Paradox’s grand strategy games aren’t exactly known for their brevity. As with any 4X, Civ-like strategy game, a single match can take hours and hours to complete. But that’s not the case with Stellaris Nexus, a streamlined spinoff of Stellaris that’s now available via Steam Early Access ($14.99).

Stellaris Nexus takes all the exploration, diplomacy, and warfare of its parent into a much quicker, board-game like experience (though in my experience, many board games can take hours and hours to complete as well!).

Nexus supports solo gaming as well as multiplayer with up to six players. Players guide one of nine intergalactic factions as they start on the outer rim of the galaxy, with the goal of reaching the center world, Nexus. They’ll research technologies, colonize planets, deploy fleets, and rub elbows with their neighbors.

The spinoff is being developed by UK indie studio Whatboy Games, with Paradox’s blessing.

“We’ve long been big enthusiasts of Paradox’s grand strategy games and have always loved the social experience of tabletop gaming. We strongly believed there was great potential in merging these elements,” said Adam Doherty, Game Director, Whatboy Games.

“We developed a prototype of a sci-fi strategy game playable in one hour and pitched it to Paradox Arc—they loved the idea,” said Dax Ginn, Studio Director, Whatboy Games. “Together with Paradox, we’ve proved it is possible to create a compelling 4X experience you can finish during a lunch break. We are now thrilled to release the game into early access and to get players’ feedback to polish and elevate this concept even further.”

Stellaris Nexus is currently in Early Access, with a planned release in 2024. The full version will feature additional factions, a story campaign, ranked mode, and more content.

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Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.