Seventy eighth session - Gamers wouldn't give a 4X game for anything else

St. Ives Tabletop

15th May 2024

Twenty gamers joined the club for several favourites and quite a few new games, with themes spanning the 4Xs - eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate.

Sagrada Cartographers 5 Minute Dungeon

Some of the shorter games played during the club included Parks - exploring through the national parks in the US; Sagrada - expanding your stained glass masterpiece; Cartographers - mapping out your newly explored region; Point Salad - exploiting vegetables for points!; and 5-Minute Dungeon - involving cooperatively exterminating the denizens of a dungeon to escape, or being exterminated if you run out of time!


Concordia, a club favourite was then set up for a 4 player game by the time some of the shorter games ended. Committee member Jyo K. was the teacher, with Reynaldo A. and Tasha M. playing for the first time and Darren C. who had played once previously. In Concordia, players take on the role of Roman colonists exploring the world and developing their economies. The theme of the game is quite simple - the idea is to settle your colonies in various cities on the map that produce five types of resources. Everyone starts with the same set of cards in their hand, each of which allow you to do different types of actions - move and settle your colonists, buy and sell goods, produce resources etc. You score points based on the cities you have settled in and the cards you have in your hand, as each type of card has its own scoring condition. A delicate balance of expansion on the map and buying the right cards that match your expansion strategy is essential in order to achieve victory.

On this occasion, it was a close finish between Jyo and Tasha. Tasha ended up acquiring a lot of points by settling in cities that produce cloth - a very expensive and valuable resource, and also having the Weaver card which gives you victory points for settling in cloth cities. However, Jyo ended up sneaking just a few points ahead by triggering the end game on time and gaining additional points for doing that. This is a game that never fails to impress new players, with several players having gone on to purchase the game after playing it for the first time at the club. This time, it was Reynaldo who ended up making a purchase soon after this session for the two player Concordia Venus variant.

Continental Divide

Graham W. finally played his game of Continental Divide for the first time. A player on their turn, can buy shares in one railway company, and then build train lines across America for any companies in which they are the largest shareholder. Companies have limited funds and track, and Graham did not count carefully, and got one company stuck! Half-way through the game, with lots of money, and nothing to spend it on, someone discovered Graham had unfortunately got the rules wrong, and we were paying out far too much money!! Graham had used some of this ill-gotten gains to snap up 9 shares in one company - which swung the game. Next time we’ll play it properly with a better idea of what we’re doing!!

Iker P., James T. and Neil O. played a base game of Citadels which ended with a tight outcome. This is a deduction and bluffing game where players take on roles in each round to represent characters with special abilities, you can choose to build (which get you points) and try collect income but will someone take the assassin role - and which role will they target? The goal is to acquire gold and erect buildings while constructing a city, trying to guess which role people will take and interfere with their plans.


Iker P. and James T. later followed with three rounds of Tsuro, a tile laying game where player tokens navigate through the board as new paths are being formed. The goal is to keep your token within the board boundaries longer than anyone else’s, which becomes harder the fewer tile slots remain unoccupied. James was experienced with this game and it showed, sending Iker home with a lot of learning to do.


The largest game of the night was Eclipse, in a break from Simon W.’s usual train game obsession we switched to one of the great 4X games. As with all things, the term “4X” is poorly defined and an overly forced “acronym” from: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate; which essentially define the types of things you do in a game. There are many debates about what is and is not a 4X game (the term 3X is even used by some people), but it’s essentially a build units to explore unknown areas on a map while fighting each other and developing some sort of civilisation. Most 4X games have a sci-fi theme, although the classic game in this genre could be seen as Civilisation. The other “big” game in this area is Twilight Imperium, a 6-10 hour event game (best with six players). Eclipse is shorter (four player games are very possible in an evening), and is less focused on player negotiation and more combat, ship technology/weapons, and a resource economy; while also having a very clever action/influence economy that means the better you’re doing the more you have to spend to maintain your position.

Six players assembled, four new to the game, which meant this was a learning game and likely would not finish (spoiler, we finished 5/8 rounds). The new players all took the generic Terran faction, not to be confused with being basic or simple, the Terrans are fun to play on their own but they lack a quirk from the other factions. The impetus to play Eclipse was the recent arrival of the new expansions bringing four new factions, the two experienced players took two never before used factions for a spin (and as expected, forgot one of their special rules and mis-played the other). The first few rounds saw players expanding, building ships, buying technologies, and then the fighting began. At first against the non-player units on the map, but finally a player vs player combat occurred. Being involved in combat scores you victory points, even if you lose (as long as you don’t run away). Controlling systems gives you points. Researching technologies gives you points. It’s not quite a “euro point salad”, but there’s a lot of ways to get a few points which all add up.

Although we didn’t finish, everyone was getting into the rhythm of the game and starting to see how things work. A six player game with four new players was unlikely to finish on a club night, but a good time was had and the game had reached an interesting stage (showing off what makes Eclipse great).


The next session is the 29th of May. Do join us and let us know in advance of any special requests via Discord.