GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters at year's end: 1000!
9,203 Supporters
$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
17 Days Left

Support:

Recommend
23 
 Thumb up
 Hide
16 Posts

Eclipse» Forums » Variants

Subject: Solitaire Variant: Dark Hegemony Rising rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: solo [+] [View All]
Dale Buonocore
United States
Warren
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

So after I finally got this game and started learning it, the basic structure of a relatively simple solitaire variant quickly began to emerge -- and as I typically play solo, the learning of the game and the development of this variant kind of converged in a nicely synergistic manner. Then, after it was all coming together, I stumbled upon another quite excellent looking solitaire variant posted here by Tom De Taey (nicely done, Tom!), but figured I’d go ahead and finish this one and then shift over to trying out that one once I became satiated with this one. Nice to have multiple options...!

In this variant, there is what I call an “impeding auto-player” which actively works against you (and in this case can actually defeat you by capturing your home hex!), and you are basically playing to get the most VPs possible by the end of Round 9. The Hegemony serve in this role nicely (thematically, I imagine that a power-hungry faction has seized control and is now looking to expand) -- you’ll use their home hex and ship blueprints, and they do start with a Cruiser as usual, plus their Influence Discs and Population Cubes. Use the 2-player set-up, with the Hegemony placing an Influence Disc and all 4 of their Starbases on their home hex,, along with Population Cubes on all Population Squares (including "Advanced" ones -- assume they have all pertinent Technologies). You start each round, and will complete your entire Action Phase before the Hegemony do theirs -- then there is the Combat Phase (if applicable), and then your Upkeep and Clean-Up. The Hegemony get a limited number of ship movements per turn, depending on the difficulty level desired: 2 for Easy, 3 for Medium, and 4 for Hard. They will also have the option of extra “Battle Moves” under certain circumstances, which will be covered later.

Except for your completing your entire Action Phase at once, for all practical purposes you play your turn normally. The Hegemony play as follows...

During their turn, the Hegemony play through 4 steps in their Action Phase, which are described below.

1) BUILD -- The Hegemony will build ships only in their home hex, using “build points” available to them each turn as follows: 1-1-1-2-2-2-3-3-3. The “costs” for ships are 1 BP for each Interceptor, 2 for each Cruiser, and 3 for each Dreadnaught. They will build the biggest ship(s) possible while using all of their build points each turn. [NOTE: If you really want to ramp up the difficulty level further, you could increase their available "build points" a bit, e.g.: 1-1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4].

2) SHIP UPGRADES -- You’ll need a D20 here. Assume the Hegemony have all needed technologies. On every odd # turn, you’ll roll the D20 to choose a Ship Part which they’ll use to upgrade one of their ship types, as follows: use the Ship Part lay-out on the bottom half of the Supply Board, and starting with the top left one (the Ion Cannon) count from left-to-right and then top-to-bottom. There are 17 options, and if the roll is 18-20, choose the one-level better power source (Fusion or Tachyon Source) for their biggest built ship unless that ship already has the Tachyon Source -- if so, go down to the next biggest built ship, and if that ship also has it, use it in the remaining unbuilt ship blueprint. [NOTE: Another way to ramp up the difficulty level would be to give them more upgrades, e.g.: turns #1-3-5-6-7-8-9].

In general, choose a same-type (i.e., Weapon, Computer, Shield, Hull, Drive, Energy Source) slot for the upgrade, utilizing this "priority chain": the largest built ship which already has that type of ship part, has sufficient energy to take it, and for which this new part would indeed be an upgrade >> the next smaller built ship >> the largest unbuilt ship >> then go back through this chain looking to trade off defense for offense, i.e., placing Weapons/Computers in place of Shields > Hulls. If feasible, shift ship parts around among the different ship blueprints to optimally match energy needs and sources. And if it should happen that the ship part chosen provides no real upgrade working within these parameters anywhere in the Hegemony's blueprints/fleet, re-roll the D20.

3) EXPLORE -- The Hegemony will target exploring 1 hex closer (in terms of a wormhole path) to your nearest hex (or your highest VP hex if there’s a tie >> if still tied, use a D6 to choose), and place it so as to create the shortest possible “wormhole path” toward that targeted hex. If all "shortest paths" already exist, they will skip this phase. The Hegemony will influence and populate hexes (assume they have all needed Technologies to populate the Advanced Population Squares) as usual, with 2 exceptions: there are no Discovery tiles on any of their explored (and then controlled) hexes where they place Influence Discs; and they will not engage the Ancients (set up as usual when a hex with the Ancients is revealed), who in turn will not pin them. Thus the Hegemony can be present in and pass through hexes with the Ancients, but otherwise can do nothing else in those hexes except perhaps engage in combat with you (while the Ancients just dispassionately watch and wait, quietly preparing to attack you if you survive the Hegemony's attack).

4) MOVE -- The Hegemony will not enter the Galactic Center hex while the GCDS (or the Ancient Dreadnought) is there. In general, they will move toward you as described in the “EXPLORE” section above, and will seize any opportunities which may arise to influence and populate hexes (i.e., at the end of the COMBAT phase) as usual, including seizing control of your hexes after eliminating any of your population there -- in fact, they’ll stay to get the job done before moving on (very cold indeed!).

They will move to attack when their attacking fleet’s “force” (as measured by the total number of “build points”) is at least equal to your defensive “force” present at that moment (NOTE: your Starbases count as 1 “build point” for this purpose). If their fleet is weaker, they will wait to gather more ships (i.e., enough "force") so they can mount an attack (and prioritize ship moves to accomplish this) unless they can move to attack another hex of yours (with your home hex being their top priority!) during that turn.

In addition: if, after their normal moves, they have enough ships with sufficient "force" adjacent to a hex of yours where they could launch an attack next turn, they will take up to 2 (or more, aligned with the difficulty level being played) additional “battle moves” to move in and initiate that attack this turn.

With these general principles in mind, the priorities for assigning the Hegemony’s ship moves (prioritizing biggest ships) are: 1) to mount an attack on your home hex this turn if possible; 2) to mount an attack on the nearest other hex of yours (weakest force present to break ties) this turn if possible; 3) to reinforce any of their pinned ships if possible; 4) and if none of these options applies, one ship move is assigned to each ship (up to the max available, “recycling” any that remain), prioritizing the biggest ships first and, within that category, the one which is the furthest away from their home hex. So, with no immediate attack options available in this situation, they will move toward your nearest hex in the same way they do in their “EXPLORE” step.

(Whew! That was the hardest part to explain -- hope it came out OK...)

5) COMBAT (if appropriate) -- Use the same priorities you would for fighting against the Ancients/GCDS. They will retreat only if they have absolutely no chance of doing any damage to your ships. As mentioned briefly above, the Hegemony will stay in one of your hexes to eliminate any and all population cubes and seize control there -- they will target “Money” cubes first, then “Materials” cubes, and then “Science” cubes.

The other general principle I keep coming back to is: in ambiguous situations not clearly covered by these rules, choose the option that is best for the Hegemony and worst for you.

That’s pretty much it. My best score at the “Easy” level was 46 VPs so far -- I managed to develop awesome Cruisers (Conformal Drive, 2 Plasma Cannons, Tachyon Source, Positron Computer, and Improved Hull), and rolled on nicely from there. A welcome change from the previous game, where the Hegemony quickly developed better ships than mine and kept me on the defensive (almost attacked my home hex near the end, but I was able to sacrifice some ships to pin them before they could reach it) and I managed only 21 VPs. But it was quite a tense and exciting game! So now I’m going to shift up to the “Medium” level and see what happens...

The Rise of the Ancients expansion is easily incorporated, with the new Races, Developments, and Ancient Dreadnought in the Galactic Center utilized as usual. During the Dark Hegemony's "Ship Upgrades" step, if they roll an 18+ on the D20 they get not only the usual 1-level better power source, but also a randomly selected available Rare Technology's Ship Part (and discard that Rare Technology tile). Finally, include the one Ancient Hive sector III tile in with the usual 5, and then the sector II one plus 2 randomly chosen Ancient Home World tiles in with the usual sector II tiles -- if any of these are drawn during the Explore action, they cannot be discarded and must be placed.

If you give it a try, let me know what you think -- any suggested additional “tweaks” or other improvements will be greatly appreciated. Clear ether!

[EDIT: After coming back to this wonderful game (and this variant) after being away from it for way too long, a number of clarifications and "tweaks" were clearly in order in every section except for "Build."]

[NEXT EDIT: To describe how to incorporate the various modules of the Rise of the Ancients expansion which readily fit in...]


14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
JP
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My copy was delivered today, so I gave this a whirl, and I ended up taking over the Hegemony's home hex on turn five (or six?), although I didn't wipe them out until the final turn. A big part of it was that I could 'game' the system. We met up next to the centre, I explored away from it, the Hegemony explored next to where I explored to, and moved its ships. Then repeat until I had enough to take the centre, and then move on to the home hex.

This might have been due to luck. I was able to place my wormholes to block the Hegemony early on. Also, I picked up a +8 Money tile early, which allowed me to extend at a critical point.

But in general I found the 'A.I.' to be too exploitable. Maybe there's a way to make the opponent choose a target at random, rather than towards the carrot you're dangling. Letting the Hegemony build on any hex would also have made things more difficult. Also, the random upgrades let me make ships that were best responses to the Hegemony's, even though my own ships had Achilles's heels of their own. Not sure if anything can be done about that.

Finally, maybe give the opponent a random research per turn as well. I found I could plan far ahead on my research buys.

(Don't let all this nitpicking discourage you, though. I played half a solo game on VASSAL before I bought the game, and I much prefer your variant to always switching mindsets when fully planning for each 'opponent'. This way, I could really focus on my own actions. Thanks! Here's hoping you can find more ways to make the opponent more 'human-like'!)
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dale Buonocore
United States
Warren
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and providing so much excellent "food for thought." I haven't had a similar experience to yours yet, but then I've generally taken a more defensive stance toward the Hegemony thus far -- i.e., holding them off, pushing them back, and generally "containing" them as much as possible while I explore and work toward VP production. How many VPs did you score in that game?

Anyway, you certainly raised some excellent points. I did flirt with the idea of letting the Hegemony build on other hexes they control (the one nearest one of yours? nearest your home hex?), but then thought that having them build only on their home hex would provide a kind of natural defense for them there, especially as they'll be building their biggest and best ships there as the game progresses. Maybe starting them off with all 4 of their Starbases already constructed in their home hex would be something to consider in any case?

Other ways of raising the difficulty level would be to increase their available build points each turn (e.g.: 1-1-2-2-3-3-4-4-4), and/or letting them draw new ship parts more frequently, perhaps even every turn. Given the wonderful complexity of this game, devising other not unwieldy or overly burdensome ways to have the AI play more intelligently is quite a challenge -- heck, struggling with these issues through the development of this initial variant made my brain hurt at times, and was most humbling. Made me appreciate even more the effort and talent it takes to design a really good game like this one from the ground up...!

Perhaps the capacity to "game the system" and exploit the limitations of the AI could be thematically viewed as an in-built advantage of the Terran species in terms of their overall strategic intelligence and creativity? A nice thought, anyway...

The thoughts and ideas you offered will definitely be bubbling around in my head as I play from this point forward -- thanks again! After more play-testing, more revisions/tweaks may indeed be forthcoming. I'm thinking I may begin immediately incorporating at least that Hegemony Starbase idea (all 4 there from the start in their home hex), and then carefully consider and play around with some of the other ideas you presented (as well as any others which may pop up) from this point forward. Please don't hesitate to share any additional thoughts/ideas which may arise...!


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
JP
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Eh-heh. After I took over the Hegemony's home hex, I pretty much had the rest of the galaxy to myself (with the remnant of the Hegemony exploring along a spiral arm, and a couple of my ships constantly moving along it to pin any new Hegemony ships). Advancing Mining and Monoliths (and later Nanorobots) popped up at this time, so I went to town with monoliths, building eleven. My final score was 75. Something tells me that isn't typical for Eclipse. :-P

I do think aggressively moving against the Hegemony is stronger than just turtling and letting its fleet grow stronger. Putting four starbases in their home hex (or maybe split between their home and their closest Tier 1 hex) would have really ruined my early attack strategy.

Alternate idea for making a science-based strategy more difficult: only put out half of the tech tiles per turn, to simulate the Hegemony researching as well?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dale Buonocore
United States
Warren
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Tonight the Hegemony defeated me (!) by seizing control of my home hex on Round 8 -- ouch! And this was still at the "Easy" level! I was pretty aggressively moving toward them, but the critical battle where we met (and where I had the advantage going in) went pathetically badly and I lost horribly (I think they had some new unknown tech which somehow controlled the dice rolls in their favor that battle!) -- then they got Plasma Missiles, got quickly to my home hex, took a couple of turns to leisurely wipe out my population there with their Ion Cannons (while knocking out all the ships I built there to try to fend them off with those nasty Plasma Missiles), and it was over... gulp

Thus I'm thinking I should maybe play this as it is some more before making any significant changes...?!

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
JP
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tried it again, same rules, this time with 51 points. I didn't take over their home hex until turn eight, but I was still able to cordon off their territory.

A big part of my two successes, I think, is the lack of ancients in the Tier 1 hexes I explored. The other big aspect is the random upgrades; both times the Hegemony fielded really weak ships. Stealing from Tom De Taey's solo variant would stop the Hegemony's ships from being too weak or too strong.

Research didn't feel too strong this game, must have just been the hexes I drew last game. Basic strategy stayed the same: get the bonus discs, get the advanced planets, then go for monoliths (with upgrades when need be).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dale Buonocore
United States
Warren
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Yes, I see that Tom De Taey's upgrade system is indeed nicely structured to produce smoothly progressive upgrades -- definitely worth considering, as it would provide a different option for this particular mechanism (although the unpredictability of the current system does have its own charm, as you never know what kind of Hegemony ships you'll be facing in any given game!). Now if only those elegant (and quite beautiful!) "cards" of his were available on real card stock! I fear my old printer would explode trying to print all of them...

Did you play with the Hegemony starting with all 4 Starbases already built in their home hex? I'm now viewing that as an official "tweak."

I'll try again to take over their home hex next time I play -- you've definitely been doing better against them that I have so far! But win or lose -- what a fun game, eh?!





 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt
United States
Shrewsbury
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hey Dale,

Your variant looks very interesting

Have you made any changes with it since June? I am playing through the "Invasion" variant right now, and looking forward to giving yours a whirl soon!

Matt
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dale Buonocore
United States
Warren
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Nope -- no further changes thus far, other than the Hegemony starting with all 4 of their Starbases in their home hex. Clear ether!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Richardson

Pennsylvania
msg tools
mbmb
I've done some "fishbowling", for instance using Eridani and analyzing starting strategies... I think that's about the extent of the enjoyment I've gotten out of 1p Eclipse. I would recommend computer space sim games like Master of Orion 2 if you really want a 1p experience vs an AI. I don't really see much point here. If it's an exposed decision set, there's really no mystery in the "AI", and playing for "high scores" seems a little silly since ultimately it will be chance-based. Just my opinion.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Justin Dee
United Kingdom
Lancaster
Lancashire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Played this last night on Easy. Fairly new to Eclipse, but got 34 pts. I used the four-starbases fix, but I'm not sure it was relevant, didn't manage to penetrate that deeply into his territory (maybe could have taken it T10, if there was such a turn). AI rolled quite well... Antimatter Cannon, Plasma Missiles, Antimatter Cannon, Fusion Drive, the -2 Shield.

Overall, I have to say I wasn't sure about the rules, sometimes it wasn't clear whether the AI would attack, or not, whether it would move in order to take advantage of the free battle moves, of if they're just an extra thing after their 'prioritised moves'. I also played the AI as having Neutron Bombs (as the Hegemony start with them), which was very strong. Also, there was one turn where the AI could move a dreadnought into my territory, not as far as my home hex, but he had a number of possible hexes to attack. My friend was back by then, and we ruled that it chose the hex with the highest VP value and the least resistance, not sure if it should have prioritised going towards my home hex instead?

The other thing i had to wing occasionally was upgrade placements. As I specified above which ones I got, could you let me know what you would have ended up with, blueprint-wise? I had.. Dreadnought with AM-cannon and PM, and Fusion Drive, and Cruiser with AM-cannon, and interceptor with -2 shield; I prioritised highest value ship first, and only overrode 'matching' slots, as it were. Does that make sense?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dale Buonocore
United States
Warren
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Sorry for the long delay in responding -- I've been into other games, and haven't come back here for a while. All your questions appear quite good, so hopefully my responses will prove helpful despite my being a bit "rusty" in terms of playing this...

Generally speaking, the AI follows the specified priorities/decision-tree in a quite strict and rigid manner. Thus, the AI's free battle moves must follow his prioritized moves -- i.e., the AI does not move proactively so as to utilize them advantageously if possible (although this would certain serve as an interesting "upgrade" with regard to facilitating his playing more intelligently!). Similarly, with more than one hex of yours which he could attack, he would indeed go for the one with the highest VP value (I see this really is not clear in the priorities/decision-tree explanation) -- and, again, your tie-breaker of the one "with... the least resistance" would indeed be another "upgrade" for the AI worth considering. My general principle for tie-breaking in all such situations is simply to select what would be the worst option for you (and thus the best for the AI) among otherwise "equal" (per the listed priorities) options -- or, if still "equal," to randomly choose via a D6.

Your ship upgrade choices sound about right.

Please feel free to use your own judgement in ambiguous situations (within the parameters specified, and applying those general principles noted), and to play around with changes/upgrades as desired. And then do share any that you find to be especially good?! For example, I like how your questions above opened the door to 2 possible "intelligence upgrades" to the AI worthy of serious consideration...! So -- thanks so much for your questions and thoughts...!

Clear ether...!

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adrian Firth
United Kingdom
near mold
flintshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
OK so it's been over a year since your last post. I've just ordered this and looking forward to playing it with the group and stumbled across this solo variant. Has anything changed since you last played this variant?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dale Buonocore
United States
Warren
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Nope. Enjoy, and good luck against the Dark Hegemony!

(Sorry for the long response delay -- I've been off into other games, and haven't been back here in quite a while...)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dale Buonocore
United States
Warren
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Greetings, all!

Just wanted to note that, after returning to this marvelous game (and this solitaire variant) after having been away from it for way too long, a number of needed clarifications and "tweaks" quickly became apparent. These were completed today in pretty much every section except for the "Build" one, along with suggestions for further increasing the difficulty level if desired.

What a joyous experience to kind of "re-discover" this great game -- as a result, I even went ahead and ordered the Rise of the Ancients expansion, which looks like most (if not all) of it can be readily incorporated into this solitaire variant...!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dale Buonocore
United States
Warren
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Just a brief update: edited the OP to include incorporation of various modules of the Rise of the Ancients expansion (which I really like, by the way!) which readily mesh with this solitaire variant.

Scored 56 VPs using the Enlightened of Lyra last night -- great fun, and my highest score to date...!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.