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Subject: Best ship builds to defeat ancients on turn 2 (for various races)? rss

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Juanito Burrito
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I've noticed in the past few games I've played that those who kill ancients as soon as possible (turn one for Orion, turn two for others) seem to often have a leg up on other players for the rest of the game. I started off playing mostly Mechenama, and enjoyed an early advantage due to the ease of buying fusion source turn 2, then upgrading my dreadnought with two positrons along with the newly researched source. I'd like to expand to other races as well, but I'm not quite sure what ship builds do well against ancients on turn 2 given each races starting resources/technologies. What has worked for y'all?
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Peter Bakija
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Indeed--one of the main things that new players need to realize is that *most* of the time, getting a hex with ancients on it is an *advantage*, rather than a penalty (a lot of the time, new players spend the first bunch of games going "Man. I just kept getting hosed by bad draws with ancients on them and it made me lose..."). And killing those ancients quickly gets you:

A) Some early VP shield draws, when there are still good VP shields in the bag.

B) +2VPs or some good tech or resource leg up, early when you need it.

C) A good system with two good planets it in, generally speaking.

So when you draw a I/II hex with an ancient on it, you want to put it down, hopefully in a way that your neighbor can't get it before you, and then go kill it as quick as you can.

Generally speaking, a cruiser with some Improved Hull or a Plasma Cannon and a Gauss Shield is all you need to kill an ancient (bringing your default interceptor along to suck up some damage).

A generic cruiser that has an Improved Hull (3 total damage) and a Gauss Shield (-1 to be hit) has almost a 70% chance of killing a single ancient, without taking into account an extra default interceptor along for the ride. A generic cruiser with a Plasma Cannon and a Gauss Shield is about the same. Basically, you need to get:

-Improved Hull, or
-Plasma Cannon

and

-Gauss Shield

For a quick and easy ancient death on T2. If you only have, say, Improved Hull (which you can double up on in a Cruiser without losing anything), you are still gonna be fine.
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Jim Parkin
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bakija wrote:
Indeed--one of the main things that new players need to realize is that *most* of the time, getting a hex with ancients on it is an *advantage*, rather than a penalty (a lot of the time, new players spend the first bunch of games going "Man. I just kept getting hosed by bad draws with ancients on them and it made me lose...").

So, so true. I believe that most new players (I did this myself!) assume that the goal of the first half of the game is exploration and influencing uninhabited systems, so when they see their rivals grab open sectors and drop their cubes on the board, they feel stiffed by getting big, fat sectors filled with Ancients show up when they explore. After realizing this was, in fact, a great boon, I once won because my first four exploration actions revealed Ancient-infested systems.

To the OP's point, yes, I agree that it's best to go for Improved Hull and Plasma Cannons, with Gauss Shield as gravy on top. Take it slow and invest, then your upgraded Cruisers will have a lot of mileage, regardless of race.
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Juanito Burrito
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Improved hull definitely seems like a good choice for ancient killing, though it's not always available. In the event that it's not, what works well? I recently played Exiles and got lucky by discovering axiom computer on an empty t3 tile and strapped it to my interceptors followed by an upgrade to plasma cannons which made quick work of both double and single ancients, but that's a one off. What's a good strategy for when improved hull isn't up?
 
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Peter Bakija
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Eclipsean4026 wrote:
Improved hull definitely seems like a good choice for ancient killing, though it's not always available. In the event that it's not, what works well? I recently played Exiles and got lucky by discovering axiom computer on an empty t3 tile and strapped it to my interceptors followed by an upgrade to plasma cannons which made quick work of both double and single ancients, but that's a one off. What's a good strategy for when improved hull isn't up?


As noted, If you have Improved Hull *or* Plasma Cannons, and Gauss Shield, you have a very solid chance of killing an Ancient with your unupgraded, default Interceptor along for the ride. A cruiser that is:

-Plasma Cannon
-Hull
-Gauss Shield
-+1 computer
-Nuclear Source
-Nuclear Drive

(i.e. a default cruiser with a Plasma Cannon and Gauss Shield stuck in as a single upgrade action) has a very solid chance of winning vs a single ancient when stacked with the basic interceptor.

Gauss Shield is easy to get, and multiple races start with it as basic tech. It is very likely that you'll have access to either Improved Hull or Plasma Cannon early on. If you can't get *either*, you then need to get creative. Or just send a dreadnaught.
 
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ackmondual
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bakija wrote:
Eclipsean4026 wrote:
Improved hull definitely seems like a good choice for ancient killing, though it's not always available. In the event that it's not, what works well? I recently played Exiles and got lucky by discovering axiom computer on an empty t3 tile and strapped it to my interceptors followed by an upgrade to plasma cannons which made quick work of both double and single ancients, but that's a one off. What's a good strategy for when improved hull isn't up?


As noted, If you have Improved Hull *or* Plasma Cannons, and Gauss Shield, you have a very solid chance of killing an Ancient with your unupgraded, default Interceptor along for the ride. A cruiser that is:

-Plasma Cannon
-Hull
-Gauss Shield
-+1 computer
-Nuclear Source
-Nuclear Drive

(i.e. a default cruiser with a Plasma Cannon and Gauss Shield stuck in as a single upgrade action) has a very solid chance of winning vs a single ancient when stacked with the basic interceptor.

Gauss Shield is easy to get, and multiple races start with it as basic tech. It is very likely that you'll have access to either Improved Hull or Plasma Cannon early on. If you can't get *either*, you then need to get creative. Or just send a dreadnaught.
Is generally it worth it to go for multiple upgrades? Specifically, you have to balance extra turns, getting the rewards later on, and possibly being "sniped" if opponents can get to those ancients as well.
 
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Juanito Burrito
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What about taking double ancients turn 2? Would building a dreadnought be needed for that?
 
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Peter Bakija
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ackmondual wrote:
Is generally it worth it to go for multiple upgrades? Specifically, you have to balance extra turns, getting the rewards later on, and possibly being "sniped" if opponents can get to those ancients as well.


Sure, but you can make a reasonable ancient killing cruiser with a single upgrade action--add an Improved Hull and Gauss Shield as a single upgrade action; add a Plasma Cannon and Gauss Shield as a single upgrade action. I mean, yeah, you might need to make 2 science buy actions to get two pieces of tech, but you were probably gonna do that anyway.

If you get early Improved Hull, that's all you need--a cruiser with 2xImproved Hull and a generic interceptor is a good chance to kill a single ancient.
 
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Ben Kyo
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What about the souped-up ancients from the expansion(s)?
 
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Peter Bakija
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Eclipsean4026 wrote:
What about taking double ancients turn 2? Would building a dreadnought be needed for that?


If you can build 2 cruisers that have (Plasma Cannon and Gauss Shield) or (Improved Hull and Gauss Shield) or (Plasma Cannon and Improved Hull), you are probably fine (although the ancients throwing a handful of unlikely 6's can still do you in), but it is difficult to have 10 materials on T2 for a lot of races, barring lucky brown worlds on T1. 8 points for a dreadnaught is easier to pull off, but you still need Improved Hull or Plasma Cannon and Gauss Shield to make it work. A dreadnaught with 2 Improved Hull and a Gauss Shield stuck into it has a reasonable chance against 2 ancients (75%+). Add in an interceptor, and you probably win.
 
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Peter Bakija
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Benkyo wrote:
What about the souped-up ancients from the expansion(s)?


Those tend to be a lot harder to kill. And it completely depends on which one you are trying to kill (as they are all different). It is really hard to kill them on T2, unless you pick up one of the weaker ones, and you are the Orions with Improved Hull.
 
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Chris K.
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Benkyo wrote:
What about the souped-up ancients from the expansion(s)?


These are supposed to only go on ancient homeworlds and are not normally supposed to come into play at all unless you want it extra hard for some people at the table.

And they are not exactly designed to be taken down in turn 2 already. In exchange their systems are extra juicy.
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Chris K.
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Eclipsean4026 wrote:
What about taking double ancients turn 2? Would building a dreadnought be needed for that?


When it comes to hunting ancients my advice is similar to what many others have said:

There is a holy trifecta of helpful techs. Imrpoved Hull, Plasma Cannon and Gauss Shield.

Getting one of these is generally possible. Getting 2 by turn two is less likely and I consider having 2 of them and 2 cruisers a prerequisite before going for the hunt, barring special or desperate situations.

That said:
Eclipse is NOT a race game. There are very few situations where going for ancients with a decent chance in turn 2 gives you such a leg up over going for them with certainty in round 3 that it is worth it.

If you are going for ancients turn two rather than three it usually means:
- You spent one of your build actions to only build one ship (a cruiser), wasting half an action,
- you run a decent chance of loosing your interceptor, wasting half a build action and 3 Material to replace it
- and you still run a decent chance (usually about 10-20%) to still not take the system AND loosing your investment.
- you are likely sacrificing actions for it that you could spend exploring additional systems, which would give you the chance for discoveries and prevent opponents from snatching up those systems

Basically, barring any particular luck in discovery finds or tech capabilities or racial predisposition (Eridani or Orion for instance), that results in you having 2 cruisers AND at least 2 of the holy trifecta going for ancients in round 2 will put you in a loosing position in 1 game out of 5.

It generally only takes 5 to 6 rounds of full productivity to reach what will be close to your final score (upper 30s+). Having these VP earlier just means you need to defend them longer and people have more time to feel threatened by you.

And if you ever come up against 3 or more hexes of ancients, I would humbly suggest my guide on how to go about it: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1527958/surrounded-ancients-...
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Ben Kyo
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chrisdk wrote:
Benkyo wrote:
What about the souped-up ancients from the expansion(s)?


These are supposed to only go on ancient homeworlds and are not normally supposed to come into play at all unless you want it extra hard for some people at the table.

And they are not exactly designed to be taken down in turn 2 already. In exchange their systems are extra juicy.

I did wonder about that. I didn't set up the game, and don't know Eclipse that well, but I definitely felt that I was hemmed in in a 5-player game and that ancient put me in a bad situation right from the outset. I mean, I also made a horrible error that wasn't entirely my fault - overpaying for the special 3 hull tech on the first turn without realising that it had an energy requirement (it really should be indicated on the tech counter!) - but the extra-tough ancient (one of the bad ones, judging by the wince from the game owner) definitely seemed to make for a bad start to me.

Apologies for that horrible run-on sentence.
 
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Chris K.
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Benkyo wrote:
chrisdk wrote:
Benkyo wrote:
What about the souped-up ancients from the expansion(s)?


These are supposed to only go on ancient homeworlds and are not normally supposed to come into play at all unless you want it extra hard for some people at the table.

And they are not exactly designed to be taken down in turn 2 already. In exchange their systems are extra juicy.

I did wonder about that. I didn't set up the game, and don't know Eclipse that well, but I definitely felt that I was hemmed in in a 5-player game and that ancient put me in a bad situation right from the outset. I mean, I also made a horrible error that wasn't entirely my fault - overpaying for the special 3 hull tech on the first turn without realising that it had an energy requirement (it really should be indicated on the tech counter!) - but the extra-tough ancient (one of the bad ones, judging by the wince from the game owner) definitely seemed to make for a bad start to me.

Apologies for that horrible run-on sentence.


No problem.

The Ancient homeworlds with their tough opponents are "normally" a variant for when you don't have six players. These would then be placed to replace the homesystem of the missing player.

Shuffling them into the regular Tier II pile is an option but is only recommended for very experienced players.

Similarly I consider the Ancient Hives a bit problematic. Introducing these and the homeworlds unbalances the Hex-Draws. Now you CAN get particularly lucky or unlucky, whereas without these I consider each Tier nearly perfectly balanced. Some Hexes lend themselves better to certain strategies, but generally it is more a question of adapting strategy rather than of "being screwed over by the luck of the draw".

Edit says: Using the expansion ancients instead of the regular ones seems to be pretty tough to me and I don't think it is listed as an "official" option anywhere.
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Juanito Burrito
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On most races I would thank the ancient if it took out my interceptor. After the first fight the dumb thing usually just sits in my home system as I focus on upgrading cruisers and dreadnoughts. I've only ever really used interceptors to great effect on Rho Indi and Exiles.
 
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Conan Meriadoc
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Eclipsean4026 wrote:
On most races I would thank the ancient if it took out my interceptor. After the first fight the dumb thing usually just sits in my home system as I focus on upgrading cruisers and dreadnoughts. I've only ever really used interceptors to great effect on Rho Indi and Exiles.


Even in you don't upgrade your interceptors at all, they're still useful for two purposes, pinning enemy ships who enter your systems, and bypassing an enemy ship that would otherwise have pinned one of your bigger ships. I'll always find a use for a surviving interceptor
 
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Chris K.
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Eclipsean4026 wrote:
On most races I would thank the ancient if it took out my interceptor. After the first fight the dumb thing usually just sits in my home system as I focus on upgrading cruisers and dreadnoughts. I've only ever really used interceptors to great effect on Rho Indi and Exiles.


That sounds like your group has not yet gotten around to how valuable pinning can be. Cleverly used Interceptors may not win battles, but they sure do win a lot of wars.

However, that is dependent on them having decent speed and/or a race with more than 2 Ship Activations per movement action.
 
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Juanito Burrito
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I can see how they're useful if you get invaded. I suppose my problem is I'm usually the one doing the invading so it just kind of sits there.
 
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Chris K.
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Eclipsean4026 wrote:
I can see how they're useful if you get invaded. I suppose my problem is I'm usually the one doing the invading so it just kind of sits there.


Same thing. You will not be doing a lot of invading if your opponent keeps pinning your dreadnoughts. You will not gain a lot by invading if they manage to keep you pinned down in a somewhat unimportant border System.

Just because apparently people are still underestimating interceptors doesn't mean they are worthless.

Playstyles usually adapt once one person has started figuring out how to leverage a 6-speed interceptor into devastating weapons ;-).
 
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Peter Bakija
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Eclipsean4026 wrote:
I can see how they're useful if you get invaded. I suppose my problem is I'm usually the one doing the invading so it just kind of sits there. :p


The initial interceptor is good for backing up whatever you are attacking the ancients with. It is also good for pinning or being pinned. If your neighbors are only building, say, cruisers, you can pin one cruiser with one interceptor, which is a better deal for you, if it means you get to make a better attack somewhere, or you get to foil your opponents attack. Or, as noted, in the long run, making interceptors that move 6 and have Neutron Bombs that swarm all over your opponents empire can be very effective as well.
 
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Jim Parkin
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bakija wrote:
...making interceptors that move 6 and have Neutron Bombs that swarm all over your opponents empire can be very effective as well.

Quick and silent genocide never felt so good...!
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Juanito Burrito
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I think you misunderstood me. I'm not at all saying that interceptors are useless. I myself used them to great effect with a +3 computer and antimatter cannons as the exiles. Rho Indi would make even greater use of them. When they can blow up dreadnoughts in two hits they're awesome. I was merely referring to the one you start off with. I've found its usually left in the core of my empire in one of the planets next to my homeworld while the ships I build near my border do all the fighting.
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Peter Bakija
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Eclipsean4026 wrote:
I was merely referring to the one you start off with. I've found its usually left in the core of my empire in one of the planets next to my homeworld while the ships I build near my border do all the fighting.


Well, if your plan is to kill ancients on T2 (see: premise of this thread :-), that initial interceptor is going to be key to this operation. You are probably only going to build 1 ship to try and do this (either an upgraded cruiser or a not as upgraded dreadnaught). Assuming you have 1 good ship to kill ancients with, why would you *not* use the starting interceptor? You get to move 2 ships with one action. Sending the interceptor gets to an extra chance to do some damage and an extra point of damage to absorb (especially given that the ancients are required to kill the interceptor with their 1st point of damage).
 
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Peter Bakija
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Looking at the basic set races, assuming they want to kill ancients on T2:

-Orions: This is easy. You start with a cruiser. You build a second cruiser immediately. Your cruisers come with Gauss Shield already, and an extra point of initiative. Those two default Orion cruisers have a 95% chance of killing a single ancient. If you end up with T1 Improved Hull or Plasma Cannon, and add one of either of these to your default cruiser, you are likely a slam dunk and probably won't even lose a ship.

-Eridani: They probably want to just build a dreadnaught (as it is better than usual), and can probably afford to do that. An Eridani dreadnaught with a single upgrade action, adding a Plasma Cannon and a Gauss Shield (they start with both) gives that dreadnaught a 93% chance of killing a single ancient. Send the start interceptor, it is unlikely you can lose. I mean, like, the Eridani have all sorts of other issues, but assuming they are handling those, this works for them (I usually only ever play Eridani if we are using RotA and Science Station and Quantum Grid are on the table when I pick my race. Given that, they are playable and can probably pull this off if they get a little lucky with a brown planet on T1).

-Planta: Planta are gonna need some sort of tech upgrade to be able to kill a single ancient with a single cruiser and a single interceptor (although their default interceptor comes with a +1 computer, which helps a lot). Giving the Planta cruiser an Improved Hull or a Plasma Cannon and a Gauss Shield gives them a solid shot--a Planta cruiser with Plasma Cannon and Gauss Shield and the default interceptor have, like, a 90%+ chance of winning that fight.

-Mechanema: They don't need new tech. They need a cheap cruiser and their default interceptor, both upgraded with a single Positron Computer (one action). Those two ships also have a 90%+ chance of winning vs a single ancient.

-Hydra: They lack any start upgrades or tech for their ships, but they have a good chance of getting good early science--if they can score Gauss Shield and Plasma Cannon or Improved Hull, they are just fine, like everyone else.

-Draco: They don't get to kill ancients.
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