Talon Tuesday Issue #14: Space Empires Crossover

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #14: Space Empires Crossover

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Jim Krohn and GMT Games have another game called Space Empires: 4x. It’s a 4x (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) board war game in the vein of old PC games like Masters of Orion and its namesake – Space Empires. It’s a strategic level game, where you are mostly concerned with the development of your empire, research and area control on the board.  Combat is handled through a very slick system that still gives players interesting tactical choices – however, it is abstracted.  The ships are not on a map, moving around, they instead take turns firing.

From the outset, Talon was always meant to be its own thing. Talon was never meant to be an expansion for Space Empires. It exists in its own flavorful universe while Space Empires has only mild seasoning for flavor.  We realized shortly after Talon was announced that there was a big demand from our Space Empires fan base for there to be a Talon tie-in for Space Empires.  Fans wanted a way to play out their Space Empires tactical battles in the Talon system – letting them zoom in and control the nitty gritty details of the ships they’ve built.  We wanted to satisfy our fans, but at the same time, Space Empires needed to bend to the rules of Talon, not the other way around.

Space Empires: Replicators Resource Cards

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ReplicatorsP500-TABBecause I pushed for and laid out most of the Resource Cards for Space Empires: Replicators, Jim Krohn asked me to do a write up on how they came about.

When we were well into the design process for SE: Close Encounters, we got an email forwarded by GMT from David Ward with some ideas for cards that could be added to the game.  The ideas found fertile ground with the playtest group and a lot of possibilities were quickly thrown around regarding which of his cards would work and what other cards could be added.  Some of what he proposed was already going into the game with the Racial Ability Cards and the Alien Tech Cards, but some of the other ideas had merit as potential Resource Cards, too.  Unfortunately we had already filled up most of the 55 cards that the expansion was budgeted, so we could not work in those ideas at that time.

Knowing that there were some other things that did not make the cut for Close Encounters, I went over all of the suggestions that had been thrown out and made up a deck of 55 Resource Cards for a future expansion.  Through use of the Resource Cards, we would have an extra ability to give to the players that would not be a technology that they would have to research.  The core game is very finely balanced in the early game and I did not want to upset that balance by introducing Technology/Ships that would become must-haves in the early game.  I also knew at the time that neither Jim nor I wanted to start an arms race by introducing a Super-Titan.  So whatever new Tech/Ships that would be added in a future expansion would have to become available later in the game and be useful, but not game changers.  This led to the new units that are available after you research Advanced Construction: DDXs, BVs, Fighter 4s and Raider Xs.  That left the Resource Cards as something that would be new and available to the players right at the start of the game.

Sample Resource Card 1

Sample Resource Card 1 – Playtest Art

Adding the Replicators to Space Empires

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Jim Krohn is the creator of our really cool 4X space game, Space Empires. In the expansions to SE, Jim has managed to give us a bunch of cool new additions and options without making the game unwieldy – a considerable design accomplishment. In this, Jim’s first article for InsideGMT, he takes us inside his newest expansion, Space Empires: Replicators, on the P500 list now and slated for release in 2Q or 3Q, 2015. Enjoy the article! – Gene

SE CoverSpace Empires: Replicators is the second expansion to Space Empires:4x.  As the designer, I wanted to share a little bit about the design philosophy for the expansion.  This expansion introduces a number of great things that add to the game play:

  • Large Terrain Tiles that replace the planets, asteroids, nebulae, etc. when they are revealed. This not only makes the board look cool, but reduces counter clutter and saves space in each hex.
  • A Resource Deck that adds another layer of both strategy and tactics to the game.
  • New Ships (like Battlecarriers)
  • New Terrain

The coolest thing, however, and the name sake of the expansion, is the addition of the Replicators.  Replicators are “Von Neumann” machines, a class of machines that can replicate themselves.  It introduces a possible 5th player to the game as well as adding another way to play it with just two players.  While the first expansion had empire advantages, which gave each player a special power, the Replicators are a different animal altogether that play completely differently from all the other players.  It is not just an empire with a special power, it is a new way of playing the game – they don’t have the same ships, they don’t have the same tech tree, and they require less book keeping.