25 November 2012

Dead CCG: Galactic Empires

Cards from my collection

I've found my newest fascination to distract me from other gaming pursuits in the Galactic Empires collectable card game (CCG).  First published in 1994 by now defunct Companion Games, the game definitely qualifies as a dead CCG.

Back in the 90s when I played INWO and Mythos regularly, I came across some promo cards for Galactic Empires (GE) and laughed at the artwork, immediately rejecting GE as a Magic: the Gathering clone.  Fast forward a few decades (ouch) and I ran into the game again, this time as a heap of cards for cheap.  I'm into converting dead CCGs into solitaire versions, space themed games in general, and getting things for cheap.  GE fit all three of those so I did a little research and then bought the heap.

The Galactic Empires Card Museum is a great website that convinced me to check this gem of a CCG out.  The museum features pictures of nearly every card, and if you look at the first few editions, you'll see why I avoided GE initially.  Look at "Science Officer" in the Alpha and Beta releases for example; it looks like a 10 year old's crayon drawing.  If you look at the Universe edition released in 1995 however, you'll see that the art improved dramatically as many popular CCG artists began to produce illustrations for the game.  That's the edition I bought and am very pleased with the appearance.

I was concerned if one could construct a playable game deck from boosters alone.  I just received all my booster boxes and after beginning to catalog them I feel more confident a deck can be built from boosters alone.  I've only opened five boosters from my first box, but with some quick sorting and filtering on an excel spreadsheet I'm already seeing some great trends.  Follow the link in the previous sentence to download the spreadsheet to manage your collection.

First, I'm impressed with the variation in the boosters. Other CCGs I've collected have been guilty of poor distribution, with sometimes two or three of the same common right next to each other in the same booster. Not so with GE (at least in these first five boosters). So far all 14 cards per booster have been different than each other, and among the 70 cards so far cataloged I see only five cards which are duplicates. The second thing I like is that each booster contains, at least so far, a minimum of one terrain and one ship. In a few cases, two of each. From the spreadsheet I have 8 terrain and 8 ships from five boosters. That's an average of greater than one and a half ship and one and a half terrain cards per booster. So with a full booster box I should expect over 50 ships and 50 terrain, the two main card types needed to really get things done.

I've yet to play the game, but a quick read through the rules show GE is indeed a Magic: the Gathering clone where players use places ("terrain") to generate the resources which then power cards (ships here, creatures in Magic) capable of attacking an opponent directly.  Yes, it's a clone, but actually the idea of stocking resources to power the main offensive/defensive cards fits the theme of a space conquest game better than it does the theme of dueling mages ala Magic.

Still, I think this game would've been better with a traveling/exploration rule mechanic versus just straight fighting.  I'm going to try to come up with a solitaire variant which uses actual spacial positions of the cards as a factor, where the player has to move his ships around the playing area exploring, trying to find more systems to power more fleet cards to defend against enemy ship cards roving randomly.


11 comments:

  1. Very cool! I'm looking forward to what you come up with!

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    1. Thanks! Enjoyed the Sargon posts by the way.

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  2. Good Lord! I remember that CCG. I also remember not being able to interest anyone in playing it!

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    1. That seems like the fate of many good CCGs...no one willing to give it a try. I never got a chance to play the beautifully produced DUNE CCG, because everyone in my group just wanted to play Magic.

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  3. Thanx for giving the game more exposure,there is a small fan base out there


    Aramax

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  4. Ok read the solo rules for the 3rd time def going to try soon,im going to have fun,the only unopened packs I have are German Gold edition!I know the cards well enuf that I should be ok.Of course being a gamer Im going to tinker w/ your rules.I dont want to know what cards are face down so Im going to make a weak hand and pick one enimy card face up
    so it can explore.will post play report.

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    1. Thanks Bob; I definitely would like to see how it works. I played a few rounds of a test game myself and found it to be OK, but not great. This weekend I'll try to write up a modified version I thought up which has three Sector HQs in the play area, one of which is the player's. This gives a more fun (in my opinion) goal of destroying the enemy HQs. I think it'll prove a lot more fun.

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  5. ok have started and started thread on game board geek

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  6. Ok started a game using gold german cards.Modified greatly.Did not look at the booster cards picked a Mechads5 as my race w/Argonian S6 as enimy.Rolled D3 for transit time.I think it should be you cant run away from Hazards.on about turn 4 enimy ship went to 1-1-TWO!Thought it played nice after about 1/3 through game.limited enimy not moving to two turns.I give it a B+

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    1. Thanks again for giving it a try! I'll take a B+ for a rough draft (I always did in college). Like I mentioned, I'm coming up with a new set that should play a little better because the solo play will actually be trying to hunt down the enemy HQ before the enemy finds his. Also, the new version will require the solitaire player to construct the playing area from only Hazard, Monster, Terrain and Ship cards, with all the other cards going into a separate "Edge Deck" which represents advantages. Since all these cards need to be separated, it eliminates the need for sealed boosters.

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    2. Well all you have to do is keep the contents of the sealed bosters together and you can reuse them,havent had a chance to play any further but I can see the rules need a little work-but the basic concept is sound

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