Space Empires: Close Encounters - Board Game Box Shot

Space Empires: Close Encounters

| Published: 2011
Expansion for Space Empires 4X
16 3 1

Space Empires: Close Encounters is the first expansion to Space Empires: 4X. Alien races meet up close as they encounter each other for the first time in ship boarding engagements and planetary invasions with different types of ground troops. The strengths and weaknesses of each alien empire are brought out with roughly 20 unique racial abilities. The expansion takes advantage of the streamlined nature of the game system to add more technology and cool sci-fi things in very simple ways. While it is designed to be used as a whole, the expansion is modular and players can choose to use only the parts that they like.

Also included in the expansion is an experience system so that your ship groups become more proficient over time. There is a big benefit if you can keep ships alive! The game gives more counters of each ship type to accommodate groups at different experience levels. Military academies in your empire can give your new groups a head start in accumulating experience.

Titans, super large ships beyond dreadnaught, make their appearance and can both carry fighters and destroy planets, but have liabilities too. As requested, fleet counters and a fleet display are in the box. In addition to racial advantages, there are also unique Alien Technologies that can be gained by conquering the non-player Alien planets. There are more technologies and some more money is added into the game because of the larger tech tree.

New scenarios are added for both 3 and 4 players. A new alien empire solitaire scenario is included as well as another solitaire scenario where a player can attempt to fight off an invading mass of Space Amoebas.

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“Costly expansion? Yes. But, is it worth it?”

I’m not going to list everything you can get in this expansion to Space Empires 4X. Please go to the Close Encounters website and or check out the “unboxing” video on YouTube (at http://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=mQmDOiRbBeY). For the sake of understating, I will say there’s a lot of game pieces (ships, ground unit counters, better rendered home planets, etc.), and another well crafted guide booklet that provides clear yet flexible explanations on how to integrate said pieces along with new scenarios, and game play variants on top of that. How’s that for a run-on sentence?

I’ve been playing SE4X pretty regularly the last two weeks–roughly 12 games; a third solo). Due to the many variants the base game presented itself with, I have only integrated two of what appears to be over a dozen new elements and hundreds of pieces from the expansion. One addition I will mention is the Titan ship that is basically a more mobile Death Star. These ships seem to be one definitive answer to the Doomsday Machines, which is a tad disappointing. Titans are very powerful and may encourage a one track strategy for gamers gunning to only destroy opponent’s planets. I guess that is the point of the game, isn’t it? My point is, I’m a fan of everyone struggling a bit to muster up a space armada that is not guaranteed solely based on size to successfully take out another player’s planet or fleet or both. Call me old fashioned. With that said, GMT has built a system that won’t break should I integrate a house rule that provides the Titans with a weakness.

In all, I had already “drank the cool aid” with the base game. Though I did wince at the price of the expansion, I bought it anyway and am not disappointed thus far. I haven’t done the math but there are dozens of modular elements that you can mix and match within a SE4X sitting, thus an exponential amount of games to play. This might make it challenging yet also fascinating when playing against new, experienced players. I look forward to trying as many elements as possible. This exceptionally high replay value makes the base game and Close Encounters expansion well worth their price. Enjoy.

 

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