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Subject: My Big Issue With The Game rss

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KC Mo
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I only own the base game, so I'm not sure to what extent the expansions cure some of the issues I have with the game. I've played maybe around 10 games over the years, so I am not an expert by any means. However, I feel as though the game is restrictive in how a player can influence the game through the game mechanics. This is not to say that the player cannot undertake actions that will affect their own personal score, or the score of another player, but in a multiplayer game, especially a six player game, it seems like the rest of the galaxy can safely ignore those developments. Upon reflection, I feel that these issues mostly revolve around the mechanics surrounding ships, exacerbated by elements of randomness (hex tiles explored, reputation tiles drawn, research tiles available).

Before I get into all of the mechanics surrounding ships, I'd like to give two examples of scenarios that I feel come up quite a bit. The first scenario happens in nearly every game I've played: a militarily dominant player conquers the center, and is quite capable of punishing 1...maybe 2 weaker players for questionable gain. Due to the HUGE defender's advantage (less actions required to defend, wins ties on initiatives, and the attacker must have a safe space to retreat to or the attacker loses all ships...), the militarily dominant player cannot possibly threaten every player from the center hex. These players are likely exploring, fighting ancients, researching, and building monuments like crazy, earning an impressive amount of victory points, and the militarily dominant player only really has the actions and resources to punish one player...while immediately exposing himself/herself to potentially devastating counter-attacks. The second scenario is one I see nearly as often: at least one player's initial explorations are so bad relative to the other players that we are all pretty assured that he or she will never be a serious contender to win the game. His or her early access to resources will be so delayed that an engine never really gets going, and this player is left far, far behind.

The big issue with ships is movement. Specifically, you have to move through completed wormholes (this makes it easy to turtle), you can only move through one tile at a time (unless you invest in engines), you cannot move through another player's territory without it being considered a hostile move (subject to pinning, traitor card, and so on...), and big fleets are cost-prohibitive to move. All of this adds up to the fact that a player's threat to all other players is easy to identify, easy to prepare against, and likely does not extend beyond 1 or 2 hexes of neighboring players.

The other issue is combat. Compared to the gains, it is often prohibitively expensive to go on the offensive. The player almost always has to attack well-defended border areas, and cannot afford to lose due to the resources committed to the attack. If you're a military power, you're likely looking to gain 3 or so VP, as you probably already have an impressive set of Reputation Tiles (or what's left is garbage). The defender's advantage is so good that you have to come with overwhelming force, and risk losing fabulously expensive investments of resources & actions.

I feel like I'm rambling, so I am going to try to get a few more thoughts out. Ships are a significant investment in resources. You have to get researches, upgrades, and then build them. It is a huge problem if you take a calculated risk and lose this investment (upset vs. players and ancient aliens). Even worse, if your engine gets started late, and your neighbors get to the juicy hexes before you do, you may never have access to the resources to invest in the first place and you may end up quickly in complete irrelevance. Also, ships compete directly with monuments for build points and actions, which are worth A LOT.

Other games seem to get the balance a bit better. Certain games have conflict as an option, but it's not the centerpiece. Yes there are a lot of non-combat things you can do in Eclipse, but the game mechanics have researches, upgrades, builds, combat rules, and so on and it's inescapable that combat is meant to be part of the game, especially as it is the only real way to target the players who are poised to win. On that thought, I feel like Scythe is superior because, due to tunnels and other movement rules, it's easier for players to threaten each other from opposite ends of the map. Other games also sort of solve this problem through diplomacy. In a game of Here I Stand, for instance, I can promise to reduce the pressures on my neighbors if I need them to attack their neighbors. I can send them cards and mercenaries to help balance out another player's strength. And there's a negotiation segment built into the rules to facilitate these activities. Not so with Eclipse.

I thought of a few things that could potentially help. There could be a research to increase the number of moves you get, like how nanobots increases the number of builds you can have. There can be certain "warp gates" on tier II and III tiles that allow you to move to all other warp gates...maybe it should be unlocked with a technology. Perhaps the game should incorporate simultaneous fire for ties in initiative. Also, maybe players with 2 or 3 hexes could start getting price breaks for researches & ship building by turn 3 or 4, so that it's easier for players who get hemmed in to have a breakout moment.

Thoughts???





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Jo Bartok
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Just try Exodus, Twilight Imperium or Star Trek Ascendancy instead.
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Jim Parkin
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While there is certainly a good amount of conflict in Eclipse, I have yet to play a game where the most aggressive player wins. I find that it is not a pure wargame by any means. It is a 4X civilization game. Attacking early is profitable because you get first dibs on the reputation bag and can nab 3- and 4-point tiles before anyone else. At that point, fighting some ancients, securing a few average or better-than-average hexes, aiming for research VP gains, and maintaining a virtual fleet allows for better overall success than attempting to hammer everyone else, especially through the Galactic Center.

A game spent entirely on the offensive is a very bad idea, as you outline above. The defender's advantage is very real, and is that way on purpose. Even the slow-start player which you describe can do well insofar as they do not pose a large threat to players with richer systems who are more likely to be targeted. I don't always pursue Obritals, but if it seems that I've been shut out of the major conflict of the early-mid game, I go after them, if possible, and attempt to hunt ancients while other players occupy each other. If, as Orion or Eridani, or even Mechanema, I'm in an advantageous position to press and advantage into the center of the board, I do so, knowing that I'll inevitably lose a hex or two behind my offensive line. So be it.

In two different games, I can clearly recall players who were too aggressive--they spread themselves too thinly across the board and did not use ships to pin attackers. They did not bother researching plentiful Neutron Bomb technology tiles and thus did not claim hexes they attacked that turn, leading to massive economy deficits in money and actions. They were uncertain why they lost by the margins they did, while more balances players seemed to pull ahead at the end--they were not playing a 4X game, they were playing a wargame.

Eclipse is not a wargame.

I don't say this to criticize your analysis--which I otherwise resonate with--but only to point out that a misconception I've seen adopted by many players (and not just new players, but 10+ players like you) is to lose sight of the bigger picture of the game based on how scoring works. You can only hold so many reputation tiles, and even if you get all 4-point tiles, you may still very well have gaps in your scoring from weak systems, low research points, the traitor card, and lack of 2-point discovery tiles.

Does this point of view help to provide you with any perspective at all?
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Alex Krasny
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I have only played 4 games, but i feel like you contradict yourself in your complaints.

First you articulate how inefficient being aggressive is, but then you complain that combat is too large of a focus in the game? I am confused. Being aggressive certainly works, but like you said, it is often very telegraphed to the defender. In my limited experience I think being aggressive toward other players is often worse than simply entering a trade alliance and spending your ships attacking ancients and the galactic center.

If a player takes the galactic center, which is a huge boost to their economy and victory point total, all the other players should immediately enter negotiations to take them down a notch. I think diplomacy is very underestimated in this game.
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Jim Parkin
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VirtualAlex wrote:
I think diplomacy is very underestimated in this game.

Indeed.
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Charlie Theel
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I think it is very common to undervalue discarding the hex you explore. People don't like to lose the action for nothing so they tend to cripple themselves long term. If you don't get money on a newly explored tile I will discard it 30-50% of the time, depending on what's already bordering my empire. This just speaks to your second issue, not the first, but I think it's a key aspect of the game.
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Starkiller
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Fair warning: You probably are not going to like my responses very much.

The short answer is your groupthink needs a bit of shaking up.

You seem to be thinking of war as an all-out assault to dominate the opponent. This is very possible, of course, but not the only reason to war. The person sitting in the middle with a huge fleet? Leave most of it there, and sweep into an opponent's backfield with a few to hurt them.

You seem very dismissive of engines....but they are the cure for half of what you are complaining about.
Buy them, use a couple interceptors to pin the border ships, and bore deep into an opponent. You should probably have a route to retreat for the interceptors, so you may not loose them all.

This will leave you somewhat open to another player, of course. (Depending on how you build, you may not be that open.) So what happens?
If another attacks you, they are now open.
If they do attack, the whole scenario repeats.

Why would you want to do this?

Do it when you have a slight advantage. You just got a cool tech....use it before everyone else gets it and you no longer have an advantage. Even if you loose all the new hexes next round, it is still a huge loss to the opponent.

You can't do this only when you are ABSOLUTELY sure not to loose a hex or two....you will never do anything. (This appears to be the groupthink you have.)

Attack when you have an advantage, not a certainty of victory. Sure, you might lose, but it is more likely you will gain.

Taking a juicy hex from someone for two rounds will hurt badly; you don't have to dominate and take over completely.

I will also add that as you get more experience, you will see more and more strategies to use, depending on the hexes you explore. It is very rare for someone to get hosed by their system draw....usually someone saying that does not know how to use the systems they got.
The Humans in particular are pretty much immune to 'bad exploration draws' they can do well with anything they get.
(That being said, they are a harder race to play WELL.)
Plus Humans have 3 moves. You should try to use them!

All that being said, there are a few things that help this in the first expansion. The Magellan races are simmilar to the humans in that they are very versatile, but easier to play.

The rare tech Cloaking Device makes it even easier to slip by and hit players in their backfield.
(The Exiles start with that tech, so they are always a threat.)

TL;DR
Mostly, though, you need to focus on smaller attacks; taking an OK hex for a couple rounds does great damage....you don't have to focus on total war.
When you have a small advantage, pin the border guards and send a few Interceptors in to cause havoc. Shake up your groupthink.

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Peter O
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Try being more aggressive connecting hexes into your opponents backfields during exploration. Lots of players just explore straight out their own back area and then wonder why everyone has a choke point. Well, if EVERYONE works to isolate themselves then everyone should succeed. Makes for a boring groupthink. The only players who should be isolating themselves completely are turtle races like the Hydrans, and even then they only want to block one side. Unless I identify myself as the best turtle, I try to connect to my neighbors as much as possible. But there is a trick to it!

Key systems to my empire need to be as close and well connected to each other as possible. This is called good inner lines of communication. My defensive forces can reposition to needed sectors with a minimum of movement cost and it doesn't really matter how many connections come in. Having a key system on an isolated flank is a liability but good hex placement mitigates this.

Knowing this, explore towards opponents (particularly towards those attempting to turtle) and try to connect at the 2nd and 3rd tiers. If you have a competent player on the opposite side of the person you're targeting it makes things even easier as the targeted player will find it difficult to block both of you. Even if you don't succeed in a full connection, placing halves with the anticipation of wormhole generator is really powerful. Furthermore, if they are forced into considering your expansion towards them into their choice of hex location and orientation, you give them more chances to screw up and have a less than ideal setup.

Yes, on turns 1,2 and 3 you are setting up turns 6-9. The battle you can even have (or not) on the turn 8 interceptor swarm into their backfield with wormhole generators happened because you could imagine the battle happening as you explored your hexes.
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KC Mo
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Thanks for all the replies!

Jo Bartok - I haven't played any of those games. What do you like about them?

Jim Parkin - I definitely think I tend toward your play-style, and do very well with the people I play against. I go for a few rep-tiles, victory points from ancient tech, get the hexes I want early, then usually just defend a few choke points while angling to either take 1 or 2 more juicy hexes or monuments (usually monuments). When I play this way, it seems like there's only one player who can do anything to stop me: the player who has secured the middle hex. Yet there's inevitably another player who is earning points like crazy on the other side of the map. Essentially, the player who has invested in a decent military and has taken the center is in a position to king-make (maybe), but not win. Meanwhile, the two players who are pulling ahead with some sort of non-military strategy have very few ways of affecting one another! I can only really thinking of blocking a specific research, and trying my damnedest to seem innocuous and encourage the central player to go after my competition.

Alex Krasny - I may have contradicted myself, but to clarify: For combat being extremely risky, and, in my opinion (and it sounds like the opinion of the rest of the people on this forum too, so I might be in decent company), not really a path toward victory, there are a lot of game mechanics built around combat (combat mechanics, upgrades, building ships, moving ships, and so on). To clarify: my strategy is to build just enough defenses to make attacking me seem like a bad idea, while I pursue points through battling ancients, getting technology, building monuments, and so on.

Regarding your point about diplomacy, how do you see that unfolding? In the specific scenario you outlined, why should I collaborate with other players to attack the player with the center hex? If I lose, I lose big (build actions, build materials for ships, move actions, upgrade actions spent in preparation, etc.). I think the most effective form of diplomacy in the game is the little ambassador I trade with my neighbors. But nothing else in the game really facilitates it: no movement rights, no resource-trading, no joint-attacks.

Charlie Theel - I suspect that you're right. It does suck to lose an action, but the right (or wrong) hex can really determine your fortunes for the game.


 
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Peter O
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As for monuments, I'd contend they should probably never be built in a competitive, well-played game. I'm not saying they shouldn't be researched or built if you get the chance. But competent opposition should force you into building defensive fleets instead of 3VP structures. If I'm building monuments I'm either running away with the game or making a last minute gamble to win from behind hoping my opponents are battling elsewhere in round 9.
 
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Peter O
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Mokhiam wrote:
Thanks for all the replies!
(good stuff)


It sounds to me like you have a naturally conservative play style. You are correct that the defender has some advantages, but the game often has windows where a player has significant military tech advantage. Someone playing Orion or Eridani has an early window where their ships are generally better than others. Mid game, someone is usually first to pair both upgraded energy source with improved guns/computers. Predicting that window and using it is critical.

Eclipse is not really a total war game. Instead it is a game where people who understand limited conflict can win out. Total annihilation of an opponent is rarely a good idea. Instead, the taking of a key hex, even if only for a few rounds, can mean the resource differential to take you ahead and significantly gum up their development.

There are games where its clear two players are gearing up to double team me. In those situations I will sometimes proactively attack one of them if their forces are too close to me and not quite ready (either not fully upgradable this turn or fully built, but its clear they will be next turn). Giving them a bloody nose then backing off can be enough to mess up their attack timetable, buying you time to find a more long term solution (including running out the clock).
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Peter Strait
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One thing I'd mention that hasn't been brought up (and one thing I strongly like about the game) is that the different races each seem designed to address a particular point of frustration a player may have. You may want to take a close look at the differences between races and see if any are a good fit for your particular playstyle.

Draco, in particular, helps in mitigating both of the things that frustrate you. They get to draw two and select one tile when exploring, mitigating some of that randomness, and they don't attack ancients meaning they can avoid the investment, risk and uncertainty of early offensive ships.

That said, the game does have a larger random element than many games, meaning it can turn against a player and mercilessly set them back. Risk assessment is a huge aspect of the game. I wouldn't argue that it's for everyone.
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Peter Bakija
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Mokhiam wrote:
The big issue with ships is movement. Specifically, you have to move through completed wormholes (this makes it easy to turtle), you can only move through one tile at a time (unless you invest in engines),


This sentence right here is the one that I'm finding most confusing. You are criticizing the ability to interact via movement, and then in the same statement, dismissing the easiest solution (i.e. investing in engines). Why would you *not* invest in engines, especially given the perceived issue that only being able to move one hex at a time is a problem? Like, a solution to a lot of the issues you are seeing is a cheap swarm of speed 6 interceptors with neutron bombs a lot of the time.

Yes, in Eclipse, it is a lot harder to go on the offensive than be on the defensive. This is by design--while Eclipse certainly has combat as an option and a not insignificant part of the game, Eclipse is not a war game. It is an economic/diplomatic/exploration/war game. It is important to be able to compete in the combat aspect of the game, but the other aspects of the game are just as important, and the game is designed so that combat is just another, not necessarily the best, option.

It is also worth noting that a lot of what you are concerned about is addressed in the 1st expansion (Rise of the Ancients) with Warp Points and some improved movement options (Cloaking Devices, Jump Drive).
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Alex Krasny
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Mokhiam wrote:

Regarding your point about diplomacy, how do you see that unfolding? In the specific scenario you outlined, why should I collaborate with other players to attack the player with the center hex? If I lose, I lose big (build actions, build materials for ships, move actions, upgrade actions spent in preparation, etc.). I think the most effective form of diplomacy in the game is the little ambassador I trade with my neighbors. But nothing else in the game really facilitates it: no movement rights, no resource-trading, no joint-attacks.


The ambassador is the only baked-in diplomacy "mechanic" in the game, and you should certainly utilize that. But I am referring to simply talking with other players and cooperating. If a player is holding the center, and obviously out scoring the other players then you should all jointly attack him. What do you mean "why should you collaborate with other players?" Because it's going to be impossible for the winning player to hold the center hex as well as defend his back flanks. That means you can increase your point total while taking the 1st player down a notch.
 
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Peter Bakija
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VirtualAlex wrote:
What do you mean "why should you collaborate with other players?" Because it's going to be impossible for the winning player to hold the center hex as well as defend his back flanks. That means you can increase your point total while taking the 1st player down a notch.


Correct--like, yeah, if one guy has the middle and a technological advantage, you still can attack him successfully with teamed players--one player can tie up all his good ships in the middle with cheap interceptors while another player (or players) attack other areas that he can't defend all of. Yeah, likely a bunch of interceptors are going to die, but if you can take some hexes and production/resources away, it might knock him down enough.

Like, one of the big issues with this game is that someone is always going to look like they are winning (which may or may not be the case, due to imperfect information, but still). And if everyone else just sits around and says "Huh. It looks like that guy is winning. I'll just keep ignoring everyone and not attempt to change that dynamic.", then, well, the guy that looks like he is winning is probably going to win.
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Jim Parkin
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bakija wrote:
VirtualAlex wrote:
What do you mean "why should you collaborate with other players?" Because it's going to be impossible for the winning player to hold the center hex as well as defend his back flanks. That means you can increase your point total while taking the 1st player down a notch.


Correct--like, yeah, if one guy has the middle and a technological advantage, you still can attack him successfully with teamed players--one player can tie up all his good ships in the middle with cheap interceptors while another player (or players) attack other areas that he can't defend all of. Yeah, likely a bunch of interceptors are going to die, but if you can take some hexes and production/resources away, it might knock him down enough.

Like, one of the big issues with this game is that someone is always going to look like they are winning (which may or may not be the case, due to imperfect information, but still). And if everyone else just sits around and says "Huh. It looks like that guys is winning. I'll just keep ignoring everyone and not attempt to change that dynamic.", then, well, the guy that looks like he is winning is probably going to win.

Yep.
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Doug DeMoss
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One counter-intuitive thing I've noticed that I'll point out: if you don't have a better use for your colony ships, trading systems with an adjacent neighbor is a net resource win for both players because of the timing on when those cubes go back to their tracks. If you can each manage to have an interceptor present on the system you're planning to lose so reputation tiles get drawn, it can be an even bigger win.

Something to think about the next time you and a neighbor are looking for ways to get ahead of the rest of the galaxy.

It also applies if you really do want to be harming a neighbor. Don't worry too much about losing another system to somebody else. Sure, it helps THEM, but you still can come out ahead on the deal, especially if you're going to be fighting and winning a reputation tile.
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matt A
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I'm a big fan of the game and all of its expansions and the only thing I will suggest is that if you play with inexperienced players or players that like to turtle don't play with them. As a player you have to be proactive and do your part to try and win the game. At some point your going to have to stick your neck out and make a move and make another move and hope it was enough. Now if you don't mind playing with inexperienced players or less aggressive people then you probably just enjoy the game as much as I do.
 
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The sad thing about this game's military eXterminate "X Component" is that it was implemented more like an annoyance and weapons race, instead of a core mechanic. The game punishes you brutally for over extending systems, and the big fights usually only happen at turn 9, to prevent backstabbing. Developing ship technology, upgrading and moving can easily take 2 whole turns, and all your efforts can be thrown away with a lucky ancient draw tech, or a turtle expansion.

I prefer TtA's implementation, your moves are not telegraphed to other players, you can attack anyone, and prepping hard for war does not cripple your empire and points gain. It is an important and enjoyable mechanic, but not a dominant one.

As a sometimes aggressive player, I prefer other games.
 
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Jim Parkin
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I find that the majority of important battles happen earlier than later.
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Doug DeMoss
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Sopota wrote:
The sad thing about this game's military eXterminate "X Component" is that it was implemented more like an annoyance and weapons race, instead of a core mechanic. The game punishes you brutally for over extending systems, and the big fights usually only happen at turn 9, to prevent backstabbing. Developing ship technology, upgrading and moving can easily take 2 whole turns, and all your efforts can be thrown away with a lucky ancient draw tech, or a turtle expansion.

I prefer TtA's implementation, your moves are not telegraphed to other players, you can attack anyone, and prepping hard for war does not cripple your empire and points gain. It is an important and enjoyable mechanic, but not a dominant one.

As a sometimes aggressive player, I prefer other games.


The game doesn't punish you brutally for overexpanding - it just makes you give some of your lesser systems up, unless you've really taken too many actions (as opposed to occupying too many systems). You DO want to be aggressive about dumping (or developing, via, say, Orbitals) the bad systems, and bankruptcy is the most common but not the only way to do it. I've seen an expert play, go bankrupt almost every turn, and win BECAUSE of it. You only really get punished if you've taken too many actions and have only money-producing systems to give up.

Also, try NOT playing that way. Got Orion (or Hydran, Planta, or Draco as a neighbor)? Go after a neighbor right away! Hydran and Planta, in particular, often get too powerful if they're left alone.

If you're waiting until turn 9 to start the big fights, your play could stand to be improved. At least half the table is not even starting to play up to their race's potential.
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demoss1 wrote:
Also, try NOT playing that way. Got Orion (or Hydran, Planta, or Draco as a neighbor)? Go after a neighbor right away! Hydran and Planta, in particular, often get too powerful if they're left alone.

If you're waiting until turn 9 to start the big fights, your play could stand to be improved. At least half the table is not even starting to play up to their race's potential.


Agree!
 
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Gabriel Conroy
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If anything I think a defensive strategy - what people are calling 'turtling' - is overly difficult in this game! I see no reason why it shouldn't be a viable path to victory in a 4x game, but eclipze makes it hard to do given the small size of the board and technologies such has wormhole generation. Note also that a defensive strategy doesn't mean no battles, particularly when set against an expansionist player.
 
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Stan Sevcik
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Mokhiam wrote:

Thoughts???


It seems like something went wrong with your early to mid-game. In the first turns you have to pick and choose what you do with your disks - do you focus on expansion or on upgrades/military or science/economy. Typically you'll do a mix of all three, but can commit to one more than others.

If you focus more on expansion, you'll get to place the tiles, get to choose choke points but your military will be behind. If you choose heavy military, you'll whoop the ancients but will have less choice in placing choke points on your neighbors. If you go science/economy, you set your self up for future gains at the expense of earlier ones.

From what you describe in the game it seems like one player had both a strong military AND favorable choke points meaning somebody messed up earlier on.
 
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