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Subject: I'm liking Eclipse, will you? rss

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Peter O
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Eclipse is a game that I had my eye on for awhile and when I got it, I wasn't disappointed. It now proudly sits atop my rankings alongside Diplomacy as a 10. I love long civ games, and multiplayer conflict games. I love complex, chaotic game states that provide multiple avenues of progression. I love the table talk, giving "advise", bluffing my own power, deflecting others from my weak points, big epic unforeseen moves and the ability to also win peacefully. Eclipse has all these things. I also like a good Euro. I own and enjoy Agricola, Puerto Rico, Power Grid, and my new favorite; Dungeon Petz.

So what is Eclipse?

Eclipse is a space themed clash of civilizations with tech research, ship building and designing, with an economic engine that any euro would be proud of. It is not a euro though. While competency running the engine is a requirement to do well, the main strategies revolve around being a excellent diplomat and general.

Eclipse is also a deep and long game. You should not expect to play well vs experienced players on your first go. (you may do well, you just shouldn't expect to)


Who's going to like it?

Players who don't mind longer games. First games appear to be going along the lines of 1 hour per player with the box time of 30 mins per player being reachable after a few plays. 7 Wonders this isn't.

Players who don't mind conflict. This is a game that requires conflict. There may be a rare game as a player where you run into no ancients and no one attacks you, but most games will require an offensive at some point if you are playing to win.

Players with an open mind. Certain strategies are more obvious than others. It's not immediately obvious what force is required to take down an ancient. It's also not immediately apparent what the value of an action is, or that saved actions can be more valuable than ones used early. (and many other strategies) The difference in exploration tiles has caused a debate on whether the game is balanced. I'm of the opinion that the perceived imbalance is with new players getting tiles that require the less obvious strategies, or a strategy they are disinclined to go with (a peaceful player not wanting to attack). Please know that I don't consider all people who dislike the game to be closed minded. But I have seen people in my own play group dismiss the game as too random even though I saw them making mistakes they wouldn't acknowledge.

Players who will play multiple times. The complexity of strategy means multiple plays are required to get the full impact. Can you enjoy one game? Sure, but it's one of those games that you don't quite see what is going on until some portion of the way through your first game. This encourages some people to play again. Others aren't interested in that level of time investment.

Players willing to see through a slower start. This game is as much about perception of strengths as actual strengths. You can come from behind, I've seen it done. I've also seen players lose an early battle and essentially give up. The game rewards perseverance. Not every time. If you lose your first ancient battle, you are indeed behind and odds of winning go down. But not all the way to zero! Stay focused, regroup, find a different way through. Because there is dice, the luck can swing back your way. Because there are other players, you can still participate diplomatically. In Diplomacy, I've come back from a two center Russia to climb back into serious contention. The same can be done here and is all the more rewarding.

Who's not going to like this game?

Players who like short games. As stated before, a beginner game is around an hour per person. You get to the half hour per person after a few plays. If this is too long, you won't like it.

Players who don't like dice. Dice are in the game. I'm personally okay with the amount (I wasn't with Risk and the original Axis and Allies). If you don't like dice at all, don't bother. I think the luck of the dice present is good. I'm also okay with losing the occasional "can't lose" battle. I will risk a few fighters with 80% odds and be fine with losing them every so often. I'm even okay with losing a 99% battle. It's dice.

Players who are thinking this is pure euro. It's not. Trying to play it like one will make it unbalanced and you unhappy. The game assumes some level of ruthlessness in taking on other players in battle. You might need to eliminate someone.

If you don't like combat, it's not for you.

Players who don't like the theme or a heavy game. 'nough said


A quick note on bits. There are a ton, but I sort the player bits into player specific baggies and the upgrades go into a Plano box. Setup is now a breeze. (about 5 minutes at a leisurely pace)

If you are on the fence, please be patient with it. It is indeed a balanced game given enough time with it. I highly suggest a 3-4 player all-Terran game to start with. Fewer players means more expansion room and less time commitment. Playing Terran means less variability between players. Remember that you can always discard an explore tile when exploring. The "wasted" action isn't too bad so long as you aren't too picky and do lots of discards. If you end up with "bad" tiles all around you, you have no one to blame except yourself.

All in all, a great game for me. I love it. I hope you do as well.

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Touko Tahkokallio
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Re: Liking Eclipse, will you?
Thank you for the excellent written review. I completely agree with your thoughts about who will like it and who will not.
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Joseph
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Re: Liking Eclipse, will you?
.
Nice review, you should write more often. I especially like your comments regarding maintaining an open mind, and a willingness to play more than once.

Some complex and nuanced games, suffer from people who like everything to be apparent on early plays. Many of us — however — prefer a game to give up its secrets over time. What brings us back to the table, is a continued feeling of discovery, as we learn and experiment with new ideas and strategies.

Eclipse appears to be a complex and nuanced game, requiring exploration over several plays, preferably with a variety of people.

Keep up the good work!

Joseph
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Kostas K.
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Re: Liking Eclipse, will you?
tranenturm wrote:
But I have seen people in my own play group dismiss the game as too random even though I saw them making mistakes they wouldn't acknowledge.


Quoted for truth. Also one of the most identifiable reasons Eclipse gets bad reviews, second only to "None of the players in my group like conflict, so we all turtled, thus the game is a boring luck-based solitaire"
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Purple Paladin

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Re: Liking Eclipse, will you?
Yes, a very good reveiw. Balanced too.

I agree, the few complaints I've heard from people about this game have to do with them not understanding that not all tiles are bad, they just cause you to change your tactics and strategy sometimes. Or to boil it down even more, they did not win; did not understand why; blamed it on "bad draws".

On my friends first play, he ignored my advice and played with a non terran, the Orions (who start with the most powerful ships in the game by far). He was determined to win by combat. Allied neighbors and Science/Money tile draws made that very difficult for him, but he refused to try any other strategy, and so lost.

If your determinded to win by one and only one strategy from the start, you won't enjoy the game.
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Mathue Faulkner
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Re: Liking Eclipse, will you?
Purple Paladin wrote:

If your determinded to win by one and only one strategy from the start, you won't enjoy the game.

QFT
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Peter O
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Re: Liking Eclipse, will you?
Touko wrote:
Thank you for the excellent written review. I completely agree with your thoughts about who will like it and who will not.


Thank you for an excellent game. It's the game I've been designing myself (but not nearly as long or as well as you). Now I don't have to do all the hard work.
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Christopher Paul
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I played my first game today. Five players, all Terrans. It was definitely more on the time you state for a first play through (12:30-5:30) but all the players enjoyed it. I actually thought I wasn't doing too well: I had lots of Ancient draws all around me, and a slow science start. I watched all the other players speed past me with discoveries, and "good" sectors to increase their science, money and/or materials. I eventually developed some decent fighting ships, made peace with my player neighbors, and conquered 4 ancient territories. I ended up in second place! First place made zero diplomatic relations and conquered a ton of spaces from 2 other players on the last turn. They ended 5 ahead of me via their new territories.

As I said, everyone loved it - the randomness was perfect. The "euro" management feel was perfect. The possibilities (and getting to play with alien races) for next time are exciting!

(A long-winded way to say I agree with your review!)
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Arthur Rutyna
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tranenturm wrote:
I highly suggest a 3-4 player all-Terran game to start with. Fewer players means more expansion room and less time commitment. Playing Terran means less variability between players. Remember that you can always discard an explore tile when exploring. The "wasted" action isn't too bad so long as you aren't too picky and do lots of discards.


I totally agree with this statement. Unfortunately our first game was with 6, and the rule that you could discard poor hexes was not clear to me. I also think it's important that you explore level I and II hexes (not necessarily in that order) before level III hexes. You have a better chance of getting your population to work for you that way.
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Mathue Faulkner
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Neo_1 wrote:

I totally agree with this statement. Unfortunately our first game was with 6, and the rule that you could discard poor hexes was not clear to me. I also think it's important that you explore level I and II hexes (not necessarily in that order) before level III hexes. You have a better chance of getting your population to work for you that way.

I generally agree with that sentiment, but there are more materials available in sector III hexes..

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/746786/resource-distribution...

So, depending on what I'm trying to accomplish, I make take a flier on a sector III hex.
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