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Subject: First play and reactions rss

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Mike Carr
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Our first game of Eclipse was a three player affair. After a quick rules explanation, we picked some high contrast colors (Red, Blue and Yellow) and settled our Terrans into their respective corners.

Expecting the good hexes to be in the I ring, we quickly explored it. Red got stuck with an ancient. Blue got a science planet. Yellow got a money planet and something else. As Blue explored further, his second I ring tile was blocked by an ancient and his II was blocked by a double ancient. No one wanted to explore the III ring, assuming that hexes out there was less desirable. Instead, Red bought some -1 shields and installed them on his ships.

On the second turn Red built a cruiser and attacked the ancient, losing his interceptor, but winning the fight. His reward was a second cruiser. Seeing no other choice, Blue explored outward and got more science planets. Yellow continued to expand unhindered in the area between himself and Red, getting a pleasant mix of planets and no ancient resistance. He picked up nanobots. He also stumbled on the shard hull and promptly fitted his cruisers with it.

Red pushed into the territory between himself and blue uncovering more ancients. He spent the next few turns attacking an ancient each turn, but pulling +5 science tiles which seemed relatively unimpressive. He used the research to get advanced economy, labs, and mining, along with +2 computers.

The salt in Red's wounds was Yellow's single attack on the ancients. Yellow cashed in on 3 cruisers, and sent them to the ancient that had blocked Blue in the I ring. The reward was a +3 computer. Thus three very dangerous cruisers were suddenly stationed adjacent to Blue space and the galactic center. Yellow was short on actions, getting only 2-3 per turn. Still by turn 5 his super cruisers, augmented with reactors and double plasma cannons, swept into the center and destroyed the defense system there.

Blue was having a rough time, having found only a single money planet, but many research ones. Finally around turn 5 he got his hands on orbitals and advanced economy and felt like he could accomplish something. He explored some III tiles. He also threw together a dreadnaught and cruiser and sent them against the double ancients. He took down one, but his relatively unmodified fleet rolled poorly and was defeated.

Red finished off the ancient next to Blue's home world, but was quickly growing alarmed by Yellow, and rightfully so. Seeing Red as the larger threat, Yellow bought +3 drives and launched a devastating raid on Red's home world. Red built star bases and dreadnaughts, but without upgrades, they were no match for the cruiser fleet, and Yellow took over. Meanwhile, Yellow built his dreadnaughts and upgraded them with a pair of plasma cannons.

On turn 7, Yellow dispersed his fleet to Red's other systems. This ended up being an error, as Yellow didn't have the discs to take over the systems he conquered, and so dispersed, he didn't even win every battle against Red's hastily built star bases. Red decided that the answer to the 4-hulled cruisers was a better power source and antimatter cannons. Blue, who was producing plenty of science, picked up plasma cannons and improved hulls and outfitted his dreadnaughts.

Turn 8 saw the reckoning, as Blue piled into Yellow's 1-ring system and Red pounced on the center. Yellow recalled his fleet to the center, and promptly upgraded and built 7 interceptors in the I ring. He also swapped his hulls for shields, seeing no use for hulls against the antimatter cannons. Yellow took losses in the battles that turn, but Red and Blue lost their entire fleets.

At this point the players decided a 9th turn was unlikely to change much so called the game.

Overall reaction to the game was intrigued but skeptical. Blue felt that he had been handicapped in the tiles he had explored. Since Red had managed to kill off his ancients with nothing but his home system for support, we decided that this was likely tactical error on Blue's part. We had all also undervalued III ring systems. After exploring a few, they had turned out not to be as useless as we'd feared. Still, it left us wishing for a TI3 style board creation where players have some control over what they'll find in their neighborhood.

The bigger problem had been the diversity in discoveries. Red killed several ancients and got a free cruiser, +10 science and +8 money. Yellow killed one ancient and grabbed one free tile, for which he got two amazing ship parts that made his cruisers unstoppable in the early game. We decided that maybe with more players, it would be easier to gang up on someone with lucky discovery draws, but that the draws had the potential to seriously imbalance a 3 player game.

All three of us want to try the game again (we'll have a 4th next time), but we're unsure Eclipse will make the regular rotation unless we see ways to leverage a "bad" sector or discovery draw against players who draw the "good" ones.

Also, halfway through packing up, we wished we'd counted the score, to see what kind of lead Yellow's military hegemony was producing, and whether the larger Red economy might have been close enough to squeeze a victory despite a turn 9 invasion.
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Andrew Laws
Canada
British Columbia
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"I play to win, as much or more than any egoist who thinks he's going to win by other means. I want to win the match. But I don't give in to tactical reasoning as the only way to win, rather I believe that efficacy is not divorced from beauty."
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Oxeter wrote:

All three of us want to try the game again (we'll have a 4th next time), but we're unsure Eclipse will make the regular rotation unless we see ways to leverage a "bad" sector or discovery draw against players who draw the "good" ones.


You know you don't have to accept the result of a hex draw right? Admittedly you lose the action but it's not as bad as you're making out.
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Mike Carr
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HarlemMimeSchool wrote:

You know you don't have to accept the result of a hex draw right? Admittedly you lose the action but it's not as bad as you're making out.


We were aware of that rule, but no one chose to use it. Actions felt very tight early on, and first time players can be forgiven for not knowing whether the tile they drew was more or less helpful than the others in the pile.

Of course there is no similar rule for discovery tiles, which seemed to have a bigger impact in our game. As mentioned, we want to see if those feel more balanced after another play or two.
 
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Touko Tahkokallio
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Espoo
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Just a quick comment about the discovery tiles: I've seen some new players commenting that the Ancient Ship Parts are overpowered... I have been a bit puzzled on this as this has not been our experience. But now I think I finally figured out the reason!

There is an important efficiency aspect in the game. Players will learn after few games how to improve their economy, research more techs, build more and many different type of effective ships - and of course because of that, score more points. While a ship with a single powerful ancient ship part might feel too powerful in your first games, I hope it should feel more balanced after you learn the game better!
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