Every now and then I peruse the list if games on sale on Steam just to see if anything catches my eye. Yesterday I saw something called Space Empires and it sounded like it might be a game similar to Master of Orion which I've had an urge to play recently. A little searching on the internet revealed it is a 4X game in space, and it is a more complicated series than the Master of Orion games. Complicated fiddly bits? That's what I wanted! And at $5 for both Space Empires IV and V how could I say no?
The internet made it sound like SEV has real compatibility issues with newer computers so for some reason I decided to try it first. Turns it does have problems, but some poking around got them mostly smoothed out. I have to play on lowered graphic settings and it gets very confused when anything pops up in another window but it played reasonably smooth after I got that sorted out.
The game has a tutorial which I ran through. It took a couple hours on its own and only covered research, ship construction, exploration, and founding new colonies. It completely ignored diplomacy, espionage, and combat! A couple hours and it left me with no idea how to deal with enemies should I ever find them. Now that's complicated!
Fiddly bits? Has this game got them. You need to build your ship from scratch using parts you've researched. Each type of ship has a limited amount of weight and item slots allowed on the ship. I built a cruiser which can hold 750 kT of weight and has room for up to 12 armour modules and up to 105 other modules which weight between 5 kT and 200 kT. Shields, engines, weapons, scanners, crew quarters, life support, a bridge... Auxiliary control in case the bridge gets damaged. Emergency engines. Cargo holds. Ammo holds. Satellites. Point defense drones. Presumably cloaking devices. Short ranged weapons. Long ranged weapons. Missiles. Weapons to use on planets.
Research is also insane. You can research each thing multiple times which gives you slightly better versions of the old thing. Sometimes it unlocks a new research tree entirely. So far I have 75 different tech trees I could spend research point on, though I think one is completely finished.
Combat seems to be completely automated. There's a spot for inputting what tactics you want your fleets to use but I haven't even looked at that yet. The AI seems to have a thing for stacking a bunch of ships on the other end of a jump gate thing so I can't tell there will be a fight until it happens and I die. So I think I need to stop sending out individual scout ships and start sending out massive fleets? I haven't even considered invading a planet. I wonder how hard that's going to be?
All that said, I'm not sure super complicated with fiddly bits is actually what I want to play. It hasn't hooked me into taking one more turn the way Civ does. Or maybe that's just because I haven't hit a limited level of mastery yet? I figure I should at least play until I get killed, right?