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Space Empires: 4X» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Extra Large! Epic 2 player game, aborted at midnight. rss

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Guido Gloor
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We played a two player game on the extra large map (where two diagonally opposed ones of the four player starting areas are used by the players, and everything else is deep space), with Unpredictable Research and the advanced rules. David played red, I played yellow. We played my rather pimped copy of the game:



All in all, it was a very epic experience - without conclusion because we stopped playing around midnight, but it was lots of fun anyway.

The Early Turns

As expected, the first things we did were exploring our home systems, sending scouts into Danger tokens in close proximity to them, and colonizing every planet we got our greedy hands on. After three and four turns, our home systems looked roughly like this:

david buchmann
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Guido Gloor
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Red had lost one Scout early on because of a Black Hole, but was luckier about finding his planets - mine were lined up towards the one area of my home system where I explored last. On the other hand, I built two miners earlier than him. In the end, we had about an equal amount of resources available early on.

We both saved up resources and concentrated on expanding and building up our economy, because the two home systems were relatively far away from each other - at the narrowest area, there are four hexes of Deep Space between the players in this scenario.

The Era of Exploration

So we both got Cruisers with Exploration ASAP, and both of us researched Terraforming fairly early. We both had over 10 colonies at the end of the game, including the ever-important forward Shipyards and Bases. For this, we had a lot of exploration going on in the early game, neither player committed to a rush - there was just too much deep space between us. Exploration first went towards those huge areas of only deep space tokens towards the would-be starting areas of blue and green.

Red found a Space Wreck somewhere here, and I was lucky to see that it was "only" Tactics. At the end of the game, red had Tactics 3, and because I knew I couldn't keep up anyway I still had Tactics 0 (and built larger ships instead).

Early contact between the two of us thus was Cruisers fighting each other while exploring the deep space partitions between us - including Exploration for everyone, and I don't think a single Cruiser fought a single battle without Attack and Defense tech. Interestingly, what opened up the path between us was a Doomsday Machine that went my way, towards my early Barren colonies, and could have destroyed quite the investment without some very lucky combat rolls of my three Cruisers.

This game was a first for me in quite some respects; I had never seen Terraforming used to such effect, nor Exploration, nor had I seen fully teched-up Cruisers on both sides of a fight. A few squarrels were exchanged and we found a neat wormhole that bypassed all those nasty Danger tokens and Black Holes between us.

The Era of Battle

The early struggles quickly escalated, with red sending Raiders and me sending ... well, more Cruisers. Then he sent Mines and I sent Minesweepers, he sent Minesweepers and ... then I found a Space Wreck. It gave me Ship Size, I had researched up to Battlecruisers already, so got Battleships, and researched Dreadnoughts by spending 35 for the unpredictable scientists. I really wanted those things - and had saved quite some credits from the previous turn for building Battleships, that I now spent on Dreadnoughts instead. No reason to complain.

(I had saved more than 30 though, so with this Minor Rules Addition that I only looked up now, I could have built less than the two Destroyers I built in addition to the Dreadnoughts. They didn't really matter, but still - sorry!)

So now I sent Dreadnoughts. Those things hit hard and were nearly indestructible - much more so than I had anticipated - but they're very vulnerable to Mines. The battle to the left was the second big one they fought, and ... well, no enemy ships survived (though they did try to flee, they were shot down before they could).

The next thing red did was, he sent Fighters and Carriers, I sent in all my Minesweepers without the main fleet because I thought it was stacks and stacks of Mines. The consequence was that I lost them all, and then was left without defenses against Mines in my strike force. The Fighters and Carriers were easily defeated (without a single loss on my side again, interestingly). Did I mention that Dreadnoughts are tough as nails?



The End

The picture above shows the end game situation, where we aborted the game and packed up.

The yellow fleet in the center-ish consists of four Cruisers, one Battleship and three Dreadnoughts, all with Attack and Defense and Move 2. So it's very strong, but also very fragile against Mines because one mine easily kills a Dreadnought, and very slow. My upkeep at this point was 28 or so, his was obviously lower so he was much more flexible with building new fleets. He also had Shipyards in great strategic positions - in the red outpost in deep space, and towards that neat corridor through deep space that leads directly towards my outer colonies. Though protected by bases, that makes them vulnerable.

What Could Have Been

The game was rather epic, and promised to go on for a long time at midnight. While my fleet was steadily advancing without much of a counter, my opponent was starting to send stuff towards my flanks and colonies, and towards my supply lines that would have brought new Minesweepers towards the Dreadnoughts. So even though I had decisively won the battle for the center of the map, the war was far from over, and could easily have gone on for another hour or two, and it's far from certain who'd have won.

I had built my two Bases in forward colonies, but that left me without additional Bases for the other very exposed ones rather close to red Shipyards...

All in all, it was a very fun play of a very fun game. We called it quits anyway because of the advanced time.

Takeaways

There were quite a few things new to me in this play, because I hadn't played a FTF two player (yes, indeed, only 3-4 or solo) nor on such a large map before:

* While Hostile Aliens are too evil with four ships in four player games (and thus we play with two there only), four of them were quite the pushovers here. We'll keep playing with two when there's less deep space between the players, but we now see where the number four in the rules came from.

* Exploration and Terraforming are awesome and absolute must-have techs in such a scenario. The earlier you get them the better.

* Dreadnoughts pack such a punch that neither of us believed they'd be quite that strong. Hitting on 6-ish while being hit on 1-ish against Cruisers? Why yes, thank you, I'll take these chances!

* The extra large map is indeed extra large. This is the map where I can imagine exhausting quite a bit of the tech tree, and it's the map where Dreadnoughts come to bear. Needs lots of time to play, and gets tons of techs and ships and colonies out.

* We both still have trouble seeing why the upgrade from Cruisers to Battlecruisers costs so much. It's still only hull 2, only a bit more attack and defense; compared to this, the Battleship is a huge upgrade over the Battlecruiser (and then the Dreadnought again just a bit better, but it also has the psychological edge of being the biggest ship in the game pre-expansion). Not something we'll change anything about, just food for thought.

* Upgrades: Those wooden bits make seeing your MS pipelines easier, and at the same time, they make seeing your fleets easier. The colony ship counters also double as great ship counters for combat. Awesome and easy pimpage. The fleet boards on the other hand seemed rather unnecessary to us, they'll stay in the box in the future I think.

* We underrate movement tech. A friend of ours does not - he'd have owned either of us on this map I believe.
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David Debien
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So, I am assuming the cubes are Pipelines. But, what are the discs and cylinders?

Great report FYI.

I usually am the first one to attack in my games, but on a map this size, I would have to say a slow and steady grind with fully upgraded (and fast) large ships of the line would pretty much be the only way to go.
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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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Oh, how I wish you would have written everything down! We numbered the hexes for just this reason. It is a shame not to see such an epic game come to its conclusion. I would have loved to hear how it ended.

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Guido Gloor
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casualgod wrote:
So, I am assuming the cubes are Pipelines. But, what are the discs and cylinders?

The discs are colony ships, and the cylinders are miners. Like this, all the non-combat ships are wooden bits, and all the combat ships are counters.

Jim Krohn wrote:
Oh, how I wish you would have written everything down! We numbered the hexes for just this reason.

Sorry - the numbers were very handy in this game anyway, for writing down the hexes we had explored with the Cruiser tech.

Towards the end I really struggled to get both tech advancements and fleet maintenance (both in terms of refilling the fleet and paying maintenance cost) both done right, so I was much slower in building new stuff than earlier in the game.

Edit: I just noticed something else that we played wrong:

Rulebook page 10 wrote:
If the marker is revealed and it is a marker with a one time effect (Danger!, etc.), it is removed. Whether the marker is revealed or not, any negative effects from that marker do not affect the exploring Cruiser.

We let the Danger chips hang around - we usually play with the "more dangerous deep space" rule, where Danger chips are immediately replaced with a new deep space counter when found, but there weren't enough deep space counters here for that Gee, this would have made our exploration easier!
 
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david buchmann
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it was a great game. we definitively need to find a full day to try again and bring it to the end.

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We let the Danger chips hang around - we usually play with the "more dangerous deep space" rule, where Danger chips are immediately replaced with a new deep space counter when found, but there weren't enough deep space counters here for that Gee, this would have made our exploration easier!


didn't you tell it was like that at the beginning? i remember me arguing that if you remove them, the exploration tech just gets too powerful when not replacing markers. (btw, next time we could use your old thin deep space markers to replace dangers :-)
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Guido Gloor
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buchmann wrote:
didn't you tell it was like that at the beginning? i remember me arguing that if you remove them, the exploration tech just gets too powerful when not replacing markers. (btw, next time we could use your old thin deep space markers to replace dangers :-)

Not sure, we definitely talked about it. Maybe we should have looked it up

The problem with using the thin counters is that I'd have too few obstacle hexes then But it's definitely a good idea!
 
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