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Subject: Three players, taking their time rss

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Merric Blackman
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Sarah was so enthusiastic about Space Empires that we organised another session for Sunday afternoon. We managed to rope Nash into participating so that this game would be a three-player affair. Unfortunately, after about 2-1/2 hours of play we were forced to end the game before major conflicts arose.

Why did the game take so long? There are a couple of points here. The first is that Nash was learning the game and took significantly longer than Sarah or me to get through his economic phases. The second is because we didn't play the initial exploration turns simultaneously. When there's no possibility of interaction, you should go all at the same time. I think that doing so would have shaved 30-45 minutes off the game time. Of course, we were also teaching Nash the rules, so simultaneous action probably wasn't as much of an option as it will be once we know the game.

I believe that the 3-player map as constructed has balance issues; using every square on a rectangular surface leads to a situation where the player 1 position (which I occupied) on the centre of the page has access to more deep space territory than the other players. Looking at the number of deep space markers within increasing radii gives: 1:0/2, 2:0/2, 3:1/2, 4: 8/4, 5:24/13. (First number for first player, second number for other players). I don't think there's an easy solution for this with the current map, and future games will likely determine how much of a problem it is.

During the initial expansion -
Nash is Yellow (top left), Sarah is Red (top right) and I am Green (bottom centre).
Apologies for the flash eating definition of my pieces.
A distinguishing feature of this game was how dreadful my random set-up of home systems turned out to be: my closest non-barren world was three hexes away! I spent a lot of the early game exploring my surrounds, and then in the middle game, discovering that I was ringed by black holes and parts of dangerous space that kept eating my ships. My maintenance level was way, way down throughout.

Sarah (red) discovered an Alien Wreck in one of the two Deep Space hexes adjacent to her homeworld, and gratefully took the advancement to Defense it offered. Nash (yellow) discovered nothing... and his ships disappeared without a trace.

Once we had finished exploring our initial territories (except for Nash), Deep Space was our goal. Nash got their early, and started sending probes in Sarah's direction. Sarah decided for the Zerg rush strategy and countered Nash's expeditions with a lot of scouts. The first combat of the game saw Nash's cruiser come up against FOUR scouts of Sarah's. That was a surprise for Nash, and the cruiser didn't survive the experience.

In my case, I was finding my territory ringed by black holes and dangerous terrain: getting through to better places was difficult indeed. Whilst Sarah and Nash were towing Deep Space minerals back to their colonies, I was finding nothing and losing ships. However, by researching Terraforming and being quite aggressive on founding colonies, I was able to build up an impressive economy.

My economy was good, but - alas - my technologies weren't. Advancement was delayed by the need to build new ships to deal with the ones I'd lost in exploration. In retrospect, I really wish I'd researched the Exploration technology, especially as I had easier access to Deep Space than the other two players. As the game moved on, Nash and Sarah began to clash more and more, with the battles slightly favouring Sarah, but a expedition from Nash was able to destroy one of Sarah's colonies completely (before the expedition was destroyed by Sarah's vengeful forces). I had to go on the defensive as Nash encroached on my borders, but was able to beat off an attach by a couple of Battlecruisers just by virtue of superior numbers.

Nash had gone for extra movement technology and bigger ships, and so was a threat throughout, but he didn't have a great economy. Sarah's economy wasn't that great, but her technology was good and her ships numerous: her initial Zerg rush strategy petered out as she came up against bigger and bigger ships, and she built bigger ships to compensate. My own navy was tiny, but was getting bigger as I stabilized my colonies. One thing I did have in numbers was shipyards, and in useful places (including one that just made colonists and exploration vessels for the unexplored corners of the board).

Unfortunately, we then ran out of time with the Nash-Sarah war on the verge of becoming really interesting: Sarah had an expedition heading towards Nash's interior. I was maintaining a turtle strategy as long as I could until my economic power could overcome the others. I have a feeling that the next stage of the game would have seen me attack whoever seemed weaker between Nash and Sarah, and those two then teaming up against me.

Position at end of the game -
Nash is Yellow (top left), Sarah is Red (top right)
and I am Green (bottom centre).


Technologies:
Merric: Ship Size 4, Attack 1, Defence 1, Move 2, Ship Yards 2, Terraforming 1
Nash: Ship Size 4, Attack 1, Defence 2, Move 3
Sarah: Ship Size 5, Attack 1, Defence 1, Tactics 1, Move 2

Economic Development by Turn (Colony+Minerals-Maintenance)
Turn
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
Merric
20+5-3
22+0-3
27+15-2
35+10-1
41+10-2
48+15-2
52+0-5
54+0-5
63+0-6
69+10-11
74+0-15
Nash
20+5-1
20+5-3
22+5-3
28+5-3
36+5-8
40+5-6
41+15-8
45+15-4
45+5-8
45+0-12
47+5-4
Sarah
20+5-2
22+0-3
27+10-3
33+6-2
34+10-6
37+10-5
44+5-7
48+15-8
50+10-10
52+10-15
45+0-9














Despite the abbreviated nature of the game, we all found it an enjoyable experience. Sarah and I will probably play another 2-player game next Tuesday, which may well introduce the advanced rules.

The final fleets given below are distorted due to the final turn, which saw Sarah and Nash attacking each other in attacks that wouldn't have occurred if we'd been continuing the game.

Final Fleets:
Merric Shipyards 12, Decoys 1, Scouts 4, Destroyers 1, Cruisers 2, Battlecruisers 1
Sarah Shipyards 8, Bases 2, Scouts 6, Destroyers 1, Battleships 1
Nash Shipyards 10, Decoys 2, Battlecruisers 2
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M C
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Wait, you took 11 economic turns in two in a half hours. What the heck are we doing wrong. Just played a 6 hour three player that was far from finished. Economic round 13, I think.
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Merric Blackman
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Well, 10 full economic turns (we ended the game before we went through the 11th turn). Note that we were using the quick technology upgrades variant, which probably sped things up a bit.

Here's a scan of my production sheet. Note that in the 4th turn, I realised I could note down what I spent my production on, and did so from then on. (Much easier and quicker).



Click on the link for a bigger version of the sheet.

Cheers,
Merric
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Ted Duby
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sirius23 wrote:
Wait, you took 11 economic turns in two in a half hours. What the heck are we doing wrong. Just played a 6 hour three player that was far from finished. Economic round 13, I think.


6 hours! Mike, our 4 player game on Monday was only 5.5 hours.
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M C
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MajorOracle wrote:
sirius23 wrote:
Wait, you took 11 economic turns in two in a half hours. What the heck are we doing wrong. Just played a 6 hour three player that was far from finished. Economic round 13, I think.


6 hours! Mike, our 4 player game on Monday was only 5.5 hours.


Yeah, okay it was 5.5 or 5 hours, counting explanation but really we were far from done. I am not sure why it took so long. I just checked the sheets, it was economic turn 14. Despite the length it was a really fun game. I might do an AAR, but probably not. maybe Zack will whistle


Edit:
Okay, I did an AAR here Epic Three Way
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David Debien
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Yellow still has an unexplored tile in their near space at the end of the game! Priority #1 explore and find all of your 8 habitable worlds and get them up to Colony 5 ASAP.
 
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Ocean Druen
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I understand your comments on the three player map with the “first” player having more deep space to explore but I thought that it would remain balanced because there are more avenues for your opponents to get to your territory (need to spread out defense) and you lose more ships in deep space and therefore need to build more ships to replace losses (making exploration technology more essential).

Did either defense or additional exploration seem like an additional burden?
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Chris Wilcoxon
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Quote:
A distinguishing feature of this game was how dreadful my random set-up of home systems turned out to be: my closest non-barren world was three hexes away!


That is crucial. In my first two multiplayer games I had a similar problem which my opponent used as an invitation to go pure aggressive. I ended up on the defensive and just couldn't make a come back.
 
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Lutz
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When I played 3 player and I was in one of the corner sections I waited till quite late to explore the two deep space hexes behind my home world. DUH! They turned out the be barren planets.... Oppsss.

BOb
 
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MajorOracle wrote:
sirius23 wrote:
Wait, you took 11 economic turns in two in a half hours. What the heck are we doing wrong. Just played a 6 hour three player that was far from finished. Economic round 13, I think.


6 hours! Mike, our 4 player game on Monday was only 5.5 hours.


Was this basic rules or advanced?

BOb
 
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Mark Buetow
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pilotbob wrote:
When I played 3 player and I was in one of the corner sections I waited till quite late to explore the two deep space hexes behind my home world. DUH! They turned out the be barren planets.... Oppsss.

BOb


The really weird thing is that if you had explored them earlier, they would have been "Danger" chits..
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M C
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pilotbob wrote:
When I played 3 player and I was in one of the corner sections I waited till quite late to explore the two deep space hexes behind my home world. DUH! They turned out the be barren planets.... Oppsss.

BOb


In the 3er we just played one of the players had a derelict ship! lucky son of a gun
 
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pilotbob wrote:
MajorOracle wrote:
sirius23 wrote:
Wait, you took 11 economic turns in two in a half hours. What the heck are we doing wrong. Just played a 6 hour three player that was far from finished. Economic round 13, I think.


6 hours! Mike, our 4 player game on Monday was only 5.5 hours.


Was this basic rules or advanced?

BOb


Advanced, with no special rules like DM/ wormholes.
 
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