About eleven hours.
That's how long the game took. Marathon does not cover it. One guy went home and was ill the next day while I myself hit a wall and crashed around 6:30 PM the day after.
Anyways, there was six of us, going around the table clockwise Me, Metin, Brian, Pete, Andrew M, and Andrew A. The game started much like it always did with some exploration, staking claims, and building of star spanning fleets.
The game early on, back when we had light. I'm yellow.
Then around round 3 all hell broke loose, with attacks all over the place. It broke into three major wars during the middle of the game, Andrew versus Andrew, me versus Metin, and Pete versus Brian.
Andrew A couldn't overcome the superior production of Andrew M in the fight and was forced to turtle while rebuilding but could never mount a good comeback. Metin had me dead to rights but opted to come to a cease fire which allowed me to rebuild and later make a play for victory. Brian and Pete fought a long war, but eventually Brian's extra unprotected systems next to Metin that the latter refused to attack gave former enough resources to grind pete's Warsun based fleets down.
The end game saw me make a run for victory by taking Beauracy twice in a row and claiming three out of four objectives, but Brian's head start in objectives from the mid-game powered him to victory despite my deep assault into his territory to take his Laxas survivors for a two point swing.
Well into night, some overhead lights were off to cut down on the heat. The yellow fleet in the middle-left was my last ditch attempt to eke out a victory.
Brian claimed victory with a couple of us on his tail.
The game was far far too slow. Some of it can be blamed on inexperience but a lot of it was just guys playing so cautiously and not wanting to make an error. Next time we're instituting a hard time limit on turns because its so unfair for people to have to sit there and be bored while someone else takes a long time.
Another factor in the slow game was the sheer amount of resources on the board available to empires. This led to massive fleet build ups faster than people could expend them. Perhaps the extra fourth ring of systems is ill advised.
Finally, I think Brian won because Metin was far too nice to him. For several round Brian had 4-5 systems next to him completely undefended. Had it been me or Andrew A in that position small raiding fleets would have attacked him and thus releived some pressure on Pete who was caught in his expansion between dead tiles and green and blue fleets. Ultimately for Metin it was an experience thing: anyone who knows how clever Brian can be in these games would not have let him have an easy go of it.
Overall it was fun if too long by 4 hours. Next time it will be faster and better.