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Space Empires: 4X» Forums » Sessions

Subject: After a year and a half, I finally get this to the table rss

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Derek Porter
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Bangor
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I'm not quite sure how I found out about Space Empires. Here on BGG, of course, but I don't really remember when I first learned of it. The theme caught my attention - I've always had a deep love for science fiction, and I'm a sucker for a sci-fi space theme. I managed to score a copy from a Geek auction a little over a year and a half ago, and was excited when I found that the game had been opened but never played. Even the counter sheets were unpunched and in perfect condition! Reading through the rules, I was amazed at how simple and straightforward it was laid out, but it was still obvious how deep the gameplay could be. After sorting out all the counters (and wondering about this counter-clipping thing I kept reading about), I tried several times to introduce the game to my regular group.

I'm fortunate to not only have an excellent local game shop that hosts regular board game days, but also to have a few local gaming groups with a wide variety of gamers to game with. There's certainly a bias towards eurogames in most of the groups, but I also have a regular crew of gamers that like to play the big chunky games that I prefer as well. At the time (and even now), Twilight Imperium was our game of choice and we were playing regularly when I first tried to introduce SE:4X to the group.

Unfortunately, no matter who I talked to I kept running into the same problem. Everyone thought the game sounded really interesting, but as soon as I mentioned the (simple!) bookkeeping required to play the game, nearly everyone lost interest. It was just too much for most players, no matter how much I emphasized how easy it was, and I quickly lost hope of ever getting it on the table. It sat in my collection for well over a year, collecting dust.

Earlier this year, I finally decided to give the solo game a try. After familiarizing myself with the rules again, I brought it to a game day at the local shop when I knew that I'd be waiting for the rest of the group to show up. I certainly got more than a few odd looks from some of the Magic players, and I found out that the Doomsday Machines are not to be trifled with. Even though I was losing to the game, I was so focused that I hadn't realized that a few of the regulars had been watching over my shoulder. After losing horribly finishing up, I got asked a few questions about the game, which I enthusiastically answered and did my best to explain everything. I could tell a few people were interested, but there were shiny new euros to try out that day, so I packed up Space Empires. But the interest was sparked...

A couple of people kept asking about "that game with all the counters," but it kept getting put off in favor of other things... until yesterday. I decided I was bringing Space Empires to game day, and told a few people that had seemed interested. Unfortunately, only one of them showed up ... but another player unexpectedly sat down at the table as we were setting up and asked to play, saying it looked interesting. Thus began my first real game of Space Empires.

I quickly explained the rules and both of the other players were surprised at how few rules there seemed to be. I reassured them that this was a Good Thing and we set out to play. To keep things simple, we did not use any optional rules, though they were often mentioned as different circumstances would occur (more on this later). We did decide that it would be easier to play with all ships being upgraded instantly; again, that scary bookkeeping aspect! After a few clarifications, the Red, Blue, and Green empires set about exploring their surroundings and getting down to the business of eradicating each other.

I (Blue) focused on upgrading my Movement tech early, figuring that mobility would pay off later on. I avoided spending much on ships or combat technology, reasoning that I could focus on that once I established my forward colonies. On my left, Red was playing extremely conservatively, expanding very slowly, which puzzled me but I wasn't too worried about it. On the other hand, Green quickly spread through his Home System counters and was moving into the deep space hexes in the middle of the board.

I was lucky to have several planets close to my home planet, but realized that I didn't have any good locations for a forward base. As I slowly explored towards the middle of the board, Red finally got his act together and started colonizing several planets close to my side of the board. Green, not satisfied with his Home System planets, purchased the Terraforming technology and began colonizing several Barren planets in deep space between his and Red's systems. As I slowly gathered up minerals to bring home to my colonies, my Scouts were discovering lots of fun things, like Black Holes, Asteroids, and Dangers! On the same turn that Red and Green had their first skirmish, I discovered the last planet in my Home System, right in the middle of the board at the edge of my territory.

I began building up my forward colony with the intent of constructing Ship Yards there while the conflict between Red and Green began heating up. I invested in Attack, Defense, and Tactics technologies, but I still kept focusing on Movement. I did my best to conceal how far my ships could move, thinking I could cleverly use this to my advantage. Unfortunately, the first major battle between Red and Green revealed that they were both a couple of steps ahead of me in terms of Attack and Ship Size techs. I wasn't sure if I would be able to hold my own in a fight against either of them. On top of that, both Red and Green had ships patrolling the deep space along our mutual borders and I only had one Ship Yard on my forward base.

Things were looking bleak. I built a couple of Decoys to send to the front lines and focused on building pairs of ships to send forward, again concealing my full movement potential. By the time that I had a decent force on the front line, Green had punched a hole in Red's defenses. At this point I realized that both of them had neglected Movement in favor of Attack, Defense, and Ship Size, and while Green had found an opening to Red's home world, he would not be able to take advantage of it before Red could build more ships and counterattack.

When Red pulled his ships away from our mutual border to defend his flank, I hatched a plan. Green had left his flank relatively undefended, so sent a small force of Cruisers in to attack one of his colonies. While I succeeded in eliminating the colony, he managed to wipe out my Cruisers with a Scout swarm and some good die rolls. I counterattacked with a pair of Destroyers, wiping out the Scouts and opening a gap in his defenses. He still had enough CPs to build a sizable force at his forward base, splitting them up to attack my Destroyers and maintain pressure on Red.

Red was in a bad spot, but had several ships spread thin in a line between his home planet and the Red/Green front. Taking advantage of Red's retreat from our border, I captured a couple of Minerals and moved a fleet of Cruisers into position to attack the gap in Red's defenses. The next round saw a massive battle between Red & Green's forces, with Red's superior technology winning them the fight, but only just. Red had several ship groups moving slowly to the front lines, and I wasn't sure if I would be able to take them on in a head to head fight.

While I was wondering what to do, Green launched another offensive into Red territory, leaving a clear path to his forward base open to my Cruisers and their superior Movement tech. I swooped in and destroyed all but one of his Ship Yards, losing the battle but crippling Green's production capability. But thanks to some incredible die rolling, Green managed to defeat the Red counterattack and once more had a clear path to the Red Home World. Despite his losses, Green was looking good.

By this point, I had several ships gathered around my forward colony. I had neglected to explore much outside of my Home System area, and didn't have the Terraforming technology to take advantage of the few revealed Barren planets anyway. I poured most of my CPs into Movement technology, gambling that I could reach Green's relatively undefended Home World if I was quick about it. I sent Decoys after Green's battered forward base once more and maneuvered my Battle Cruiser and Cruiser groups into position.

Green pressed his attack on Red, managing to reach Red's Home World, but once again Red's slightly better technology narrowly staving off defeat. By this point, most of Green's ships were in Red territory, drawing all of Red's attention. I moved the Decoys into attack position, drawing Green's attention away from my actual ships long enough for three Battle Cruisers to sneak into the Green Home World. Two turns later, I was victorious!

It being our first real game, naturally there were a few omissions and mistakes, but nothing especially game-breaking. As we played, several optional rules came up in discussion - notably the Merchant Ship pipelines - and the next time we play we'll be adding in a few new rules. And there will be another game, and soon! Both players were very excited to give the game another shot, and several other people were asking lots of questions. It looks like Space Empires will finally be getting the love it deserves. It took a year and a half, but it was well worth the wait.
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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Toronto
Ontario
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I am looking forward to an upcoming trade for this game. This session report has me super excited. Thanks
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You may call me
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Excellent report! Thanks! I'm on the verge of getting this myself.

One thing I noticed though is that one of the reported weaknesses of playing 3 players was revealed in this session as well. Other players have commented that with 3 players, when 2 players enter into battle it's easy for the third player to swoop in and claim victory on the weakened combatants. (With this I don't mean to belittle your victory!)

I would be curious to find out how your next 3 player session goes.
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Adam Hickey
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Indiana
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We've done quite a few games three players, and were generally dissatisfied until we played one of the 2v1 scenarios. It worked much better, and I would highly recommend playing that way.
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Jim Krohn
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
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Ahhh....my misspent youth...
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When I play three player, I always play 2 v 1. The expansion has another version that balances it with extra Empire Advantages.
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Rob
United Kingdom
Wigston
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Thanks for the session report. I received my copy of the game this week and, like you, was surprised (and pleased!) at how straightforward the rules seem.

I'm hoping I can get it to the table with my gaming group in less than a year and a half but I fear it may still take a while! In the meantime, I'll keep badgering my wife!
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