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Subject: Space Exploration, combat and flicking. What's not to like? rss

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Dan Dolan
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I arrived at the JAG meeting just as the first round of games were finishing so Matt, Jay and I settled into a game of AE with 3 players.
I was Red, Jay was Blue and Matt yellow

Matt started out getting the Grey Lvl 1 3 MP tech advancement and this allowed him to rapidly move outward. The extra flick helped a lot due to the vagaries of interstellar travel (the board has some interesting properties.) We just looked at the edges as space anomilies and laughed when a players starship suddenly was launched rollng across the board. We played the player simply laid the ship down where it stopped rolling. It wasn't a problem and added a chaos factor to nterplanetary movement.

Jay rapidly expanded into the adjacent Gamma quadrant but was unlucky as his exploration netted him several asteroids and he lagged behind in the tech race.

Meanwhile I had secured the Purple and Orange Lvl 1 tech and Matt and I started small scale military actions against each other on the Alpha/Gamma border. Matt first getting the recruit 3 troops bonus and I the Long Range bonus. I knocked Jay off of the purple planeet on the Beta/Alpha border before he could build a research station and this further put him behind in the tech race but he was expanding along the Delta/Gamma board edge.

I started a campaign of attacking Matt's ships and planets using my long range bonus and 3 movement bonus to start picking off Matt's ships. The combat aspect of this game cannot be minimezed I believe as it is a lucrative source of VP's. One must be agressive early on and look for chance to kill oppopents ships and planetary facilities. Because as the game draws on things get tougher to kill as defense values climb on planets and ships become tougher as well.

Matt retaliated by knocking out my purple research on the Alpha/Beta border. This slowed what was my planned advance to the Lvl 3 purple advance and Matt was able to get this before I was and the game now settled into a period of starship combat with little switching of planets. Matt and I both got to Lvl 2 purple so ramming became a VP losing deal against each other But Matt and I steadily built up VP's with combat. Jay was able to get to Lvl 3 orange and built the only Battleship of the game.

As Matt and I drained the VP pile Jay began to move his dreadnought toward the center. However a bad flick cost him when he rammed a starship of Matts on the Beta/Delta border.

I was trying to get VP's by raidiing Maatt and Jay's ships but Matt was able to utilize his Lvl 3 purple to pick off several ships of both mine and Jays that ventured to near one of his planets.

As the game neared it's end Jay began to build cities and colonies along his domain and Matt began pushing hard at me in the Alpha/Beta sector with long range and his defensive bonus he was able to hunt my fleet from safe havens.

The game ended with

Matt: 34
Dan: 25
Jay: 25


It was interesting to see how the players focused their efforts. Jay is more the euro player and he played an economic game. Striving to build an industrial base spread across several quadrants.

Matt and I seemed thrust into military actions because we both found planets early on that gave us ship bonuses for movement and combat. Matt was able to win the tech race during the midgame when Jay and I clashed over a purple planet on the Gamma ALpha border in the center. Matt was able to hit both of us for some VP's as I tried to take the purple planet to get the advance to counter Matt.

I was unable to build the necessary research station due to being unable to land troops with the threats from both Jay and Matt on either side and time ran out.

This is a real fun game. It moves along quickly with virtually no down time and has a good feeling for the theme. There are strategic and tactical decisions to be made right from the start. Do you recruit troops or send your starships out to explore and colonize? You have to make a decision like this about once a minute and things happen very quickly.

With 3 players there was the aspect of a dynamic tension where everyone felt like Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly's shootout scene. Eyeing each othe and not wanting to show your back to anyone. But things happen so quickly that the game seems to carry one along as if in a river current heading for Niagra Falls.

A very good game that will be getting a lot of play at WBC I'm sure.
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