Finally had the group over again for one last game day this Sunday. With four of us, we went for Space Empires 4X, which we’re playing just often enough to mostly remember how it works, but not enough to really speed things up.

I’ve gotten the idea that other groups tend to go out there and start beating each other up while we’re still trying to get our economies developed, so I did an early raid into Dave’s area, and shot up a new colony and some support infrastructure.

After that, things didn’t go well for me. I had three planets adjacent to my homeworld, but most of the others were at the far end of the ‘safe’ area, including three clustered in the corner near Mark. Mark saw the activity in that area, didn’t like the implications, and started raiding the area just as the colonies were getting going. I was never able actually protect anything in the area, helped by some blindness on my part. I insisted on trying to build out a navy to sweep him out, when building bases and/or shipyards would have been at least as good as a response (since they could be built on site, instead of having to move into position). I thought of that, like many things during the game, right after the build phase was completed.

Overall there weren’t any great divergences in economy, even the with delays Dave had setting up his last couple of colonies, his income tracks just a couple points behind everyone else’s. Jason managed to grab several 10 Mineral markers, and had a fairly massive boost from those (there were several in the area between him and Dave, and he got all but two). Meanwhile, I had refused to build any extra miners, and was still trying to sweep up the 5 Mineral markers in my own space (there were no 10s found near me, and I had problems remembering to find the miner and move him after about the second economic round).

Exploration in general was slow, with the heavy terrain rule generating even more havoc than normal. One hex generated about five Danger! markers, and another three generated about three each. Jason’s scout corps was wiped out by one of those (and other dangerous spots), while the ‘five’ and the two others were all on my borders, and ate a lot of my scouts (I ended up exploring with a DD a couple times, but got lucky with them). At the end of the day, there were still notable unexplored pockets left, including a diagonal string of four hexes across the center of the board. There was a functioning wormhole (range: three hexes), and another with the second end waiting to be discovered (from Jason to my central border; range: about 8 hexes). Towards the end of the day, barren planets started showing up: mostly on the edge of ‘my’ space, but I couldn’t get at them (despite trying) because of the ongoing crisis, and Dave also moved against my colonizing efforts

I tried more of a ‘DD spam’ shipbuilding strategy this game, but generally lost out in combat against Mark, as his CAs and tactics-enhanced DDs shot up most of my fleet before they could fire. By the end, I was building a mix of DDs and BCs, and while the latter were doing better, I was still losing too much in any combat. Mark was still at CAs at the end, while Dave was also up to BCs, and Jason had gotten up to BBs (but his navy never really saw any combat, and it looks like he built a single one on the last turn). Looking at the maintenance logs, Dave had built up a fairly sizable navy (again), Jason only started building up late, while Mark had lost most of his against me, and mine stayed in the 7-9 maintenance range once I started seriously building ships because I was losing ships as fast as I could build them (and usually losing the most modern ones).

Overall, the day was fairly frustrating for me. If I’m going to attack something early, I should keep the pressure up. But that’s just going too much against type: I want to build the best colonization system I can. I’m still surprised by just how much of a threat Mark saw my colonizing a group of planets near him as being (they were within my ‘home’ area, and I can’t control where they are). Certainly, not letting me get the ‘outsystem’ planets at the end just makes too much sense: that’s what I want, and how I often have a very robust economy.

Even more so than normal, there’s no clear sense of who might end up on top. It certainly wasn’t going to be me. Assuming Mark kept the pressure up, and Dave did more than just shoot up the most far-flung colonies, I would probably collapse. Jason, might end up the real winner there, but it’s hard to say.