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Subject: A Total Eclipse of the Grand Strategy Genre? rss

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Jesse Dean
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Eclipse, by Tuoko Tahkokallio, has taken the board game world by storm, presenting the idea that yes, you can have a complete, fulfilling grand strategy experience in a game that lasts only a few hours. So far it has been able to wildly meet the expectations of many of those who have played it, and has been rewarded as a result. Its current 8.65 average is one of the highest a new game with this many votes has received in a while, and is very much on track to make it into the Top 20 games on BGG, if not the Top 10 or the Top 5.

Of course, Eclipse is not the first game to present this promise of approachable grand strategy. Games like Civilization: The Board Game, Galactic Emperor, Space Empires 4X and numerous other supposed “civilization light” games have promised the same sort of grand strategy experience in an abbreviated amount of time but have not been as widely accepted as Eclipse. There are some pretty important reasons why this is the case, as Eclipse has moved forward game design for grand strategy games in several key areas. The result is a smooth, narrative structure that on the whole is a good game, marred only by a few problems whose weight will depend largely on your particular mechanical preferences.



Functionality and Components
Eclipse’s components are mostly functional and fairly attractive, blending a richness that does a very good job of conveying the game’s setting while also presenting important game information well. The two areas where this overall level of excellence diminishes, however, is in conveying the availability of technologies and information on individual hexes.

Available technologies are kept organized on a large cardboard sheet in a three level track based on technology category and price. Each available technology has a token that is transferred from this track onto a player’s board as it is acquired. Overall this works well and does an excellent job in conveying what technologies are available and what technologies an individual player has. Unfortunately, due to the organic growth of the map and the sheer amount of space the game takes up, what frequently ends up happening is that the technology board is placed off to the side somewhere, requiring frequent questions about available technologies or wandering around the table in order to see what, exactly is available from a number of the players. This is not a huge problem, and I am actually uncertain what could have been done to avoid it, but it is an annoyance.

The other annoyance is the difficulty in seeing what symbols are on a hex if you have an actual fleet sitting on said hex. This can easily be remedied by simply moving the ships around to see what is there, but it does detract from the ability to easily and cleanly look at the board and understand the game state and opportunities that are available particularly if you are trying to decide where you want to attack without your opponents noticing you scoping out their territory.

The colors in the game are effective and fairly distinct, and I had little difficulty distinguishing any of the player colors from each other on the wooden or plastic pieces. The cardboard starbases are a bit tougher to distinguish, but because they are always in a system with the wooden pieces it was never a problem to figure out what belonged to whom.

The game, without any external aids, is a pain to break down and set up. It is one of the more time consuming games in my collection to prepare for, with only Through the Ages coming close to reaching the overall time and fiddliness required to get the game ready. Additionally it takes a lot of space. In both of my normal play areas I have been forced to resort to extraordinary measures in order to ensure that the game does not decide it wants to wander off the table. So if you have a smaller play area Eclipse might be too large to manage.

Game Structure and Actions
Eclipse’s game structure is generally clean and efficient. On a player’s turn they use one of their action disks to take any of six available actions. Player’s continue to take actions until they choose to pass, after which they only may take emergency actions that are less efficient than normal actions. The round continues until all players have passed, at which point combat and upkeep occurs. This straightforward structure frequently results in fairly brisk play as an individual only has to make a single action choice and then has until everyone else takes their turns to think up possibilities for their next action. Each of the six actions is fairly straightforward and has useful iconography available on the player’s sheet to provide a reminder of what it does. This structural inclination towards briskness and a hard limit of 9 total rounds is how the game has the potential to last a mere 30 minutes per player. However, when you add in players who are particularly deliberate or have a particularly contentious game this can easily balloon. I do not find this to be overly problematic, as I tend to find these more contentious games to be particularly interesting, at least if I am involved in the conflict, but it it is something you should be aware of before playing this game, particularly if playing with one of the higher player count.




Exploration
The first of the six available actions is Exploration. Taking the exploration action enables you to flip over a tile from the stack that corresponds with what section of space you are exploring, choose whether you are going to keep or discard, and then do that. If you discard it that is the end of your action. If you keep it then you have the option of transferring one of your action disks from your action track to the system, taking control of it in the process.



Each system has three different potential types of planets, each of which corresponds to one of the three types of resources in the game: money, science, and materials. A player has the option of flipping over any or all of their three colony ships in order to claim empty spots in a system. Doing so transfers a cube from the appropriate resource track on to the board, indicating that you have that much population in the system while at the same time increasing your income of that resource. This is an elegant and effective way to manage your resources in a grand strategy game. It allows you to handle income without too much fiddliness but also requires you to manage the logistics of getting your population to the system. Three colony ships per turn can be a woefully small amount in games where you are particularly expansionistic and the decision where to use them can be wonderfully difficult.



Exploration is one of the areas that I suspect people will find to be problematic. While most every hex has an opportunity to be useful, it is quite possible to run into a streak of a particular type of hex that will essentially force the player into a particular strategic direction; if you find a lot of hexes that produce money, for example, and no hexes that produce materials there is very little that you can do about it. Similarly if you end you surrounded by ancients you do have the opportunity to claim the systems they control for various rewards, but it is easy to fall behind players who get a slightly more optimal mix of production and ancients. Discarding a tile you do not want in order to get one that more effectively meets your needs is great in theory, but actions are so valuable that it seems suboptimal to discard a tile unless you are the Planta, and thus able to draw two tiles a turn rather than one, or are the Descendants of Draco and get a big benefit out of getting tiles of a specific type. Otherwise you options are to discard the tile, and essentially waste your action, or be controlled by the vagaries of the tile draw, neither of which is very appetizing.

Influence
The Influence action allows you to abandon inhabited sectors or take control of empty sectors, with a maximum of two total changes in sector control possible. Additionally two colony ships that were previously used become available again.

Influence is perhaps the least used action in the game, though there are some interesting ways you can manipulate your empire’s income by taking this action, even if you do not abandon any existing systems or take over new systems with it. The most obvious way to do this is by simply taking the action to get flip over two more colony ships. While this is not the most efficient use of actions, there are situations where it can be worthwhile, as the two additional cubes of income may end up being significant enough to make up for the additional money required to pay for the used action.

The second way involves the manipulation of systems that have grey “wild” worlds. By taking an influence action to abandon and take control of a sector, it is actually possible to reconfigure your resource income by taking this action to abandon and take over the same system repeatedly, using the wild planet to transfer resources from one planet to another and eventually getting the exact income you want. Granted, this might not be the most efficient way to use your actions but it is possible and it can result in interesting decisions if you have the actions available to pull off this maneuver.

Research
The research action allows you to research a single technology by spending an amount of science equal to the technology’s cost with a discount based on the number of other technologies of the same category you have purchased and the technology’s own particular minimum cost.



Eclipse’s technology system is one of my favorite things about the game. The way technologies are slowly introduced to the game, and how there is no guarantee regarding how much of a particular technology will be available over the course of a game, creates a system of scarcity that adds tension as players are forced to decide how important it is to get first access to new technologies and whether purchasing an available technology now is more important than various other things that require their attention. The technology discounting also works well, both encouraging players to specialize in particular “trees” but also not forcing them to travel down the same path, allowing for people to both slowly build up using cheaper technologies and make plays for the more expensive but more valuable technologies in order to get an edge.

Upgrade
The upgrade action allows you to add two ship parts to which you have access to any of your ship blueprints. There are specific requirements for your ships (engines and power source) and your starbases (no engines) but you otherwise have a lot of flexibility in how you build your ships. This makes upgrading one of my other favorite parts of the game; it provides an additional avenue of strategic and tactical exploration, allowing people to try to build designs that require a low number of actions to reconfigure while at the same time having the right technologies change these designs in response to potential threats. The limited number of slots in each ship does mean that you will eventually start to see a few “styles” of design based on particular combinations of technology. I do not see this as particularly problematic though, as you still have quite a few options for how you build ships, and thus fight battles, even assuming a particular design on the part of your opponents.



The one instance where this is not the case is with the notorious plasma missiles. Essentially, the plasma missile technology allows for those who have it to roll lots of high-damage dice before regular combat begins. A natural build for someone who has missiles is to spend all one’s power on computers and engines while using all available other slots for missiles. This allows for a massive amount of potential damage, taking out enemy ships before they get a chance to fire. The only ways to counter this particular design is to either build up on missiles of your own, which may not be possible if you have a low science income or only one plasma missile technology comes out, or to load up on shields or hull and hope your opponent misses enough that you have a shot of taking them out in normal combat before they run away. While having a small number of specific missile counter-designs may be balanced, it is not very fun as it flattens an entire, otherwise interesting game element down to a simple choice between building missiles, building counter-missile technologies, or by ignoring both items entirely and hope that you are not destroyed. The battles themselves are not very interesting either, as they are essentially decided in one gigantic round of missile shots, rather than a constant tactical back-and-forth where players have to decide when it is appropriate to continue fighting and when they appropriate time is to flee, and where a wide variety of different technologies offer different possibilities and dangers. The presence of missiles destroys some of the technological ecosystem, not in a way that breaks the game or makes them auto-win, because in my experience they do not, but they do seem to warp the game in ways that no other technology does and in a way that I ultimately find to be unpleasant.

Build
The build action allows you to construct flees to use against both your opponents and ancients or, if you have the correct technologies, construct orbital platforms for additional money or science income or monoliths for victory points. I appreciate the fact that there are some non-combat ways to use materials. This allows for players who find systems with a high material income but low money or science to make their systems more productive. Of course if you have systems with low materials production then there is very little you can do about it. Monoliths also allow player who are forced, either through choice or happenstance, into a less conflict-focused strategy a way to increase their overall victory point totals.

Move
Movement allows one to move one, two, or three, if you are human, of your ships with the amount of sectors moved depending on your ship’s drives and the number of ships moves. This movement is primarily used to attack other’s systems, defend your own systems, and to expand your ability to use the exploration and influence actions. While generally you have a lot of flexibility in how you use the move action, there are two main mechanisms that prevent you from being able to move your ships at will.

The first of these is the need to use wormholes. The galaxy as represented in Eclipse is a big place, and in order to travel from one sector to another, you need to have a wormhole connection on both hexes. Since players are able to define where these tiles are placed through exploration, it is possible to make it so that you have a minimal number of connections to other players or potentially even none at all. This isolation can be both beneficial, in that you can pursue your own interests without being harassed, and harmful as you have no ability to interfere with other player’s plans and cannot form diplomatic relationships. Defining who your neighbors are and how you connect to them is one of the most important parts of the early game and unlike the resources you get, the tiles you get give you a lot of control over how you interact with your neighbors.

The second of these is the presence of enemy ships. While you are not completely stopped by the presence of enemy ships, your fleet size needs to exceed that of your opponent’s in order to be able to move any of your ships past your opponents. This enables you to defend your borders against random raiders while still allowing those who are willing to make the investment to punch through into your territory, creating strategic options rather than eliminating them.

Eclipse As A Game
Eclipse is the best general-purpose grand strategy game I have played to date. The only real competition I have seen in this field is Space Empires 4X, which I find to be excellent, but very much focused on creating exciting military conflicts rather than the more expansive options that Eclipse offers. The game offers a rather broad strategic environment that allows for multiple different ways to combine potential victory point sources into a winning score. While most games of Eclipse I have played have included one or more inexperienced players, it seems that many of these options are viable depending on the game’s particular contextual factors; I have seen games won by those pursuing an extensive military strategy and I have seen games won by those pursuing a more isolationist strategy focused on peaceful trading and monument-building.

Eclipse is also extremely thematic, and I find it easy to come up with narratives in my head regarding what happens in the game. The rulebook provides just enough flavor to allow your imagination to take hold without overburdening you with unnecessary information.

Eclipse is very much a multi-player conflict game and has all the hallmarks of one, including the ability for the player who is best at negotiating to win by manipulating other players into a conflict and the face that while winning and losing individual battles is helpful it is not what wins the game, the larger strategic picture needs to be mastered in order to come up with a victory. To this end, a strategic loss or win can be sufficient to turn the opinions of others at the table, turning friends to enemies and vice-versa as new individuals are seen as the greatest threat to their victory. If you like this sort of interaction and gaming then Eclipse provides a number of mechanisms that helps to encourage players to be aggressive and seek to tip the balance of power in their favor.

The mechanical structure is simple and elegant enough that provides a fairly full grand strategy experience without getting into what makes this style of game fun. Pretty much every aspect of the game has been very painstakingly considered for the purposes of ensuring an excellent play experience. This thoroughness is something I greatly appreciate and easily puts Tuoko and his game developer, Sampo Sikio, on my list of people to watch in the industry and I look forward to seeing what they do with their next big design.

Unfortunately, despite these positive qualities there are enough items that bother me about Eclipse to prevent me from embracing it wholeheartedly. A couple of these items are those that I mentioned above: the way that the tiles you explore seem to force you down specific paths and the way that missiles warp the game. Both of these are part of the overall problem I have with the game which is the ease in which a player can be eliminated from any chance of winning through decisions that are both not their own and are difficult for them to influence.

Being forcefully connected to a militarily dominant opponent during the early game, discovering a poor combination of tiles during exploration, or being the person that just happens to be the target of the player with the missiles before their empire is ripped apart by the other players and the galaxy descends into general chaos, or being hit by a string of bad luck during a single fight can all lead to a player to be knocked out of contention for the win. Now, none of these things are guaranteed losses, but being subject to one could very well be sufficient to put a player into an unrecoverable position barring some extreme luck in the other direction or an amazing amount of negotiation skills. This is not to say the game does not reward skill, as in our local plays we have seen the same players winning again and again, it just makes the game fragile to a degree that exceeds my comfort level.

This is not quite enough to make me want to stop playing Eclipse or get rid of my copy, but it is enough to prevent me from embracing the game like so many other people have. I understand their enthusiasm and, to some degree, share it due to the sheer impressiveness of the design. Unfortunately, I am going to have to continue to keep my eye out for potentially excellent big multi-player grand strategy designs. Space Empires 4X fulfills all my needs as a two player design of this style and I was hoping Eclipse would do that for more players. It does not.
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Tim Seitz
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First!

I reread that and I don't think you even mentioned the the part of the game that makes it most compelling and, I think, sets it apart from other games in the broader genre: reputation tiles.

The way reputation tiles are handled in the game discourages the typical sort of turtling that you'd expect to see, and see all to often, in a game like this. This provides very strong incentive to be in the fight early, mixing it up.
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Joel Eddy
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Yes.

Oh... Rhetorical question?

Actually finished reading. Fantastic review! Very succinct and thoughtful. Jives with my experience, including your caveats at the end. Thankfully it's "short" enough and variable enough to make up for those bad experiences, imo.
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JonGetsGames
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Quote:
The battles themselves are not very interesting either, as they are essentially decided in one gigantic round of missile shots, rather than a constant tactical back-and-forth where players have to decide when it is appropriate to continue fighting and when they appropriate time is to flee, and where a wide variety of different technologies offer different possibilities and dangers. The presence of missiles destroys some of the technological ecosystem, not in a way that breaks the game or makes them auto-win, because in my experience they do not, but they do seem to warp the game in ways that no other technology does and in a way that I ultimately find to be unpleasent.


Couldn't agree more.

I love this game, and this is the only thing that keeps sticking out to me. It's not even a balance issue, they seem very balanced to me so far. It's an interesting gameplay issue. Missiles make big battles boring, and it really sticks out when every other aspect of this game is so damn exciting (most importantly non-missile epic battles!).
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Konata
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In before all of your negative comments are magically rationalized away by the hype machine.
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Jason Reid
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Quote:
The only ways to counter this particular design is to either build up on missiles of your own, which may not be possible if you have a low science income or only one plasma missile technology comes out, or to load up on shields or hull and hope your opponent misses enough that you have a shot of taking them out in normal combat before they run away.


Yeah, I'm not loving this dynamic either. My big problem with it, actually, isn't the missiles but the running away. I can see why it's useful to be able to decide to retreat in the thick of combat. But I'm not sure I like the resulting impact on gameplay and ship design strategy.

If you want to "retreat", do it during the move phase, before combat begins. But these are 100-year scale turns people...if your ships are in my space at the end of them, we are throwing down!

And exactly how does that Dreadnaught in the photograph, with the 4 missile batteries and the puny nuclear drive, flee from my Tachyon-drive outfitted Interceptors anyway?
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Jim Richardson

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Konata wrote:
In before all of your negative comments are magically rationalized away by the hype machine.


As opposed to positive comments buried by the troll machine?

Personally I find the early missile strategy to pay homage to MoO2. In MoO2 I was always going for 2-shot "MIRV" nuclear missiles early, often ignoring beams and shields until late game, and often running a minimal defense. Once the enemy had sufficient shields, and ways to take out missiles, you had to switch to plasma cannons or other beam weapons, along with a ship that could take more of a beating.

Maybe Eclipse could benefit from an Anti-Missile Rocket tech, but that would be pretty specialized.
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Joel Eddy
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The following is anecdotal (and to be taken with a giant grain of salt), but also hilarious:

In our first game (four players), the winner just loaded up on hulls for his little and medium ships. He then proceeded to pump a giant swarm of little interceptors, and rock some combat. He still only won by a couple of points (cursed random VP draw). It was a very tight game actually. I don't know what would have happened if someone went "pure" missiles, but it definitely stopped the guy with "mostly" missiles who happened to end up in last. /shrug

Again.. first play... /salt /etc
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Jeremy Diachuk
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To be honest, missile-heavy ships aren't quite as broken as they're made out to be. I tried to attack the galactic center over THREE rounds with some suped-up missile cruisers, and my opponent merely built a few starbases there with some improved hulls (which took less turns to research, upgrade, and build, and used less resources) and he was able to easily defend the middle (although it did take resources away from him conquering another player's territories, though it also cost me lots when I could have been going elsewhere as well). He did also build a dreadnought against me which was a mistake, since they're expensive and had the same number of hulls as the starbases. Heh.

I also think it's hilarious to run in, do a heavy bombing run, and then flee because there's nothing else you can actually do.
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Jason Reid
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taggedjc wrote:
To be honest, missile-heavy ships aren't quite as broken as they're made out to be.


To be fair, the review didn't call the missiles "broken" at all. They seem balanced in that they're mechanically beatable, but they have a sterilizing effect on combat and some of the strategic decisions leading up to combat.
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jasonwocky wrote:
And exactly how does that Dreadnaught in the photograph, with the 4 missile batteries and the puny nuclear drive, flee from my Tachyon-drive outfitted Interceptors anyway?

That's a great point. Maybe there should have been a rule that ships can only flee if their drive is equal to or greater than the drive on the enemy ships.
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JonGetsGames
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The point of the missile criticism in the review is not that they are not balanced.

It's that they aren't interesting to evaluate from a gameplay perspective compared to all non-missile combat.
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Alex H.
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Excellent review.
Have played only once so far and liked what I saw. The missile-heavy tactic didn't occurr to me but now that I think about it I am a bit worried - will have to test it in our next game.
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Lance McMillan
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Agree with the missiles comment -- it's certainly not a "game breaker" but it is enough of anomoly in an otherwise great game that it stands out like a sore thumb. shake

It almost feels as if there may have been some other element that was originally included in the design that was eliminated during the testing/development phase that ended up causing the problem (for instance, a cheaper to develop 1-damage missile technology that was dropped due to component limitations or to speed up play). I suspect I'm going to have to fiddle with various House Rules to modifiy this until it "feels" right to me.
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jasonwocky wrote:
Yeah, I'm not loving this dynamic either. My big problem with it, actually, isn't the missiles but the running away. I can see why it's useful to be able to decide to retreat in the thick of combat. But I'm not sure I like the resulting impact on gameplay and ship design strategy.

What kind of a problem are you seeing in practice? In my experience retreating is pretty rare. Ships with cannons don't retreat in large numbers since the penalties of retreating are high (probably lose out on reputation, lose a full turn of shooting to the retreat). Ships with missiles have a hull made of old newspapers, so if they don't win with the initial salvo they get slaughtered before they ever get to retreat.

Quote:
If you want to "retreat", do it during the move phase, before combat begins.

That's generally not possible due to pinning.
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JonGetsGames
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Lancer4321 wrote:

It almost feels as if there may have been some other element that was originally included in the design that was eliminated during the testing/development phase that ended up causing the problem (for instance, a cheaper to develop 1-damage missile technology that was dropped due to component limitations or to speed up play). I suspect I'm going to have to fiddle with various House Rules to modifiy this until it "feels" right to me.


One has to assume that the game is balanced and tested to work if missiles never make it out of the technology bag...and I have to admit I am starting to think this might be the way I modify it. Just take them out of the game completely or have them be a plasma cannon upgrade that costs 3 energy. THen i won't be holding my breath every tech reveal cycle wondering if this one little chit will come out and completely change the battle dynamics for the rest of the game.
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Jeremy Diachuk
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I didn't say the review said they were unbalanced, I was just pointing out that they're not as broken as other people often claim.

The review does say that "The only ways to counter this particular design is to either build up on missiles of your own, which may not be possible if you have a low science income or only one plasma missile technology comes out, or to load up on shields or hull and hope your opponent misses enough that you have a shot of taking them out in normal combat before they run away" however, I don't think it's quite as bad as all that.

Loading up on Improved Hull does help, but you could go with those or shields or both. Missile interceptors don't get to fire many shots (or, if they fire many shots, they don't have the computers to hit very often), so Improved Hull is very good against them. Missile cruisers are probably the toughest adversary, but an opponent can only build four of them - and you can build four starbases for much less, so you simply build the starbases to pin their cruisers after they move in on you, and then take some interceptors into their escape routes, making them unable to flee and securing victory as long as you can survive the initial barrage (which is possible with some Improved Hull on your starbases; if each has 8 hull total, they take five hits each, and each cruiser only rolls six dice if they have a slot for a computer, an energy source, and a drive, so each cruiser can only miss once or you'll survive with at least one starbase).

There's not "many" options to counter them, but there's also not many options to counter people who have Antimatter cannons. You either make glass cannons yourself (since you die in one hit anyway), or you add two Improved Hull pieces so they have to hit twice anyway.

*shrugs* I think the missiles are quite fun. It was infuriating to have to retreat so many times because I took the strategy, whereas if I just took Antimatter Cannon instead, I could have taken the center hex much more easily. But it didn't come up, and the missiles did, so I made do.



Also, I would argue that playing against a heavy-missiles opponent is almost more interesting than other ship designs - you get to try to cut off escape routes and get to make that satisfyingly smug facial expression when your opponent realizes that you've outmanoeuvered him with your interceptors and now he'll have to hit with every single missile in order to survive the encounter and take the hex, or waste a reaction giving them a cannon instead.


Edit: I'd also say that the review is implying that missiles are broken, considering that in his conclusion he says that part of the reason he doesn't like the game is how much the missiles skew the game. My contention is that they do not - at least, no more than other high-level technologies. Wormhole Generator can also tremendously skew the game, as can someone getting the Antimatter Cannon earlier in the game. Quantum Grid is actually pretty potent as well (though it's got a more passive effect).

I will say that it's a valid complaint that the exploration is a touch random (meaning your ideal path each game will change based on what you explore, and if you're very unlucky, you may struggle while other players have it easy). However, I personally see this as a plus: this is a way to keep exploration exciting and interesting (some chance is good), and it's better to have a game that forces you to do various strategies depending on what comes up rather than having one great strategy that works all the time. Plus, this way, I can play with people who aren't so good at games, and they might just get lucky while I get terrible hexes, and they can win really strongly against me, haha.
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Steve W
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I also am of the camp that plasma missiles aren't "broken" in that they're unstoppable, but I don't like how they break the give and take of the non-missile warfare.

For non-missile designs, you have this nice tradeoff system of initiative, to-hit, firepower, and hull. You can tweak factors this way or that to try to get an edge on your opponents. With missiles, you get one side loading up on the offensive and another side loading up on the defensive, so it's more simplistic and not as fun. I find it also more fun if the battle does not just fall down to the result of a single initial volley, which happens with missile combat.

So it's not that PMs are unbalanced so much as that the game feels like it might be more fun without them. Dunno. Haven't tried removing them from the game or replacing them with something else yet, though.
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Jeremy Diachuk
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If you were to replace the missiles with something, I would suggest either a -3 shield (just like the alien technology one) which would help against those heavy computer ships, or perhaps .... "Strategic Planning" , a permanent +1 Initiative to all your ship designs for free?
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Jason Reid
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out4blood wrote:
jasonwocky wrote:
And exactly how does that Dreadnaught in the photograph, with the 4 missile batteries and the puny nuclear drive, flee from my Tachyon-drive outfitted Interceptors anyway?

That's a great point. Maybe there should have been a rule that ships can only flee if their drive is equal to or greater than the drive on the enemy ships.


Yeah, if I was to house-rule (not ready to yet), that's probably where I'd start. Only I'd let the player with faster ships decide if they want to let their opponent flee. If they say yes, proceed as normal. If they say no, then the slower ships get to fire as usual.
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Jason Reid
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jsnell wrote:
What kind of a problem are you seeing in practice?


Oh, I'm basing my feelings on one game I observed, trusting the veracity of the reports I'm reading, and a pretty good understanding of the rules.

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In my experience retreating is pretty rare.


Good to hear, but...

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Ships with missiles have a hull made of old newspapers


...that wasn't a given in the game I observed.

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If you want to "retreat", do it during the move phase, before combat begins.

That's generally not possible due to pinning.


Right, right. Fair point, though that's another subsystem that rubs me the wrong way thematically. I appreciate that you can't move right through an opponent's territory unfettered, but it might have been nice to have an out-of-combat option to retreat / cede territory.
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Petras Ražanskas
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Has anyone even considered the simplest of solutions to make plasma missiles (or their launchers, rather) use 1 power? While it does not outright banish the missile warfare, it appears to be balanced compared to other weapons and anyone with heavy missile ships will have to consider increased costs of more powerful cores.
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Eetu Immonen
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Helsinki
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carnifex wrote:
Has anyone even considered the simplest of solutions to make plasma missiles (or their launchers, rather) use 1 power?
Yes, it has been discussed in Is Plasma Missile a must-pick technology? but AFAIK there hasn't been any extensive reports on any house rules regarding tweaking or banning missiles/other components.

See also How to counter Plasma-Missile Interceptors

taggedjc wrote:
If you were to replace the missiles with something, I would suggest either a -3 shield (just like the alien technology one) which would help against those heavy computer ships, or perhaps .... "Strategic Planning" , a permanent +1 Initiative to all your ship designs for free?
-3 computer would just slow down combats, IIRC it's a conscious design decission that there is +3 computer but only -2 shield.
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Jeremy Laverty
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In regards to the concern of randomly drawn tiles, why not take a Ticket to Ride approach? Say, lay 3 tiles face up and allow the player to choose one of the face up tiles or a random draw. That would lesson the randomness of the draw mechanic.
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Andrew Laws
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British Columbia
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I think we should talk about the missiles.
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