier, Wheeled: EG - 2, LG - 3

Pushed Gun (needs 3 men on EG, 2 on LG): EG - 1/2, LG - 1


Different aspects of the land affect movement.  Here is how speed is affected:

Hills:  climbing a gently-sloping hill  - 10 degrees to 44 degrees- slows troops and wheeled vehicles speed by 1/3 in Earth Gravity only.  {Gentle slopes do not affect troops in Lunar Gravity.)  It does not slow tracked vehicles.  A steep hill - 45 to 80 degrees - slows them 2/3 in Earth gravity, and 1/3 in Lunar Gravity.  (Hills over 80 degrees can only be scaled by climbers with climbing gear or men with rocket packs.)  Wheeled and tracked vehicles cannot climb steep slopes in Earth or Lunar gravity.

Going down hill on gentle slopes does not affect movement.  On steep slopes, movement is slowed by a third.

Rivers: Some planets with Earth gravity and atmosphere might have rivers.  On coming to a river, a unit must stop immediately.  If the river is fordable, all movement through the river is slowed by one half.  On climbing the far bank, the unit must stop.  

Bridges, Passes, Tunnels: when a unit comes to cross a bridge or go through a narrow pass or tunnel, choose one piece as the lead figure.  It moves as far as you wish, and everyone else follows behind.  

Lakes: Some Earth-like planets have lakes. Non-Earth planets might have lakes of ammoniam, mercury or other chemicals. Crossing lakes involves using personnel carriers or boats.  It takes one move to get on the boat or carrier, and one move to get off.  A boat or barge can move R1 per turn in lakes.

Range and hitting target

Remember how we divided each range cord into thirds? The third nearest the shooter is Close range, followed by Medium and ended by Long range. When you fire a gun, its range affects how well you hit target.

When you shoot a target, roll two dice. At close range, you need 6 or more to hit. At medium range, you need 8 or more. At long range, 10 or more.

If the enemy you fired at does not move, and you fire again at him/it, add 2 to your dice score.

If he is firing from inside a building other than a bunker, or from behind an armored vehicle, subtract one from your dice score.

If he is fighting from inside a bunker or behind an armored vehicle, subtract 2 from your dice score. If he is not fighting, you cannot shoot him if he is behind a wall or vehicle. However, if he fired or intends to fire, or if he is working a gun/missile/rocket crew that is firing, he is fighting.

Firepower: Firearms

Each weapon does a certain amount of damage to a target, depending on its strength plus its range.  You must determine first if the battle zone has Half-Earth (HE) or Space Atmosphere (SA).  Weapons do more damage in a vacuum.  Range is given in a single number following an R (R1, R2, etc,) The damage of each weapon is related in a sequence of 3 numbers, which are Close, medium and Long Range

Ray Pistol

HE - R2, 2-2-1

SA - R3, 3-2-2

Zap Rifle

HE - R3, 3-2-1

SA - R4, 4-3-3

Heavy Crew Gun (2 man, resembles heavy machine gun)

HE - R4, 4-3-2

SA - R5, 5-4-4

Ray Cannon (Tank gun or equivalent 3-man crew weapon)

HE - R5, 6-4-3

SA - R6, 8 - 6 -4

Rate of fire: a pistol and rifle fire once per turn.  Heavy Crew guns fire one for each crewman.  These are aimed at the same target.

Firepower: Missiles and Grenades

Missiles and grenades are different, because regardless of range, they deliver the same explosive power.  We use a cup or sand pail to determine the blast area, depending on the size of the weapon.  Missiles may be used as direct or indirect fire.  Direct fire is aimed at a specific target in a straight line from the launch, with no obstacles between the shooter and target.  Indirect fire is use when a missile is fired at a unit, group, or when it fires over an obstacle to lob itself onto the target.  Indirect fire is subject to the cup rule:

Cup rule: An explosive, be it a missile, rocket or grenades, chooses a target and fires. A die is rolled. 5 or 6 means a direct hit. A cup or sandpail is placed over center of the blast, and everything inside is ruined or killed. If you roll a 3, the hit fell short and lands one cup-width to the front, 4 means to the rear, 5 to the left, 6 to the right. Again, a cup is placed over the center of the blast and everything inside is hit. (Of course, a stone wall will resist the blast. If the blast is outside the wall, everything inside remains untouched), This simulates a missile weapon's tendency to be off target and create casualties also. And it shows why you never fire at a target too close to your troops!

Rockets: for purpose of this game, rockets cannot be fired directly.  They point upward and thus are an indirect fire weapon.  Large rockets damage a pail-sized area, small rockets blast a cup-sized radius.

Mortars: space mortars can only fire indirectly.

Tank Cannon can only be fired directly.

Missiles can be fired directly.  They are used mainly to attack targets.

A missile can also be fired indirectly, but you must first fire a dice.  If you get a 1, the missile went awry and goes wild into space.  2 through 6 means it fired indirectly.

Atomic Grenades can be thrown directly at a target, or indirectly for a blast.  These have a sensor that determines whether to explode for direct damage or a blast.  They do a cup radius of damage when thrown indirectly.  Atomic Grenades have a small rocket which assists the thrower, this giving them double range of Earth-style grenades.

Only those figures armed with grenades can use them.  A grenadier can carry four grenades.

Bazookas and light rocket launchers have both a direct damage power plus an indirect fire ability of doing one cup diameter of blast damage.

Blast damage is indicated as BD, direct damage as DP

Atomic Grenade

HE - R2, SA -R3  BD - Cup - 3, DP - 3

Light Rocket, Mortar

HE - R4, SA - R5, BD-Cup - 3

Heavy Rocket

HE - R6, SA - R6, BD - Pail - 5

Light Missile, Space Bazooka

HE - R4, SA - R5, BD - Cup - 3, DP - 5

Heavy Missile

HE - R5. SA - R6, BD - Pail - 4, DP - 8

Rate of Fire: a missile or rocket is only fired once.  It cannot be recovered and fired again.  Once it is shot, it is gone.  

A bazooka launcher and mortar can fire only once per turn.  These are considered reloadable.

It takes one man one turn to reload a Light Missile or Light Rocket Launch pad.  It takes two men two turns to reload a heavy Rocket or Heavy Missile launch pad.


In order to use heavy or light rockets and missiles, you must have a launch pad or some type of launching base.  When either is shot, it is removed from the game.  You may carry extra rockets and missiles, which would be transported by vehicles. No "make believe" here - to be playable, the item must be present!

Defensive Armor

All items can resist a certain amount of impact.  This is its defense capacity.  If a weapon's damage capacity is greater than an item's defense, the item is destroyed or penetrated.  If equal, flip a coin.  Heads damages the item, tails it doesn't

Man - 1

Man in space-suit - 2

Wheeled speeder (light unarmored) 2

Personnel Carriers - 4 frontal, 3 side,2 bottom armor

Tanks - 6 frontal armor, 4 side armor, 2 rear, bottom armor

Space building - 3 walls, 4 doors

Space bunker - 7 walls, 8 doors, 5 roof

Space station - 4 - walls, 4 - doors.

Note - a pistol or rifle can only penetrate doors and walls.

A tank can knock down any door.  It can knock open any wall of 4or less.  A personnel carrier/SP carrier can only take out walls or doors of 3 or less.

Special Space Rules


Movement: when two units first come within R1 of each other, they must stop and face each other.


Air Supply: When fighting in a building, any breech of a door removes oxygen in the adjacent compartment.  Anyone without space suit must flip a coin. Heads he makes it to an airtight compartment, tails he is killed by vacuum.  If there is no adjacent airtight compartment with oxygen, he is dead.

A rifle/pistol shot penetrating a wall causes that compartment/room to lose oxygen by the next turn.  Any occupants without air must evacuate to an airtight compartment, put on a space suit or die.  (Use a space helmet to represent suits)

Tanks and personnel carriers have airtight, pressurized cabs - a figure can retreat into a friendly carrier or tank.  One figure causes no change, 2 or more means that vehicle cannot move or fire the next turn.


BLAST area: the weakest part of a vehicle or building inside a blast area is the part that is considered hit, provided it is facing or directly under the center of impact.  If it faces away from the impact, then only those facing the blast center take damage. A vehicle or object directly under the center of blast is affected as of hitting its weakest point.

Example: a tank's front part is within a blast circle, facing the center of the circle.  It takes damage for front and sides, but not the rear.  Since 4 is the weakest armor affected, if the blast is 5 or more the tank is destroyed.  3 or less and it escapes damage. 4 damage means it must flip the coin.


Hand to Hand combat: when two units of infantry come into contact, they each fire once at the R1 point (after all, units stop when first coming into R1 of each other). If they close and make direct contact, hand to hand combat ensues.  Men cancel each other out until one side outnumbers the other 2 to 1.  At that point, outnumbered troops are captured and must be marched back to enemy lines.  One man guards 8 prisoners.  If the guard is killed, the men escape.  They must return to their own lines before rejoining the battle, BUT they can defend themselves if attacked.  Once the attack is over, they must continue to their own lines.

If a guard marches his prisoners to his own lines, they are considered disarmed.  At that point, one man can guard 20 prisoners.


Robots: robots add a new dimension to combat.  Because the ancient 8086 is the only chip that isn't affected by a robot's sensors, a mechanical man has great limitations.  He can only be programmed to perform one function.  He is also limited in how he performs it, since most of his chipset is engaged in operating his sensors and mechanical system.  

A robot is not affected by air or vacuum.  Every robot moves R1 whether in Lunar or Earth gravity.  Robots defensive armor is 2.  Because robots are stronger, one robot does the work of 2 men.

There are seven kinds of robots: infantry, engineer repair, electronic repair, driver, gun crewman, laborer, missile technician.  

Infantry: armed with zap rifle, ray pistol or grenade.   Infantry can follow one order, usually proceeding to a specific objective.  They can go to it, fight for it, but will proceed no further.  Robot infantry will defend if attacked, but will continue to proceed toward their objective.  When defending as such, their goal is to get away and make it to the objective.  Robots do not fight in hand-to-hand combat: even when forces contact, both sides keep shooting.  

Engineer repair robots work on structural and mechanical damage.  An engineer can repair breached walls, doors, and broken machinery.  It cannot repair damaged armor or weapons..  Thus, if a robot tries to repair a tank, it will have no armor protection and be unable to fire.  You would end up with an unarmored personnel carrier.  A robot can repair 1 point of damage per turn, thus in 3 turns 1 robot could restore a wall, in 2 turns repair a land speeder.  Two robots working together could repair it twice as fast.

Electronic repair robots are needed to restore life support inside a vehicle or space station.  Once the structural damage is repaired by engineers, an electronic tech can restore life support in one turn. An Electronic Repair robot can also be used by a Robotics Specialist to carry messages and new orders to other robots.

Drivers operate vehicles.  They can operate any tracked or wheeled vehicle in place of a human driver.

Gun crewmen: one robot gunner can operate a 2-man gun.  

Missile Technician: one robot missile technician can operate a rocket or missile launcher.

Laborer: a robot laborer can reload rockets and move equipment as if he were 2 men.

Limitations: a robot can be assigned one task or location.  For instance, an engineer or electronic repair robot might be assigned to a specific station or unit.  A crewman is assigned to one gun, a missile tech to one rocket or missile battery.  Infantry can be given only one mission.  In order to change a mission or assignment, a Robotic Specialist is required.  (You must designate one human/alien as a Robotic Specialist for every ten robots your army fields.)  The Robotic Specialist must be in contact with the robots whose mission he needs to alter, or he can send an Electronic Repair robot to carry that message for him.

Robots are stupid, in their way.  They follow orders blindly.  You need to be careful in giving orders. Don't tell an Infantry Robot unit to "Go into enemy territory and attack any targets."  The Robots will do as you command, but will continue to go further into enemy territory until they march right out of the area.  They can follow one order, and will attack only one unit, so after the fight would keep going right into enemy territory until they were gone.

Robots assigned to vehicles or stations will keep to their tasks.  Mobile robots must remain within R6 of a friendly Robotics Specialist in order to keep to their tasks.  

When sending a robot infantry unit of six or more men into combat, a Robotics Specialist ought to accompany them.  He can change their orders as the battle changes.

Damaged robots can be recovered and brought to your rear area.  You can take friendly and enemy robots.  Once in the rear, one team consisting of an Engineer Repair robot and an Electronic Repair robot can restore one robot for every two carried in.  It takes two turns to restore a robot.  (They are making one good robot from the parts of two damaged robots)  The unrestored robot of the pair is considered irreparable.

NEW Supplement for Planetary Sand - Click Here

Supplementary Rules: Advanced Rules, Ideas and Suggestions for Advanced Play

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