Paul Beakley
United States
Tempe
AZ
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So I've played straight-up Eclipse about 10 times now, each with 6 players. Love the game! The backstory is weird but honestly I just don't care. Jump in, grab a species, get your 4x on.

My lovely wife had the foresight to preorder Rise of the Ancients, and it miraculously arrived on our doorstep on Christmas Eve. After getting it punched and sorted and read, four of us finally got to play with all the goodies last night.

The expansion is modular: You can plug any of about 10 different new goodies into your Eclipse game. Some are interdependent, and the rulebook does a good job of explaining "If you include this, leave that out but also include this other thing." We played with all but two goodies, and of course everything involved with the 7-9 player game.

Rare Technologies: One of each in the bag, 10 total with the Tractor Beam goodie that they tossed in with a sheet of chit reprints. They don't take up your normal tech draw. These were mixed and we didn't see all of them. Some seemed radically overpowered (the 12-power Zero Point Source is crazy-expensive but it also invalidates the 11-power Discovery tile, since you can equip your whole fleet with it), other seemed cute but irrelevant (Tractor Beam since we never retreat, Flux Missile but I think we'll find a use for it in the future). Anyway, it was a fun dynamic to add to the game and the ship recipes are now more intricate than ever. Makes races like Mechanema scary-good, since they can upgrade so fast.

Developments: Expensive-ish techs that don't go into any track. These were pretty cool! We got two of the three "trade in 5 of two different colors to get 12 of the third color" developments, and those were a big deal. The Warp Portal showed up but the way the warps showed up on the map made the upgrade tricky to buy. Anyway, they were pretty neat. Easy to add.

New Ancients: There's something about ancient races and 7 new races and whatever blah blah going on with the Eclipse backstory, so I don't know what's up with these "new ancients" (jumbo shrimp), but they add a bunch of new tiles to the mix and they're all pretty cool. New Ancient Homeworlds plug into the standard 6-player map layout when you have fewer than 6 players, and help smooth out the map with big badass Ancient Cruisers that are all different and randomly drawn. There are also Ancient Hives that barf up three Ancient ships in random directions after they show up (once per round). I drew one right next to my home system, which was scary since the Hive ships come equipped with neutron bombs. There's also a new Galactic Center Takeover baddie who's finally truly tough -- the GCDS was kind of a wuss.

Warp Portals: They'll open the map up (all portals are "adjacent"), particularly in 7+ player games I think, but we didn't see them used in our game.

New Discoveries: Always nice to see an ever-growing pot of goodies to put into the draw pile. They all seemed pretty good. We drew most of the new ones and none seemed unbalanced. The Jump Drive (lets you move to aaaaaany adjacent hex, regardless of wormholes) showed up but nobody used it.

Alliances: One of the new systems we didn't try out, since putting them into a 4-player game seemed like A Bad Idea. Maybe not? I dunno. I wouldn't want to be the one guy up against an alliance of three. But the system is pretty simple: Allies can share hexes but they average their scores. Being in an Alliance is worth VPs but being the douche who breaks the Alliance is negative veeps.

New Races: We were all over these! I played the Enlightened of Lyra, which has its own little building subgame (placing "shrines" on their planets to slowly buy up some nice bonus techs), the Rho Indi Syndicate are super-fast space pirates, the Exiles build Orbitals instead of Starports, and the Magellans seemed uh...fair. Not so different than humans.

Official Variants: There are four variant rules and we used one of them, where the second player to pass gets to choose the future direction of play. Neat! Uno in spaaaaace. The other variants didn't show up (predraw techs so you know what's coming, smaller map for 3-player games, mix those nasty New Ancient Homeworlds into the 3-stack).

Biiiiig Table Rules: Game goes to nine players now, and there are rules for letting two players take turns at once. It looks very sensible and clever and I can't wait to get enough players together to warrant it.

Anyway, if you're already a fan of Eclipse this expansion seems very tight and a must-buy. If you're not yet into Eclipse, I would reassure you that the expansion doesn't seem to include any notable power-creep or must-buy components that fix old problems.
32 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mathue Faulkner
United States
Austin
TX
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review

A couple comments:
- Zero Point Source doesn't really invalidate the Discovery tile, based on cost alone. I'd much rather have the Discovery Tile on one ship for free than pay out the eye for Zero Point.
- Tractor Beam is great against PM only ships.
- I may be wrong, but aren't 3-player alliances not permitted in 4-player games?
- Give the Magellans a shot. Their bonuses are subtle, but they make a big difference. Syndicate are my favorite to play, but the Magellan are a close second.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rafael Hannula
Finland
Tampere
flag msg tools
The probabilistic nature of being
badge
Truthful speech, proper understanding, unselfish action
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Mathue is right. In 4-5 player games there can be only 2 players in an alliance.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Beakley
United States
Tempe
AZ
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re 4/5p alliance size: That's a very sensible restriction! I still wouldn't want to be the odd man out, but at least I can see a reason why you might include that option.

Re the 11-power Discovery tile: Yeah, it really is pretty well balanced. In our particular game, the very same dude who bought the Zero Point Generator also pulled the 11-power Discovery tile, and there was great sadness at the table.

Magellans do look pretty neat. I agree the bonuses are pretty subtle. The rest of the races have a great wahoo! quality to them, so we were pretty excited about them.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Motz
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In my recent, painful experience the "odd" guy out in a five player game with two alliances ended up winning. So it can happen - and then you get the added bonus of rubbing it in to the other players that even all teamed up they couldn't bring you down.

Trust me, my buddy is doing just that.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mathue Faulkner
United States
Austin
TX
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
LazyJ wrote:
In my recent, painful experience the "odd" guy out in a five player game with two alliances ended up winning. So it can happen - and then you get the added bonus of rubbing it in to the other players that even all teamed up they couldn't bring you down.

Trust me, my buddy is doing just that.

In a 7-player game, there was an aggressive 3-player alliance with both the Syndicate and the Hegemony, and they actually finished dead last because they just couldn't occupy enough area to warrant the alliance. Meanwhile, a solo player ended up winning over a 2-player turtling alliance. I was the other solo player, however, and I barely beat the 3-player alliance....

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Calvin Hobbes

North Carolina
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Magellans are really cool, the bonus VPs for just using discovery tiles can add up if you get some ancient or plain discovery tile systems. The bonus discovery at 4th researched tech is nice too (I almost didn't catch it my first time playing with them, and wound up pulling the jump drive which was huge) and the ability to flip those colony ships for resources is great when you are that one resource away from a tech or build.

They seem to play very flexibly, at least in the 4 games I've played with them.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mr Suplex
msg tools
If you want to see different people's experience with Alliances in 4 player games, check this thread out.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/903445/alliances-too-str...

I personally think they are not suited for 4 players without some tweaks (some good suggestions in the thread), but its obviously your call.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Beakley
United States
Tempe
AZ
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yeah, that was actually the thread I read that gave us pause about alliances in a 4p game.

I do agree with one post in that thread: that alliances in *any* game don't work great if they're as equally valued as solo victories.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mr Suplex
msg tools
PBeakley wrote:
Yeah, that was actually the thread I read that gave us pause about alliances in a 4p game.

I do agree with one post in that thread: that alliances in *any* game don't work great if they're as equally valued as solo victories.


But how do you get around that? Saying the victory is worth less? What does that mean? The players still won the game in the end.

That's my issue. Unless you keep a running score of wins, second place, etc and value the alliance wins less I don't see how its done.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoff Speare
United States
Bedford
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
tee hee, that tickles!!!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Mr Suplex wrote:
PBeakley wrote:
Yeah, that was actually the thread I read that gave us pause about alliances in a 4p game.

I do agree with one post in that thread: that alliances in *any* game don't work great if they're as equally valued as solo victories.


But how do you get around that? Saying the victory is worth less? What does that mean? The players still won the game in the end.

That's my issue. Unless you keep a running score of wins, second place, etc and value the alliance wins less I don't see how its done.


"It's worth less." If that doesn't make sense, it doesn't make sense (not being confrontational, it doesn't apply to everyone).

In my way of thinking, there is a limited amount of "win glory", and an allied victory means sharing that glory with someone else. A similar issue arises in Cosmic Encounter, which has shared victories (and no direct statement that they are "less" than solo victories).
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Beakley
United States
Tempe
AZ
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Right. It's purely an aesthetic thing. In my regular group, a couple players think a win is a win, a couple players think alliances or other shared victories are substandard, and a couple haven't really thought about it that hard.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mr Suplex
msg tools
galfridus wrote:
"It's worth less." If that doesn't make sense, it doesn't make sense (not being confrontational, it doesn't apply to everyone).


Idealistically, it makes sense. Realistically, it does not, because when you create a win "worth less", but still counting as a win, the game will devolve to the lowest common denominator.

This is speaking from a competitive group mentality. The only way I see it working with a competitive group is to keep track of placement over multiple sessions and make an alliance win worth less than a solo win.

Way too much hidden meaning and interpretation with this rule for my taste. Everything else in the expansion is great, however.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
G B
United States
Crown Point
Indiana
flag msg tools
NO! I'M SPARTACUS!
badge
I will find Myntokk and I will eat him.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
PBeakley wrote:


New Races: We were all over these! I played the Enlightened of Lyra, which has its own little building subgame (placing "shrines" on their planets to slowly buy up some nice bonus techs), the Rho Indi Syndicate are super-fast space pirates, the Exiles build Orbitals instead of Starports, and the Magellans seemed uh...fair. Not so different than humans.


Hey, thanks for the review. I have a bunch of games in on RoTA. Just give the Magellans a chance. They, in our humble experience, rock.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Frank Pelkofer
United States
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In a competitive group, everyone else should have to lose to make the winner feel happy. If I only beat 2 of the 3 other players, that's objectively and quantitatively less good than beating all 3 of them. Yes, it's a lot better than losing, but it's clearly not as good as winning solo. It also grants a lot weaker bragging rights.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mathue Faulkner
United States
Austin
TX
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
countertorque wrote:
In a competitive group, everyone else should have to lose to make the winner feel happy. If I only beat 2 of the 3 other players, that's objectively and quantitatively less good than beating all 3 of them. Yes, it's a lot better than losing, but it's clearly not as good as winning solo. It also grants a lot weaker bragging rights.

+1
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Evil Bob
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Mr Suplex wrote:
PBeakley wrote:
Yeah, that was actually the thread I read that gave us pause about alliances in a 4p game.

I do agree with one post in that thread: that alliances in *any* game don't work great if they're as equally valued as solo victories.


But how do you get around that? Saying the victory is worth less? What does that mean? The players still won the game in the end.

That's my issue. Unless you keep a running score of wins, second place, etc and value the alliance wins less I don't see how its done.


In many wargames, there are 2 levels of victory;

- Marginal Victory: You completed your objectives and therefore won the game. However, your win was nothing to write home about and will not be written down in the history books. For me, winning in Eclipse via an alliance is at most a marginal victory. Yes, you won but you needed help doing it.

- Decisive Victory: Not only did you complete your objectives, you exceeded them. Not only will your name be written down in the history books, they'll sing songs of you and mothers will name their newborn babies after you. A solo win in a game of Eclipse is a decisive victory. You are superior to everyone else sitting at the table.

I'm not claiming that Eclipse is a wargame. I'm merely illustrating that the concept of "levels" of victory in a game has been around for decades. It's certainly not a new concept.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
JT Call
United States
Pocatello
Idaho
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If you're the type of player who values cooperative play over competitive play, winning in an alliance is superior to winning solo.

If you're the type of player who values competitive play over cooperative play, winning in an alliance is inferior to winning solo.

Me, I value flexibility based on the attitudes and strengths of the people I am playing with. If I am playing with skilled/competitive people, it's going to be hard for me to justify getting into an alliance (I want to crush them ALL!). But if I am playing with newbs or people who aren't that great at 4X games, I may want to ally with them simply to keep them interested in the game. Likewise, from a meta-gaming standpoint, if I've been trash-talking people the whole game and the angst is so great that people are trying to gang up against me (regardless of how well I'm doing), offering to ally with someone who is weaker and/or less skilled can sometimes mitigate the angst I've engendered.

For me, games aren't about winning. They are about having the maximum amount of enjoyment while playing, and that largely comes from a combination of (a) me playing my hardest, while (b) everyone remaining invested in the game. Alliances greatly facilitate this.
26 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Motz
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well said!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joseph Courtight
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I feel like my gaming group just would go to extremes either full alliences or nothing. I am worried that trade alliences would become obsolete.
 
 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.