Erik Nilsson
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This little dude is "Shadax", the protagonist from the NES game Solstice.
Hi again,

Last night, after a splendid round of Cosmic Encounter (damn that Pacifist!) my group sat down for a game of Rex. Once more, we had one new guy on board, and I recommended that (too save time) he did not play Jol-Nar. Time seem to have become a real issue to us. Our last game, which ended in round 5, took us almost 5 hours to complete. There was a feeling in the group that we should perhaps limit the game beforehand, so we decided we would only play 6 rounds.

*** FIRST GAME ***
We set up the game and randomized the races. I got XXCha, which I hadn't played before. My guess was Hacan round 6. My starting strategy card was an X-35 bio-weapon, and my traitor was the Sol's 5.

The first round started out pretty much like it had before, Lazax dumped a stack of troops into Mecatol Power South. Hacan dropped some troops into IAF HQ. No one had gone after the influence on the board yet (8 in sector 10), so I wanted to march some of my turtles in there, but this time I was cautius. The fleet was too far away (sector 2) to get me but I asked Jol-Nar if there was a Sol Offensive coming. I put away 1 influence and said "This is yours in the next cease fire". Jol-Nar promised me that there would be no sol offensive, so I plopped in 4 turtles into the space. Hearing this, Letnev moved 14 units to get the 6 influence in sector 1, leaving the Navy Base virtually undefended. Sol marched into the navy base with a couple of guys and easily defeated the lone Letnev.

The next round was not a sol offensive... or so Jol-Nar thought. Hacan played a Tracking Beacon (resolve a sol offensive) and blew up my 4 turtles and the 14 letnev guys :-(
This turn, I just made a small attack on sol in sector 14. Letnev had bought back some troops but opted not to deploy at all, he was not on the board at all at this point. Lazax hot-dropped 2 mechanized units into the navy base. Sol moved a few troops into Mecatol power south. Jol-Nar just passed, sitting tight in the civ. spaceport. Hacan saw her opportunity and moved her stack in IAF into the Navy Base, and hot-dropped 5 or 6 units or so into the Imperial Palace.

Suddenly, it was clear that both sol and Hacan had a chance of winning the game. However, hacan had more troops. My battle with sol was pretty wasteful. I killed off 2 or 3 sol guys with my single turtle. Lazax beat sol in MPS and then he battled Hacan in the Navy Base, and lost. In the two Sol-Hacan battles which remained, Hacan killed off Sol's leaders (Sol did not have any defense cards, this was apparent from sols previous two battles). When the smoke had cleared, only Hacan was left standing on the Navy Base and in the Imperial Palace, and since she also controlled Adminus Imperialis, she had won the game, in round 2.

So who was to blame for this easy victory? I mostly think it was Letnev, who first made an unwise decision to give up NB so easily, and then refusing to redeploy (under the pretense of "I don't want to pay into Hacan's pocket"). This left a void on the game board, and since Jol-Nar was held up in the corner (potected by the fleet on turn 1, and then just passing on turn 2), there were only 4 players who were really contending over the board. 3 really, because I didn't really go for any of the stronghold, which of course, I should have.

This was sort of an anti-climax. We all felt (except the Letnev player) that we wanted to go at it again. Especially the new guy (who played Lazax) who had just gotten the hang of it. So we set up the board for the second game of the night. We agreed that this one would be capped at 6 rounds as well. This time, I was Hacan. I started with an Atmos Ionizer, and I had Mirritar (Lazax 6-leader) as a traitor.

This time, I really wanted to get good cards. I was directly opposite to Jol-Nar. When it was my turn to bid, I said "I would like some help, I'll make it worth your while" and put 2 influence down as a small deposit to Jol-Nar in the next cease fire. This turned out to be pretty favorable. By the second turn I had pretty good cards: Mercenary, Ionizer, X-35 and a retreat. The new guy was Letnev this time. He fueled up on cards fast and very aggressively went after the influence on the board. For two turns he was almost unchallenged and collected all the influence. Sol was spread out thin over his entire deployment area, the fleet crushed most of his troops before he had time to move them.

In turn 2, letnev attacked me at Adminus Imperialis in full force, where I had 9 or so units. With the help of my mercenary card, I was able to secure the victory, but I only had 2 units left there.
By now my Jol-Nar bribe had gone up to 6 influence and I was holding two energy rifles (I had used up my retreat). I had also been able to claim the Navy Base, just like Hacan did in the last game. I had both Adminus Imperialis and the Base, so things were going well for me

In turn 3 there was a cease fire. I was threatened by Letnev, who I was pretty sure was going to drop into AI (where I only had 2 units), and by XXCha who now had a large stack in the Galactic Council and was preparing to march into the Navy Base with it. At this point, Letnev had suffered some defeats and barely had any troops on the board at all. His best shot at gaining a foothold was attacking me, so there was no real point in allying with him. I proposed an alliance with XXCha, both to secure my hold on the NB and to gain their powerful battle ability. XXCha wanted some though, and I gave her enough to buy good cards. XXCha also had 1 turtle in Sai-Morgai (sector 13). Letnev and Jol-Nar teamed up at this point. Lazax was forbidden to ally by a card, and nobody was interested in forging a 3-alliance with sol, so that was it.

Lazax had gone after som influence just before the cease fire, and was standing with 2 mech and 5 regular units in sector 4 (the influence there was doubled by a card). He had cleverly bargained with Jol-Nar to know that the next card was not a sol offensive (it was a cease fire), but the card after the cease fire WAS a sol offensive, and Lazax lost a lot of troops. Letnev and Sol were at the other influence drop in sector 13. Letnev was killed and Sol teleported to Adminus Imperialis. Huh? I knew I was going to be fighting there, but I wasn't expecting to fight Sol. The next influence card dropped 8 influence into sector 10 and 6 into sector 1. Letnev didn't drop into AI, but instead went after the influence again in sector 10. I left 1 unit in AI to defend against Sol and moved 1 unit to sector 10 to engage Letnev there. I felt confident, I had great cards (1 energy rifle to spare) and I was empowered with the commanding voice of the XXCha, Space Lions with Space Turtle Power! I had 2 units in sector 14 which were in the direct path of the fleet. Instead of deploying this turn, I space-ferried them to the imperial palace, where sol had a stack of 11 or 12. XXcha moved the 1 unit down into Mecatol Power South, where Lazax had the rest of his troops, and said "I want to fight!". She also dropped in 3 troops in sector 1, Tarraguth Slums. Jol-Nar just moved to sector 17 (Vel Tarro). Lazax had gotten a lot back with a "Fresh Recruits" card and deployed a stack (can't remember where...).

During the battle phase I managed to hold my ground against Sol in AI. I commited 0 of 1 unit and a good leader, then I commanded Sol not to use Magen shield and then blew his leader away with one of my rifles, which I kept. In the next battle vs. Letnev (1 unit vs 5) I decided to sacrifice my rifle to snipe a Letnev leader. I commanded him not to use Magen, and blew a 4-leader away, but I still lost a battle, so I had to part with (one of) my rifle(s). In the battle with Sol in the imperial palace, my 2 units vs his 12, I figured I was lost, but I still commanded Sol not to use Magen. I took my suckiest leader (strength 1), both of my units. The other players were discussing my cards. Letnev seemed to think that I had a mercenary card in my hand, Jol-Nar confessed that he didn't know. All this talk made Sol fret a bit, and when the dials came up, he had committed 10 units! Sure I lost, but I lost successfully !

XXcha had blown the shield in Mecatol Power South, and now turtled just to make sure that there would be no battle in which Lazax could withdraw with a Tactical Retreat. At the end of the turn, XXCha also played an Intel Report and moved the fleet all the way up to sector 17, destroying the last half of Lazax army and a group of Jol-Nar with them. XXCha was a killer machine! I was relieved to be in an alliance with them.

Another cease fire showed up. Letnev broke up with Jol-Nar and allied with Sol. Jol-Nar teamed up with Lazax instead. I and XXCha were still teamed and I gave her half of my money (20 influence) so she could space-ferry her guys wherever she wanted to go.
In the next turn (5). I dropped in reinforcements into the Navy Base (to a total of 10 units). Letnev went after the influence again. Sol was basically out of the game. Jol-Nar dropped a few units into Mecatol Power South (which was vacated from bombardment). Lazax who had been eradicated from the board, hot-dropped 2 mechs and 7 regulars into the Navy Base. XXCha space ferried 17 units into MPS and walked in with her remaining 3 into the Civilian Spaceport to fight Jol-Nar's 6 there. This was our push to win the game.

In my battle with Lazax, I (per usual) commanded him to not use Magen, but I quickly changed my mind and said X-35 instead. Which was a mistake... I was a bit confused about what to do. I really wanted Lazax to use his best leader so I could traitor-win. Lazax, being allied with Jol-Nar asked me how many units I was going to commit, 5 I said, half of my units there. I took my second best leader (4) and chose only an attack card. Lazax dial showed 7 and his 3-leader. The leader was killed and I won the battle by 1, pew!
Jol-Nar had two battles vs XXCha now, in MPS and in the Civ Spaceport. He chose the latter one first. This battle was one by XXCha with a traitor-win. In the second battle, XXCha commanded him to not play Atmos Ionizer, and he didn't, he played the Hylar Pulse Cannon, which he had been holding on to the entire game. Of course, XXCha had Magen as defense so there was a huge exposion and XXCha lost all of her guys... wow.
At the end of the fifth round, nobody had won yet, and 85% of all units in the game were dead.

In the last turn (turn 6), another cease fire came up. The group came to a sobering fact. Nobody was going to get 3 strongholds alone. I was closest with 2, but I only had 1 unit in Adminus Imperialis, and only 5 in the Navy Base. Nobody was going to get 4 strongholds in a 2-alliance. The only way for me to win this was to hope that XXCha had guessed wrong, and make a strong 3-alliance and prevent sol from winning. So we drafted Jol-Nar into our alliance (he had no units on the board, no cards, and 10 influence). We simply wanted him for his ability, and for his money, which he willingly gave to us. The rest of the players (Lazax, Letnev and Sol) ganged up on the hope that XXCha had guessed Hacan.

In the last turn, all players recruited as much as possible. I and Lazax were fighting over Adminus Imperialis (for some reason which I couldn't understand). I was fighting a Letnev Stack of 15 in the imperial palace, I had 6 guys. XXCha was fighting Sol in Mecatol Power South 6 vs 14. Since we knew that they would be committing all of their troops, going for the Sol win condition, we pretty much had no chance of winning, and yes, we got annihilated. Strangely enough though, XXCha had guessed Sol turn 6, and won the game alone this way. So, once more, I got screwed... but it was great fun anyway!

*** SUMMARY ***

I especially enjoyed the fact that I was able to get really good cards by simply promising Jol-Nar some money. The next time I play an econ-race I'll definitely send some influence their way to get the cards I want.

I also realized how awesome XXCha's battle ability is in combination with good cards, it's almost unbeatable. Even if you're not planning on committing your cards, your opponent may still freak out and commit way to many troops.

Capping the game at 6 rounds is probably greatly beneficial to XXCha, and partially beneficial to Hacan and Sol. Lazax, Letnev and Jol-Nar are penalized by this. The second game actually did not take that long (only 3 hours). Unless we're really short on time next time, I'll vote for the full 8-round game to make it more fair.

Hopefully I'll get to play this wonderful game again soon!
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