Given how powerful my faction tends to become during the endgame of a match of Sins of a Solar Empire – Rebellion, I was somewhat surprised to come to the conclusion that I am having the most fun with the strategy game from Ironclad Games when a match is just starting and I am stuck with one lousy system and just a few units.
This is somewhat counterintuitive and, exploring my experiences with other strategy games, uncommon. Therefore, I started a few Sins games, ran through the opening moves and then quit as soon as my excitement tended to die down in order to see why I felt this way.
I believe that the key is the sense of exploration and high stakes that Sins managed to inject into the first half hour to an hour of play on a four to six player map (the ones I tend to like best).
Resources at that point are really tight and the situation is unlikely to get better soon.
Navies are small and losing a single ship can have a huge impact in the near future.
Pirates (I always keep them involved) are a real threat and missing a raid prompt can be the end of your faction or at least a severe setback.
Technologies are crucial but they cost enough that choosing which one to go for, or whether to focus on military hardware or system development, is another crucial decision that feels really important.
Discovering a new planet or system can be a thrilling moment, especially when there’s the potential to expand there and a moment of reflection takes place, balancing resources required to launch the effort with the potential benefits.
There’s a lot of weight behind all these decisions, early on, where the late game often allows me to throw away one capital ship and its escorts with abandon just to probe some defenses.
I’ll still be playing full sessions of Sins of a Solar Empire, but I will certainly mostly be enjoying the early game.