Had the gang (me, Dave, Mark, Jason) over for some Space Empires 4X yesterday. We contemplated various advanced rules and optional rules, but stuck with the same set as last time: Basic rules plus Merchant Pipelines and Heavy Terrain.

After some of the discussion from last time, I planned to be more aggressive this time, and concentrate a bit more on numbers than quality. The opening stages were ordinary enough. I actually placed my homeworld mid-way along the long edge, instead of in the corner, making much of the fringes of my territory equidistant from me. There were no planets adjacent to my homeworld, but were mostly nicely grouped in a left-right line after that, with a few more running out towards the opposite side of the home area.

I built a couple extra scouts early, which was needed as the heavy terrain soon claimed most of them. I seems to have gotten my colonies set up slightly faster than most everyone else, and all the pipeline builds took up the bulk of my shipyards. I was slightly slow expanding my second shipyard, but it was in a nice central location. Dave was off in the direction I had biased my homeworld towards, but the first area between two people that got explored turned out to be between him and Mark. Dave’s planets were all away from that edge of the board, so Mark came in through the empty zone with a fleet, and Dave was uncertain where he was going.

“He who defends everything defends nothing.” Mark managed to get into the empty hex adjacent to the homeworld, and break the pipeline, and then dived into the colonies, reducing one a level before his fleet was finally defeated later. This also demonstrated what unfortunately turned out to be a day-long trend: The dice just didn’t like Dave.

Meanwhile, two adjacent barren worlds were found in the space between me and Dave, that formed a chain between one of my colonies, and the barren world in Dave’s area, which was also a couple hexes away from anything else of interest there. So, I colonized that entire chain while that drama was playing out. There was another pair near the center, adjacent to where his colonies clustered. I headed into the area, first to grab an alien wreck, and 10 mineral marker, with the plan to colonize if I could.

Dave got in before I could, and there was a turn or so of skirmishing before I got a real advantage. When we packed up at the end of the day, I had broken his fleet and had destroyed a colony in his home space, and was fairly clear to get more on a march down his chain with better cruisers than he could build. My pipeline had finally been extended to near the two barren worlds and my final colonies would have been established soon.

Meanwhile, Mark had gotten into a fight with Jason. There hadn’t been any fights over planets yet, but Mark’s low-tech cruisers had done a good job grinding down Jason’s high-quality battlecruisers. Further fighting had knocked out the forward fleet, so I don’t know what Mark had left.

I was obviously in the lead at the end, and making myself an obvious target. Assuming I didn’t get too distracted, I had a good chance at taking out Dave completely. I expect that Jason would have had to provide that distraction soon, and my area would have gotten shot up. The question would be ‘how much?’ Mark would probably have interfered with my efforts to colonize the middle, but wouldn’t have been able to reach much else.

4-player 2 end
Sorry, accidentally cut off the last hexrow on my side taking the picture. Me = Green; Dave = Yellow; Mark = Blue; Jason = Red.

The economies showed a starker tale than I would have thought: On the last economic phase (just looking at colonies and pipelines) Mark earned 55 CP, Dave 66 CP, Jason 70… and I got 92. I was not expecting the other totals to be that low.

Both Dave and Mark had only taken cruiser technology, with Dave also picking up terraforming, and Mark benefiting from two space wrecks to receive +1 attack and ship yards 2. Jason had heavily invested in technology, having gotten up to DNs(!), attack +2, defense +1, tactics 1, move 2, shipyards 2 and terraforming. I had been conservative on technologies, but my strong economy had me finally getting up there at the end with cruisers, attack +2, defense +2, shipyards 2, terraforming (my first tech!), and I got tactics 1 from a wreck.