We rolled to see who would start, and I won. Yay! Actually, not so good, because races were then chosen in reverse order of starting, so I got the last choice. Not only that, but I get to choose where I was sitting first, which from a comfort standpoint was great (I made sure I was on the side of the table where I could get out easily), but meant that the other players could choose where they wanted to sit in relation to me. Not sure how much difference it would have made, but having a very aggressive player to my right made things difficult.
It has been decided that we would be playing without the Descendants of Draco or the Planta for the game (so they green and yellow players would play the human side of their boards). Not sure on the rational, but I think it’s probably due to game balance in a game that big – Planta with their ability to expand so quickly could probably have half the board and win easily. I ended up with red, and having read a bit about them, decided (in hindsight, foolishly) to play the Eridani (see separate entry on them).
At start up I drew 2 victory tiles, and got a couple of 3’s – could be worse. However I realised quickly that only left me with 2 space victory tile or ambassador spaces. I had the Space Pirates to my right, and the Humans to my left.
First turn is normally pretty big for the Eridani, as they have a huge amount of cash to give them additional actions. I researched Improved Hull with my first action. My initial plan was to try and explore lots and get more than my fair share of the tier 3 tiles, but that didn’t really pan out – I think I managed to explore 3, but had little luck in terms of finding any that supplied Economy. I think I did pick up some discovery tiles (+8 cash, Morph shield which I put on my Dreadnaughts). My tier 2 tile had an ancient ship in it, which I was pretty happy about – something I could go and kill for some victory points, plus a discovery tile, and it had 2 worlds in it that I could use for Economy (1 Economy, 1 white “anything” planet).
Second turn was a bit of a setback. I upgraded my interceptor with Improved Hull and a Plasma Cannon and sent it in to deal with that ancient ship. Unfortunately, I’m not a particularly lucky person. My ship could absorb 3 hits, and just needed to land 1 (on a roll of a 6) to kill the ancient ship. I had about 5 shots at the ancient before it destroyed my interceptor (in 10 shots). Bollocks.
Third turn I was in trouble. I was pretty much down to 2 actions as my cash had run out. I built a Dreadnaught (which I think I might have already upgraded with an Improved Hull and a Plasma Cannon) and sent it in to deal with the ancient ship. Success! Economic downfall avoided temporarily (although I had abandoned one of the outlying systems with only a mining planet in it). The discovery tile proved to be the Conformal Drive (a 4 movement drive), which would have gone into my Dreadnaught except I didn’t have enough power. That was annoying, as it meant another upgrade action needed to install the drive. Also, I was now adjacent to my right hand side player, the Space Pirates, and we made an alliance. This seemed to be the right thing to do – it allowed me to get another Economy cube out, and his interceptors were looking pretty mean at this stage with Plasma Missiles.
Fourth turn I removed the Plasma Cannon from the Dreadnaught (boo for downgrading) and installed the drive, giving me the movement to zip back through my home system and out to tier 3 to take on another ancient ship. In hindsight it might have been wiser to research a power source, but I know there was no Tachyon source. And with my morph shield and drive both requiring power, I was concerned that a Fusion Source was not going to provide enough power (Fusion source replacing Nuclear Source = 7 power (inc Eridani Dreadnaught benefit); 2 x Plasma Cannon = 4 power, Drive = 2 power, and I was hoping to put computers in there in the future). With the morph shield + improved hull the ancient ships (who only do 1 damage per hit) really needed to have a run of 6’s to have any chance of destroying my dreadnaught, which they didn’t get. The discovery tile proved to be Flux Shields, which I wanted on my Dreadnaught but again, couldn’t install because I didn’t have enough power.
Fifth turn I took out another ancient ship (in a tier 3 tile my neighbour had placed), placing me adjacent to the humans on my left hand side. The discovery tile was something forgettable, I think maybe resources, and I took it as victory points instead. I think I picked up Advanced Robotics at this stage. My ally to my right was beginning to look a little threatening (the player to their right had effectively sealed the border, and they were looking for new directions to expand in), so I build a couple of interceptors in my tier 2 system.
Sixth turn things started to stagnate. I wasn’t confident of moving into my left hand side players home system, as while my Dreadnaught (soon to be Dreadnaughts) could take a pounding, they didn’t have a lot in the way of firepower. I think I took 2 research actions (Artefact key to gain 10 science and 5 minerals, then Zero Point Source, a power source 12 which in hindsight was probably overkill), and an upgrade actions (install Zero Point Source and a Flux Shield on my Dreadnaught).
Seventh turn it was time for action! I think I researched Quantum Grid at this point, then built another Dreadnaught, moved them into my neighbours home system, and upgraded (2x Plasma Cannons). Attack! And this is where things started to fall apart. The humans reacted by moving ships, pinning my 2 dreadnaughts with an interceptor, cruiser and a starbase, and then sending 2 interceptors though into 2 of my systems. A mistake on my part (as Sun Tzu says, first make yourself invincible, then attack), but really I was generating all of 3 minerals a turn, and couldn’t afford a lot of building. Not only that, their last action they used the last on their science (1) and cash (2) to research Neutron Bombs, ensuring I was getting wiped out in my 2 systems. Not good, but I figured once I took their home system I would have a better system (and would then need to try and win back my systems).
And then the Space Pirates attacked. 2 Cruisers pinned my interceptors in the tier 2 system, and a third went through to my homeworld. Oh dear.
Things had gone from bad to worse, and they were about to get even worse. My Dreadnaughts current make up was 2 Plasma Cannons, a computer, Zero Point Source, Morph Shield, Flux Shield, Conformal Drive and Improved Hull. So they were -4 to hit, regenerated a point of hull each turn, but crucially, only required 3 points of damage to destroy. Of course, my opponent was only hitting on 6’s. Their first salvo, from the Interceptor (1 Plasma Cannon) and Starbase (1 Plasma Cannon, 1 Ion Cannon) included 2 6’s, and bam, 1 of my Dreadnaughts is dead before firing a shot. My second Dreadnaught fires and destroys the interceptor. The Cruiser fires its plasma cannons and bam, rolls a 6, doing 2 points of damage. End of round, the Dreadnaught regenerates a point of damage(so still has 1 damage on it). Then the Starbase fires, and bam, rolls a 6 on its Plasma Cannon dice, and my second Dreadnaught is destroyed. 4 6’s on 6 dice and my fleet was wiped out.
Meanwhile, the Space Pirate’s cruisers wiped the floor with my Interceptors. 8 Plasma Missiles hitting on 2’s (as each had 2 Positron computers in them), needing 2 hits on each interceptor to destroy them. I think it might have been close (3 1’s), but it wasn’t really in doubt. 2 battles, 4 ships, and I got to roll 2 dice to attack before being wiped out.
The eighth turn I just wanted the game to end. I was reduced to 2 outlying systems. I built a Dreadnaught in one of them, forcing the Space Pirates to send in 2 cruisers to deal with it (while the other one took out my undefended system). I figured my -4 to hit would help, but he researched Gluon computers and replaced his 2 Positron computers with Gluons, meaning even with my -4 he was hitting on 4-6, again just needing 2 hits to destroy my Dreadnaught. And just like that my game was over.
In hindsight I should possibly have allied with the Humans, and gone to take on the Space Pirates, leaving a Dreadnaught to hold that border. But really, the Eridani need a bit of luck to do well in the game. Losing the interceptor in the turn 2 meant not only the loss of the ship, but loss of the income from those 2 worlds for a turn, which would have really helped. I also suffered from not being able to pick up the tech I wanted early on – I think I could have afforded Advanced Robotics in Turn 3, but couldn’t get it until turn 5, and could afford Quantum Grid in turn 5 but couldn’t get it until turn 7. Also, despite the Eridani having less actions than everyone else I only ended up as the first player on one or two occasions – a couple of times a guy on the other side of the table getting screwed over (he was wiped out in about turn 5 or 6) passed early, meaning the tech I wanted was gone by the time I got a chance to research.
The 9 player game seemed particularly brutal. This is the first game I’ve ever seen a player completely eliminated prior to the end of the game (and in this case, 2 players). I think 6 of the 9 players held the Traitor card (one of them twice).