Parousing the Discount bin (where I get most of my games) I stumbled across a rather innocuous looking Conquer the galaxy sim called Sword of the Stars.
I like many find myself lamenting the loss of our beloved Master of Orion 2, just getting old and twitchy under vista. So I keep picking up these games in vain hope that a breif swelling of conquistadorian pride can be found and maybe even be close to as fun.
Oh My Fucking God!
I love this game. Imagine a decent planet handling model without all the nitpickiness along with a “Homeworlds” style combat system. Granted, its not as flexible as homeworlds, but it it oh so gratifying driving your “Armada Command System” equipped dreadnought through the battle, watching waves of weaponfire washing across the battle area. Point defense guns firing insistently seeking to knock down incoming missles and torpedos, often succeeding.
One of the coolest things I have seen is that ships near each other will actually fire on inbound missles targeted at a nearby friendly, so small point defense escorts actually have serious value and can increase the lifespan of any Task force. Repair ships and tanker or refinery ships allow fleets to be maintained in the feild and extend seiges of enemy worlds for sometimes dozens of turns.
The learning curve in combat is kinda steep, I got my ass handed to me for 5-6 games, but once you get the hang of it, its a blast.
Individual weapons can be targeted and damaged on enemy ships
Ships can have forward, amidships, and drive sections blown out but the ship not destroyed leaving the battlefeild littered with crippled but not totally defenseless ships still tossing a stray missle or long range weapon shot into the fray.
Takes at least 300-400 turns to seriously penetrate the tech tree to the good toys.