James S
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So I have recently purchased the game and have a handful plays under my belt. I like the game and I'm excited to get more plays out of it. By now I have become familiar with the technique of "Gray Hopping", which is endorsed by the rules and basically allows one to convert cubes of one resource type into another resource. Thematically it feels wrong and I cannot help thinking that this is an artifact of the game design that "bleeds" too much into the universe of the game, perhaps negatively.

Consider this extreme example: if I have 5 populated Science planets and 1 Gray planet populated with a cube from the Money track, I end up with 5 planets worth of Science income and 1 planet worth of Money income, which makes complete sense. Now suppose that (by removing influence, putting it back and using colony ships) I repeatedly move the population of the Gray planet into the Science track and colonize it with a population cube from the Money track. In the end I will still have 5 colonized Science planets and 1 colonized Gray planet, but my income will be that of 6 planets worth of Money and no Science income. Having 5 populated Science planets and no Science production makes no sense at all to me.

Using the uncovering of the tracks to mark how much income of each type you have is a pretty ingenious mechanic that prevents one from having to count cubes on the board to figure out his income, greatly reducing book keeping efforts. Kudos to the designers for that. In the same vein, the ability to return a cube from a gray planet to any track that you choose seems like a game design decision to further reduce the amount of book keeping players have to do (that is, players don't have to somehow record/remember which track a cube originally came from) but it creates the thematic problem described above.

So here are some questions:

a) is there a thematic explanation that justifies the "Gray Hopping" that I am not aware?
b) has anyone tried playing the game with keeping track of which track a cube came from when colonizing a Gray planet and returning that cube to the same track if it is later removed from the planet? What were your impressions?
 
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Marius van der Merwe
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As you said, it is a way to reduce the amount of book keeping in the game, but I think it also adds a way out of a potentially bad tile draw when one is desparately in need of more of a specific resource.

As far as the theme goes, just imagine that those smart scientists have figured out a way to sell their new tech.
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James Deignan
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I'll give it a try:

a) Thematically, your gray planet is rich in resources. You could mine it for cash. You could use the precious metals on it to create weaponry. Or you could exploit its unusual nature to further your scientific research. Any of these is possible. However, what if you were to focus your science on improving your ability to harvest and purify the valuable resources on the planet? (Convert science to cash) Or perhaps you spend copious amounts of your monetary reserves to master more effective methods of refining the ore of the planet into weaponized power crystals? (Convert cash to materials.) I'm sure you can come up with some more.

b) No, and I wouldn't try it because the gray planets are a resource to exploit which is, after all, one of the "X"s in "4X."
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Nope, it's a Euro. What do ya expect? laugh
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Radosław Michalak
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Does it really matter if it's so thematic, or not?
If so, why can you colonize form "nowhere" in one move, not by placing your cubes on ships, transporting them to proper hex, etc?
Why can you build in hex with enemy ships?
Why can use one move action to move 1 ship more than once?
Why can you upgrade your scheme and all ships automaticaly have upgrades?
Why all players have common pool of available researches?
Why can you explore without moving a ship?
Why can you influence a hex without your army in it?
Why ship upgrades are free?

I can create much longer list to discourage you from playing Eclipse

Playability over reality!
This rule works like most in Eclipse.
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Eric Nolan
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How about this:-

Most worlds contribution is easy to determine. The mining worlds are rich in resources and have huge semi-autonomous mining installations. The science worlds have the most complex instruments known to the galaxy, devoted to futhering knowledge of how the universe is put together. The economy worlds are hives of activity, industrial machines constantly produce consumer products and high tech financial centres create money out of nothing as if by magic.

The grey worlds are different. The machinery on these planets is generic in nature and seems to adapt to whatever the need is. Often a race has populated one of these worlds intending to exploit it for materials only to find, when they withdraw decades later, that their research efforts are hindered. The grey world machinery had adapted and the world was making meaningful contributions to the scientific advancement of the race without anyone in the ruling classes realising the change had happened.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Grey worlds contain abundant deposits of a newly discovered metal that defies our understanding. It is super-strong and super-light. Due to those properties it's both an incredible building resource and a rich subject for scientific research, which also makes it a highly sought after and quite expensive. You can choose to colonize the planet by bringing in building factories (this generates resources you build with), shipping ports (trading this precious commodity generates money), or scientific labs (generating research).

When you lose influence you either take or scuttle whatever facilities you have on the planet, and lose the associated capabilities. But the metal deposits are still there, so re-colonizing allows you to bring in new facilities of whatever type you desire.
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Gray worlds are abundant in several types of raw materials, so you send colonists there that have skills in mining all three types of resources. If you have to evacuate them, since they are jack of all trades you can put them on the list to get to a specific type of colony...

...oh never mind... who really cares?

BOb
 
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G B
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Yup.
 
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Tony Reaves
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Radziol wrote:
Does it really matter if it's so thematic, or not?
If so, why can you colonize form "nowhere" in one move, not by placing your cubes on ships, transporting them to proper hex, etc?
Why can you build in hex with enemy ships?
Why can use one move action to move 1 ship more than once?
Why can you upgrade your scheme and all ships automaticaly have upgrades?
Why all players have common pool of available researches?
Why can you explore without moving a ship?
Why can you influence a hex without your army in it?
Why ship upgrades are free?

I can create much longer list to discourage you from playing Eclipse

Playability over reality!
This rule works like most in Eclipse.


Why do the most recent players to a hex fight first, while the Ancients and players already there just sit and watch?

It is interesting how much thematic consistency different people demand from games. I suppose Eclipse could be disappointing to those who don't play Eurogames and see it has sacrificed a lot of thematic elements in favor of incredibly smooth game play.
 
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James S
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I have no problem with the fact that Gray planets can increase either your Science or Money or Material incomes and can easily think of a plausible "in-game" explanation for why that is, as some people have posted here. That wasn't really the point of my question though.

I am certainly aware that this is a game and not a simulation of reality and in general I am quite alright with suspending my disbelief for artifical constraints imposed on a game's "reality" just for the sake of simplicty, gameplay and fun (for what is worth, most of the games I own and like are Euro-style games).

The fact that you can put population on a Gray cube to increase your Money income and then later when you remove that same cube you end up taking a hit on your Science, rather than Money, income feels too much of a violation of what would be reasonable to expect (in my opinion, obviously!). For some reason, that inconsistency sticks out and breaks the 4th wall of the game for me more than the requirement that each ship in Puerto Rico only carries one type of good, for instance.

Asking for a thematic explanation for that was simply a way for me to try and make sense of it, but me thinking that it doesn't feel right comes from a more basic level than "theme". It wouldn't be terribly complicated to track which track a cube came from when colonizing a Gray planet or Orbital, one could simply place a disk of the appropriate color under the cube. So I wonder if it was a conscious decision to take that logical consistency hit in favor of less fiddlynes in the game or if it was an oversight. It's all conjecture unless we hear from the designers themselves, I suppose.

Either way, I will definitely play this more and try not to think too much about it...
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Brian C
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jss333 wrote:
It wouldn't be terribly complicated to track which track a cube came from when colonizing a Gray planet or Orbital, one could simply place a disk of the appropriate color under the cube. So I wonder if it was a conscious decision to take that logical consistency hit in favor of less fiddlynes in the game or if it was an oversight.


In order to do this you'd need to have separate colored cubes or specially marked cubes to make each cube as a specific resource.

If you made the cubes specific colors (like orange for money) it would make the board a visual mess and difficult to scan. If you marked the cubes (lets say an Orange dot on the player's cube, or a disc your suggested above) you'd need special components that would likely drive up the price of the game. I can also see these markers ending up in other players' piles at the end of the game. I don't think adding any of this is worth eliminating this trick.

I suspect that this bothers you from a fairness stand point more than a thematic one. Using grey squares/Orbital planets for cube swaps puts a restrictions on your economy (you cannot bank money), requires you to waste disks on Influence actions and/or park a ship on the hex and forces you to take non-optimal actions to keep going into the red. It can be useful if you're strapped for a resource, but it's not something that I think players should always do with grey hexes.

If you really need a thematic explanation you can always say "Grey squares are "grey matter" that make the population there smarter, equally capable in mining, research and commerce."
 
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James S
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Propbuddha wrote:


I suspect that this bothers you from a fairness stand point more than a thematic one. Using grey squares/Orbital planets for cube swaps puts a restrictions on your economy (you cannot bank money), requires you to waste disks on Influence actions and/or park a ship on the hex and forces you to take non-optimal actions to keep going into the red. It can be useful if you're strapped for a resource, but it's not something that I think players should always do with grey hexes.


I can't really comment on the fairness or viability of it as I've only played a handful of games, most of them with the same person. I'm looking at this from a logical/theme point of view. I'm actually surprised more people didn't think it was strange. Maybe I'm the strange one

Propbuddha wrote:

If you really need a thematic explanation you can always say "Grey squares are "grey matter" that make the population there smarter, equally capable in mining, research and commerce."


That doesn't explain why the population in OTHER planets suddenly switched from giving Science to giving Money income just because you repeatedly colonized a gray planet with population from one track and then removed the cube back into a different track. See my original post for an example of 5 regular Science planets providing Money income instead of Science, as would be expected.
 
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jss333 wrote:
Consider this extreme example: if I have 5 populated Science planets and 1 Gray planet populated with a cube from the Money track, I end up with 5 planets worth of Science income and 1 planet worth of Money income, which makes complete sense. Now suppose that (by removing influence, putting it back and using colony ships) I repeatedly move the population of the Gray planet into the Science track and colonize it with a population cube from the Money track. In the end I will still have 5 colonized Science planets and 1 colonized Gray planet, but my income will be that of 6 planets worth of Money and no Science income. Having 5 populated Science planets and no Science production makes no sense at all to me.

Consider in the first place that 'science planets', 'money planets', 'science production' and all those things are abstractions as well. How do you produce science? It's not like you can go to the shop and buy five pounds of science. In this world there are no science cities or countries, or money or material cities or countries, that only produce science, or money, or materials, and nothing else.

Once you realise that the game terms are abstractions, it becomes easier to see how in the real world the boundaries of those abstractions can be broken by making the abstractions more 'real'. How do science planets become money planets? By studying the stuff from the grey planet and finding out how to make that profitable (add details to make it feel more real). It should not be difficult to come up with similar explanations for other resource conversions.
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Zestrenocya wrote:
I'll give it a try:

a) Thematically, your gray planet is rich in resources. You could mine it for cash. You could use the precious metals on it to create weaponry. Or you could exploit its unusual nature to further your scientific research. Any of these is possible. However, what if you were to focus your science on improving your ability to harvest and purify the valuable resources on the planet? (Convert science to cash) Or perhaps you spend copious amounts of your monetary reserves to master more effective methods of refining the ore of the planet into weaponized power crystals? (Convert cash to materials.) I'm sure you can come up with some more.


Oh, I get what you're saying here. Just because you have a lot of ore on a planet (i.e. brown) doesn't necessarily mean that you are building a lot of things. You could be using massive amounts of ore in the scientific exploration of the properties of exotic matter on a particular planet (i.e. gray). So your scientific progress comes at the "cost" of using up all your materials.

Likewise, you could be pouring massive amounts of capital into theoretical research (i.e. NOT from a pink world), converting money into science. Or having all your scientists employed in highly technical lab-based materials manufacture instead of new technology, converting science into materials.

Thinking about this is actually pretty cool. It's an abstraction, obviously, but I think the sci-fi theme makes it easier to imagine all sorts of explanations. I like!
 
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Whymme wrote:
How do science planets become money planets? By studying the stuff from the grey planet and finding out how to make that profitable (add details to make it feel more real). It should not be difficult to come up with similar explanations for other resource conversions.

In the original example the OP ends up with a bunch of colonized Science planets which no longer generate science because he's been adding money cubes to the grey planet and losing science cubes when he loses influence on the grey planet.

Your thematic explanation says that it converted from a money planet and became science and that's why you lose science? Except that when it converted to science you didn't get any more science, and you didn't lose any money. So somehow it becomes a planet whose loss will hurt you scientifically even though it doesn't seem to add any science to your society... And when you lose it some of your "science" planets seem to be producing money now.

I can't think of any good thematic explanation. Maybe there is some sort of wormhole that switches the populations and buildings of a random planet under your control with the grey planet? So that science planet's people are really on the grey planet now... And the "science" planet is really populated by money people now.
 
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jss333 wrote:


I can't really comment on the fairness or viability of it as I've only played a handful of games, most of them with the same person. I'm looking at this from a logical/theme point of view. I'm actually surprised more people didn't think it was strange. Maybe I'm the strange one


All I can say is if this bugs you, you're really going to get angry when your opponent upgrades his Cruisers that are no where near a friendly sector with Plasma Missiles
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Thunkd wrote:
Whymme wrote:
How do science planets become money planets? By studying the stuff from the grey planet and finding out how to make that profitable (add details to make it feel more real). It should not be difficult to come up with similar explanations for other resource conversions.

Your thematic explanation says that it converted from a money planet and became science and that's why you lose science?

No, I say nothing of the kind. How on earth did you read that in my words?

I stated that the scientists found a way to valorize their science.

And I said that if you're looking for realism, you should probably first lose the idea that there are whole planets out there that produce nothing but science. But that was not in the part you quoted.
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Propbuddha wrote:
jss333 wrote:


I can't really comment on the fairness or viability of it as I've only played a handful of games, most of them with the same person. I'm looking at this from a logical/theme point of view. I'm actually surprised more people didn't think it was strange. Maybe I'm the strange one


All I can say is if this bugs you, you're really going to get angry when your opponent upgrades his Cruisers that are no where near a friendly sector with Plasma Missiles


I actually think that this makes sense as well. Hear me out:

In many games, there is the important concept of hidden combat information, where you don't know how dangerous a group of ships are until you meet them in combat.

Eclipse has a system that, in the end, produces a similar effect. Your decision to commit ships to an attack/defense has to deal with the uncertainty about what your opponent is capable of. "Okay, he COULD research and upgrade up to Plasma Missiles this round, but I bet he's going to explore, so he probably won't have them this time." The "hidden combat information" is abstracted by your not knowing exactly what your opponent's ships will look like when the combat phase comes around.

This makes your actions in a round somewhat "asynchronous", as it were, because you can retrospectively upgrade the ships you just sent to attack a planet. So for a given round, it makes sense to say, "He upgraded to Plasma Missiles and moved to attack my planet", even though he literally upgraded AFTER moving his ships there.

Anyway, my point is that I like how Eclipse abstracts concepts like combat uncertainty and planet production. I do wish they had spent a little bit of time "filling in the gaps", like we're doing here, to explain how the universe in Eclipse actually works. It's not super important to playing the game, but it's interesting.

EDIT:
Whymme wrote:
And I said that if you're looking for realism, you should probably first lose the idea that there are whole planets out there that produce nothing but science.


Actually, I always thought of pink worlds as producing scientists. A world/culture rich in intellectual inquiry, as opposed to a commerce-centered world (money) or an ore-rich world (materials).

EDIT2: Oh man, the more I think about this, the more I would LOVE to write up a lighthearted "explanation" for all the mechanics in Eclipse. To create a template for game stories. So that you don't have to say, "I picked up an influence disc", but rather, "I deliberately wrecked the economy of this world in order to fund my war effort."
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jergarmar wrote:
In many games, there is the important concept of hidden combat information, where you don't know how dangerous a group of ships are until you meet them in combat.

I'd buy this up until that point where your opponent, after seeing what you've upgraded to, then upgrades his ships based on what you did.
 
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jss333 wrote:
...I repeatedly move the population of the Gray planet into the Science track and colonize it with a population cube from the Money track. In the end I will still have 5 colonized Science planets and 1 colonized Gray planet, but my income will be that of 6 planets worth of Money and no Science income. Having 5 populated Science planets and no Science production makes no sense at all to me...


This seems like a way to play hard consuming influence, so i doubt that the switch of the production can compensate the lost of an action. The influence action juste be decisive but at very few time, so what you describe don't often have to arrive.
 
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Thunkd wrote:
jergarmar wrote:
In many games, there is the important concept of hidden combat information, where you don't know how dangerous a group of ships are until you meet them in combat.

I'd buy this up until that point where your opponent, after seeing what you've upgraded to, then upgrades his ships based on what you did.


Hrrghh... uuhhh..... SPYING!

Yeah, I got nothin'.
 
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jss333 wrote:
b) has anyone tried playing the game with keeping track of which track a cube came from when colonizing a Gray planet and returning that cube to the same track if it is later removed from the planet? What were your impressions?

It's how we play when we play Eclipse online.
I feel it makes the game a bit more thematic, but some euro-gamers rumble because gray planets are now less valuable.
 
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Gnork27 wrote:
jss333 wrote:
b) has anyone tried playing the game with keeping track of which track a cube came from when colonizing a Gray planet and returning that cube to the same track if it is later removed from the planet? What were your impressions?

It's how we play when we play Eclipse online.
I feel it makes the game a bit more thematic, but some euro-gamers rumble because gray planets are now less valuable.


I see, that's cool. How do you keep track of which track a cube came from when populating a Gray or an Orbital?
 
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