Martin Hendry
United Kingdom
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In a small galaxy, three races vie for dominance: the enigmatic energy beings of the Embers of Muaat, the expansionist hivemind of the Sardakk N'Orr and the noble traders of the Khajii... er, Emirates of Hacan.

The early days of the competition for the throne were peaceful days; mostly revolving around trade wars: the Muaat tried to take the lead in this by forcing the Hacan into uneven trades, but the Hacan were having none of it and flat out denied them, instead trading TGs for a Trade Agreement with N'Orr and then initiating an even trade with a suitably mollified Muaat.

The second round brought the first scuffles of the brushfire war which would rage for most of the game between Hacan and N'Orr when the "Control two systems adjacent to Mecatol Rex" and "Control 3 planets with Technology Specialities" objectives were the ones they decided they wanted. Muaat and N'Orr were both adjacent to Mecatol Rex and competing over Wellon so, while they were doing that, the Hacan swept in and dismissed the Winnaran Custodians from Mecatol Rex with an impressive display of influence, thwarting the N'Orr's own delegation and wasting their influence.

The third round was a quiet one: a bit of jockeying for Mecatol Rex adjacency and a fight over Wellon, but nothing particularly momentous until the agenda phase of this turn which brought about a restriction in fleet sizes which would prove relevant down the line and gave the N'Orr a red tech skip.

The fourth round led to a stalemate around Mecatol Rex: N'Orr had the Imperial Strategy Card, but would lose to Muaat's War Sun fleet if they went in: Muaat had the War Sun, but had other objectives they wanted to score first and so Hacan kept a hold on Mecatol Rex by playing first Frontline Deployment, to throw a few more GFs down, and then Rise of a Messiah immediately afterwards to reinforce the entire Hacan empire. This card combination almost certainly won me the game. This was followed by a Plague on Mecatol Rex which reduced the forces present back to a lone GF. This was the peak of the Hacan empire's power as they also finished triple docking their home system and built a big fleet of dreadnoughts. First two point objective was to control 11 non-home planets.

Round six was the beginning of the barbarian encursions: I had decided to reinforce Mecatol Rex, as I had a secret objective for controlling Mecatol Rex and having three ships overhead. However, I knew that Muaat was in position to research PWSII which would mean I'd be facing two War Suns, a Cruiser II with a single GF and twelve Advanced Fighters rather than a single War Sun and a Cruiser with a GF and so I couldn't use Technology until after he had passed. I was reasonably confident about being able to achieve this, as I had the Technology Strategy Card and a huge amount of CCs in Tactics (7), so I moved in with my big fleet. Muaat's next action was focused Research. I knew immediately that I was up **** creek without a paddle so I played research to acquire Assault Cannon at which point he did the same thing. Needless to tell, my fleet was absolutely slaughtered and Muaat claimed Mecatol Rex. On an unrelated, but quite important note, a small N'Orr force tried to invade Arinam/Meer in Hacan space but was wiped out by an Experimental Battlestation. I was on 8 points at the end of this round, with N'Orr on 6 and Muaat on 4. Agenda phase was pretty uninteresting. New two point objective was to spend 16 resources.

Round six and stopping Hacan was the name of the game. N'Orr took Imperial to deny me the opportunity to spend 16 resources during the action phase and both Muaat and N'Orr started eating away at my planets to reduce my income. I built fleets and simply defended my home system knowing that to move out was to meet the crushing jaws of the Muaat Space Cannon/War Sun combination whereas at home I would have a massive fighter screen advantage. N'Orr managed to score spend 16 resources via Imperial and then set about trying to sneakily get to eleven planets: fortunately, the dice weren't with him as first the Tekklar Legion were soundly thrashed by novice Hacan troops on Gral and then the C'Morran N'Orr was blown out of the sky over Mecatol Rex by Muaat PDS. The Muaat took Lodor from Hacan, which was their gateway to Mecatol Rex, then used Warfare to jump all the way into Corneeq and Resculon which, despite being defended by crack ground forces recruited by the Messiah, couldn't resist the mighty War Suns. However, the Muaat player had also seen that something was fishy with Muaat and dispatched their Cruiser II to take a nothing planet from the N'Orr (who by this point had only a single War Sun and two Cruiser IIs on the board).

Round seven was a short one: the newly revealed public objective was to spend 6 CCs and, seeing as I was maxed out on CCs from having had the lion's share of the influence on the board, all I had to do was take Imperial as the speaker, then make sure not to lose any planets in my home system and claim the VP as my first action. The system was defended by three GFs per planet, 9 fighters, three Dreadnought IIs and the Wrath of Kenarra. Muaat, having dispatched their Cruiser II to far-off places, attempted the impossible and attacked into the system with his two loaded War Suns, immediately losing one to Assault Cannon while the Hacan fleet enacted vengeance over the earlier trap above Mecatol Rex.

Overall this was a really fun, competitive 3 player game: N'Orr were a hair's breadth from winning, Muaat weren't but enjoyed being the galactic police, and I sold action cards all over the shop. Best play of the game was the Muaat PWS II trap, by a mile, but I also enjoyed selling a Manoeuvring Jets to the N'Orr player while he was resolving hits from PDS and doing the various silly bits and bobs you can do as Hacan.
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