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Subject: Three Newbies plow into Eclipse rss

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Selwyn Hope
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Cannington
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Missing one of the regular RPG crew, the rest of us decided to make a night of boardgames. Having recently acquired Eclipse (and RotA), and done my best to streamline storage and set up, I was eager to get it to the table.



Setup

Over the last couple of weeks I have been lurking around the Eclipse forums and image gallery to get an idea of the best way to minimise the setup time, which can be quite extensive.

To this end I cut out some foam-core and put together some boxes for the assorted sectors:



I also did up a tray for all the ship upgrades:



Also I found some small plastic containers for all the player race pieces:



The rest of the components needed for play (ancients, discovery tiles, dice, etc) fitted neatly into a Plano.

All up this cut down on setup and storage time dramatically and enabled everyone to help with the process.



Game On

Ignoring the "play Human for the first game" advice, we all grabbed a colour (with some brief guidance by what I knew of the races). Baz grabbed the mustachioed Humans (red), Gaz grabbed Planta (green), and I went with Orion (black).


Early Turns

Each player spent some actions exploring the galaxy. The Humans conquered a large collection of money planets, and used that extra economic power to bring a large portion of the galaxy under their hirsute gaze.

Planta explored and got a mix of ancients and discoveries, but was suffering with income.

Orion found a bunch of planet-less systems or single planet systems in Sector I, II and III, and was starved of any useful production or income.

Eventually we all found mutual borders and jumped at the chance to exchange ambassadors (which greatly relieved the money woes of Planta and Orion and gave the Humans much needed minerals and science).


Mid-Game

Our production now cranking up each player took out some ancients nearby and expanded as much as possible. Due to the ambassadors (and the benefit they provided in terms of cubes) and the penalty of the Traitor, noone was keen on attacking.


End Game

Not much really happened in the last few turns, the Humans took the centre (although needed another turn to have enough disks to actually influence it), and everyone considered then dismissed the thought of attacking (as it wouldn't produce any noticeable benefit in points - especially without having enough influence disks to claim the systems at risk).


Game Over

In the end Planta won 48 to 40 (both Orion and the Humans tied). Mostly due to unwillingness to throw away points trying to pin Planta back (-3 points for Traitor and the loss of the ambassador).



Impressions

Despite our first game we managed to finish in about 2 hours, which was close enough to the estimate to have faith in the 30 mins per player with more experience.

Everyone was impressed with just how organised the game was. After becoming familiar with the symbols there really was little need to consult the rules or really do much more than note what the numbers and symbols were on the player board. thumbsupthumbsup for that!

It was fun upgrading ships and grabbing technology to deny it to opponents. We enjoyed the game heaps despite no direct player combat. In fact we dove right in again...



Bring It On - Game 2

Game two, the night was still young so we had faith we could complete it within the remaining time. We all swapped races, Baz taking Mechanema (white), Gaz taking the Hydran Progress (blue) and I taking the Enlightened of Lyra (tan).

Due to our non-aggressive natures, turtling really was a good strategy, so may the best (and hardest shelled one) win!


Early Game

The Hydran came out with nice hex draws, amassing a good economy with great science and OK minerals. The Mechanema got a good assortment of ancients and planets. The Lyran came up against a wall of ancients, some crappy one planet sectors, and looked like stalling.

Knowing the situation looked grim, I (playing the Lyran) researched Orbitals and proceeded to drop them into as many of my hexes as I could, trying to keep pace with the Hydran and Mechanema while I built enough of an economy to blast through the ancient blockades.


Mid-Game

The Hydran continued their relentless research and exploration, trying to find a way to even meet another race in the vastness of space. Unfortunately the wormholes were against them (and they would eventually only meet another through the galactic centre).

The Mechanema managed to clear some ancients, but were hindered by lack of diplomatic opportunities.

Meanwhile the Lyran had established a sound network of Orbitals and Shrines, meeting many of the needs of their empire, but sadly unable to threaten the ancients all around them (and that ancient hive a couple hexes away from their home world certainly didn't help).


End Game

The last couple of turns saw ancients dying wherever they had appeared, and diplomatic treaties signed (thereby nullifying any aggressive notions toward alien empires).

The Hydran took the centre, Mechanema punched through ancients to meet the Lyran, and the Lyran managed to capitalise on an ancients defeat of the Mechanema scout.


Game Over

After the flurry of last minute tech purchases had passed, the Lyrans with their extensive network of shrines (7 total) and a monolith (52 points) managed to steal the win from the Hydrans (44 points) and the Mechanema (40).



Synopsis

Not attacking ancients until near the end allowed keeping enough discovery tokens to grab the win.

No one really felt that attacking another player was worth the Traitor and loss of Ambassador point, especially seeing as we didn't leave ourselves with enough influence disks to claim any system captured.



Final Thoughts

I think this will hit the table reasonably often. With four players there might be more player versus player action. Including all the ancient homeworlds and hives from RotA gave us an enjoyable game without needing to attack others, but there would be more tension and plotting if we were more easily able to go after one another.

The fact that we could get through two games of Eclipse in a night (admittedly only with 3 players and without our more AP-prone player) means that it will be played quite often.

The elegant design of the game means that one or two plays is all it takes to understand the basics. We even played around with tactical bankruptcy and funneling cubes through white planets to kick start our empires.

A huge plus that Eclipse is enjoyable without direct player conflict (although that probably does limit which races we should play with).

Can't wait to play it again

Fun: We all had a ball, so many memories of Master of Orion II
Theme: Good ole XXXX game (even if we didn't do much eXterminating of each other)
Time: Just the right length with no feel of rushing or time dragging
Replayability: Very high, Gaz made the comment "my dreadnaughts in both games are so different and yet both equally arse-kicking". The random technology tiles, discovery tiles, and hex draws keep things interesting and one strategy from dominating.
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Zack Stackurski
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Mankato
Minnesota
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Good quick reports and I love all the custom storage bits you whipped up! One rather major gameplay issue though. The alliance rules are not used with less than 4 players. As you noticed, with that few players everybody choosing to be friendly really kills the tension of the endgame. Glad to hear you had fun playing this mostly as a pure Euro though!
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Rusty Patterson
Saudi Arabia
Ras Tanura
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Glad that you guys had a good time. Eclipse really is a great game. But guys, two whole games with no one attacking anybody else? Not even in the galactic center? The first game I can understand. But. You were basically playing three handed solitaire against the ancients.
 
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Fernando Robert Yu
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RustyInRT wrote:
Glad that you guys had a good time. Eclipse really is a great game. But guys, two whole games with no one attacking anybody else? Not even in the galactic center? The first game I can understand. But. You were basically playing three handed solitaire against the ancients.


This was because they mistakenly (??) played with the ambassador rules in 3P, and they were afraid of the negative penalty of the traitor card. If they did not play with this may have encouraged them to be more offensive, and in fact that is probably the reason why you should be using diplmacy and allies in games with less than 4 players.
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Dan Regs
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I didn't get a sense that they misplayed alliances in 3-player. Nowhere in the session report does the author mention alliance. He does however mention that diplomats were exchanged, and that players determined that the penalty from the traitor card (-2 vp) was not worth the attack in the final rounds of the game. WHICH IS STILL A MISPLAY because diplomats should not be used in 2-3 player games.

My only thought about this is that perhaps the Orion (1st game) or Lyra (2nd game) could have benefited from discarding explored hexes instead of placing them since both got bad tile draws and suffered for it in the early-mid game. However, that failed exploration action can be a tough pill to swallow.
 
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Zack Stackurski
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Mankato
Minnesota
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Sorry. I used the term "alliances" when I should have said "ambassadors" .
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John Pastor
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I rarely accept all ambassadors. I like to keep my option open
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