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Subject: Hydran progress and ancient restraints rss

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Wim van Gruisen
Den Bosch
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Two days ago I played my second game of Eclipse. I wanted to try an alien race this time and randomly drew the Hydran Progress. Opposing me were the Mechanema and two Terran factions. The Hydrans first attempts at exploration were quite terrible. The direct way to the Galactic Center was blocked by an Ancient ship. At the Ring (type II tiles) another Ancient was lurking and when the Hydrans looked to the Ring they found a third Ancient fleet there. It looked like the Hydrans were surrounded!

The Hydran fleet was not powerful enough to engage these Ancients and so the first three exploration attempts had been fruitless. Meanwhile, the other races (the Mechanema and two Terran factions) had found new sectors to colonise. Their economy, mining and tech boomed. Then, on round two, the fourth and last wormhole that the Hydrans could explore from their starting hex finally got them a way out. There was no Ancient on that tile so they colonised it, and another one found next to it. This finally gave the Hydrans the opportunity to build two cruisers and engage the Ancients that were blocking their way. Three battles were fought in quick succession in round two and three - three decisive victories for the Hydran Progress. And profitable victories; examining the remains of the Ancient fleets, the Hydrans learned the secrets of Ancient technology. With these, they could upgrade their cruisers with a Hypergrid source (which gives 11 power to ships) and a shard hull (which absorbs 3 hits).

The Hydran fleet was suddenly, if only potentially, the strongest in the early game. The only thing that stopped it was the lack of materials to build more ships. But that was about to change. The Hydrans worked on their technological progress and soon invented better weapons. This made their small fleet powerful enough to take over the Galactic Center. At the same time they found a supernova in the outer rim. Both sectors proved to be excellent sources of materials and the fleet expanded quickly. Interceptors were built and equipped with missiles, computers and a tachyon drive, while the cruisers got their plasma cannons and another tachyon drive. They were easily the best fleet on the board.

The endgame was drawing near. The Mechanema were allies, ever since the empires met in a supernova system controlled by them. But that system had exploded since then and contact had been minimal. They had built a lot of orbitals in their system, but had little contact with anyone else. The Terran Directorate on the other side had been a long time ally as well and the border they shared with the Hydrans was quite large. The Directorate had picked up Monolith tech earlier and was building them briskly now. But more worryingly, they had been building a small fleet of their own and put it on a hex bordering the Galactic Center. The Hydrans had fended off requests for an alliance by the Terran Republic, on the other side of the center. That empire only touched the Progress in the center. The Republic had invested in defensive ships and starbases, mainly because it didn't trust that other Terran faction. As a result, the Republican sector bordering on the Hydran empire was littered with starbases and thick-hulled ships.

The Hydrans had little to gain in battle. The early battles had already given them a solid reputation. However, the monolith-occupied sectors in the backyards of the Directorate empire looked quite open. In round eight, the Hydrans therefore sent two interceptors into the Republican army, drawing attention away from their real goal in round nine. The small fleet was quickly destroyed, but not before their missiles had brought down two Republican cruisers. The distraction had worked a bit too well, alas. Not only the Directorate was now convinced that the Hydrans would attack the Republic, the Republic itself was also quite sure of it. That empire had discovered the wormhole drive in the previous round and they now used it to sail into Directorate space as far as they could with two cruisers, intent on taking a monolith sector in recompense for the sector they would lose. That monolith sector held a lone Directorate cruiser as well.

The Republic move was a small blow to the Hydran plans. That specific sector was a chokepoint to the other monolith sectors. The Directorate cruiser could have pinned one Hydran ship, but the other could slip past. The Directorate had passed already. But the Republican cruisers would pin both Hydran ships. However, two other ships were close by and could fly into the hex next turn. Only one of them would be pinned. So the Hydrans flew in two cruisers as well. But now the Directorate, as a reaction, sent another ship in there. When the Hydran interceptors flew in, both of them were pinned and could not pass on to other monolith sectors.

The Hydrans won that battle, destroying the Directorate influence there and preventing the Republicans from gaining it. However, they had had no influence disk left to claim the sector for themselves. So six potential VP had been lost.

Tallying up the end scores showed that the game had been closer than some players had expected. The Mechanema had 24 points and were clearly last. The Directorate had scored 28, the Hydrans 29, but the Terran Republic had won the game with 31 points.
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