28th Jan 2023 Games Day - Sidereal Confluence

by RobinTue, 31 Jan (Updated at Wed, 1 Feb)

We had similar numbers at this games day to previous ones, but this time consolidated into just 3 large tables. David-E had 5 or 6 on the next instalment in the ongoing series of 18xx games. This time they were playing 1861 - which is set in Russia. I was very tempted to sign up for this one but chose something else in the end: probably for the best as they were fully subscribed anyway.

The second group in the main room was playing the trans-galactic grand strategy game Twilight Imperium. I'd never paid much attention to this very highly-rated game before, but it looked very interesting and I will certainly look out for it again. Given that this particular edition ran for something like 9 hours, I guess it will only ever be played on games days.

With two games of large real-estate out in the main room, my group was moved to the side room for our even more table-hungry game: Sidereal Confluence. If you look it up in a dictionary (which I did), you find that this means "the act or process of merging with respect to the distant stars." Suitably confused, I read some of the rules as well, and was quite intrigued to see how this would play.

It's set in space, and we each play the role of an alien race running an economy with lots of different resource cubes. But we're nice, friendly, pacifist aliens who don't invade or spy on or kill each other: the way we win this game is by building the most powerful economy, and dominating trade with the other aliens. It's an all-in negotiation board game, like Diplomacy with an overhaul for recent history. Where Diplomacy is set at the turn of the 20th century, when the object of negotiation was military alliance; Sidereal Confluence is a very plausible reflection of our post-Cold-War free-trade economy. Just with China and the USA replaced by a faction of space squids and a faction of interstellar pineapples, or some such.

I've never played Diplomacy, but I'm told it can go on for days. By contrast, Sidereal Confluence could probably be played in an evening. With 6 of us, we were finished in well under 5 hours. It feels like there's potential for enormous depth and variety in the 6 rounds, and to get that in a relatively compact time feels like a great achievement. So I would definitely recommend this one.

All of which meant that I managed to fit in another 3 games into the day: we raced through a quick game of Suburbia and an even quicker game of Perudo; and still had time for an introduction to Wormholes. This last is a new pick-up-and-deliver game set on a modular board, in which you're a space cabbie shuttling passengers around the galaxy or solar system or something. I can't see any particular new mechanics in it, but it manages to weave together a set of standard point-to-point stuff into a really enjoyable little game. It's a nice example of a short game (1 hour) that still manages to give you some nice tactical pondering.

So, 4 different games played, and 2 great new ones discovered for me. And several impressive long games in play around the other tables: another games day well spent!


  • I
    We played TI4 for the epic long game. I did like the game although this one did go on a bit longer than planned. We have to account for rules explanations, new players and lunch as well as Michael complaining and then gloating :) Great game and will play again although I think I prefer Eclipse just for the shorter game time.