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Subject: Eclipse, shifting Paradigms a bit rss

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AT-Colt
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So guys,

this thursday, we got down our second play of Eclipse and I want to share some thoughts about it. But let me start with giving you my perspective, so you can better follow my track of thoughts.

First of all, I grew up playing all kind of Civ video games, including of course, Master of Orion I and II (there is no third one). I also liked board games since my early days and when I stumbled upon the behemoth that is Twilight Imperium (3rd ed.), I had to get it and it saw lots of plays in my gaming group. But we never managed to finish a game below the two-digits hour-mark.

Recently, I discovered Eclipse and it promised a shorter game time and had ship customization, so I was intrigued. While waiting for a reprint to appear in my gaming store, I browsed through the Geek and read lots of reviews, strategies and suggestions and there seemed to be a bias towards the game involving a great portion of luck concerning which sectors, techs and discovery tiles show up as well as how combat plays out.
Well, this should be about all concerning the point of view from which I start my review, so yes, I bought the game, anyway.


Our first game was a 4p game and our second game involved two additional players, both games were played using the alien species only, since we considered ourselves fairly experienced board gamers.

I don't think that it was the choice of species that set us back a bit, but our conception of the game. In the first game, I started by drawing some bad sectors, containing only discovery tiles or at most one planet, other tiles being guarded by Ancients, while the other players got some juicy two planet systems to occupy on the fly. For that reason, me and the other players, being used the mind set of TI (you need to control planets to be strong), considered myself to be in a bad position with not much chance of winning, especially when my assault on an Ancient ship to get at least one decent system failed miserably despite having the odds on my side.

The Paradigm shift occured when I came in second place after the game, short of the victor by only one point. I also had an Ancient upgrade which I intended to use later, which I never did. Had I taken the VP, I would have won.

What we learned from this is that Eclipse is not only a fluff Sci-Fi themed 4X game, but that it also contains some strange (not in a negative sense) Euro game elements by which there is a use in every random thing you draw, if you can make proper use of it. This gives the game a great appeal, if you can wrap your mind around that concept.

Still, the combat is too luck centered in my opinion, since you only hit on a six rolled with a d6, if not using computers, which are in turn negated by shields. I naturally roll bad in combat simulations, so I might be biased in my view on that matter.
There is a strange dynamic with this system: you want to install computers to get initiative and better chances of hitting, then your opponent installs shields on his ships, pushing you back to natural sixes, then you arm up with more weapons to increase your statistics. Then again, your opponent installs computers for initiative and to blast you out of the sky before your many weapons can even fire.
There is a bit more in it than just that, but I feel its mostly centered around making the combat deliberatly luck dependent and then using statistics to get in a blow.

But even though I am not a fan of the combat system, I do not strictly dislike it, and I like many other aspects of the game.

Oh, I mentioned that we played a second round of Eclipse, right? I won that one easily by exploiting my newly aquired view on how the game works.


Lets just finish with a component breakdown:

The sector tiles and all other cardboard chits are sturdy and make a durable impression so far. You can easily identify all the relevant information on it, with the exception of the advanced power sources (6 and 9 are not easily distinguished, since the chits are quadratic and there is no defining point like 6. and 9.) and the upgrade technologies that lack the benefit in initiative or the power cost of the component you are researching. This however can easily be overcome by playing the game a few times and just knowing that stuff.

The wooden components (population cubes, influence discs, damage markers and start player token) are not too fidly in my opinion, meaning that they have a convenient size.

The player and market mats are paper, not card board, but its thick paper at least. I have to admit that I like to laminate such components to make them more durable, but the player mats are relativly big (to have room for alle the information and wooden elements you have on them), so I wasn't yet able to do that.

The overall art design is functional and appealing.

The plastic ships are... well... they are not outstanding, but they certainly are distinguishable. But somehow, I just had wished for the different colors to have different looks on their ships. See, if you chose a color, you are set for your species and vice versa. So since the colors are hard-wired with the species anyway, their ships could easily be made unique.

Oh, and there are plenty of plastic zip bags in the box. I miss the time when the game boxes actually featured some sort of sorting and storing inlay and I usually spend some more money for a game in buying screw boxes or other stuff in which to store the different game components so they don't fly around in the box. Here, such a thing is delivered with the game, which I appreciate very much!


In retrospective, this review might be pointed towards the people who have played this game anyway, so I don't know if I put it into the right category. If you came with me this far reading the review and did not play the game yet, let me give a short summary:

Our gaming group enjoys this game and we will bring it own some more times. If you liked playing Master of Orion or similar video games, you are most likely going to enjoy Eclipse. You might have to look beyond the 4X and "play what you are dealt" to overcome some of the seemingly more luck based things in the game. And you probably should like dice determined combat in your games to fully enjoy Eclipse.

Regards,

Colt
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Daniel Hammond
United States
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Welcome to the world of Eclipse Colt, your post is interesting and has prompted me to write my own review or review of reviews for Eclipse. I will link to it when I finish. It sounds like you are coming to grips with the game fairly quickly.

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Chase Unruh
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Of the numerous reviews about Eclipse I have read, the Electronic Eremite seems to sum up the game the best: Eclipse is an economic game. I have to agree with this (albeit) distilled observation. You can watch his review, so I won't summarize his points.

In any case, I've now played this game as every race except Planta and Eridani with every possible number of players. The game certainly lives up to the hype for me and my group (a mostly late-twenties and thirty-something aged group of guys with spouses who have absolutely no interest in board games). The asymmetrical races, variety of the board, and ways to customize ships (even though the ships do tend to look similar from game to game) really give this game some longevity. The chance involved in drawing tiles and rolling dice are not a great negative for us since they usually do not influence an individual except in rare cases (usually involving the player who chooses the Orion Hegemony). Since I do think this is an economic game, the two races that seem at a slight (dis)advantage are: Orion Hegemony (disadvantage from beginning with no economic planets) and Hydran Progress (advantage from beginning with advanced labs).

Considering the amount of time Eclipse takes to play compared to other sci-fi, 4x themed games, this one really fits our group. I was thinking about going for TI3, but your comment that you have not finished a single game in under the double digits is (once again) a major point against it. The only other space-themed game we have played is Space Empires 4X, which, while fun, is a major brain-burner for us with too little player interaction.

One of the best parts of Eclipse of my group is that there is considerable player interaction with 4+ players. I've heard the diplomacy aspect of Eclipse is not comparable to TI3, but diplomacy in Eclipse is nonetheless present and encourages enjoyable and spirited table talk.

In any case, thanks for your thoughts, and I hope you don't mind that added my own. Have fun with Eclipse!!!

(edited for crumby grammar)
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AT-Colt
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dlhammond wrote:
Welcome to the world of Eclipse Colt, your post is interesting and has prompted me to write my own review or review of reviews for Eclipse. I will link to it when I finish. It sounds like you are coming to grips with the game fairly quickly.


Well, I don't know if its quick, but there were a few games in the past that didn't play out as I imagined them to; so I get used to try a vast spectrum of interpretation on how the game works. Latest example was Civ, where in the first games, we behaved just as in the computer game by "empire building" too many buildings into our cities. Sometime in the middle of our first game, we made a table on how much resources (hammers, trade, etc.) we lost during to overproduction and quickly settled to less buildings per city in the next games. Nowadays, I rarely build buildings because the other city actions propel me towards a victory condition much more.


chuckyd1859 wrote:
Of the numerous reviews about Eclipse I have read, the Electronic Eremite seems to sum up the game the best: Eclipse is an economic game. I have to agree with this (albeit) distilled observation. You can watch his review, so I won't summarize his points.´


I'll have a look at it seom time soon.

Quote:
I was thinking about going for TI3, but your comment that you have not finished a single game in under the double digits is (once again) a major point against it.´


In my opinion, TI3 is a bit more epic and feels a bit more direct, i.e. plays a bit more like you expect it to be played. If you can bring it up sometime for play-testing, do it, but don't necessarily buy it yet, if you know it won't see regular play.

Quote:
In any case, thanks for your thoughts, and I hope you don't mind that added my own. Have fun with Eclipse!!!´


I certainly don't mind, after all its all about sharing insights, opinions and thoughts in here.

Regards,

Colt
 
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Rob H
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Nice review ... I love Twilight Imperium and am looking at Eclipse to scratch part of the same itch but have a more realistic chance of being played regularly.

Galactic Emperor I think does a good job of reducing this sort of game right down to the basics and is good fun but does feel a bit generic/abstract as a result.

Eclipse sounds like it should capture a bit more of the epic feel of TI3.

Incidentally I love this line:

"I naturally roll bad in combat simulations"

Really?!
 
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AT-Colt
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Hobroblin wrote:
"I naturally roll bad in combat simulations"

Really?!


I don't know the exact details, but once it was along those lines:
I played the old Sid Meier's Civ Boardgame (the one with the fix tech tree and realistic world map) and wanted to attack someone to hinder him from and free my path to winning. I had a Tank, supported by an Airplane, which means five dice, my opponent had a lvl 1 or 2 Infantery. After he rolled, I could only lose by throwing all five dice as a 1. Guess what happened?

Because I didn't want to sound like "ah, I have all bad luck", I started to document my throws for that kind of games (just to be sure that I had those moments of exceptionally good throws that one tends to forget). Well, actually, if hits can be achieved by rolling 5+, I should generally not try to get involved in that combat. Most rolls ended up in the range of 2-4. I always hope that the law of big numbers finally gets into effect, on the other hand, that's how people lose lots of money with roulette ^^;
 
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