Got the gang together again (finally) for some gaming yesterday. There was four of us (me, Dave, Mark and Jason), so we went with another round of Space Empires 4X. I managed to talk everyone into adding in the merchant pipeline (trade route) rules this time, and we kept all the options from last time (fleet markers, heavy terrain, and gates).

Initially, I (blue) got off to a very slow start, as the only world adjacent to mine was the one barren world in the home exploration zone, and it took me a while to find most of my colonizable planets. However, I was starting to find minerals, and the closest world was only two hexes away, so I built a second miner and three merchant pipelines to link the colony with the home system. As it turned out, most of the planets were in a chain from that one leading along the edge of my zone. This made extending the pipeline fairly easy, and sped up the colonization process, as everything just went down the pipeline at double-speed to the frontier. I ended up rolling money forward many times because my shipyard capacity was tied up on cheap MS Pipeline builds.

Meanwhile, Mark (green) and Dave (red) made contact in the deep space area between them, and Mark attacked, chasing Dave’s scouts off. However, Dave managed to bring in an alien wreck, which gave him a size class bonus, and he chased Mark back out with new DDs. There was buildup after that but nothing much other than that. Mark then got into a fight with Jason (yellow), and managed, with quite a bit of effort to eliminate two of his colonies (helped by some poor die rolling from Jason in the first big fight).

I ended up interfering, and taking on Mark, with help of a gate that led pretty neatly from my area to his. The problem was that the next place to go from there was an asteroid field, which caused long-dragged out fights as I was hitting on ‘2’s, and Mark on ‘1’s—when we remembered. Just remembering all the modifiers normally is enough of a challenge. To a certain extent, it probably would have been better to help dismantle Jason, and try to get more out of it than Mark. But that was impossible. Jason’s systems were all concentrated in the area away from me.

Also, Dave did a better job getting at mid-board systems than I had realized. I was too worried about the Markian menace to want to tangle with anything else.

Sadly, it had to be a short day. We had to call it for time just shy of the 12th economic phase. The early game had gone remarkably fast, but the later stages slowed down, in part due to extended combats. Dave ended the day with the biggest economy at 102 for the upcoming economic phase, and was paying 26 in maintenance fees. All he had was ship size (up to BCs) and Terraforming. I was up to 84 (with one colony still growing) with 15 in maintenance. I had been isolated for a while, and didn’t start building a navy til late. I had just gotten up to BCs in the previous econ phase, and had +2/+2 tech, and Tactics 1 (from an alien wreck), and Ship Yards 3 (double capacity), and of course, Terraforming. I was probably going to build BCs for a while, but was contemplating throwing more DDs at my problems as well. Mark was earning 63 and Jason 55. I’m not so sure of their techs, but Jason was up to BCs, while I think Mark was still on CAs. Mark had +1/+1 tech, and hadn’t upgraded that since very early on, preferring to mass-produce CAs. Jason had been at +2/+0 for most of the game, but had eventually gotten +1 defense, and had taken Exploration before the war with Mark started.

One of the side effects of the merchant pipelines was to discourage spending on movement technology, since everything was going fast within the borders, and it wasn’t far to anything past that. Here’s the board at the end of the day, with what I know of the pipelines marked:

4-player 1 end

No, I don’t think Jason ever built any.