Michael Weber: Heinrich, your game "Die kosmische Hanse" is published with the "Perry Rhodan" background? How
did it come this way and that the license was granted? Are you a fan of the booklet series?
"If I had got my hands on one of th ese booklets earlier it well could have been that I would write Perry Rhodan
stories myself these days instead of inventing boardgames - whereby its the question if the science fiction series
would have profited of this :-)
I actually read my first Perry Rhodan booklet in the biblical age of 22. I was immediately aware of how much I
already had missed at that time - the series is in existence since 1961! I did not see a chance to catch up to
material already published and turned to other hobbies. Thus I cannot say that I am a fan indeed - but on the
other side I am very happy that I was given a second chance to learn about the fascinating Perryversum and its
The game I developed was meant as a homage to the great boardgame "Merchant of Venus" and was started
using the working title "Venus Connection". When I first demonstrated the prototype at the Herner Spielewahnsinn
convention I had a chance to show it to Fritz Gruber from Kosmos. His positive feedback motivated me to continue
working on it intensively. He later told me that at this time he already considered to combine the game with
a Perry Rhodan license. When I demonstrated the game successfully again in Goettingen (a big meeting of game authors)
a cooperation with Wolfgang Luedtke (TM play/cosmos editorship) ensued which finally led to the publication as
Perry Rhodan license - not at least because the Pabel Moewig publishing house was also very interested to publish it.
Michael Weber: Space boardgames are usually not liked by the masses. Would another theme not have been a more promising choice?
"Here I would like to quote George Bernhard Shaw who said
'The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to
himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.'
In regard to science fiction and boardgames I'll have to count myself among the 'unreasonable' men, since again
and again I like to pursue science fiction themes. In regard to my Perry Rhodan boardgame however I have to say
that this was irrelevant because I intended to self publish it. I wanted to create a game having the main
characteristics of Merchant of Venus - a boardgame once published by Avalon Hill, that in my opinion is
a classic. My plan was to develop a minimalistic version of Merchant (how we call it here) for the tiny group of experienced
gamers who are familiar with this marvelous boardgame. My partner at Edition Erlkoenig, Mario Truant, imposed hard
restrictions: 110 cards - nothing else. No board, no pawns, no dice - just cards.
That was hard! But one grows with the challenges. I used some unusual mechanisms like multi-functional cards and the
like to honor these restrictions without losing my objective. The result was a typical "gamer's game".
Although I used some quite innovative mechanisms I paid attention to ensure that the game could be played fluently. The
guys from Kosmos were pleased so well with the game and its ideas that a co-operation developed. I still remember
my first game of Venus Connection with Wolfgang Luedtke (from TM Spiele working with Kosmos). He was dead tired - and
was pleasantly surprised that the game was able to revive his attention.
So in total - my motivation to develop a science fiction game was based on my enthusiasm for Merchant of Venus while
Kosmos was interested because of the chance to create a Perry Rhodan license."
Venus Connection becomes Perry Rhodan: The cosmic Hanse (caption of image)
Michael Weber: What about the background of the game? What is this all about the "Kosmische Hanse"?
"Recently a remote planet system was discovered in which some strange aen-old technology can be found. Different peoples
established themselves in this system and the task of the the players consists in transporting goods and passengers between
the six planets of these peoples - in order to make a certain amount of money as fast as possible. The first player to gather
a specific amount of money wings the game.
Instead of saving the earned money in order to reach the objective of the game, the players may alternatively invest it
in certain technologies (additional engines, special abilities, et cetera) in order to gain money more efficently.
Because of this there exists an interesting dilemma (also to be found in the original game of Merchant Of Venus):
How long do I still invest in technologies and when should I begin to save my money in order to win?
If I invest too little or late my opponent will do that and will earn his money much faster than me. If I invest too much
on the other side I'll drop back too far and my opponent will win although he actually earns money at a slower rate than
Michael Weber: How to you achieve this in the game? What mechanisms do you use?
"Both players have an identical set 30 cards and have five of these cards in hand to be
used in their turn. Some of these cards represent technologies, which can be bought and then will provide permanent
advantages, while all other cards are so called interventions which give a temporary advantage for the duration
of a player turn.
The goods cards provide the central means for the players to make money. I wanted a simple but also interesting
mechanism. There are 30 goods cards in play which are placed at the six planets to be picked up. A goods card shows
a commodity and the destination planet to which it must be transported as well as the amount that is earned
when delivering the goods card (pick up of goods is for free).
The trick with this mechanism is that - as soon as a goods card reaches its destination - it is flipped over and
will then show another commodity with a different destination planet. Each and every goods cards shows two different
commodities and destination planets on either side - by this method the delivery of a goods cards immediately creates
a new transport task.
The mechanism behind the goods cards is the same as in my game "Tschuk" which is published by the
3-Hirn-Verlag this autumn.
All goods cards waiting at a planet are grouped by their destination and are transported together. The reward consists
in the sum of the values of all transported cards - this way the transport tasks differ by value again creating
interesting dilemmas quite naturally.
Additionally a simple rule takes care that the goods will disappear one after the other. Thereby an increasing
demand is generated resulting in a bonus for players who succeed to deliver goods to planets which do not offer
new goods for transport themselves."
The goods of the prototype (caption of image)
Michael Weber: This is a two player game. Why this restriction?
"Venus Connection - the ancestor - was originally meant to be played by up to five players - and it worked quite well
with this number since the player's actions were very restricted. The number of options per turn was minimal, so that
there was nearly no downtime. In the development process however cards came into use which offered variable ways to
be used. This resulted in more liberties for the players and I therefore reduced the number of players to keep the
The decision to create a two player game resulted from the desire to create a more tactical game while restricting
the duration of a session to a maximum of 45 minutes. This was good for the publication in the end because the game
now fitted perfectly in the 'games for two' edition of Kosmos."
The spaceships of the prototype (caption of image)
Michael Weber: What should players keep in mind during their first session to avoid losing hopelessly?
" Naturally it is good to know the different cards and their effects - however, as in real life, the
best (and most sorrowful) way is to learn it by doing. Because of this a beginner will most probably
lose against an experienced player anyway.
In order not to lose hopelessly I can only recommend to observe exactly. Each individual session develops
a special character of its own which is (naturally) determined by the hand cards drawn at the start and
the following turns and on the other side by the flow of the goods cards.
There are sessions where the goods cards disappear rapidly from the game while in others there is a
rich offer of goods up to the end of the game. In the first case it might be a good idea to invest in
technologies increasing the speed of the spaceship while in the other case it may pay more to invest
in freigth space on board of the ship.
You have to be observant in every single session - there is no such thing as a "killer combo". Even if
there exists a winning combination of cards it could well be buried at the bottom of your deck, coming up late - too
late in order to be useful any more.
Again and again situations developed in test session offering an opportunity to devise and execute
a "devilish plan" as I call it. Maybe there is a chance to buy three technologies at low costs or
there arises a situation when it is possible to steal a fat load. It is crucial not to miss such opportunities.
In my opinion you will win this game if you either adapt the game flow to your resources or
adapt your resources to the flow of the game."