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Subject: "Upgrade Wars" rss

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Antonio Sanchez
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In the games I have played, a situation that usually happens is that two factions enter in a battle in a hex (with more or less the same number of ships), and then each one starts upgrading their ships in turn. So, one upgrades their ships, getting a big advantage in the battle. Then, the other player counter-upgrades and gets the advantage, then the first one counter-upgrades again, etc., up to the point that one of them faces bankruptcy.

- Is this normal? I think it gets a bit absurd, and I would like some rules to change it (for example, that upgrades are secret until end of turn, or something like that). Perhaps this situation is changed with some expansion, if so, could you recommend one?
 
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Sisada Ransibrahmanakul
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Thinks about tech upgrade as 'Cold War' its kind of another layer of player's interacts.
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Thats the best part of Eclipse. The cost of attack and virtual (potential) fleets.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Since, logically, each turn must represent several generations, I don't see the problem.
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Antonio Sanchez
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Ok, I see there is no way around it.

For me "cold war" is OK, taking into account your enemy potential upgrades and acting accordingly; but "who blinks first" is not. You enter into a race in which the one who blinks loses the hex, and if you keep racing into the battle, the players who are not in this particular battle benefit from the mutual economical destruction of the players who entered an upgrade war.

Perhaps I'll try some house rules next time to see if they are more to my liking (and my brother's, we basically agree that this stalls the game way too much).
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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iserp wrote:
You enter into a race in which the one who blinks loses the hex, and if you keep racing into the battle, the players who are not in this particular battle benefit from the mutual economical destruction of the players who entered an upgrade war.


And so the lesson to be taken from here is?

Pick your battles carefully.

There's absolutely no point in entering a long "out-tech" race with someone - you will most likely lose, as someone else will make better use of their actions. Fake your interests. Pinpoint ships. Strike from behind. Invest in fast ships, so that you can spread onto whole map in one round. Attack often and early to get good rep tiles, worry about holding the hexes later. Gather discoveries for 2p.
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Chris K.
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iserp wrote:
In the games I have played, a situation that usually happens is that two factions enter in a battle in a hex (with more or less the same number of ships), and then each one starts upgrading their ships in turn. So, one upgrades their ships, getting a big advantage in the battle. Then, the other player counter-upgrades and gets the advantage, then the first one counter-upgrades again, etc., up to the point that one of them faces bankruptcy.

- Is this normal? I think it gets a bit absurd, and I would like some rules to change it (for example, that upgrades are secret until end of turn, or something like that). Perhaps this situation is changed with some expansion, if so, could you recommend one?


We only rarely see it in our games since generally we don't wait for the late game for our battles. Midgame the two sides will usually not have the technology to counter-upgrade too much.

The thing you describe seems to be a symptom of someone waiting too long to leverage their tech/upgrade advantage, which is very common with newer players who are still kind of caught in the "Mexican Stand off till round 9 then all out war" kind of game plan until they learn that this is one of the worst approaches in this game.
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Antonio Sanchez
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chrisdk wrote:
iserp wrote:
In the games I have played, a situation that usually happens is that two factions enter in a battle in a hex (with more or less the same number of ships), and then each one starts upgrading their ships in turn. So, one upgrades their ships, getting a big advantage in the battle. Then, the other player counter-upgrades and gets the advantage, then the first one counter-upgrades again, etc., up to the point that one of them faces bankruptcy.

- Is this normal? I think it gets a bit absurd, and I would like some rules to change it (for example, that upgrades are secret until end of turn, or something like that). Perhaps this situation is changed with some expansion, if so, could you recommend one?


We only rarely see it in our games since generally we don't wait for the late game for our battles. Midgame the two sides will usually not have the technology to counter-upgrade too much.

The thing you describe seems to be a symptom of someone waiting too long to leverage their tech/upgrade advantage, which is very common with newer players who are still kind of caught in the "Mexican Stand off till round 9 then all out war" kind of game plan until they learn that this is one of the worst approaches in this game.


I don't know, I still have not played too many games (three players usually), so maybe you are right. But in the last one, it was around turn 5 when I was attacked, and we went on upgrading our ships to get the initiative (at the cost of hull). And when the ships were 'kamikazes' with no hull, then we went back to upgrade the hull to survive the first round of attack and counterattack. I don't think you need high techs to do that (actually, I think battles with plasma missiles are a bit more straightforward respect to what you should be upgrading).

The problem is that if you back off of such situation, you lose because you are losing your fleet and the hex. But if you keep pressing, you lose because you get a big economy hit respect to the players not in the battle (sometimes removing influence discs from hexes with only mining/labs).

And I feel that if your perspective to win the game are not good, it is good for you to willfully enter in this kind of 'upgrade wars' even if you would normally lose: Because if your opponent insist on winning the battle, they are likely hurting their win chances for the game.

Not saying that this ruins the game, it makes for interesting decisions, but you have to calculate carefully your margin before bankruptcy almost every turn, and the economy hit you receive once you enter (or have the possibility to enter) in one of these battles. As I said in the other post, it is kind of "who blinks first", and I feel that those 3 straight turns upgrading your ships could be solved in a shorter way, without simplifying the strategy involved.

Now that Christmas is gone, I cannot play with my brothers, but if in the future I try different rules and work out nice, I will write about it in the variants section. I just did not see anything related to this, and I wanted the opinion of other people.
 
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Chris K.
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iserp wrote:
chrisdk wrote:
iserp wrote:
In the games I have played, a situation that usually happens is that two factions enter in a battle in a hex (with more or less the same number of ships), and then each one starts upgrading their ships in turn. So, one upgrades their ships, getting a big advantage in the battle. Then, the other player counter-upgrades and gets the advantage, then the first one counter-upgrades again, etc., up to the point that one of them faces bankruptcy.

- Is this normal? I think it gets a bit absurd, and I would like some rules to change it (for example, that upgrades are secret until end of turn, or something like that). Perhaps this situation is changed with some expansion, if so, could you recommend one?


We only rarely see it in our games since generally we don't wait for the late game for our battles. Midgame the two sides will usually not have the technology to counter-upgrade too much.

The thing you describe seems to be a symptom of someone waiting too long to leverage their tech/upgrade advantage, which is very common with newer players who are still kind of caught in the "Mexican Stand off till round 9 then all out war" kind of game plan until they learn that this is one of the worst approaches in this game.


I don't know, I still have not played too many games (three players usually), so maybe you are right. But in the last one, it was around turn 5 when I was attacked, and we went on upgrading our ships to get the initiative (at the cost of hull). And when the ships were 'kamikazes' with no hull, then we went back to upgrade the hull to survive the first round of attack and counterattack. I don't think you need high techs to do that (actually, I think battles with plasma missiles are a bit more straightforward respect to what you should be upgrading).

The problem is that if you back off of such situation, you lose because you are losing your fleet and the hex. But if you keep pressing, you lose because you get a big economy hit respect to the players not in the battle (sometimes removing influence discs from hexes with only mining/labs).

And I feel that if your perspective to win the game are not good, it is good for you to willfully enter in this kind of 'upgrade wars' even if you would normally lose: Because if your opponent insist on winning the battle, they are likely hurting their win chances for the game.

Not saying that this ruins the game, it makes for interesting decisions, but you have to calculate carefully your margin before bankruptcy almost every turn, and the economy hit you receive once you enter (or have the possibility to enter) in one of these battles. As I said in the other post, it is kind of "who blinks first", and I feel that those 3 straight turns upgrading your ships could be solved in a shorter way, without simplifying the strategy involved.

Now that Christmas is gone, I cannot play with my brothers, but if in the future I try different rules and work out nice, I will write about it in the variants section. I just did not see anything related to this, and I wanted the opinion of other people.


In a three player game it may be a bit more pronounced, because everyone has access to more Tier 1 and Tier 2 Systems than normal, which leads to more resources and actions being available than in larger games. This may make this issue more likely to occur.

In the File Section you can find the "Warp Sector Variant" which might help with this.

Also it sounds like an "all eggs in one basket" situation and believing that loosing a system hurts you. It actually only does if you don't get it back next round. Otherwise you just get the production for it this round without having to keep a Disc on there.

Also, there's a bit more to Ship strategies than just guns and armor. You'll see the value of better computers and shields over time as well ;-) Enjoy!

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neko flying
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iserp wrote:

it was around turn 5 when I was attacked, and we went on upgrading our ships to get the initiative (at the cost of hull). And when the ships were 'kamikazes' with no hull, then we went back to upgrade the hull to survive the first round of attack and counterattack.


Don't start an upgrade war you cannot win. Count how many actions you can do, how many they can do, what your techs are, and act accordingly.

Also, this Rock-Paper-Scissor upgrade scenario you are describing sounds a little unlikely. Are you sure you did your estimations of the odds to win right? More often than not, there is a certain combination of upgrades that is optimal, or close enough to that, against a given opponent's ships, and after a certain points there are diminishing returns to making additional upgrades. E.g. stripping ships of all Hull is only rarely a good option, particularly the bigger ones like Dreadnoughts, which have diminishing returns for substituting Hull for Sources and Guns/Computers. (Exception: Missiles.)

iserp wrote:

The problem is that if you back off of such situation, you lose because you are losing your fleet and the hex.


Then just retreat before you lose the fleet. Losing a hex is a boon in the short run, after all: You keep the production and you don't pay for the Influence Disk.


iserp wrote:

But if you keep pressing, you lose because you get a big economy hit respect to the players not in the battle (sometimes removing influence discs from hexes with only mining/labs).


So certainly losing a hex that was not attacked to maybe keep a hex that was? That is almost never a good idea.



iserp wrote:

you have to calculate carefully your margin before bankruptcy almost every turn,


FTFY. Calculating bankruptcy margins is a must every turn. Sometimes even two or three turns in advance, when you are planning your fist attack on Ancients.
 
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Santeri Maatsola
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I have experienced this also, and it may well be symptomatic to games of lower player counts. My advice is largely the same as above: plan ahead, if you think "upgrade wars" is going to happen. As others have mentioned, control of one hex in the middle rounds of the game should not be so important that you commit all your ships and actions protecting/attacking it.
 
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Antonio Sanchez
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flying_neko wrote:

Don't start an upgrade war you cannot win. Count how many actions you can do, how many they can do, what your techs are, and act accordingly.


I am saying that I can win it, but at a very high cost for both players, xD.

flying_neko wrote:
Also, this Rock-Paper-Scissor upgrade scenario you are describing sounds a little unlikely. Are you sure you did your estimations of the odds to win right?


This one was incredibly easy, it was basically dreadnoughts and cruiser with lots of positron computers, automatic hits, the one with most initiative would win. When my brother reach an initiative I could not surpass, then I swapped in improved hull, so I could endure their automatic hits and hit with (most) of my cannons.

But I think there are more such Rock-Paper-Scissor scenarios, for example with shields. I put computers, my opponent puts shields, I swap computers with extra cannons, then my opponent's shields are worthless.

I have checked with an odds calculator (and in-game, my brothers and I are do a good job calculating odds), and the swing in win odds are pretty wild with a single upgrade in a lot of cases.

flying_neko wrote:

More often than not, there is a certain combination of upgrades that is optimal, or close enough to that, against a given opponent's ships


Yes, but if your opponent also upgrades, then your ships stop being optimal.

flying_neko wrote:

Then just retreat before you lose the fleet. Losing a hex is a boon in the short run, after all: You keep the production and you don't pay for the Influence Disk.


Perhaps this is the real answer, don't obsess over a single hex. However, this particular scenario was a tad more difficult, because the attacker's ship had so many computer they would automatically destroy my retreating ships.

Perhaps I need to play more, or with more players. But something like making upgrades secret until the start of combat seems like a fun addition to me (although you would need to trust in the good will of your game group).
 
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Jeremy Goldring
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It is sometimes useful to bring two differently configured ship types to battle e.g. a dreadnought with lots of hull upgrades and a cruiser with cannons and computers. If your opponent just brings the one ship type it can then be difficult for them to find a combination of upgrades that will work against both of your ships.
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neko flying
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iserp wrote:

This one was incredibly easy, it was basically dreadnoughts and cruiser with lots of positron computers, automatic hits, the one with most initiative would win. When my brother reach an initiative I could not surpass, then I swapped in improved hull, so I could endure their automatic hits and hit with (most) of my cannons.


Hard to say without the specs, but I am pretty sure that a balanced Dreadnought, with, say, two or three Improved Hulls, a Computer, and a couple Cannons will beat an unbalanced one focusing on a bunch of computers exclusively ever single time.

(EDIT: Unless you researched an unusual combinations of techs. If you both had e.g. Tachyon Source, Antimatter Cannon and Gluon Computer, it might be a case of over-expenditure on military techs. The best counter to that might actually be economic techs, a nice virtual fleet with potential Starbases, and a handful Interceptors with Neutron Bombs to wreak havoc behind the enemy lines. 2 Dreadnoughts will never beat 3 Starbases and 2 Interceptors.)


Quote:
I have checked with an odds calculator (and in-game, my brothers and I are do a good job calculating odds), and the swing in win odds are pretty wild with a single upgrade in a lot of cases.


If you can remember the exact technologies available and Ships involved, it could be a very interesting conversation.



Quote:
Perhaps this is the real answer, don't obsess over a single hex. However, this particular scenario was a tad more difficult, because the attacker's ship had so many computer they would automatically destroy my retreating ships.


If you had Improved Hulls, that seems unlikely. Cannons and Computers are so much more expensive to deploy than IH, taking into account the energy expenditure, that it is very difficult to build a fleet that will wipe out a similarly powerful one in one round. I would be curious to know the exact scenario.
 
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ninja lee
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I *do* find that very silly and unrealistic. You don't see battleships square off and toss armor on and off and swap out guns or install new computer software just before a battle. When I host, players are not allowed to look at other players sheets. You enter combat with only your best ideas of what to use. You can buy cheap folders to set up around playerboards or have the boards situated somewhere other than the main table. It's not until you see their ships in action do you learn what they've got on their ship. And even then, it's not until the next round that you can make any changes.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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That's pretty ridiculous. Do you also shield other players from what technologies were bought?
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ninjalee wrote:
I *do* find that very silly and unrealistic. You don't see battleships square off and toss armor on and off and swap out guns or install new computer software just before a battle. When I host, players are not allowed to look at other players sheets. You enter combat with only your best ideas of what to use. You can buy cheap folders to set up around playerboards or have the boards situated somewhere other than the main table. It's not until you see their ships in action do you learn what they've got on their ship. And even then, it's not until the next round that you can make any changes.


I think this kinda harms a fun aspect of the game which emulates the arms race factions enter during (cold)wars.

Thematically I think you are forgetting the large amount of time that is supposed to be passing as we play. Sure ships don’t throw off and on upgrades in a matter of seconds, and moments before a battle. This is happening over years as we approach each other across the vastness of the galaxy.

Plus information you gather from player boards blueprints etc. that’s thematic to the idea you have scouts/spies relaying you the information. The ‘last minute’ upgrades are perfectly thematic within this mindset as players being stealthy about the application of their technology – you know they have missle tech because you’ve seen/heard them research it; its not on the ‘official’ ship blueprints yet but they are probably on some blueprint you don’t have (in the players head). Boom, there they are the blueprints/your intel has been updated, the ships have in fact been upgraded! This will they/won’t they is pretty close in terms of real life intel/paranoia conflict, and plays out as a solid representation of that.

Hiding player boards sounds like a bit of hassle to me and just makes the intel aspect a bit more of a headache; I can still see you acquire a tech from the tech board so now I have to remember it or make notes? I can see no fun in that.

But then maybe you don’t see the fun in the almost poker-like check/raising of an arms race in a war simulation. So do whatever suits you – if ‘tightening security’ steers people away from an aspect of the game you don’t like, do it. But I think you will be cutting out a fun part of the game and one that sits very comfortably thematically with a bit of imagination.
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Donnie Williams
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I have been playing Eclipse on iOS and the enemy AI keeps loading his dreadnoughts with 4 missile tokens and 2 +2 computer tokens. He was able to take out one of my dreadnoughts a cruiser and three interceptors no problem.

Has anyone else seen this pattern?

What is the counter to this?

If you launch 8 missiles that hit on a 2+ you are going to do massive damage. This game sucks!
 
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Vegabond wrote:
I have been playing Eclipse on iOS and the enemy AI keeps loading his dreadnoughts with 4 missile tokens and 2 +2 computer tokens. He was able to take out one of my dreadnoughts a cruiser and three interceptors no problem.

Has anyone else seen this pattern?

What is the counter to this?


Starbases with Improved Hulls + Interceptors with Neutron Bombs and Improved Drives.
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Chris K.
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Vegabond wrote:
I have been playing Eclipse on iOS and the enemy AI keeps loading his dreadnoughts with 4 missile tokens and 2 +2 computer tokens. He was able to take out one of my dreadnoughts a cruiser and three interceptors no problem.

Has anyone else seen this pattern?

What is the counter to this?

If you launch 8 missiles that hit on a 2+ you are going to do massive damage. This game sucks!


- Shields and/or improved hull
- pinning his ships with interceptors in his own space
- starbases with loads of hull
- your own missiles with better initiative

All of these should work under the right circumstances.
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Vegabond wrote:
I have been playing Eclipse on iOS and the enemy AI keeps loading his dreadnoughts with 4 missile tokens and 2 +2 computer tokens. He was able to take out one of my dreadnoughts a cruiser and three interceptors no problem.

Has anyone else seen this pattern?

What is the counter to this?

If you launch 8 missiles that hit on a 2+ you are going to do massive damage. This game sucks!


Wait, you're right - the game sucks! We've all been waiting for you to turn up after playing the game once to point out that we haven't really been enjoying ourselves all this time, and that the game is broken! Thousands and thousands of people rejoice at being shown the light!

shake


If your opponent has loaded up on missles, he won't have any weapons to attack with after the missile initiative. Missiles can miss, you know. So obviously design ships that can get through the missile phase to then pick the toothless paperweights off at leisure in the next phase.

A big part of Eclipse is strategy. When you are beaten by something, don't assume the game is the problem.
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Ivan Alaiz
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iserp wrote:
flying_neko wrote:

Don't start an upgrade war you cannot win. Count how many actions you can do, how many they can do, what your techs are, and act accordingly.


I am saying that I can win it, but at a very high cost for both players, xD.

flying_neko wrote:
Also, this Rock-Paper-Scissor upgrade scenario you are describing sounds a little unlikely. Are you sure you did your estimations of the odds to win right?


This one was incredibly easy, it was basically dreadnoughts and cruiser with lots of positron computers, automatic hits, the one with most initiative would win. When my brother reach an initiative I could not surpass, then I swapped in improved hull, so I could endure their automatic hits and hit with (most) of my cannons.

But I think there are more such Rock-Paper-Scissor scenarios, for example with shields. I put computers, my opponent puts shields, I swap computers with extra cannons, then my opponent's shields are worthless.

I have checked with an odds calculator (and in-game, my brothers and I are do a good job calculating odds), and the swing in win odds are pretty wild with a single upgrade in a lot of cases.

flying_neko wrote:

More often than not, there is a certain combination of upgrades that is optimal, or close enough to that, against a given opponent's ships


Yes, but if your opponent also upgrades, then your ships stop being optimal.

flying_neko wrote:

Then just retreat before you lose the fleet. Losing a hex is a boon in the short run, after all: You keep the production and you don't pay for the Influence Disk.


Perhaps this is the real answer, don't obsess over a single hex. However, this particular scenario was a tad more difficult, because the attacker's ship had so many computer they would automatically destroy my retreating ships.

Perhaps I need to play more, or with more players. But something like making upgrades secret until the start of combat seems like a fun addition to me (although you would need to trust in the good will of your game group).


Antonio, I have seen this show up and a couple of people in my group actually objects to play eclipse due to this, I do consider myself an experienced eclipse player. Instead of trying to convince you that this is not an issue but a feature of the game ill tell you my experience about it:

1- Player count matters, I usually play eclipse only at 5 or 6 player count, this is much less pronounced then for two main reasons: Access to technology (not everyone has access to the same techs so ship builds differ) and diversity , its more likely that you are "cold waring" more than one player and you cannot be prepare the same ship to fight both effectively. My usual strategy is to have "virtual starbases or cruisers" with a different build strategy than my main fleet)

2- Expansions make a huge difference, specially ROTA. The unique technologies give a player an specific edge that is very difficult to overcome and makes an upgrade war so lopsided that it does not happen. In other words its much more evident who would lose the upgrade war when there is a unique advantage (Ion missiles for example makes initiative a no brainer, or the 3 hull piece, or the anti missile shield)

If you cannot increase the player count, use ROTA if you are not using it already.
 
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Peter Bakija
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Vegabond wrote:
I have been playing Eclipse on iOS and the enemy AI keeps loading his dreadnoughts with 4 missile tokens and 2 +2 computer tokens. He was able to take out one of my dreadnoughts a cruiser and three interceptors no problem.

Has anyone else seen this pattern?

What is the counter to this?


Being smarter than the computer, which isn't very smart.

The computer is always going to go for missiles and computers. As that is what the computer always does. Realize this (assuming you are playing against the computer) and plan accordingly:

-Starbases with a couple -2 shields and an improved hull will stop them pretty quickly.

-Pin their missile dreadnaughts with cheap interceptors.

-Get your own missiles and beat their initiative. The computer doesn't understand initiative.

In the basic game, missiles are arguably overpowered. In the expanded game, missiles are fine. In the computer game vs the computer, you can outsmart the computer and beat it, even without missiles (this is harder to do in an actual game, as, well, people are generally smarter than the AI).
 
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