Had the gang over yesterday for a second go a Space Empires 4X. Jason couldn’t make it, so it was me, Mark, Dave and Patch. The latter two hadn’t played before, so there was some explanations, rules reading, and tiny bits of advice to share from me and Mark.

The four-player game is notably different from the three-player version, because of the reduction in deep space encounters, which leads to a reduction in exploration losses. The game went pretty fast; there wasn’t lots of action, and no truly large fleet actions, but everyone was fairly well developed and trying to feel their way to expand without overreaching.

Dave concentrated on building a large fleet and turtleing early (he figured that was safest while he learned the game), which looked very impressive, and certainly kept me from wanting to mess with him, but it ended up technologically outmoded, and chewing up much of his economy in maintenance. It probably would not have been hard to take him apart, once this was realized.

Mark got adventurous first, and paid the price with constant border squabbles with me and Patch for the rest of the game. This kept him confined to his original ‘safe’ area, and he had troubles keeping that developed.

I ended up pursuing my quality fleet path again, mass producing DDs with Attack and Defense +1 (one of those I got from a Space Wreck), and not having much of a navy until that point. I managed to make do with those until I could get +2/+2 CAs out the door, which served me fairly well, though of course I never had enough. I ended up being the only one to get Movement 2, which helped more than I had thought. I managed to get most of my systems colonized early (and took terraforming early, because my home area barren world was adjacent to my homeworld), and got a couple barrens on my borders colonized and going fairly early. This lead to me having an economic advantage until the end, when Mark got one of my systems and Patch got two others just before we broke up for the day.

Patch had a decent start, but was the main victim of Mark’s first raiding foray. He recovered from that, and actually had quietly colonized three worlds in the center by the end. I only came to that realization late, and did not have anything within one turn’s travel of his worlds (five hexes…). So he ended with the strongest economy as of the ninth economic turn.

Patch had gotten out one BC at the end (used against Dave), while I had built three to try and stop the raiding on my Mark-side border. They caught both Mark and Patch’s forces, and all promptly died to a string of ‘1’s and ‘2’s. (There’s something wrong with our bloody ships today!)

Anyway, everyone enjoyed the game, and had a good time with it. There were some comments on the difficulty of keeping all the hidden information straight, which is a definite problem, but it seems the game is fun enough that everyone is willing to put up with it as the price of entry.