After my knife fight with Demon finished, we immediately went to a second SE:4X game on the small two-player map (which is, amazingly, still bigger than the previous game. This time we used all the base set regular and advanced rules, and threw in ship experience from Close Encounters.

The beginning went as usual, though I was slightly behind on initial colonies, as the placement wasn’t as good (nothing but minerals adjacent to my homeworld). To my surprise, Demon explored into deep space at the end of the second cycle of movement, with ten hexes of his own space left to explore. He found a 10 mineral and a barren planet, where the aliens promptly shot up his SC. Meanwhile I was down to seven unexplored hexes, but colonies were still slightly behind, as I was having trouble finding the planets.

His second SC died to a Danger! at the beginning of the third round of turns, while one of mine survived an encounter with the home-area black hole. Demon struggled to finish exploring his home area, while I finished up, and explored two hexes of deep space in the third round, losing a SC to another black hole, and finding a nebula, which gave us a clear route to each other. I was still a colony behind, but I had some pipelines in, whereas Demon had yet to build any. Demon built two forward shipyards and a pair of new SC, while I upgraded my homeworld SY and built one forward one, rounded out my colony ships, and replaced a SC.

I lost a SC to another deep-space black hole, and then another to Danger! Demon sent a pair of groups through the “pass” to my space, but thankfully I’d have another build before they could arrive. (Even if he’d bought move 2, the deep-space nebula would slow them up.) As he slowly explored his own space, a SC and colony ship stumbled into his black hole, but both lived. I got DD technology, so I could put a base up at the colony he was approaching, bought a DD and a SC, along with more pipelines. Demon improved his shipyards and deployed a new SC.

Demon finally found his last planet in the far corner of his space, and sent a SC into the middle near there, losing it to aliens at another barren planet, and his last SC found a warp point (which didn’t go anywhere, but it meant there was a clear path on the other side of the board now). I explored a hex on my side, and lost a SC to Danger! His groups in my space headed around terrain to the back row, but my pipelines meant I could shift fairly easily. He tried to fork me by sending a group (decoy) into the black hole, but it went into the black hole. I bought Attack 1, three DDs and three pipelines, while Demon’s purchases were confined to more shipyards a SC and a decoy; I assume he was busy buying technology (presumably fighters).

I bid to go first, and used that to take on his remaining group in my area, which was 2xSC, which took out my DD and SC for no losses. His new SC was lost in one turn as it found a Danger! in the middle of the board. The other SC on the far side of the board then came in across the middle, forcing me to pull back the pipelines in the area. He moved into two colonies, unsuccessfully bombarding one with a SC, while the pair of SCs met a DD with attack 1, and I got a hit on the first round to make it a 1:1 battle, and then got a second a couple rounds later. I moved a pair of DDs onto the other raiding SC and got it on the first shot.

For the sixth econ phase, Demon built two CVs and five fighters (three at an outlying shipyard on the way out), and decoys at the far end of his space. I built 4 new DDs, with defense 1, and military academy one, so they’d start out skilled. He bid to go first again, and sent his main force though the first pathway, and ended two hexes away from my colony. I moved to intercept, and sent a pair of ships out to raid on the other side of the board.

And the seventh econ phase turned out to be the decisive moment. I ended up coming up with four different production schemes. At first, I considered making the jump to cruisers, but that would suck down too much money, so I considered going over to CVs. …And that’s when I looked over Demon’s deployment and had a suspicion that he already had carriers. So, then I looked at going for point-defense and SCs… but rejected that, as I’d be really crippling myself if I was wrong. In the end, I went to bulk DDs (6!), improving a shipyard, and a new base (back in K3, since he was still threatening to work around my flank). Demon bought a new carrier and a set of fighters for it, along with Move 3… and a few decoys.

I also bid to go first again, and dived into the nebula to see what was approaching. That’s when I found out I should have gone with plan #3 (PD and SCs, probably backed up by DDs), as the fighters completely outclassed my DDs, which were wiped out in one round, though I did pick off a fighter (and even that was a mistake, I forgot to treat everyone as “E” in the nebula, so the CVs would have picked off the last DD before I got to shoot). Going into the nebula was probably also a mistake; three of my DDs had defense one, and I tossed that away; on the other hand, I needed to know what was out there.

His new carrier then went out and hit my ‘raiding party’ and… the fighters kept missing, so I managed to kill them for no losses, with the CV retreating out. However, that implied more shipyards than I could handle, and another group was approaching from the far edge, that they would have to deal with. The first carrier force hit my nearby colony, and was alarmed to find a base and 5xDDs waiting there (the bulk of this turn’s production, which had pipelined forward). I lost two DDs, but he lost his entire force, including the CVs.

Demon built a new pair of CVs (one at each forward yard), but could only afford four new fighters, leaving one undermanned. However, he did get defense 1. I got CA tech, but stuck with 2xDD, a base and a decoy. With a depleted military, I had to fall back before what I assumed was 2-3 fully-loaded carriers. The next econ phase, I bought another base, and a pair of BCs, hoping the jump up in ships would help, and they would fire at the same rank as the fighters. Demon apparently bought two SCs, and more decoys…? I’m not sure where the bulk of the money went, though there’s at least one new SY in the mix, and apparently he got Tactics 1.

Demon also paid to go first, and explored one of the remaining hexes in the center, opening up his routes to me a bit more. With too many things incoming, and too many places to protect, I basically, turtled, and he was still able to hit me where I wasn’t, and took out the forward shipyard as well as the colony. This did mean going away from one of the places I had gathered forces, and so sent the BCs and some spare DDs towards the far edge colony. Also, since I was going last, I could largely repair the damage to my pipelines right before econ, where I just built three new BCs. Demon built a base and a pair of CAs at the planet I was approaching… and more decoys (I think he’s well beyond the counter limit at this point).

Demon knocked out another colony while threatening others, and took out another pipeline. I took out what turned out to be a SC with the new BCs, but at least it promoted them to veterans (our first promotion of the game). But that let him get into the homeworld undefended. It took a few rounds to get the shipyards, but they went down at the cost of one fighter.


I made a number of mistakes, most importantly overestimating his ability to rebuild after I took out both his fleets. Of course, I figured he already had another force being put together, and his use of decoys did a lot to keep me distracted. But the one I felt most keenly at the time was seeing that he’d gone the fighter/carrier route, and discounting it. Of course, he also got a fairly good move advantage, which added to the problems and did a lot to keep me on the defensive.

Demon mentioned it’s the second time he’s done well with a fighter rush on the small two-player map. So, it looks to be a viable strategy for the smaller maps, and certainly, it’s real risky move to counter it with point-defense, because that’s really expensive if you’re wrong. I wouldn’t mind seeing what I can do against it, but of course, the initial surprise is part of it.