Galactic Empires was one of the "first wave" of collectible card games to come out on the heels of Magic: The Gathering's success. Produced by Companion Games, the first cards were released in August, 1994, and can be difficult to find; however, excepting a few misprints, they were all reprinted in Series II Primary Edition released in December, 1994. A large number of expansions and a revised core set (Series U Universe Edition) were released over the following 2 years; this ended abruptly when Companion Games went bankrupt early in 1997.
Nearly 3,000 cards were printed altogether, perhaps more than any other collectible card game of the era. These included several hundred promotional cards, some of which can be nearly impossible to track down today. By the time of the game's demise, at least 40 different empires (and 16 distinct "tribes" of one empire, the Indirigan Nomads) had been printed in varying numbers and levels of playability.
As with all collectible card games, every player puts together his or her own deck. In Galactic Empires, each player takes the role of the leader of a "sector" of a galactic empire. The object of the game is to defend one's Sector HQ while destroying the other players' Sector HQs. There are a variety of card types, the principal ones being resource-providing terrain (mostly planets and moons) and resource-consuming ships, which can deal damage to opposing ships, terrain, and Sector HQs (and a variety of other card types). Each empire had its own unique trait, usually a weapon; there were also several "shipless" empires, for instance the Space Dragons and the Time Knights, that damaged and defended using other means.
With one exception, all sets and expansions were in English. A German version of Series U Universe Edition was released at about the same time as its English-language counterpart, but with fewer cards.
The set sizes in the table below have been compiled from checklists on the Internet and may be inaccurate. Many of the sets contain cards that are identical except for artwork and/or flavour text; for most sets these have been counted as separate cards. An exception was made for Series VIII, which has 100 distinct cards, among which 23 have 4 versions, 1 has 3 versions, and 1 has 2 versions, all but one of which have the same artwork and slightly different flavour text; so the die-hard collector would count 172 different cards. Some sets have cards for empires other than those listed, but not enough such to play these empires from this set alone.
|"Alpha"||August 1994||Argonian, Krebiz|
|Series I||"Beta"||August 1994||Argonian, Krebiz||90|
|Series II||Primary Edition||December 1994||Argonian, Bolaar, Corporate, Space Dragon, Indirigan, Krebiz, Mechad, Vektrean||441|
|Series III||New Empires||March 1995||Clydon, Plasma Occupied Territory/P.O.T., Scorpead, Tufor||210|
|Series IV||Powers of the Mind||August 1995||Filarian, Psycanti, Visonic||152|
|Series V||Time Gates||August 1995||Time Knight, Tranoan||157|
|Series U||Universe Edition||November 1995||Argonian, Clydon, Corporate, Space Dragon, Indirigan, Krebiz, Mechad, P.O.T., Scorpead, Tufor, Vektrean||565|
|Series VI||Advanced Technologies||January 1996||152|
|Series VII||Piracy||May 1996||Bolaar, Corporate Pirate, Indirigan, Leopan||205|
|Series VIII||Comedy Club on the|
Far Side of the Galaxy
|July 1996||Comedy Club Network||100/172|
|Series IX||Persona||August 1996||205|
|Series X||Galactic Invaders||October 1996||Aqaaran, Gekonauak, J'Xar, Orgon, Treglean, Zedan||260|
|Series XI||Allied Forces||December 1996||Drone, Erodi, Noble, Pakta'don, Paraloid, Shon-ti, Tarra'ki, Treglean, Trochilidae||145|
|Promo cards||Aesthetic, Battle Birds, Collector||315|