Space Empires: Replicators is Here!

Wednesday , 7, March 2018 Leave a comment

It’s been a good long while since the first expansion to GMT’s Space Empires: 4X rolled out. But here we are with a whole ‘nother box of awesome for the best Space Game on the market. What’s inside?

  • Four new reference charts because the build options and tech tree have received yet another iteration.
  • New production sheets (with and without research centers) to accommodate those new technologies and build options. (And hey, if you’re like me… you had already burned through the first set and are well on your way using up the ones from the first expansion.)
  • Resource Cards… because there are still more asymmetries to be introduced beyond the Empire Advantages and Alien Technologies from Close Encounters.
  • Gorgeous super-sized terrain hexes to make explored space more appealing, more astonishing, and just plain easy to read from the board.
  • An all-new, all-different fifth-player faction that operates with its own distinctive ships and technologies far different from the traditional player factions. (They get their own fleet card and production sheets to boot!)
  • A rules booklet that includes rules updates to previous releases, rules for new units and cards, and new scenarios as well.

It’s epic, sure. But given how much the last expansion added to the game, it’s reasonable to ponder just how necessary all this is. Just at my table, we’ve certainly worn out the rules for Ship Experience, Titans, Alien Technology, and Empire Advantages. Those rules are so good and such a welcome addition that we’d never voluntarily opt to play with out them. But it’s fair to point out that all that other stuff with Boarding Ships, Group Combat, Research Centers, and Unique Ships…? We’ve just never felt the need to sit down and work those rules into our game!

Now, I realize that if you’re already a fan of this line that there’s just no way I can persuade you to not get this installment. There’s no doubt that you’re going to be playing Space Empires a few dozen times more. The new terrain tiles in this set will by themselves make that experience an order of magnitude more enjoyable. As far as gaming values go, there’s very little on the game store shelf that can compete with that!

But let’s take a closer look anyway.

Advanced Construction — If you liked Raiders and Carriers from the core Space Empires set… then you’re no doubt troubled somewhat by the fact that (if they fail to turn the tide in the early game) they cease to be relevant in the late game. These rules address that issue head on while providing a whole range of construction options that can conceivably even tempt the most dedicated Titan addicts to consider trying something different. Additionally, capabilities from the Unique ships rule are now incorporated in to the main line of the game system: Destroyer-X’s are equipped with Heavy Warheads, Battle Carriers have Anti-Sensor Hulls, and Advanced Flagships gain one unique ship ability of their choice! The bottom line here? These rules add very little overhead to the game while accentuating its best features and leveraging developments that needed a little bit of help to make it into actual play. You’re not going to have to twist my arm to try this!

Resource Cards — One of the things that I like best about the Empire Advantages and Alien Technologies is that they provide an incentive for players to do something besides their usual, preferred build strategies. But do they shake things up enough…? That’s debatable! Either way, these new resource cards produce additional asymmetries into otherwise identical empire types… making players think twice before doing the same old thing. At the same time, they provide another avenue to accentuate the far future space game color of the action.

The Replicators — This is a case of the designers scratching an itch I just don’t have. Man, I just love me some Space Empires! But I never need to seat a fifth player. And the idea of attracting someone to this game by letting them play an empire type that lacks all of the things that make this game the crack cocaine of the tabletop is just plain crazy to me. It’s not that hard. Even worse, using this faction requires you to drop the Close Encounters rules for counter-by-counter ship experience tracking. That’s a very hard sell with me. On the other hand, I’m not satisfied with the solitaire and co-operative scenarios that were released previously for this line. The replicator solitaire game may just be the point where this aspect of the game finally gets sorted out. We’ll see about that!

So where does that leave us? Well, all this means that I’m jonesing to get everything on the table from this set except what’s in the title!

It strikes me that the real sweet spot for this line is in the core set and the first half of the Close Encounters expansion. As good as that game is, I can’t help but be excited about where the Terrain Tiles, the Advanced Construction rules and the Resource cards take me. The Replicators might be the cat’s pajamas, but they may well have to get in line behind infantry, space marines, and grav armor if they’re ever going to see play at my table! That said… a rainy day may be coming where breaking out the solitaire Replicator scenario is just the thing.

Regardless of what happens, everything in this box together means my all-time favorite space game is more likely to see play. And that makes it a bargain.

If you’re looking to get as hooked on this game as I have, here’s my advice to you:

  • If you’re playing with just the core set, do not put off incorporating Raiders and Fighters into your games. And especially don’t shy away from tracking technology on a counter-by-counter basis. It’s not the bookkeeping headache you think it is and these features are what make this game so danged good!
  • Likewise, the experience tracking rules in Close Encounters make the game even better. They might look like something not worth bothering with, but wow… are they ever fun!
  • Even if you are just starting out with the most stripped down iterations of the game, you’ll want to add the supersized terrain tiles from expansion 2 to your game right out of the gate. They enhance play tremendously and are extremely easy on the eyes.

And note, if you’ve been hunting for this game and failing to find it… it as currently back in print. Get your copy before they disappear!

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