Had another get together, and game of Space Empires 4X this last Saturday. Mark paid for pizza to be delivered so lunch would be short, and we got through twelve economic turns this time.

There was a little debate on rules this time. I was wanting to start including the advanced rules, starting with the merchant pipelines, but that got voted down. We did use the fleet markers from the expansion, jump gates, and the ‘heavy terrain’ optional rule.

Jason got off to the best start, with three worlds to colonize right next to his own. Everyone but Mark quickly lost a scout to the black hole in their respective home areas. Mark eventually lost more scouts to black holes than anyone else (I was the only one to get a good roll and escape the discovery of a black hole during the game), but never found the one that was part of his home exploration chits. Instead, the last hex in his home area (obviously the black hole) stayed unexplored all game.

Initial conflicts were sparked by the appearance of pairs of ’10 mineral’ markers stretching across the deep space areas of adjacent powers. Mark went after the pair between us, and pressed on into my territory when I seemed to be moving up to them myself. Not actually having a navy yet, I lost what little I had, and did no damage in return. In the meantime, Jason attacked Dave with a much bigger navy than anyone expected (two CAs plus DDs), and wiped out three colony worlds. This broke off the war between me and Mark, aided by the discovery of a jump gate between us that led to the border of Jason’s area.

There wasn’t really any effective fighting for the rest of the day. Everyone but Jason tended to have poor die-luck most of the time, and Jason’s navy seemed to be usually one step ahead. Mark was trying to go the direct route towards Jason, and having trouble actually exploring the area. My economy was large, thanks to settling four planets in the zone between me and Dave (who was way too busy to contest it), but it took a long time to get my technology where I wanted, though I finally had a good BC-heavy navy at the end of the day.

Overall, things went a bit different than before. Mark had bought Tactics 2, and Jason and I had Tactics 1, while that technology has been ignored in the past. Jason and I had Move 2, which is a bit slower development there than we’ve seen before. Jason still had the numerically largest navy, with a mix of 5xBCs and 4xDDs, with a 2xCAs (probably older) and a current income of 55. I had slightly better shipyard capacity (by two), and 10xBC (all +2/+2), and an income of 80. Mark’s income was 55, with 2xBC, 3xCA, and Dave was at 65 with 9xCA, 1xBC.

I knew I had developed my economy better, but I seemed to have a lot of problems leveraging it, since until the very end, both my navy and technology seemed to be well behind. (Of course, I ended up with far less mineral income since everyone else tended to get the ’10 mineral’ markers that came up. Some of this might have been losses in scouts. We had wondered what purpose the exploration cruiser rule had, since by the time you could build one, there would be nothing left to do. With heavy terrain in effect, it suddenly makes much more sense. With ‘danger’ and ‘lost in space’ markers getting replaced, deep space exploration suddenly got a lot tougher (aided by lots of blown rolls when finding a black hole), with some hexes claiming four scouts before being explored. At the end of the day, there was still ~6 hexes untouched, and exploration technology would have probably paid for itself in terms of not losing scouts.