Space Empires is a game in the finest tradition of 4X space games - eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. Make no mistake. All four "X's" are included in this game. This is a wargame where the purpose of building your empire is not to feel good about your achievement, but to destroy your enemies and burn their colonies.

Now in a 3 inch box.
One difficulty in games of this genre is that they are often either overly simplistic or tediously detailed. Space Empires has been almost 20 years in the making and, during that time, many elegant solutions have been developed to keep the theme rich without a lot of rules. The game includes carriers and fighters, mines, cloaking, a very large technology tree, fifteen ship classes from scout to dreadnaught, merchant shipping, colonization, mining, terraforming, bases, shipyards, black holes, warp points, and non-player aliens, yet the rules are short and intuitive and the game can be finished on one sitting. This is NOT a game that is hard to get into. The playtest rules are only 6 pages long for the basic game and increase to 10 pages in length when all the advanced rules, optional rules, and scenarios are included.
Exploration is easy (well, easy for you, it is actually dangerous for your ships) and fun and reveals different terrain (such as asteroids and nebulas) which affect your movement and your combat. The map is printed on both sides to make set up easier. One side is used for the 2 player game and the other side for the 3-4 player game.

Description of Play

Each player, in turn, moves his ships, resolves his battles, and completes his exploration.  This process repeats and every third turn, the game is interrupted as all players conduct an economic phase.  During this time, players collect their income, pay their maintenance, bid on turn order, research new technologies, purchase new ships, build space yards, and grow their colonies.    

Inevitably, the growing empires will expand into each other and begin fighting over the same resources.  Players must balance spending on ships with expenditures for technology in order to stay ahead of their opponents as they seek to destroy key colonies or key space yards in order to tip the balance of the game in their favor.

Technology can play a key roll in this as more advanced ships are definitely more powerful in combat than ones with basic technology.  More than that, technology can provide nasty surprises.  Ship types are not revealed until they have been in combat and finding out that you are facing a carrier loaded with fighters can turn the tide of a battle.  Cloaked units can get beyond your forward fleets and disrupt your merchant pipelines, mines can end up taking out your biggest ships before battle even begins, and tactical advancements can mean that your opponent ends up firing first.

Combat is chartless and intuitive.  Depending on the situation and where the battle is fought (in a nebula, asteroids, or open space) ships get bonuses to their attack and defense ratings based on their different technology.  These are compared and ships line up to shoot at each other.  Combat rounds continue until one side is eliminated or retreats.  The combat procedure is quick, but satisfying.

While it is good to have the biggest ships, having a larger number of small ships can net you an advantage because a side that outnumbers its enemy significantly gets bonuses in combat (their numerical edge allows them to be more likely to maneuver and get in position to fire at downed shields or weak spots on an enemy ship).  Fleet composition is also important as each ship has its advantages.  This is not a game where a player just automatically only builds his best class of ship and nothing else.  Your fleets will actually feel like fleets!
The game plays very well as either a two, three, or four player game.  Two player games often play very quickly (one or two hours) depending on the size of the galaxy used.  Four player games can go longer (three to four hours) depending on the style of the players and whether or not team play is used.  Aggressive players using team play can result in a game as short as a two player game.


  • Four 5/8" counter sheets (704 counters)
  • One 22 x 34" Double Sided Map
  • Rulebook
  • Two Player aid sheets
  • One Pad of production sheets
  • Two 10 sided dice


Complexity: Medium (4/9)
Solitaire: Low (2/9)


Barcode # 817054010066
Brand GMT Games
Shipping Weight 1.5000kg
Shipping Width 0.300m
Shipping Height 0.240m
Shipping Length 0.060m
Shipping Cubic 0.004320000m3

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