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Subject: Inevitable Comparisson (with TI3 and Civ) rss

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Timothy Pride
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Okay guys, the time is due. To some of you who know me, I love 4x/Civ games. So, it's clear that I will compare Eclipse to my most highly regarded 4x game, Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) and Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game. And as there are already too many great reviews for this game, I won't do the usual format. Just pure comparison, which part I like it better and which not. Without further ado, here it is:


Things I like less in Eclipse

Multiple path to victory is an illusion
Playing Eclipse, is like playing Agricola. You need to be better at everything, instead the best of something (barring few exceptions). The VP is everywhere, and to get it usually take same method. Hex VP for example, you need to explore a lot (and get lucky). Before you comment, I know this kinda simplification, and some cases is not like that, but most of the time this is the usual course of action.
Compare it to the objectives in TI3, there are so many ways to achieve it. "Spend 10 Resources", you can try to have lots of resources planets, getting trade good, either by action cards, trade, or even blackmailing. It's so open. And it might be different in the next game. As for Civ, well, they have multiple victory CONDITION already, no more comment needed.

Too Military Oriented, no hidden surprises
Half of the tech is for military. I know in all 4x/Civ games, military is needed so you won't be easy target. But in this game, even if you have decent military and defend your frontier, what else can you do? Other than explore, and occasionally monolithing? And if your opponents can do that better than you, what other options you have, other than attacking him?
The Strategy Cards, Action Cards, and Politic Cards in TI3 provide the way to harass your opponents without military action. There are culture cards and tech ability in Civ too.

Tech is less interesting
This is the one that makes me underwhelmed when I read the rulebook. And playing doesn't improve it. The tech is just better stats (better armor, better damage), but not additional ability. Let me make another example. If you have 2 fantasy games, on which has magic that are like "Fire 1, Fire 2, Fire 3" that has the ability to deal 1/2/3 damage respectively, and another fantasy games that has magic that could teleport, mind control, and destroy environment, which one of those games that is more interesting?
Most of the tech in Eclipse is like the former (just better variation of the one you already have). Text in tech cards of TI3 and Civ, while harder to read across the table, enable them to have interesting abilities. Given the choice, I'll gladly make the sacrifice. Even more, the difficulties only lingers during few couple early plays. In time you'll memorize the cards automatically.

Less Epic
This is really my personal preferences, and I can't really put the reason behind it, but I feel that Eclipse is less Epic than TI3. Maybe because it has less content, less fluff, I don't know. When I play, I'll remember one specific epic event during one particular round in Eclipse. But in TI3 the WHOLE game is an epic experiences. Epicness in Eclipse is more or less the same with Civ I think.

Less Diplomatic Options
No goods to trade, only one cube (that might took the slot of your battle VP). Sure table talk and debating who's the leader is there. But without the means to sweeten the deal, the diplomacy can only go so far. HiveGod session is the best examples that could happen in diplomacy of TI3 or Civ, which will never happen in Eclipse.

Not fan of the Artwork
Well, this is just personal preferences, but most will agree that FFG artwork is more livelier than Eclipse. No offense to Ossi Hiekkala, but all of them pose like in photo for ID card and with grim expressions, is not exactly many variety to me.



Things that are on par with others

Action Resolution
TI3 has Command Counters, Civ has City action and Figures movement, Eclipse has Influence Disc. All of them serve their purpose adequately, and all of them I can relate to the theme.

Combat
The Combat is good. Though lack of hidden surprises (except from the dice), ship design manipulation could make or break the battle. I've seen couple of cunning plays just by the ship design. This game is more geared to military afterall, so I'm glad that the combat is good.

Speed
Eclipse is quite fast. But if all players are experienced, TI3 and Civ can also have the same speed. A first timer of Eclipse does faster than TI3 or Civ first timer though.

Cunning Play
This can only be seen after couple of plays, whether the game provide abilities for cunning play or not, can player win from behind or not. I'm happy to say that Eclipse provides it, just like the others.



Things that are better in Eclipse

Better Bookkeeping
This is clearest of all. You can have income and other bureaucracy things faster than TI3 and Civ. Although the sacrifice is the "flavor" of the planets or map terrain.

Better Graphic Design
Though I like the artwork less, but the Graphic Design layout is good. Everything is clear, even with the muted color of grey. It's clear to see what goes where and to see across table.

Clear Rulebook
Rulebook is super clear, and though FFG is getting better at their rulebook, it's still not on the same level with Eclipse.

Accessible
I can teach casual gamer Eclipse, but I'll have a hard time to teach them TI3 and Civ. One of the factor is the "Basic" game ini Eclipse.

Familiarity
No text in Eclipse, while this kinda paradox with my points earlier, I cannot dismiss the fact that without text, it's easier to familiarize (remember), and faster to focus my play into strategy instead of remembering the correct rules.




Conclusion
I still like it (9 score from me), and I still want to own it. But not urgently, since I already have TI3 and Civ. If the world only allows me to play one game, I'd definitely pick TI3. Luckily that's not how our world works
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Antti Autio
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Nice comparative review. Most points are highly subjective and personally I would disagree with a number of them, but that'd be pointless since reviews by definition are expressions of individual opinions and preferences. This is how the game feels to you and you wrote it down well. Good job.
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A pretty good review, thanks!

Darkmot wrote:
Speed
Eclipse is quite fast, but if all players are experienced, TI3 and Civ can also have the same speed. But first timer of Eclipse does faster than TI3 or Civ.


This point I just cannot agree with. A super-experienced group that has played TI3 monthly MIGHT be able to play a 6 player game in 3 hours. A casual gaming group should be able to play a 6 player game of Eclipse in 3 hours after a few games. I've played TI3 a few times but just cannot fathom how anything less than 5 hours can be done unless playing with 3 or 4 players.
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Timothy Pride
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DeePee wrote:
A pretty good review, thanks!

Darkmot wrote:
Speed
Eclipse is quite fast, but if all players are experienced, TI3 and Civ can also have the same speed. But first timer of Eclipse does faster than TI3 or Civ.


This point I just cannot agree with. A super-experienced group that has played TI3 monthly MIGHT be able to play a 6 player game in 3 hours. A casual gaming group should be able to play a 6 player game of Eclipse in 3 hours after a few games. I've played TI3 a few times but just cannot fathom how anything less than 5 hours can be done unless playing with 3 or 4 players.


Well, I might exaggerate a little bit, in which Eclipse might clock in at 3-4 hours while TI3 at 4-5 hours.

But I generally divide games into 3 timeframe:
- 1 hour or less: Filler
- Less than 2.5 hours: Light game
- Between 2.5 to 6: Meaty Game
- Over 6 hours: One Epic Day of a Great Game.

So far in my experience games that fall into last category would be 8p TI3, 1844: Switzerland, and Advanced Civilization. I also argued with my friend that 5p TI3 still faster than 5p Die Macher (Not proven yet, but will be soon)


Edit1: Also, if I may add, lots of TI3 wasted time is unfamiliarity with texts. I play quite few number, and I already memorized all of 8 strategy cards. I only need less than 30 seconds during my strategy phase. But for newbie, they need to read all of the cards for each round. That could easily add 1 or 2 hours in the game.

Edit2: I also edit a little that specific point (Speed) in my review to convey better what I meant.
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DeePee wrote:
Darkmot wrote:
Speed
Eclipse is quite fast, but if all players are experienced, TI3 and Civ can also have the same speed. But first timer of Eclipse does faster than TI3 or Civ.


This point I just cannot agree with. A super-experienced group that has played TI3 monthly MIGHT be able to play a 6 player game in 3 hours. A casual gaming group should be able to play a 6 player game of Eclipse in 3 hours after a few games. I've played TI3 a few times but just cannot fathom how anything less than 5 hours can be done unless playing with 3 or 4 players.

The problem with this is getting to the point where players become experienced. Most of my friends don't have the time to regularly spend six to eight hours to play TI3, and neither do I. So it will be difficult to play the game often enough to get the experience required to play it in a time frame that lets us play it regularly.
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DeePee wrote:
A pretty good review, thanks!

Darkmot wrote:
Speed
Eclipse is quite fast, but if all players are experienced, TI3 and Civ can also have the same speed. But first timer of Eclipse does faster than TI3 or Civ.


This point I just cannot agree with. A super-experienced group that has played TI3 monthly MIGHT be able to play a 6 player game in 3 hours. A casual gaming group should be able to play a 6 player game of Eclipse in 3 hours after a few games. I've played TI3 a few times but just cannot fathom how anything less than 5 hours can be done unless playing with 3 or 4 players.


I don't like the way you guys are comparing Speed...

You should compare the speed it takes new players to play said game, and veterans seperately. For example:

New Players:
TI3 takes 8 hours
Eclipse takes 3 hours

Veterans:
TI3 takes 3 hours
Eclipse takes 1.5 hours

In my opinion, Eclipse can be reduced by about the same factor if people learn how to take their turns faster. I mean, how hard is it to explore? Really? My last Eclipse game with five players (including a couple new players) took less than three hours. Mainly because the new players didn't know how the research worked, and had to keep walking over and reading the researches available, read the manual...

Quote:
Less Diplomatic Options
No goods to trade, only one cube (that might took the slot of your battle VP). Sure table talk and debating who's the leader is there. But without the means to sweeten the deal, the diplomacy can only go so far. HiveGod session is the best examples that could happen in diplomacy of TI3 or Civ, which will never happen in Eclipse.

This is somewhat why I like Eclipse better. Anyway, you are comparing a houseruled game. Did you know you can also houserule Eclipse to allow trading of goods? In HiveGod's review, it was his birthday, I think?

HiveGod says, "I can do something really bad to some random person. Pay me money"

Players agree, "Ok, here's 8 trade goods." HiveGod recieves 8 tradegoods and wins the game on his birthday. Then HiveGod reveals that he was bluffing. He had nothing. Players say, "Happy Birthday! You won!"

I can understand giving someone 8 tradegoods on his birthday. In a normal game of TI3... never gonna happen.
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I agree 100% with you, is not that I dislike Eclipse, it just has no place in our group, for three or four we just like much more Runewars or Civ or TI3, for five and six TI3 and when we don't have much time Game of Thrones, OK , Eclipse can be better then this, BUT, last week arrived our Rex and we really prefer it than a game of Eclipse when we have no time to TI3, so we just sell our Eclipse for a nice price and we are happy with this decision.
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The best review I have read in a while. Clearly stated pros and cons without overly emphasizing either side of the coin. I almost fully agree with the points you brought out and I think this review gives quite clear understanding what to expect and what not to expect from Eclipse.
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RoadHouse wrote:
The best review I have read in a while. Clearly stated pros and cons without overly emphasizing either side of the coin. I almost fully agree with the points you brought out and I think this review gives quite clear understanding what to expect and what not to expect from Eclipse.

+1 with every word.
Very good review, and I completely agree with it.

I also like Eclispe though.

yours,
farm
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Darkmot wrote:
Speed
Eclipse is quite fast. But if all players are experienced, TI3 and Civ can also have the same speed. A first timer of Eclipse does faster than TI3 or Civ first timer though.


Never played TI3, but I've never heard anyone claim what you just claimed. Consensus seems to be that even for experienced players, TI3 takes twice as long as Eclipse.
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I was invited to join a game of TI3 recently. The guy running the game estimated it would take about 9-10 hours (some players were new), so I declined. Turns out he was roughly correct. I finished 8 games in the time it took them to play TI3 once.

I'm rather glad I opted out of that one.
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dboeren wrote:
I was invited to join a game of TI3 recently. The guy running the game estimated it would take about 9-10 hours (some players were new), so I declined. Turns out he was roughly correct. I finished 8 games in the time it took them to play TI3 once.

That doesn't mean they didn't enjoy that one game of TI3 more than they would have 8 games of something else.

I feel much less satisfied personally playing multiple smaller games than I do one epic game of TI3. There are times when I don't have the time to commit to TI3, but I've never played a game of TI3 where afterwards I wished I had played several lighter games instead. And yes, for me, I would rather play one 8-hour game of TI3 than 2 or 3 games of Eclipse in that same span.

But that's just a matter of personal gaming taste. Some people will enjoy a greater number of lighter games, some people would rather play one deeper game. That's why there are so many types of games out there.
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Nice review, I still haven't had a chance to play this game yet and your review gave me some insights. Have you, by chance, played Space Empires: 4X yet, and if so, what do you think of it?
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harmonicaman79 wrote:
Nice review, I still haven't had a chance to play this game yet and your review gave me some insights. Have you, by chance, played Space Empires: 4X yet, and if so, what do you think of it?


The book keeping with paper and pencils killed my interest in this one.

It would be nice to have something in-between TI3 and eclipse. Basically a more efficient TI3 with clearer rules.
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Darkmot wrote:

Tech is less interesting


Less Epic


Less Diplomatic Options



The upcoming expansion (at least what was playtested) should pad some of these concerns.

I personally love Eclipse, but it will have some rough edges, being compared to a game that has gone through 3 editions and expansions that some can't fathom playing TI3 without. Eclipse, as the base game, is all you have to compare, which is perfectly fine. But who knows, you may feel differently after an expansion or 2 is released.

Tech gets more interesting, new abilities...that aren't just upgraded versions of previous techs.

More epic, not by your standards however, TI3 will always have more fluff. But, for others including myself, the sheer experience of 7-9 players and the amount of tabletop space that the vast Eclipse universe takes up makes it absolutely epic for me. Granted, TI3 will already provide you that epicness with fewer players.

Oh and a comment about speed: Our 7-player game took only 4 hours. 5 of the 7 players had never played with the expansion material before, and 1 of those 5 was only his 2nd time playing eclipse. I expect this time to improve with subsequent plays

More diplomatic options
. Without getting into specifics, this made for some extremely fun decision making.

... just something for others to look forward to.
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Thanks for the review, well written and relatively balanced even if I don't agree with everything. Speaking of things I don't agree with...

Darkmot wrote:

Multiple path to victory is an illusion
Playing Eclipse, is like playing Agricola. You need to be better at everything, instead the best of something (barring few exceptions). The VP is everywhere, and to get it usually take same method. Hex VP for example, you need to explore a lot (and get lucky). Before you comment, I know this kinda simplification, and some cases is not like that, but most of the time this is the usual course of action.
Compare it to the objectives in TI3, there are so many ways to achieve it. "Spend 10 Resources", you can try to have lots of resources planets, getting trade good, either by action cards, trade, or even blackmailing. It's so open. And it might be different in the next game. As for Civ, well, they have multiple victory CONDITION already, no more comment needed.


This is not quite true. Agricola has a hard cap on any particular area. Once you've scored your 4 points in cattle, it makes no difference if you've just pulled off the greatest Cattle Only Ranch the game of Agricola has ever seen, you still score just 4 points.

On the other hand, there is no hard limit to Monoliths other than space to put them. The Tech tree is rarely maxed except by the Hydrans (who usually are just completing it at game's end) so while there is a hard Tech cap, it's unreachable in most games (as contrasted to Agricola where a player could easily max one point scoring area if they choose). Sector points also have a theoretical limit that I've never seen even close to being maxed (total conquering of the entire board). It is true that many players end up with points in most areas, but that is as much their choice as the games. Agricola enforces generality. Eclipse has generality but still allows for extreme specialization. There is a big diffeence between the two.

Hex VP is not luck. Hex VP is generally balanced with system quality (comparing systems in similar rings). Better resource systems on average have lower VP (or come with Ancients creating tempo loss). I hate picking up the 3VP inner hexes early as they often only have one usable planet until I pick up a Advanced Tech. I'd rather get the resource system and make my own luck by taking the other person's resource poor 3VP system latter on.
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dyepbr wrote:
Darkmot wrote:

Tech is less interesting


Less Epic


Less Diplomatic Options



The upcoming expansion (at least what was playtested) should pad some of these concerns.

I personally love Eclipse, but it will have some rough edges, being compared to a game that has gone through 3 editions and expansions that some can't fathom playing TI3 without. Eclipse, as the base game, is all you have to compare, which is perfectly fine. But who knows, you may feel differently after an expansion or 2 is released.

Tech gets more interesting, new abilities...that aren't just upgraded versions of previous techs.

More epic, not by your standards however, TI3 will always have more fluff. But, for others including myself, the sheer experience of 7-9 players and the amount of tabletop space that the vast Eclipse universe takes up makes it absolutely epic for me. Granted, TI3 will already provide you that epicness with fewer players.

Oh and a comment about speed: Our 7-player game took only 4 hours. 5 of the 7 players had never played with the expansion material before, and 1 of those 5 was only his 2nd time playing eclipse. I expect this time to improve with subsequent plays

More diplomatic options
. Without getting into specifics, this made for some extremely fun decision making.

... just something for others to look forward to.


I really like Eclipse now, but I am also really looking forward to seeing what the expansion entails. Eclipse is a a game which I already enjoy immensely that I expect will be made better. One thing I was a little concerned about was an increase in time to play, but if 7 players took just 4 hours to finish a game then that concern is alleviated. Now it will be a waiting for news and info on specifics,
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Nice info. I just bought TI and the expansions yesterday and can't wait to get Eclipse to see for myself.
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dyepbr wrote:
The upcoming expansion (at least what was playtested) should pad some of these concerns.
More diplomatic options
. Without getting into specifics, this made for some extremely fun decision making.

No, no, please get into specifics. I'm sure that the readers won't mind.
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This thread, and numerous others have convinced me to try TI3.
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Timothy Pride
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Thanks for the kind words guys. As for speed, I already answered with my opinion. To me 3 hours is roughly the same with 5 hours. And yes, I'm the type of guy who prefers enjoying 1 great game rather than 8+ good games in the same timeframe.



Charliechuckleberry wrote:

Quote:
Less Diplomatic Options
No goods to trade, only one cube (that might took the slot of your battle VP). Sure table talk and debating who's the leader is there. But without the means to sweeten the deal, the diplomacy can only go so far. HiveGod session is the best examples that could happen in diplomacy of TI3 or Civ, which will never happen in Eclipse.

This is somewhat why I like Eclipse better. Anyway, you are comparing a houseruled game. Did you know you can also houserule Eclipse to allow trading of goods? In HiveGod's review, it was his birthday, I think?

HiveGod says, "I can do something really bad to some random person. Pay me money"

Players agree, "Ok, here's 8 trade goods." HiveGod recieves 8 tradegoods and wins the game on his birthday. Then HiveGod reveals that he was bluffing. He had nothing. Players say, "Happy Birthday! You won!"

I can understand giving someone 8 tradegoods on his birthday. In a normal game of TI3... never gonna happen.


Although HiveGod's session might exaggerate a little bit, giving away tradegoods isn't a house rule. It can be freely given anytime even from the base game rule. And I've experienced that kind of situation too, though in my case only 4 tradegoods paid instead 8, but it happened.



dyepbr wrote:
Darkmot wrote:

Tech is less interesting


Less Epic


Less Diplomatic Options



The upcoming expansion (at least what was playtested) should pad some of these concerns.

I personally love Eclipse, but it will have some rough edges, being compared to a game that has gone through 3 editions and expansions that some can't fathom playing TI3 without. Eclipse, as the base game, is all you have to compare, which is perfectly fine. But who knows, you may feel differently after an expansion or 2 is released.

Tech gets more interesting, new abilities...that aren't just upgraded versions of previous techs.

More epic, not by your standards however, TI3 will always have more fluff. But, for others including myself, the sheer experience of 7-9 players and the amount of tabletop space that the vast Eclipse universe takes up makes it absolutely epic for me. Granted, TI3 will already provide you that epicness with fewer players.

Oh and a comment about speed: Our 7-player game took only 4 hours. 5 of the 7 players had never played with the expansion material before, and 1 of those 5 was only his 2nd time playing eclipse. I expect this time to improve with subsequent plays

More diplomatic options
. Without getting into specifics, this made for some extremely fun decision making.

... just something for others to look forward to.


Nice! I'm definitely waiting for that! Since TI3 base game is such a crap, it would be fair to give Eclipse another fighting chance with expansions.

tranenturm wrote:

Thanks for the review, well written and relatively balanced even if I don't agree with everything. Speaking of things I don't agree with...

Darkmot wrote:

Multiple path to victory is an illusion
Playing Eclipse, is like playing Agricola. You need to be better at everything, instead the best of something (barring few exceptions). The VP is everywhere, and to get it usually take same method. Hex VP for example, you need to explore a lot (and get lucky). Before you comment, I know this kinda simplification, and some cases is not like that, but most of the time this is the usual course of action.
Compare it to the objectives in TI3, there are so many ways to achieve it. "Spend 10 Resources", you can try to have lots of resources planets, getting trade good, either by action cards, trade, or even blackmailing. It's so open. And it might be different in the next game. As for Civ, well, they have multiple victory CONDITION already, no more comment needed.


This is not quite true. Agricola has a hard cap on any particular area. Once you've scored your 4 points in cattle, it makes no difference if you've just pulled off the greatest Cattle Only Ranch the game of Agricola has ever seen, you still score just 4 points.

On the other hand, there is no hard limit to Monoliths other than space to put them. The Tech tree is rarely maxed except by the Hydrans (who usually are just completing it at game's end) so while there is a hard Tech cap, it's unreachable in most games (as contrasted to Agricola where a player could easily max one point scoring area if they choose). Sector points also have a theoretical limit that I've never seen even close to being maxed (total conquering of the entire board). It is true that many players end up with points in most areas, but that is as much their choice as the games. Agricola enforces generality. Eclipse has generality but still allows for extreme specialization. There is a big diffeence between the two.

Hex VP is not luck. Hex VP is generally balanced with system quality (comparing systems in similar rings). Better resource systems on average have lower VP (or come with Ancients creating tempo loss). I hate picking up the 3VP inner hexes early as they often only have one usable planet until I pick up a Advanced Tech. I'd rather get the resource system and make my own luck by taking the other person's resource poor 3VP system latter on.


I know I'm simplifying. Yes there's some differences, but not that big for me. Eclipse allow specialization at some point, but not that much. Compare it with Civ, usually you won't go for coin if you go for culture for example. In TI3, military oriented player can extort resources from other races to help him reach economic related VP, and economic player can bribe other players to help him reach military related VP.
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Quote:
Although HiveGod's session might exaggerate a little bit, giving away tradegoods isn't a house rule. It can be freely given anytime even from the base game rule. And I've experienced that kind of situation too, though in my case only 4 tradegoods paid instead 8, but it happened.


You bluffed a useless AC for 4 trade goods? I want to play in your gaming group. It's full of gullible people.
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Charliechuckleberry wrote:
Quote:
Although HiveGod's session might exaggerate a little bit, giving away tradegoods isn't a house rule. It can be freely given anytime even from the base game rule. And I've experienced that kind of situation too, though in my case only 4 tradegoods paid instead 8, but it happened.


You bluffed a useless AC for 4 trade goods? I want to play in your gaming group. It's full of gullible people.


It's not useless AC. Sigh, it's quite long, so I don't really want to go into details, but here goes:

- I controlled the Mecatol Rex
- Player A can take over from me
- I played Jamming for player A
- Player B played Sabotage for my Jamming
- I was able to pay 4 trade goods for player B to not play it.
- Player B was considering since he needed that trade goods.
- But Player A also able to pay 4 trade goods.
- So the card still played.

In the end I still win (through other ways), but I was hindered by 1 or 2 turns. It's not really bluffing in my case, just pure bribe, but still, that kind of things cannot happen in Eclipse.

My point is (to get it back on track) that TI3 and Civ has other ways for diplomacy, other than minimum ways in Eclipse. Aside exchanging cube, you can only shout "He's winning! Attack him!"
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Sean Franco
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Darkmot wrote:
My point is (to get it back on track) that TI3 and Civ has other ways for diplomacy, other than minimum ways in Eclipse. Aside exchanging cube, you can only shout "He's winning! Attack him!"

But that's how diplomacy works in soft-diplomacy games, like A Game of Thrones or, you know, Diplomacy. That's when the meta-game starts to become the game.
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Peter O
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Darkmot wrote:


My point is (to get it back on track) that TI3 and Civ has other ways for diplomacy, other than minimum ways in Eclipse. Aside exchanging cube, you can only shout "He's winning! Attack him!"


This is a very limited understanding of diplomacy. Verbal non agrression pacts, time limited treaties, (in Eclipse) allowing partners to transit your space (pacts getting broken the penalty you pay), giving up systems as payment to someone else for another action such as attacking the player you want them to. There is also determining who to attack based on what you want the board to look like several turns from now. There is declaration of attacks before you do so on the premise that others might join you in the attack. Limiting yourself to game only diplomacy mechanics in any game is a failure of imagination. Now some players don't like deep diplomacy and limit Tabletalk, but many more groups have no such agreement. Diplomacy seems to be a very underused tool in many groups.
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