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This is (mostly) a revisited review from the printed edition of Games Gazette Magazine #188 from several years ago. It has been republished now to serve as a reminder that this is such a good game, which has kept its playability value high over time, and there is soon to be a GGO review of the latest edition and expansion. 


DEVELOPER: Martin Scott
MAP & COUNTER ART: Mark Simonitch
PRODUCERS: Andy Lewis, Gene Billingsley, Mark Simonitch, Rodger MacGowan, & Tony Curtis

This game from GMT Games is a nominee for the 2011 Golden Geek Best Wargame with 52 voters to date casting their votes. It is what is commonly known as a 4X game, these X’s being eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate.

Playable by 1 - 4 players at roughly an hours playing time per person this is quite a simple game both as the Basic and Advanced versions. The rules have been kept to a minimum, 8 pages for the Basic and only 3 additional pages to bring it up to the Advanced.

There is also an expansion : Space Empires: Close Encounters - An expansion that adds Empire Advantages, Ground Troops, Alien Technology Cards, Unique Ships, Flag Ships, Boarding Ships, and much more.

There are a lot of good things and few not so good things about SPACE EMPIRES which is about how most wargames with lots of counters can be summarised. I stopped enjoying playing (I cannot stop playing as I review all manner of games) games where you get stacks of counters in single hexes a long while ago when my memory started going. I need to continually check counters in stacks.



Note: The playtest counter art shown above comes with permission from the excellent Space Empires series of computer games that you can find here: Strategy First Space Empires 4 Deluxe

Consimworld Discussion Topic for Space Empires



SPACE EMPIRES has a lot of stacking and a lot of counters so I was rather concerned about playing it.  I needn’t have been though as there are all manner of possibilities for playing and winning. You can win by defending, building small colonies in deep space ,  and picking away at your opponent’s forces and colonies, gaining VPs as you go.

  Or you can build a massive and powerful fleet (an armada ?) and leave your home system and colonies virtually undefended to attack your opponent’s home system - a dangerous tactic but wholly satisfying if you’re successful. Like an interstellar 'win or die' run in Risk(tm)

This is a game about building, researching technologies and the most enjoyable of all, deceit. Until the very moment when necessary, players do not have to reveal anything they don’t want to. This makes for a good game of bluff which can, when played out thoughtfully of course, make your opponent(s) rethink their strategies. 

Online from £45.00 - £50.00 this is a lot of game for less than you could pay for a much lesser game.

Occasionally the game may outstay its welcome, (as in length of play), but in general it moves along at a reasonable pace.

** Most of the pictures on this page are “some rights reserved” photo’s taken from  BoardGameGeek **

GMT Description:

Space Empires 4X is a game in the finest tradition of 4X space games - eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. This game is Rich in Theme. Carriers, fighters, mines, cloaking, dreadnoughts, merchant shipping, colonization, mining, terraforming, shipyards, black holes, warp points, non-player aliens, Doomsday Machines - everything an Epic Space Opera needs. Despite that, the rules are Incredibly Simple. Almost 20 years in the making, many elegant solutions have been developed to remove complexity and make the game intuitive.
1 to 4 players eXplore the random map. Each space can reveal any of 12 different terrain effects like asteroids, nebulae, and planets. Terrain is important as it impacts both combat and movement, as well as how you will build your empire. Players then eXpand their empire by forming colonies (long term, steady growth), harvesting resources (quick income), and building a merchant fleet (trade income). This infrastructure must quickly be eXploited to build a fleet from up to 10 different classes of warships and researching critical technology from among 50 levels of advances at your disposal. The competing empires quickly come in contact and vie to eXterminate each other. This is where your technology and fleet decisions will be proven. Combat is simple (there are no complicated charts), but rewards good, balanced fleet construction. Building only the largest capital ship is not a good idea. Your fleets will actually feel like fleets!
There are Multiple Scenarios for both solitaire and 2-players. Multi-player scenarios have the option for team play, including 2 players against 1 in a 3-player game. Scenarios can be customized in length and some can be completed in as little as an hour. Many aspects of the game can be completed simultaneously by the players so that there is very little downtime. This is a game that can be completed in one sitting!

Players and Playing Time:

NOTE (April 13, 2011): The above solitaire rating is for the multi-player game. We have added three Solo scenarios to the game. So the rating for those scenarios is "9."  


© Chris Baylis 2011-2021