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Subject: 3p balance / Eridani woes rss

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Jim Richardson

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So, like quite a few people, I prefer to ban Planta & Draco from 3p. Played a 3p game on Vassal yesterday and here was the scenario:

Initial low techs: 2x Neutron Bomb, 1x Nanorobots, 1x Advanced Robotics, some number of orbitals. No Improved Hull.

Per the rules, choice order was opposite turn order. Last player chose Hydran. Then it was up to me. Since Planta was not available, I faced the choice of either picking Eridani, or knowing Hydran (then the best turtle race available) would get Advanced Robotics. Given that Hydran was picked first and the other turtle races were gone, I figured I had to go aggro in any case (either Orion, Terran or Eridani.) So either:

- face down a +1 disc Hydran as Terran or Orion with no IH, or
- face down normal Hydran as Eridani with a guaranteed +1 disc myself.

Chose Eridani. Grabbed the disc. Got stomped.

Of course it didn't help that the 1st player chose Terran, got an ungodly amount of materials early, then never opposed Hydran. Or that Hydran got his own Advanced Robotics on round 2 (which Terran also passed up.) I could safely say Hydran should never have won that game, that Terran's explosive start should have crushed him, and maybe I could have done a bit better as a result. Nevertheless, I came away with the following thoughts:

- Eridani really does suck
- Eridani might suck most in 3p
- Taking out Planta and Draco as options in 3p MAY cause some balancing issues I didn't factor in (I still think it's more balanced without them though, this was probably a worst-case scenario)
- 3p can go bad really fast unless all the players are experienced
- 3p is probably easiest to win as a turtle due to the above

Comments?
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Anthony Heman
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I'm not an expert, but I think you are somewhat right that the terran player wasn't playing optimally in those circumstances. I actually (in theory) really like Eridani as a counter to Hydran, since you will almost always be passing before hydran and thus get first dib on techs. It's not the greatest thing in the world, but it it's flexible enough. Seating order matters though, and they generally can take better advantage of their early tech more when they're in a crowded game and enemies are closer.

On the other hand, I don't think you needed to "go aggro" necessarily at that point. Based on the way the tiles are drawn, things could have gone a number of ways. Terran player getting a huge materials boost really should have dictated the game more than the advanced robotics start for hydran, but he obviously didn't take full advantage of that lead.
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Kelvin Lau
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should have picked orion in your house rule.

according to my personal experience, official rules 3er eclipse seems to be broken or boring. you pick one.
 
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Jordan
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Just going to fill in a bit more information from my perspective. (I played the terrans)

First off, I'm pretty sure Hydran had passed before me in round 1, which is why they got AR. Also, there were several reasons why I didn't attack Hydran.

1: It required extremely lucky rolls to kill their pop. without neutrons. (which I didn't have the actions to get)

2: Attacking them would require enough actions and ships to significantly expose my territory to you. As well, their systems were among the least useful to me out of all on the board. (tons of advanced planets)

Essentially, I would have been expending a significant effort to gain mediocre systems while giving you an advantage, just to damage Hydran when I could be beating on ancients and the GCD for much more points.

Actually, I think I agree with you. 3p gives an advantage to turtles, especially turtle races, because fighting the turtle gives an advantage to the third player. As well, the lack of diplomacy makes it more difficult to unite against the turtle. I personally think 3p is the worst number of players for Eclipse, although it is still enjoyable.

And on the Eridani, they do seem somewhat weaker than other races, especially as the number of players goes down, as they favour establishing a few high-production hexes and heavy combat, both of which are harder to succeed at with less players. They do do OK in 2p though, because of their ability to rush the ancients and GC.

As a final thought, I have wondered if an all-Terran 3p game would go better, in order to eliminate turtle-favoring/explosive growth races completely, and reduce the import of the tech draw for race decisions.
 
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Jim Richardson

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lofung_hk wrote:
should have picked orion in your house rule.

according to my personal experience, official rules 3er eclipse seems to be broken or boring. you pick one.


Like broken in Planta / Draco overrunning, or boring in 3 turtles turtling?

And Orion w/o IH facing Hydran with +1 disc is still better than Eridani w/ +1 disc facing Hydran without the disc? If so, Eridani suck even more than I thought.

TrophyChase wrote:
Just going to fill in a bit more information from my perspective. (I played the terrans)

First off, I'm pretty sure Hydran had passed before me in round 1, which is why they got AR.


Nope. You took Plasma Cannon, they took AR. I remember it clearly. It wasn't necessarily a bad move but I thought you were going to use those Plasma Cannons to proceed to beat up Hydran, which didn't happen.

TrophyChase wrote:
Also, there were several reasons why I didn't attack Hydran.

1: It required extremely lucky rolls to kill their pop. without neutrons. (which I didn't have the actions to get)


Neutrons were there the whole game, you could have spent 1 action to get them, you had money planets.

TrophyChase wrote:
2: Attacking them would require enough actions and ships to significantly expose my territory to you.


You had the mats and money to attack and put up a reasonable defense as well. You had almost the maximum theoretical amount of combined money + materials by round 2. 2 cruisers sent in and 2 left behind, or just SBs. You only really needed to take their homeworld, not go off into the mess of mediocre ring 3's they explored.

TrophyChase wrote:
As well, their systems were among the least useful to me out of all on the board. (tons of advanced planets)


It's useful to take away their homeworld even if you "only" got 2 planets from it. It takes 3 spots from them, plus the artifact, and would have also secured your board position. That's a 5 planet swing vs. the other VP leader. Hydran almost always has to be opposed, especially by the non-turtle races.

I just played another game online with the person who played Hydran in that game. He agreed you should have hit him early.
 
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Riku Riekkinen
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ParticleMan wrote:
And Orion w/o IH facing Hydran with +1 disc is still better than Eridani w/ +1 disc facing Hydran without the disc? If so, Eridani suck even more than I thought.


Yes, Orion is the best anyway & Eridani sucks anyway. So if I think the race selecting part is part of the game or its tourney, I would never pick Eridani if there was something other to pick from & I would always pick Orion, if it would be available (even in 2er where planta & draco would be available... or would I dare to say especially in 2er ).
 
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Nat Brooks
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Riku Riekkinen wrote:
Yes, Orion is the best anyway & Eridani sucks anyway.

I'm not a fan of "fixing" things that aren't really broken. But your opinion of the Eridani is so commonly held that I wonder: How much more starting cash would they need to have to make you prefer them to the Hegemony?

And if fixed, would they be as interesting to play?
 
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Jim Richardson

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Something as small as having their ships pre-equipped with Gauss shield in that empty slot would help. Orion gets theirs pre-equipped. Eridani certainly needs the extra action. I'm not sure what quantity of money would 'fix' them, all I know is the consensus seems to be to avoid them at almost all costs. It's sad, because they're fun to play.
 
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Petri Savola
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natbrooks wrote:
Riku Riekkinen wrote:
Yes, Orion is the best anyway & Eridani sucks anyway.

I'm not a fan of "fixing" things that aren't really broken. But your opinion of the Eridani is so commonly held that I wonder: How much more starting cash would they need to have to make you prefer them to the Hegemony?

And if fixed, would they be as interesting to play?

It's not good to compare them to Orion, because you're comparing the best race with the worst race. In my opinion it's more important to nerf Orion (drop initial science to 2, for example) to make the game a little less scripted.

Orion is quite broken in 2-3 player games if they get improved hull early. Without improved hull, they're just good, not broken.
 
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Nat Brooks
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Petri wrote:

It's not good to compare them to Orion, because you're comparing the best race with the worst race.

Fair enough. I was responding to someone who would never choose the Eridani. Perhaps I should have compared them to the Terrans instead.

Still, I could ask the same of Orion. Would they still be "broken" if they started with fewer materials, for example? Would dropping their starting materials to zero make them too weak to choose over the Terrans? Would dropping them to zero money instead do the trick?

These are thought experiments to measure how unbalanced people think these aliens are.
 
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Petri Savola
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natbrooks wrote:
Petri wrote:

It's not good to compare them to Orion, because you're comparing the best race with the worst race.

Fair enough. I was responding to someone who would never choose the Eridani. Perhaps I should have compared them to the Terrans instead.

Still, I could ask the same of Orion. Would they still be "broken" if they started with fewer materials, for example? Would dropping their starting materials to zero make them too weak to choose over the Terrans? Would dropping them to zero money instead do the trick?

These are thought experiments to measure how unbalanced people think these aliens are.

There are obvious thresholds in initial resources.

For example Orion starts with 3 science and thus they can take improved hull on turn 1 if the players before Orion don't take it. If Orion gets improved hull on turn 1, they are almost guaranteed to get the galactic center on turn 2.

If they draw double ancients to ring I, they will be delayed by one turn. If they have horrible luck in combat, the plan can fail, but it will succeed 9 times out of 10. This creates a situation that the start of the game is almost scripted if a couple of improved hull techs happen to come out of the bag in the initial tech draw. Orion or black Terrans must be chosen early or else they will take the center on turn 2.

Now, if players know how to co-operate properly, Orion's initial rush to the center isn't necessarily a problem, because other players can work together to weaken Orion, but I don't think this is the most interesting starting point for a game. Maybe it would be interesting if it happened rarely, but it isn't interesting if it happens in almost every game.

But consider the case where Orion starts with 2 science instead of 3. Now, they cannot afford improved hull on turn 1 and it's much more difficult to rush for the center on turn 2. Orion no longer has scripted ~8 first actions, but instead the optimal way to play can differ from game to game.

Orion remains a very good (probably best) race even with 2 initial science, but I often propose this modification just because it will make games much more enjoyable.

I don't think Eridani are horrible. Last two games I've played with Eridani I've scored 50 (6 players) and 52 (2 players) points, winning both games. But I agree with ParticleMan that they could deserve a small boost, like giving the ship blueprints gauss shield initially or giving external energy sources to cruiser and maybe interceptor too (instead of just dreadnought).
 
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Jim Richardson

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Petri wrote:
It's not good to compare them to Orion, because you're comparing the best race with the worst race.


Ehmmm. I would disagree with this. Don't we want all the races to be SOMEWHAT balanced?

The reason I compared Eridani with Orion was this -- they are the two strongest races in terms of initial combat potential. Right? And given that the disadvantage of Eridani is long-term, one would HAVE to hope that they would have the strongest early game / early combat potential? (Otherwise they are utterly hopeless.) That's why I made the comparison for this particular scenario:

Orion, opposing Hydran +1 disc
vs.
Eridani +1 disc, opposing Hydran

(no IH in either case)

If Eridani is still worse in the above scenario, something seems very wrong to me. What's being said then is that in ANY scenario, it's not worth choosing Eridani, not even to grab the single Advanced Robotics away from Hydran + being strong in initial combat; Orion is too good, so give Hydran the disc and don't even consider Eridani? That's so bad. cry
 
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Danny Frahm
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ParticleMan wrote:
Petri wrote:
It's not good to compare them to Orion, because you're comparing the best race with the worst race.


Ehmmm. I would disagree with this. Don't we want all the races to be SOMEWHAT balanced?


Just wanting something doesn't make it happen. It's true though. There is No circumstance in which Eridani are better pick than Orion.
 
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Danny Frahm
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natbrooks wrote:
Riku Riekkinen wrote:
Yes, Orion is the best anyway & Eridani sucks anyway.

I'm not a fan of "fixing" things that aren't really broken. But your opinion of the Eridani is so commonly held that I wonder: How much more starting cash would they need to have to make you prefer them to the Hegemony?

And if fixed, would they be as interesting to play?


Having excessive money has its disadvantages. You lose turns by being unable to starve back undesirable planets for free.
 
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Jeremy Steward
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As for the Orion, I nerf their starting resources. If you compare the total starting resources of all the other races (excl Eridani) most have 8-9, planta has 12, Orion has 11. I reduce Orions starting minerals to 3, which prevents an additional turn 1 cruiser. I may reduce science as well, I haven't decided on that.

I was looking at the new races for the expansion, and I came to the decision that Eridani is under powered. They have all these great bonues with no big counter-trait.

What does Eridani have going for it?
They start with 2 reputation, but as a military race it isnt hard to fill your track up... So its barely a bonus.
They start with 26 money, but that is to "balance" the -2 discs. Generally for me the money is gone by turn 4 and you have to deal with the counter trait for the rest of the game. So the money doesnt fully make up for the -2 discs counter-trait.
That leaves Eridani with having only one real bonus and that is its starting tech. But plasma cannons are extremely limited and fusion drives are not worth using without fusion sources.
So Eridani has a cripping disadvantage and its bonuses DO NOT make up the difference. That results in a broken race.

I have yet to try any house rule buffs for Eridani yet but I have 2 in mind.
1. They only play with 1 less influence disc
2. They start with fusion source on their ships, but not researched. (or all ships have +3 energy)
 
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Jim Richardson

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FinalAttack wrote:
Having excessive money has its disadvantages. You lose turns by being unable to starve back undesirable planets for free.


This is definitely true and one of the worse disadvantages of Eridani. I wonder if Eridani should have a special rule that due to their collapsing financial infrastructure they are allowed to bankrupt discs off the board regardless of their current money reserve?
 
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Danny Frahm
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I think that would be the first buff I give them. But is it enough? Probably not.
 
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Forrest & Ryan Driskel
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ParticleMan wrote:
FinalAttack wrote:
Having excessive money has its disadvantages. You lose turns by being unable to starve back undesirable planets for free.


This is definitely true and one of the worse disadvantages of Eridani.


This is why I never push towards Ring III with Eridani. I don't want to put myself in position to care about bankruptcy.
 
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Riku Riekkinen
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Eridani starting techs cost 12 science total. They are "missing" Quantum grid, which is worth 16 science. Now 3 techs of course mean 2 more actions to get them, but Quantum grid means you would get the 2 actions immediately, so its kind of wash. Also that means Eridani can only research Quantum Grid to get of the disadvantage, not to gain any advantage. Although I think Quantum Grid is the best tech ever, the Eridani way lets them to finish tech trees "one tech sooner". So that cal also be counted as a wash. However it means that their start techs are 12-16=-4. Compared to for example Mechanema... Mechanema has Positron computer which is worth 8, they also have 1 more science at the start than Eridani. So the Mechanema start with +13 science compared to Eridani. Now the designers think that science is much more important than money at the start (and I agree). Discovery tiles let you have 8 money or 5 science. I think that is ok rate to go on with. So 13 science is 13*8/5 = 20,8 money. Mechanema has 3 starting money, so they kind of have 23,8 compared to 26 Eridani has. So at the end Eridani has +2,2 money, +1 minerals & +1 energy in the dreadnaught & 2 VP chits (1-2VPs Now counting back in favor of Eridani the extra VPs are almost worth of discovery taken as VPs... which is kind of worth of Monolith at the end (since its easier to defend & you can't build too much monoliths). So lets count that as 10 minerals ) compared to Mechanema specials. Which are improved build & improved upgrade & cheaper builds. Now we have had a bit of statistical analysis which says Mechanema gains about 5 actions from the improved abilities (about 15 money) & about 20 minerals from the latter ability during the game (it usually is a bit more though, if Mechanema knows his stuffs & gets Monoliths). So the end result here is Eridani are about 20 resources short during the game, while their start isn't very fast (almost 0 sum game, if you count their science in & the fact that Eridani sometimes has to use money as different resources or that they can't safely bankrupt or that their starting tech don't really sync).
 
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