GMT's Space Empires 4X game is a great boardgame conversion of the computer game we all know. I played it last weekend at a local gaming group (CABS in Columbus, Ohio) with a friend (who has played the computer game for over a decade) and a complete stranger, and we all had a blast trying it out.
We started with the basic rules to the game (a whole 10 pages of rules), and after a quick read thru we were ready to go. The original game has an additional 5 pages of optional rules, which can be picked and added to the basic game as you choose.
The first expansion to the game, Close Encounters adds 15 pages of additional optional rules for you to pick and choose from, including ground combat for planetary invasions. The game and expansion both come with their own scenario books, greatly expanding the re-playability of the game for 1 thru 4 players (or more). GMT is currently finishing up the 2nd expansion to the base game, Replicators, which will include special rules for a 5th race, more generic optional rules and additional map terrain counters.
Fog of War effects are simulated thru the use of double-sided counters that have ship group details on one side , and a generic ship image on the other, so you may see some fleet cruising around the board, but you don't know exactly what it is until you engage it in combat. Generic ship designs can be modified thru expenditure of tech research points, giving them advanced capabilities in the categories of Movement, Attack, Defenses, and more.
Exploration is handled thru the use of double-sided terrain counters, with details being exposed upon the entry of an exploration ship in the unexplored hex. The basic map is broken into two types of space. Area near your race's home system, which is fairly safe to explore and expand in, and Deep Space, which is a bit more hazardous to explore, with slightly better rewards scattered among the hazards.
Combat is equally streamlined, you determine which ships fire first by the class of ships involved in a given combat, match Attack vs Defense to arrive at a number you have to roll equal to or less to score a hit on your target. When a ship receives a number of hits equal to it's hull size during a given battle, it is eliminated. If it doesn't receive that number of hits, it is repaired automatically after the battle is over.
Here are some links tied in with the game, including the rulebooks in PDF form at the GMT site:
Boardgame Geek's info on the basic game: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/8...ace-empires-4x
GMT Games list of their SF games which includes links to the game and it's expansions:
(Don't panic, they are setting up a 3rd printing of the basic game at the current time, but copies of the game are available thru various sources, such as your Friendly Local Game Store, or online thru various game dealers, or thru Amazon.com or Ebay.
The computerized solo or multiplayer assistant program Vassal also has a module for the game and the first expansion (combined) which was created by a GMT Games staff member:
And last but not least, a 12 minute video that explains most of the concepts and basic rules used in the game:
Tutorial Video (v1.2)