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Subject: 4X Science Fiction Game Dilemma: TWILIGHT IMPERIUM (3rd Ed) or ECLIPSE? rss

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Eric Walters
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Trying to decide which "overproduced"/lavishly made Space Opera 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) game/expansions I ought to get into. Both look quite good--Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) seems to have a richer thematic background/storyline/history to it, but Eclipse seems like it might be easier to learn/play without sacrificing those epic qualities that make such games popular.

I've played Sci-Fi wargames; did a lot of it in the 1970s and 1980s:
StarForce 'Alpha Centauri': Interstellar Conflict in the 25th Century
BattleFleet Mars
Stellar Conquest
Imperium
Starship Troopers
as well as my one RPG love, Traveller (Classic).

These days, I got my Stellar Conquest 4X hankering solved with GMT's new Space Empires: 4X, which plays fast and is easy to learn. But as good as it is, it lacks the thematic chrome and physical beauty of the larger titles.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the older Fantasy Flight Games title versus the newer 4X release, Eclipse. How well do the expansions actually enhance (instead of drag down) each title? Which expansions work best?

Which do you recommend in general? Which one might you recommend to just me but not everyone else?


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M St
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From what I have seen, Twilight Imperium has about five times the playing time of Eclipse. Given their other qualities seem reasonably close that's about all I need to know...
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Greg S
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I believe the Space Empires: 4X expansion, Space Empires: Close Encounters, is going to add a bit more chrome to the original game.
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Art Bugorski
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First of all, you really need to add the first expansion Twilight Imperium (Third Edition): Shattered Empire to the base game to get enough randomness (and one of the original strategies is bah-roken but that can be replaced for free with the free download). It has more variants than you can use at once and you can definitely sculpt the game to your tastes. The games are always epic and you will remember each game distinctly. The pieces are fantastic and the races do feel and play uniquely.

The game is long. After repeated plays the 4 of us could finish the game in 5 hours with bullshitting, but 4 hours is reasonable. The first game will probably take you 8 hours.

The game is playable with 3 players but is really best in the 4-6 player range.
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Tom Grant
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I haven't played Eclipse, but I love Twilight Imperium. Here's my review, with some beginner's advice.

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/310864/thank-god-we-gave-it-...

Plus a podcast on getting started:

http://ivebeendiced.blogspot.com/2011/06/ive-been-diced-epis...
 
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Kristof Bodric
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Twilight Imperium is great fun if you can find both the time and the people to play it. During the three years I have owned it, I managed to play 2 or 3 full games - and it wasn't for lack of trying. Eclipse, on the other hand can be a nightly event. The game plays in 2-2.5 hours, depending on the number of players. It does sacrifice some of the epicness of TI3, but it also adds some interesting mechanics. I, for instance, love the modular ships. Chuck out a hull and add some firepower or a targeting computer or a shield. Full customization. That said, I still wish I had at least 3 more people who'd be willing to play TI3 with me at least once a month.
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Peter Walsh
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We had an eight player game for the TI3 final at WBC and finished in 7.5 hrs. with two lengthy breaks. If people know what they're doing, the game doesn't have to take forever. I'd play it any chance I could.
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I really hated TI3's euro mechanisms.

Such has kept me away from eclipse entirely.

I'll stick with the old classics, and Space Empires, which is
has plenty of room for modifications.
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Art Bugorski
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Pete Walsh wrote:
We had an eight player game for the TI3 final at WBC and finished in 7.5 hrs. with two lengthy breaks. If people know what they're doing, the game doesn't have to take forever. I'd play it any chance I could.


My secret to speeding up the game is to keep reminding the player who is after the current player to be ready for their turn.
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Bob Mosdal
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Depends on what you want from the game:

1. Twilight Imperium is a very long, worker placement game.
2. Elipse is a moderate, area influence game/economic game.
3. Space Empires is a hex -n- chit wargame. (has an interesting solo game included)

I've played them all and liked them all but they are very different from each other.
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Kristof Bodric
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Pete Walsh wrote:
We had an eight player game for the TI3 final at WBC and finished in 7.5 hrs. with two lengthy breaks. If people know what they're doing, the game doesn't have to take forever. I'd play it any chance I could.


I tried to create an experienced player base (including myself) who'd know the game well, but given that the average time between games is about a year, I forget half the rules myself. I'm sure that with experience, 4-player games would be doable in an evening. Alas, whenever I mention TI3 in the board game club, people automatically reject it.

Bob Mosdal wrote:
Depends on what you want from the game:

1. Twilight Imperium is a very long, worker placement game.
2. Elipse is a moderate, area influence game/economic game.
3. Space Empires is a hex -n- chit wargame. (has an interesting solo game included)

I've played them all and liked them all but they are very different from each other.


Eclipse is also a wargame. With the right mix of players there is plenty of combat.
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Bob Mosdal wrote:
1. Twilight Imperium is a very long, worker placement game.


I really don't think that is a fair description at all. Sure, it has a worker placement mechanic, but it's hardly the heart of the game, and that mechanic drives the conflict instead of replacing it (unless you are playing the original #8).

If anything, it is closer to Diplomacy than a worker placement game.
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Darrell Hanning
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vidra wrote:
Pete Walsh wrote:
We had an eight player game for the TI3 final at WBC and finished in 7.5 hrs. with two lengthy breaks. If people know what they're doing, the game doesn't have to take forever. I'd play it any chance I could.


I tried to create an experienced player base (including myself) who'd know the game well, but given that the average time between games is about a year, I forget half the rules myself. I'm sure that with experience, 4-player games would be doable in an evening. Alas, whenever I mention TI3 in the board game club, people automatically reject it.

Bob Mosdal wrote:
Depends on what you want from the game:

1. Twilight Imperium is a very long, worker placement game.
2. Elipse is a moderate, area influence game/economic game.
3. Space Empires is a hex -n- chit wargame. (has an interesting solo game included)

I've played them all and liked them all but they are very different from each other.


Eclipse is also a wargame. With the right mix of players there is plenty of combat.


When it's possible to win the game without even a single attack on another player (as in Eclipse), it hardly seems accurate to call such a "wargame". Is it a game with battle possible? Certainly. But that alone does not a wargame make.

I like the things that Eclipse does that TI does not - ship modding and asymmetric map creation. But neither really hits all my wickets. With that in mind, I'd much rather play the one that takes half the time of the other.
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DarrellKH wrote:
When it's possible to win the game without even a single attack on another player (as in Eclipse), it hardly seems accurate to call such a "wargame". Is it a game with battle possible? Certainly. But that alone does not a wargame make.


TI is as much a wargame as Advanced Civilization is. There are physical battles, but there are also economic battles, and diplomatic battles, it is much richer than that. Also, the combat system is based on Axis & Allies though it works better as there are less units involved usually.

Quote:
I like the things that Eclipse does that TI does not - ship modding and asymmetric map creation.


TI does asymmetric map creation (though I prefer the prebuilt maps).
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AngryStarAnarchy wrote:


TI is as much a wargame as Advanced Civilization is.


Don't think you'll get any disagreement there. Or that it's
as much of one as Monopoly, for that matter.
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I would love to play TI3. I've given up on ever getting it to the table, so I don't even own a copy. It's just not gonna happen.

Eclipse, on the other hand, we play the hell out of all the time. Light and fast but with real flavor. Also, the upcoming expansion (Christmas 2012?) is getting RAVE reviews from playtesters here on the Geek.
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Jon Quinn
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In the past year I have played Eclipse 10 times TI 2 times and Space Empires 1 time.

Keeping in mind that I like all three games, just a quick pro-con for each, not meant to be anywhere close to complete:

TI pro - grand epic, more involved, heavy diplomacy, intensly interesting and challenging, most complex of the three
con- length (not really a con unless you have problem finding enough people and time to play), expansion almost a necessity

Eclipse - pro -Quicker to play than TI, clever design (custom ship design, unique tech acquiring method, auto-record keeping), very engaging (personal opinion)
con - do not knock your player board! occasional imbalance due to random layout of galaxy hexes (has not bee much of a problem with my 10 games)

Space Empires
- pro - genuine wargame (if you consider that a plus - I do), very cool that ships values, tech, are hidden until combat
con - lots of record keeping with secret notes
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Peter Walsh
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Bob Mosdal wrote:
Depends on what you want from the game:

1. Twilight Imperium is a very long, worker placement game.
2. Elipse is a moderate, area influence game/economic game.
3. Space Empires is a hex -n- chit wargame. (has an interesting solo game included)

I've played them all and liked them all but they are very different from each other.


You'd compare TI3 to Caylus, Agricola or Stone Age? I feel like I must be playing a different game, since I spend most of my time building and moving fleets; researching technology; and developing the economy that allows me to do those things. At the same time there's moving off with other players to discuss diplomatic matters and the formal politics/diplomacy of the political agendas. I must admit to never having played any of the games I mentioned above, but they're not often known for their diplomacy. So help me out here: in what sense is TI3 a worker placement game?

Quote:
When it's possible to win the game without even a single attack on another player (as in Eclipse), it hardly seems accurate to call such a "wargame". Is it a game with battle possible? Certainly. But that alone does not a wargame make.


I'd second this for TI3. It's possible to win without making a single attack on another player. TI3 is not really a wargame. Ship modding occurs in TI3 when you buy technology. It is just tracked differently than in Eclipse. Asymmetrical maps are certainly possible in TI3 though perhaps not common.
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DarrellKH wrote:
vidra wrote:


Eclipse is also a wargame. With the right mix of players there is plenty of combat.


When it's possible to win the game without even a single attack on another player (as in Eclipse), it hardly seems accurate to call such a "wargame".

I think you need to read your Sun Tzu again.

Quote:
Is it a game with battle possible? Certainly. But that alone does not a wargame make.

Correct, and from what I see Eclipse has most of these other things.

I would say that Eclipse is not technically a "4X" game either since "extermination" is not necessary. I consider that a feature rather than a bug; as space empires go I'd rather play one that limits itself to XXX(x) rather than forcing the fourth X. YMMV.
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José San Miguel
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I would add Throneworld to the list.
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M St wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
vidra wrote:


Eclipse is also a wargame. With the right mix of players there is plenty of combat.


When it's possible to win the game without even a single attack on another player (as in Eclipse), it hardly seems accurate to call such a "wargame".

I think you need to read your Sun Tzu again.



Really? In which of his writings did Sun Tzu define "wargame"? I must have missed that part. I think you're referring to "war", instead, in which case I defer to Clausewitz, and not Sun Tzu.
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AngryStarAnarchy wrote:
Pete Walsh wrote:
We had an eight player game for the TI3 final at WBC and finished in 7.5 hrs. with two lengthy breaks. If people know what they're doing, the game doesn't have to take forever. I'd play it any chance I could.


My secret to speeding up the game is to keep reminding the player who is after the current player to be ready for their turn.


I made a custom turn tracker to help with that - I had a paper version, then I did a version in wood. http://lyrisstudios.com/barry/turn-order-tracker-for-twiligh... It helps a lot just to have that visual representation of the 'wheel' of player turns.
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Pete Walsh wrote:

You'd compare TI3 to Caylus, Agricola or Stone Age?...So help me out here: in what sense is TI3 a worker placement game?


It's not, unless one is criminally insane. There are no workers. One does not place the nonexistant workers. Need we go on?

To the OP:

It's mostly been covered at this point. If you want a classic 12-hour Ameritrash game, overflowing with so much chrome Virgin Queen might take two steps back, play TI:3.

If you want to play a very smooth, somewhat sterile stealth-Euro about space, play Eclipse.

If you want to play a four hour hex-and-counter wargame with a lot of very old fashioned book-keeping, play Space Empires.
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AngryStarAnarchy wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
When it's possible to win the game without even a single attack on another player (as in Eclipse), it hardly seems accurate to call such a "wargame". Is it a game with battle possible? Certainly. But that alone does not a wargame make.


TI is as much a wargame as Advanced Civilization is.


Which is to say, "not much".

AngryStarAnarchy wrote:
There are physical battles, but there are also economic battles, and diplomatic battles, it is much richer than that. Also, the combat system is based on Axis & Allies though it works better as there are less units involved usually.


You seem to be confusing the term "competition" with the word "battle". You would, in turn, have us believe that 99% of the games on BGG are "wargames", because they embody these same principles of competition. Thanks, but I prefer to keep my terms from spilling all over the place.

AngryStarAnarchy wrote:
Quote:
I like the things that Eclipse does that TI does not - ship modding and asymmetric map creation.


TI does asymmetric map creation (though I prefer the prebuilt maps).


Really? I hadn't seen one - the map always looks like a big, symmetrical hexagon to me, which is never the case with Eclipse.
 
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DarrellKH wrote:
You seem to be confusing the term "competition" with the word "battle". You would, in turn, have us believe that 99% of the games on BGG are "wargames", because they embody these same principles of competition. Thanks, but I prefer to keep my terms from spilling all over the place.


I think that is unfair. Once you go to a sufficiently high-enough level of strategy whether or not to even undertake a war is a decision. There was the Cold War and there are gang wars and also real-world trade wars that threaten to destroy a countries economies. Diplomacy with the threat of war is definitely conflict in a way that trading sheep in is not.

Every decision is undertaken with the consideration of war, but not as a general, but rather as the commander-in-chief.
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