Recommend
22 
 Thumb up
 Hide
24 Posts

Space Empires: 4X» Forums » General

Subject: SE:4x as a Block game? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Dan Cunningham
United States
Milford
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I played my first face-to-face game of Space Empires: 4x the other night. I really enjoyed it, and I think this is an excellent game with lot of potential. We only played the basic rules, but even so it took us a while to get a good grasp of the rules, mechanics, and to come up with some sensible strategies. Even so, we enjoyed our experience, and I don’t think we made any rules mistakes.

I look forward to playing it again, and adding in some of the advanced and optional rules. And then, perhaps, adding in even more depth with the expansion.

Anyhow, the one thing that did continually bug me while we played was the particular fiddly-ness of the counters. I had no problem with the pen and paper tracking of information. However, I kept thinking that this game really wanted to be a block game, but for (most likely) cost reasons GMT decided to make this game with counters.

I’ve spent a little time thinking about it, and the thought still hasn’t gone away, so I’m going to share it with BGG and see what others think about it.

Each of the four sides in the game has 55 hidden “ship” counters; basic fighting ships, advanced fighting ships, mines, shipyards, bases, and decoys. In addition to that, each side has colony ships, miners, and pipelines which are NOT hidden and therefore could still be counters.

So, yeah, I’m thinking that there would still be counters in the game. Only the hidden “ships” would be blocks. The unknown system markers would still be fine as counters, both the home system and the deep space system markers. I’m not sure that I’m in love with these as counters either, but I can’t think of a better way to do it (maybe charts and dice? Or drawing chits out of cups? But even with those options, you would still need a marker in each unexplored space).

And then there is the fact that each hidden counter has a potential strength of 1-6. Rather than make 6 sided blocks, you’d have to have 1.5 more blocks than we currently have as counters (instead of 4 DD counters with a potential strength of 6x4=24, you’d have 6 DD blocks with a max strength of 4 per block or 4x6=24 total). That would bump it up to around 83 blocks per side.

That does changes things a little from the current game; you could be a little more spread out with your shipyards, bases and mines and such. Is that a major game play effect? I don’t know.

So that means that there will be 83x4=332 blocks in the game; A lot of blocks. Although, Command and Colors: Ancients comes with 345 blocks (and at the same MSRP, but with cards and no counters). SE:4x would still need to have counters for all the system markers and non-hidden ships. So I wonder what the final cost of the game with blocks would be??

What are your thoughts on this?

I wonder what the cost would be for GMT (or someone else) to supply an alternative (upgrade) set of blocks and stickers for the game?? I would certainly be interested.

On the other hand, how do you feel about the hidden ship counters? Do you get used to it after a few plays? I have to imagine it does become easier to keep track of your ships with some experience, but certainly never as easy as if you had blocks. And then there’s the shuffling, adjusting and moving of the counters. Just seems a little cumbersome; too easy to accidentally bump and expose a strength marker by mistake.

With blocks would the board become over crowded? I don’t have enough experience to answer that.

One downside to blocks might be in a three or four player game (unless you were playing with teams). It could be difficult to position your blocks so that they weren't visible to your opponents if they were sitting on your sides rather that on the opposite side of the table. Maybe the blocks would be best used for two player games (only 169 blocks needed for that!)...

Your thoughts and opinions?

I really do like the thought of an upgrade kit for two sides worth of blocks and stickers.

Thanks,
Dan
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darrell Hanning
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
We will meet at the Hour of Scampering.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I do not think blocks are a reasonable alternative to counters in this case. But that isn't to say that such a game couldn't be designed.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel Berger
United States
Littleton
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
Jigsaw
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Funny, I just had this discussion with someone recently where he made a similar comment. I don't think SE4X can be converted to blocks, but as the other commenter suggested, a block based space game could is something that could be designed.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Leo Zappa
United States
Aliquippa
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I can't see how this would work when players mass their fleets. It would seem like there would be way too many blocks in a hex. I just think converting to blocks would actually make this game much more fiddly, not less.

Having said that, I would be interested in a different game that would be a block space empires kind of game. I just think that the entire design would need to be new from the ground up to accommodate the use of blocks.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Canada
Winnipeg
Manitoba
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hmmm, I actually like this idea. I also agree that it would make the game less fiddly.
Each block could represent up to four ships (of the same type) in a fleet.

It really could work.

I'd like to hear why people think it wouldn't work.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marc Noguera
Other-Eastern Europe
Girona
Girona
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Definitely No.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Guido Gloor
Switzerland
Ostermundigen
Bern
flag msg tools
The statement below is false.
badge
The statement above is correct.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like it with counters.

You can reduce some of the fiddly-ness if you stop using the number counters for how big a group is, and instead write it onto that sheet where you mark what tech each group has. Some more writing, much less fiddling.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Krohn
United States
New York
flag msg tools
designer
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
badge
Ahhh....my misspent youth...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Each block could represent up to four ships (of the same type) in a fleet.


Actually, it was a block game when I sent it into GMT originally. It was not always a block game nor did it start out that way, but I played it as a block game for a significant portion of its life. However, while it was in block game form, it was only two player. GMT and I discussed it at length and we both decided that it was better to add players than keep it as blocks.

It worked as a block game because the hexes were larger. They could be larger because the map had fewer hexes. With only 2 players, the largest scenario set up in the game was the large 2 player scenario.
17 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
flag msg tools
"To be honorable and just is our only defense against men without honor or justice." -Diogenes of Sinope
badge
"Every man is as God made him, aye, and often worse." -Miguel de Cervantes
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think it would work better as a block game, but I'm old and simply cannot remember what any facedown counter represents. So it's currently incredibly fiddly, *always* looking under every counter every turn.

Since I think it's best as a two-player game anyway, that limitation wouldn't bother me. I wish it were published as a block game - it would get to the table more often.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paulo Vicente dos Santos Alves
Brazil
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Jim Krohn wrote:
Quote:
Each block could represent up to four ships (of the same type) in a fleet.


Actually, it was a block game when I sent it into GMT originally. It was not always a block game nor did it start out that way, but I played it as a block game for a significant portion of its life. However, while it was in block game form, it was only two player. GMT and I discussed it at length and we both decided that it was better to add players than keep it as blocks.

It worked as a block game because the hexes were larger. They could be larger because the map had fewer hexes. With only 2 players, the largest scenario set up in the game was the large 2 player scenario.


I prefer a game to have more players as an option and be less expensive.
Block games are reasonable for fog of war but they are clumsy and expensive.

To put more units and more variation on the game I would look at something like the Fifth Frontier War. You have admirals, ships with different ratings and capabilities. But its combat system is not very nice and the plotting is cumbersome.

The combat in SE4X is better, even better than in Imperium, which is the standard against any space game must be measured. Imperium however has more chrome in terrain, but with fixed technological discrepancies.

SE4X is a generalistic design embracing symmetry and fog of war, and I like that.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bob
United States
Apollo Beach
Florida
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Jim Krohn wrote:
Quote:
Each block could represent up to four ships (of the same type) in a fleet.


Actually, it was a block game when I sent it into GMT originally. It was not always a block game nor did it start out that way, but I played it as a block game for a significant portion of its life. However, while it was in block game form, it was only two player. GMT and I discussed it at length and we both decided that it was better to add players than keep it as blocks.

It worked as a block game because the hexes were larger. They could be larger because the map had fewer hexes. With only 2 players, the largest scenario set up in the game was the large 2 player scenario.


Just how many iterations of SE4x were there in its 20 year lifespan, Jim? Was it at one point a Worker-Placement game also?

j/k
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Lutz
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have no problem with the counters... well, except for those few days right after I trim my finger nails.

Also, I keep wanting to get a few plexiglass pieces to put over game boards. This way you can slide the ships from hex to hex without worrying about running into those board cut junctions.

BOb
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Krohn
United States
New York
flag msg tools
designer
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
badge
Ahhh....my misspent youth...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Just how many iterations of SE4x were there in its 20 year lifespan, Jim? Was it at one point a Worker-Placement game also?


No, but it has always been an area control game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam Van Delden
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Chee wrote:
Just seems a little cumbersome; too easy to accidentally bump and expose a strength marker by mistake.


Is it an accident?? I just love "accidentally" exposing a couple 6 strength markers when my opponent is coming hard at me. Sure its only scouts and decoys, but he doesn't know that. Now he's got to really think.. am I bluffing??
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Dolan
United States
Highland Lakes
New Jersey
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You could see if you could find hex shaped blocks. That would allow 6 ships per block.

You could use off map displays ala 1805: Sea of Glory for fleets and have one fleet block
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Cobcroft
Australia
Canberra
ACT
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think fleet counters are a better way to go - with off map play aids to put your counters on for that particular fleet.

The fleet play aids could have designated zones for ship types (as in hidden/ non-hidden)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Lutz
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Curufea wrote:
I think fleet counters are a better way to go - with off map play aids to put your counters on for that particular fleet.

The fleet play aids could have designated zones for ship types (as in hidden/ non-hidden)


Bah... you think it's fiddly now... that would really make it worse. I much prefer it as is now.

BOb
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Cunningham
United States
Milford
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Some good ideas and feedback here.

I'm going to try the counters a few more times for sure. I'm looking forward to seeing how things play out with more experience.

I like the idea of writing the fleet size on the sheet where you track the tech for each fleet. Might give that a try.

And yeah, those board cut junctions are my down fall. I bumped into them a few times in our first game.

I am intrigued by the idea of a two player block version of this game. I would LOVE to see this as an option somehow. An upgrade kit with a new board with larger hexes and two sides worth of blocks and labels. Sign me up!

Dan
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Raabe
United States
Green Bay
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Upon trying the game I did think that the counter stacks were reverse engineered blocks from a block game. I even thought about hexagonal blocks to allow for six ships.

But I did have a suggestion for a "deluxe" alternative. How about having 6 counters for each fleet? One for each number of ships. That would be 6 times as many counters for the fleet markers that get numbers under them. The board would be less fiddly, and GMT would have a new product to sell. Win - win!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Stubner
United States
Englewood
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
I didn’t think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows -- Bart Simpson
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I had the same thought after me first game! The constant checking of the counters is a pain and so easily the underneath value counter is exposed. Also when your armada gets mature (i.e. lots of units), it can be easy to forget which units have moved and which have not moved. Whith blocks you can tip down the units you have moved or won't move.

I think blocks could be integrated into the current ruleset. Hexagonal blocks may be a bit unstable. Square blocks may not have enough sides to keep track of the unit strength. Maybe a set of blocks with 1-4 pips and another with 5-8 pips? Switching them out as needed

I don't think keeping the facing hidden even in a four player game is too hard, though far forward units may be seen by your nearset neighbor.

P
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Krohn
United States
New York
flag msg tools
designer
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
badge
Ahhh....my misspent youth...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
When it was a block game, each block could just be up to 4 ships.

Actually, as a block game I did not have fighter blocks and a carrier block was always just one carrier. The sides of the block represented how many fighters it was carrying (from zero to three). That was the genesis of carriers carrying three fighter squadrons.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Raabe
United States
Green Bay
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
One of my first insights about the game was how it seemed to be an awkward extrapolation of a block game. That bugged me, but this also bugged me in a thematic sense. Ships had to travel around in squadrons of 1 to 6 ships of the same type? Combined arms expressly forbidden? I can see through the fog of war how many types of ships an opponent has, but not the number?

Then I realized, the number marker under a ship doesn't have to indicate the number of ships in a group, the ship counter can mean one single ship and the number counter can represent its "hit points". A ship with a "1" under it is a skeleton ship; just enough on the frame to make it space-worthy. A ship with a "6" under it is the maximum build out for that type of ship, teeming with weapons and defences and reactors.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jan Ozimek
Denmark
Aalborg
flag msg tools
badge
Must resist M:tG. Boardgames are my methadone :)
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dead jawa wrote:
...
Then I realized, the number marker under a ship doesn't have to indicate the number of ships in a group, the ship counter can mean one single ship and the number counter can represent its "hit points". A ship with a "1" under it is a skeleton ship; just enough on the frame to make it space-worthy. A ship with a "6" under it is the maximum build out for that type of ship, teeming with weapons and defences and reactors.

And how would you explain splitting up a counter into several groups?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Raabe
United States
Green Bay
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well you wouldn't. One of the parts that really bugs me, thematically, is how groups of ships are 1-6 of the same ship type, limited by the number of groups. That's what I'd be seeking to eliminate in the game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.