Edmund Ward
United Kingdom
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With the Rise of the Ancients expansion we got the Rho Indi Syndicate – who are a formidable fighting force – at last giving us a race that can comfortably go toe-to-toe with the Orion. My housemate (The Syndicate) and I (Orion) played our tightest 2 player game to date – in a thrilling game of war:

The Orion Hegemony vs The Rho Indi Syndicate

Setup: We played with 2 Ancient Homeworlds (one close to Orion, one close to Syndi). We also seeded warp portals in our tier 3s and I shuffled another warp portal hex into the first 5 tier 2 tiles as we have not seen them come out or be decisive in many games so far. The three developments that we drew were: Trade Fleet, Shell World & diplomatic fleet.

Some interesting tech realities that impacted the course of the game: Improved Hull never came out, computers didn’t come out till about halfway through the game and the only rare tech that appeared was distortion field and Zero Point source (which was unnecessary given the dearth of computers or antimatter cannons). If Cloaking Device had come out it would have been a very different game as well.

Turn 1 - Surrounded:
Orion explores tier 1 and tier 2, both are single ancients – they go on to build a cruiser and take out the tier 1 ancient. Syndicate explores tier 1 (double ancient), tier 3 (ancient hive) and another tier 3 (single ancient). One of the hive ancients moves into the other tier 3 during upkeep.

Turn 2 – On the move:
No sign of any improved weaponry on the tech tree – no PC, PMs or AC… Orion explores again then takes out the second ancient. The Rho Indhi builds more interceptors and moves into the Ancient Hive, taking out the two remaining ancients – although not without losses. The syndicate’s rewards were great, though as they were rewarded with the ancient ship part: Conformal Drive – a terrifying tool for a race with four move actions…

Turn 3 – Dig for victory:
Plasma Cannon finally appears, but Orion eschews it in favour of getting diplomatic fleet – anticipating lots more combat to come. The syndicate picks up Plasmas and starts upgrading and rebuilding their fleet. Orion goes on to pick up Advanced Mining and is able to flip 3 colony ships – now quite confident in their productive capacity. Orion explore a tier 3 and stumble upon the Pulsar – this will later prove to be extremely helpful for military tactics.

Turn 4 – The spoils of war:
Orion research Adv. Economy and flip 3 colony ships, whilst the Syndicate grab adv. Robotics. Using their incredible drive technology, the Syndicate are able to mobilise their interceptors to take out two sets of ancients, whilst the Orion build their first Dreadnaught . The Syndicate discover an Axiom computer and add it to their interceptor blueprints, which now look quite terrifying… The syndicate begin to eye-up Orion space which is now connected to their empire (Hex A), although they still have plenty of Ancients to fight.

Turn 5 – A peace that can not last:
Orion gets Plasma cannon and moves into the ancient homeworld and takes out Ancient cruiser. The Syndicate mop up some more Ancients and refrain from invading Orion space, much to the relief of Orion. The Rho Indi’s reward is Ion Missile, which they can not resist placing on their interceptor designs.

Turn 6 – Move-counter-move :
Orion snags Quantum Grid but The Syndicate is now looking like easily the more formidable force, even though they are only packing interceptors to the Orion’s 2 Dreadnaughts and 3 cruisers. Their interceptors now pack ion missiles with +3 to hit and -1 defence. The Syndicate decide to go into the centre with 5 interceptors. The 3 remaining interceptors sit in the tier-1 border with Orion, adjacent to the centre (Hex A). Orion sees this as their opportunity to try to thin the herd of interceptors (who are deadly in numbers), and strikes at the tier-1 border hex, which is, crucially, has 2 money squares. Orion lose a dread, Rho Indi lose one of their three interceptors, with the other two retreating. They are able to secure the centre easily.

Turn 7 - Total War:
Orion now has a front on 3 systems but decides to focus on ensuring ship kills and moves round the centre towards the two interceptors that got away (Hex B) - in the hopes he can get Syndi to weaken the centre. The Syndicate’ speedy interceptors ignore this and cut deep into Orion territory to trying snatch 4 key systems (Hexes C)– punishing Orion for its aggression. However, Orion has the mats to churn out ships enough to protect his most valuable system (the most damage a lone interceptor can do is 3) – but the Syndicate do manage to bomb 3 sectors…

Turn 8 – The Hegemony strike back:
Orion sets out to pin and destroy as many of these lone interceptors in their space as possible. Using numbers against sets of lone interceptors he is able clear the space pirate scum from his territory, albeit unable to reclaim the hexes themselves. The syndicate has Orion’s best ships pinned in the newly taken tier 1 system (Hex B)- on the wrong side of the galactic centre. Orion are now really benefiting from the fact that they have Quantum Grid and the Syndicate do not; As the Syndicate pass, Orion build interceptors to unpin their Dreads and a cruiser to attack the galactic centre, which has been left poorly defended in the aftermath of last turn’s combat. Orion ultimately win the centre in exchange for the previous turn’s tier one conquest (Hex B).

Turn 9 – Loose Lips sink Ships:
The Syndicate start turn 9 and as they think about their move I noticed that Distortion Field had been out for about 5 rounds and I had just forgotten about this – I exclaim, cursing my own stupidity, having spent the game combatting missile ships with +3 comps – which in itself is even more stupid because my housemate then changed his plan, snapping up Distortion Field. I am very annoyed at myself for both forgetting about this tech and also for not keeping my cool until it was my turn. Nonetheless, in having to buy Distortion Field, my opponent was unable to afford Quantum Grid which had just appeared.
The Syndicate send three ships into my territory in attempt to grab some hexes from me again (Some Hex Cs), but this time I am able to get a cruiser and an interceptor in each square with an Syndicate missile-interceptor incursion. I use my pulsar’s upgrade action to replace the cruiser’s computer with a hull – these battles (3 in total) are all now unwinnable for the Syndicate. The Syndicate now turn and send some of their cruisers to take out the Ancient Homeworld they had neglected up until now – a net gain of 6 points – but it leaves another of their hexes vulnerable to attack. Orion push on (Hex D), without risking the centre.


The Final Scores

Orion: 44
Rho Indi Syndicate: 39

The Syndicate get 19 of their points from reputation, having fought more battles against more enemies than the Orion in the early game. Orion have 16 rep tiles, thanks to their diplomatic fleet. Orion, however have 22 points from territory to the Syndicate’s 11.

If Syndicate had beaten Orion to building Diplomatic Fleet or if they had managed to retake the centre (a distinct possibility) they would have won.

Personally, I also wonder whether or not Ion Missile over Plasma Cannon was such a good choice for the Syndicate’s interceptors… If I had picked up Distortion Field earlier then he would certainly have just changed up his ship design immediately anyway...

Below is an image of the board taken at the end, labelled for references within the text
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Mattias B
Sweden
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Interesting read! Is ROTA released?! Have I missed it?!
 
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Sebastian Grawan
Germany
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sylvestris wrote:
Interesting read! Is ROTA released?! Have I missed it?!
There has been a preorder for ROTA at Spiel 2012 in Essen.
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Mattias B
Sweden
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Ah, pardon me for being a noobie but what does that mean? That the ones that ordered in essen has got it?
 
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Simon Kamber
Denmark
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sylvestris wrote:
Ah, pardon me for being a noobie but what does that mean? That the ones that ordered in essen has got it?


A number of early copies were sold at Essen, but all other copies are still in transit.
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Mattias B
Sweden
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Lucky you!
 
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Klaus
Austria
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I think you've mixed up Flux (2 yellow dice, +2 initiative, rare tech) and Ion Missiles (3 yellow dice, discovery upgrade) in your recap.
 
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Edmund Ward
United Kingdom
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This is true Klaus - sorry for the confusion - I do mean Ion missile. And apologies to non Essen people - this is a preview of some expansion materials
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Pedro Zuniga
Spain
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Nice report!

It seems I should buy ROTA definitely... at least to have this superb gray fleet


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