Had a Jason over for a three-player day of Space Empires 4x (Dave lives here…) on the 16th. Mark was originally scheduled to come, but didn’t make it; thankfully adjusting from four to three is easy for this game. Dave ended up on the long side, while me and Jason had the corners. We stuck with what’s currently the standard rules for the group (pipelines, carriers, heavy terrain, warp points) without adding anything, though no one went the carrier route this time.

Jason and I ended explored our two deep space hexes early, and neither of us found anything bad. However, while Jason found a 10 mineral in one hex, I found a barren planet in one of mine, so I went for terraforming as early as I could, and settled it immediately afterward. For the regular planets, Jason had a fairly good setup for the first rounds of colonies, and was slightly ahead on base income for a while. Dave, however got himself into trouble with over-aggressive exploration of deep space early, and was noticeably delayed in exploring his own space (and of course, he lost a lot of scouts over the course of the game).

Still, Dave became my first worry as his exploration started opening up the area between us. That changed because of two things. First, Jason found a space wreck in the space between us. I managed to get in there, fight him off, and haul the wreck one of my colonies for a +Defense bonus. Second, I moved to colonize a new planet in that area just outside my home space… and realized that Jason had one just outside his home space, two hexes away. That prompted a round of build up and aggression that never really stopped.

Stopping for lunch. I’m blue, Dave is green, and Jason is red. You can see the space wreck at my newest colony.

It might have stopped as other pressures got into the act, but… things went well. First of all, I was lucky, both in the combats that got me the alien wreck, and the next couple in the aftermath. But, at this point I was on CAs with +2/+2 (the initial cruiser was +1/+2 thanks to the wreck), while Jason was on +1/+1 BCs. The BCs are slightly nicer, but the extra bonuses I had meant that I had better odds to hit than he did, and a bit of luck just made it go from victory to slaughter.

I had a forward base that I could build new ships at, and I upgraded that shortly before going to BCs myself, so I was building 3 BCs there a turn for the rest of the game (my escalating maintenance costs meant I bought no more technology after getting to Move 4 and Size 4). My higher move (3 during most of this, and I didn’t reveal 4 until very late) also gave Jason lots of trouble as I would move around him to cut off pipeline routes and devastate colonies. It took a bit, but his economy eventually collapsed under the strain.

Meanwhile, Dave got himself together, and had explored the area between us fairly well (there was still a group of unexplored hexes between him and Jason at the end). This included a string of black holes between him and the route I was taking into Jason’s space. This was a bit unfortunate, since I couldn’t move toward Jason while also protecting the frontier, as anything aimed at me would inevitably head the wrong way around. And the large build up out there forced me to send one turn’s reinforcement to shadow him. A small fight had revealed a decent number of ships, and BBs. The good news is that they were still +1/+1s, and my fights with Jason showed that that hurts more than might be supposed. I figured I could probably sweep up most anything other than the BBs if I needed to.

But, my wave of conquest had finally reached it’s goal: Jason’s homeworld, which basically had a base and several shipyards. It looked like I might not take it, but I could sweep the shipyards up, and really put the lid on. I needed 6s to hit, and rolled seven 7s in a row for the first couple rounds. I did eventually clean up the shipyards, but lost nearly the entire fleet to do it, and suddenly needed reinforcements out there that had been diverted by Dave.

I actually built a Decoy after that to help make what stayed behind look more menacing. Dave started marching toward my homeworld at speed 1 (paralleling my main pipeline out), I prepared to fight it, and the next round of BCs arrived to help the remnant of the earlier fleet, and managed to take out the base and homeworld.

End of the day, with Jason’s homeworld wiped out.

This is the first time one of these has gotten close to a legitimate win for any of us. It’s been a far enough out worry that Dave didn’t realize that was the end goal at first, and was a bit slower going after me than he could have. I think if he’d gone with his initial force, I could have defended myself well, but it would have really de-railed the offensive vs Jason. That said, I was already building out colonies and pipeline into Jason’s area, and I think I could have gotten a shipyard up and running there. Either way, we had a fairly dramatic end, and took us through 15 econ turns.

Jason and I had taken Shipyard 2, which means Dave was building a lot of shipyards to get those BBs out. Jason and I had also gotten to Size 4 (BCs) and stopped there, while Dave had gone to BBs. Jason had, too late, gotten to +2/+2 like me, but Dave was still at +1/+1, though needing three hits against the BBs would give them a lot of staying power. Jason and Dave had both gotten Tactics 1, and I as usual had skipped that. My second to last tech purchase (right before BCs) was Move 4; Jason had taken Move 2 to try to counter me before his economy had faded too much, and Dave stayed at Move 1. My final economy was 71 + 10 pipeline, but I had another colony started, and was getting pipelines out to the colonies I was establishing in Jason’s former area. I technically was capable of 80 + 12. Dave’s econ was up to 91 + 12 already. All the exploration had finally paid off, and I think he was maxing out the countermix for colonies and pipeline. Jason’s highest income was 65 + 9 (back on Econ 9, when Dave was 60 + 8, and I was already 69 + 9), and you can see me picking off some of the pipelines from then on.

Movement is always on the list of ‘I need to get to spending more on it’, and I deliberately went after it as my early focus, with +1/+1 Move 3 DDs. A good amount of DD construction as I went over to fleet build up also helped with getting the fleet size bonus in a couple early combats, and it meant that any lose groups could potentially get around defenders to cut pipeline routes, which caused Jason more angst than I expected. I imagine we’ll see more movement purchases in the future.