Note on 4th Printing: This 4th Printing will come in a 3" box. The game will be identical to the 3rd Printing otherwise, except that any known errata will be corrected.
Empires: 4X now includes solitaire scenarios. Three separate one-player scenarios will be included with the game. All of these scenarios use the normal rules of the game. A player will explore, grow his empire, develop technology, and build fleets just like when facing human players.
The first two scenarios are based on Doomsday Machines entering your space and attacking your empire. There are five possible directions from which they can come and the player must prepare his empire for the succession of attacks, including the tough decision on when a colony must be sacrificed. Yes, these Doomsday Machines eat planets (and will heal damage when they do)! Each also may have a weakness that can be exploited if the player develops the right technology. The difference between the two scenarios is length. In the first, the Doomsdays Machines are weaker and come earlier. In the second, they are stronger and come later. It will give both of the scenarios a different technological feel.
The third scenario centers on defeating alien empires. Each of the alien empires are simplified so that the entire empire is represented by the alien home planet (working on automating defense rules for a far flung empire was too complicated and unnecessary). These alien empires grow their economy, research technology, build defenses, and send attacking fleets at you. The human player plays the game normally, must fend off the attacks, and eventually destroy each of the alien home worlds to knock them out of the game. The alien empires will keep getting stronger and coming at the human player until they are destroyed. There are a couple of pages of rules and charts which govern the actions of the alien players.
All three of the scenarios come with multiple difficulty levels that vary things like the strength of the Doomsday Machines, the number of alien empires being faced, or the size of the alien economy. When learning the game, you can play the scenarios on easy and as you get more experienced you can work your way up toward impossible. :-)
Additional, future solitaire scenarios are planned, but will not be included in the initial game release. The fourth solitaire scenario also involves defeating alien empires, but on a larger map. The fifth one pits the human player against growing and spreading space amoebas. It leads to a very different strategic situation than the Doomsday Machines.
I have had a lot of requests for solitaire scenarios and I am really excited about how they came out. I hope you enjoy them!
Space Empires is a game in the finest tradition of 4X space games - eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. Make no mistake. All four "X's" are included in this game. This is a wargame where the purpose of building your empire is not to feel good about your achievement, but to destroy your enemies and burn their colonies.
One difficulty in games of this genre is that they are often either overly simplistic or tediously detailed. Space Empires has been almost 20 years in the making and, during that time, many elegant solutions have been developed to keep the theme rich without a lot of rules. The game includes carriers and fighters, mines, cloaking, a very large technology tree, fifteen ship classes from scout to dreadnaught, merchant shipping, colonization, mining, terraforming, bases, shipyards, black holes, warp points, and non-player aliens, yet the rules are short and intuitive and the game can be finished on one sitting. This is NOT a game that is hard to get into. The playtest rules are only 6 pages long for the basic game and increase to 10 pages in length when all the advanced rules, optional rules, and scenarios are included.
Exploration is easy (well, easy for you, it is actually dangerous for your ships) and fun and reveals different terrain (such as asteroids and nebulas) which affect your movement and your combat. The map is printed on both sides to make set up easier. One side is used for the 2 player game and the other side for the 3-4 player game.
Description of play:
Each player, in turn, moves his ships, resolves his battles, and completes his exploration. This process repeats and every third turn, the game is interrupted as all players conduct an economic phase. During this time, players collect their income, pay their maintenance, bid on turn order, research new technologies, purchase new ships, build space yards, and grow their colonies.
Inevitably, the growing empires will expand into each other and begin fighting over the same resources. Players must balance spending on ships with expenditures for technology in order to stay ahead of their opponents as they seek to destroy key colonies or key space yards in order to tip the balance of the game in their favor.
Technology can play a key roll in this as more advanced ships are definitely more powerful in combat than ones with basic technology. More than that, technology can provide nasty surprises. Ship types are not revealed until they have been in combat and finding out that you are facing a carrier loaded with fighters can turn the tide of a battle. Cloaked units can get beyond your forward fleets and disrupt your merchant pipelines, mines can end up taking out your biggest ships before battle even begins, and tactical advancements can mean that your opponent ends up firing first.
Combat is chartless and intuitive. Depending on the situation and where the battle is fought (in a nebula, asteroids, or open space) ships get bonuses to their attack and defense ratings based on their different technology. These are compared and ships line up to shoot at each other. Combat rounds continue until one side is eliminated or retreats. The combat procedure is quick, but satisfying.
While it is good to have the biggest ships, having a larger number of small ships can net you an advantage because a side that outnumbers its enemy significantly gets bonuses in combat (their numerical edge allows them to be more likely to maneuver and get in position to fire at downed shields or weak spots on an enemy ship). Fleet composition is also important as each ship has its advantages. This is not a game where a player just automatically only builds his best class of ship and nothing else. Your fleets will actually feel like fleets!
The game plays very well as either a two, three, or four player game. Two player games often play very quickly (one or two hours) depending on the size of the galaxy used. Four player games can go longer (three to four hours) depending on the style of the players and whether or not team play is used. Aggressive players using team play can result in a game as short as a two player game.
Players and Playing Time:
1-4 hours to play depending on the scenario
Solitaire Suitability High
Base postage cost: £5.50
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