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Sidereal Confluence

Back in those much-missed pre-Covid days when games groups could lawfully meet, one of the big multiplayer games that our local group returned to time and again was TauCeti Deichmann's curiously titled Sidereal Confluence. Subtitled 'Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant', Sidereal Confluence is a euro-style engine-building game where 4-9 asymmetric players (representing various alien species) are converting resources (cubes) in order to garner victory points.

Trading is a free-for-all, like the classic card game Pit (Hasbro/Winning Moves). You know the relative worth of the resources (for example, that three small cubes are worth the same as two large cubes) but you'll be looking for the resources needed to power your production engine (your cards) so you may well be prepared to pay above the going rate to get the precise resources you need. What makes the trading particularly intriguing is that often you'll need to make a succession of trades with several other players in order to secure the resources you need: in my first trade I may acquire the resources that another player needs just so that I can trade with the player who happens to have what I really need. And you're not limited to trading resources - you can trade cards too. As former-President Trump might have put it, it's all about the art of the deal! The game also involves auctions and blind bidding (which in a slight thematic stretch uses ships as currency).

Whenever you use any of your cards to transform resources, you gain on the process; and, rather helpfully, the cards show the ratio of input to output. You get to acquire new cards as you develop new technology, and your cards can also be upgraded (flipped over) which invariably increases their productivity. When you develop technology, you can share it with other players so that they too acquire it and you can earn a worthwhile victory point bonus to reward your altruism.

Part of the appeal of Sidereal Confluence is the way each alien race plays differently from the others. The aliens you choose to play with dramatically affect the dynamics of the game. There are bound to be some races that you are more comfortable playing than others (and the designer has helpfully graded the different races for how easy or hard they are to play) but you'll really get your money's worth out of this game if you work your way through playing all of the different asymmetric races.

But Sidereal Confluence first appeared in 2017. It isn't a new game. What WizKids have done with this new Remastered Edition is give the artwork and components a welcome makeover. The wooden cubes have been replaced with plastic cubes; not of itself significant except that now the large cubes are palpably larger than the small cubes. The cards now have cleaner, clearer iconography. The rules are better presented, tho' there are no material changes (WizKids have given the game a facelift rather than a revision), and the paper rules sheets explaining each race have been replaced with slightly more compact and usable sturdy cards.

If you previously allowed Sidereal Confluence to pass you by because of its bland box and presentation, this new Remastered Edition is the excuse you need to give this game a second look. It's an ample game (expect play to take around two hours) and you need at least four (and preferably six or more) players, but once you've played it, Sidereal Confluence is a game you'll want to return to time and again - even without Temporal Dilation technology!

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