Eclipse - Board Game Box Shot

Eclipse

| Published: 2011

The shadows of the great civilizations are about to eclipse the galaxy.

The galaxy has been a peaceful place for many years. After the ruthless Terran-Hegemony War (30.027-33.364), much effort has been employed by all major spacefaring species to prevent the terrifying events from repeating themselves. The Galactic Counsil was formed to enforce precious peace and it has taken many courageous efforts to prevent the scalation of malicious acts. Nevertheless, tension and discord are growing among the seven major species and in the Counsil itself. Old alliances are shattering and hasty diplomatic treaties are made in secrecy. A confrontation of the superpowers seems inevitable. Only the outcome of the galactic conflict remains to be seen. Which faction will emerge victorious and lead the galaxy under its rule?

Lead your people to victory! A game of Eclipse places you in control of a vast civilization, competing for success with its rivals. On each game round you expand your civilization by exploring and colonizing new areas, researching technologies and building spaceships to wage war with.

Eclipse eclipse-pieces
images © Lautapelit.fi

User Reviews (19)

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4
I play yellow
10
86 of 88 gamers found this helpful
“4x at it's finest!”

Eclipse is a fantastic imagining of space empire building, with euro game sensibilities and components and strategic player interaction more common to Risk/Twilight Imperium and other “Ameritrash” games.

Eclipse plays out over 9 rounds and the box states that a game can be played to completion in approximately 30 Minutes per player. So far in three player games this has proven to be true and at the end of each game everyone has been clamoring to play another round.

Players have the choice of 6 unique alien empires, each with their own strengths and strategies, or one of 6 identical Terran Factions which offer a flexible and slightly more forgiving play experience while still offering a balanced option for experienced players.

While playing Eclipse you will find yourself choosing from a short list of available actions(which can be used multiple times during a round) to explore and colonize new systems, Build and upgrade ships and other structures, research technologies(from a common market) and move your ships around the galaxy to the detriment of your neighbors. The games I have played have maintained a brisk pace and even larger combats are resolved quickly. Another interesting facet to the player turn is keeping a close eye on your empire’s economy which can lead to situations where risk must be weighed. A miscalculation can mean having to sacrifice resources or even forfeiting systems to cover your costs.

The winner is determined by adding up victory points earned through expanding your empire, developing advanced technologies and participating (not just winning!) in combat. This provides players with multiple paths to victory and caters to a wide variety of play styles.

TL;DR:
1) Luck and strategy are equally important.
2) The turn structure keeps the action moving.
3) All the trappings of an epic space empires game.
4) Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate at its finest!

 
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4
Rated 25 Games
9
115 of 118 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“This Eclipse will be around a while.”

I’m a big fan of the game genre called “4X” – “explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate.”. I’ve been playing these ever since the Ur-progenitor of the genre in the 1980s, Empire, and I actually still maintain an open-source C version of that game. Civilization is my favorite computer game ever, and by what I hear of it Master of Orion – the game “4X” was coined to describe – would have hooked me even harder if I’d known of it when it came out.

I particularly like SF-themed 4X games. I have previously posted a favorable review of Twilight Imperium (hereafter “TI”), a big sprawling epic of a contending-galactic-empires 4X game. But now I write to report on a game that effectively makes TI obsolete – a new design called Eclipse which I think is going to permanently raise the quality bar in 4X games.

When you unpack the components for Eclipse, you’re going to immediately get the impression that it’s Twilight Imperium lite. Hexagonal star-system tiles for variable board layout – check. Plastic ship models in different sizes – check. Playing mats, describing human and alien species one per – check. This impression is not exactly wrong, but the differences turn out to be more important than the similarities.

One difference is that the game doesn’t start with all the board tiles down. Instead, player homeworlds are arranged in a broken ring with unexplored space between and around them. Unlike TI, which has exploration only as a bolted-on afterthought with the Distant Suns option, exploration is central to this game and one of the ways to win is to explore more aggressively and successfully than your neighbors.

Another difference is that instead of a huge pile of available ships you have only a relatively small handful. Interestingly, this actually encourages combat, because losing your fleet-in-being isn’t a catastrophe that will take you half the rest of the game to recover from.

But the most important difference is not local to one aspect of the game, it’s a global fact about the style of the entire game. Eclipse is as tightly constructed and carefully interconnected as a Swiss watch. By contrast, TI is a huge sprawling pile of game mechanics that make terrific thematic sense but don’t integrate all that well and in some cases are only half-realized (hello, politics sub-game, I’m looking at you!).

Here’s an example of what I mean by tight construction. Your player mat has a track with disc-shaped pieces on it. You have to expend one of these temporarily (getting it back at the end of the round) to take a game action such as moving ships performing research, etc. You have to expend one of these permanently to control a solar system. This matters because the track beneath the pieces has numbers on it representing the upkeep cost for your empire; as you take actions and seize systems, it rises. If at the end of a round you can’t cover that upkeep from your money reserve, you have to give up solar systems (taking back disks to cover numbers) until you can.

That one mechanic (somewhat reminiscent of the resource market in Power Grid) creates a delicate multi-way tradeoff between seizing territory, taking actions, and building a money reserve that you can use to finance a late-game surge. Because it does so with very little state, you can reason about your option tree more quickly and effectively than in a game with heavier mechanics. This nets out as faster turns and shorter overall playing time; where a 6-player game of TI can easily take 8 or 9 hours, I’ve seen a 5-player game with mostly newbies take about 5 hours and a following 6-player game take about 4:30. After another play or two I expect my group will get down to the designer’s estimate of a half hour per player.

Most of the the people in both games had previous experience playing TI with each other, and after the first game the consensus was already becoming clear; this game pretty much obsoletes TI. You give up some thematic chrome; the real draw in TI’s sprawling elaborateness is the way it ticket-punches every trope from battlestars to the Galactic Council in a loving tribute to all those classic space operas you read as a kid.

What you get in return is a much better game – tighter, faster-playing, less vulnerable to runaway-leader effects, packing just as much tactical and strategic depth and multiple paths to victory but with much lower total complexity overhead. Eclipse is elegant in the way a mathematical theorem can be elegant – minimal premises worked to a powerful and satisfying conclusion.

I expect this game will be studied by game designers as it will be an innovative example for years to come.

 
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3
USA
Eminent Domain Fan
10
140 of 144 gamers found this helpful
“Warp Speed to the Top!”

I am not one to overreact or wax poetically about any one board game. Board games are a social endeavor, and the majority of the enjoyment received from playing games is from the players themselves. The strength of the game merely amplifies that experience.

Eclipse shatters my belief structure.

Unboxing Eclipse is an adventure in and of itself. 11 (or so) sheets of high quality chits and tiles are a fun trial of organization, particularly when you don’t know the rules yet, but the artwork and functionality of each piques interest in the game. The rule book itself is a treat, containing concise instructions, examples, and excellent organization. The only negative is the player boards and the tech board: I would gladly pay an extra $10 or more for those to be laminated out of the box.

Set up of the game seems daunting, but it is really pretty simple since each player is responsible for their own board (and this is the lion’s share of setup). Technologies are randomly drawn, so that helps alleviate the need for their organization. Ship upgrades could be sorted and stacked, but it really is not necessary, as the upgrades could be searched for when needed.

Game play is elegance personified. A turn is composed of players taking actions in clockwise order. The actions are short, deliberate, and wrought full of impact, so players’ interests are held during their short downtime. Explore, Influence, Research, Upgrade, Build, Move. All are small, yet important components to a game turn. The first full turn took a while to understand the mechanics of each action, but once that first turn was done, each subsequent turn was exponentially faster. We were moving like old pros half way through our first game.

The player boards are highly intuitive and functional. The blocks and disks serve multiple purposes, revealing their respective economy levels on the player board while representing population and influence on the hexes. The players’ ships are also presented on the player boards, offering places for upgrades; you have excellent control of your fleet’s construction. Finally, the tech trees house the purchased technologies and are very useful, revealing future tech discounts and victory points as it fills up. Multiple purpose is most definitely the theme and focus of everything on the player boards.

It also should be noted that the icons found throughout the game are highly intuitive once you understand the basic logic behind them. It won’t be long until you pull out a random tech, view it, and understand it, even if you have never seen it before.

Once players are done with their actions, they may pass, but they still have minor actions available to them in case they do need to react. This is an excellent touch and adds another layer of strategy to the game.

Combat is simple. A 1 always misses, a 6 always hits. Shields and weapons help modify the rolls, hulls let you take more hits, drive technology lets you strike before your foe. It’s an effective mechanic that does not detract from the game and does not take long to resolve, so those that are not in combat are not held hostage.

There are so many nuances to the game, it is hard to describe in a rather short review. The mechanics, individually, are very simple, and they combine to form a synergistic orchestra of spectacular strategy and game play. I have missed so many other aspects (diplomacy, orbitals, ancient ships, tile discovery) that add to the game, but it is truly impossible to cover every facet.

Anxious. That is how I feel about Eclipse. I simply cannot wait until the next time I get to play it. This is the kind of game that would be fun to play, and you would have a great experience, even if you were seated next to people that you don’t particularly care for. Fortunately for me, I get to play with friends, tomorrow.

Eclipse gets the first 10 I have ever given out to any game.

 
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4
Norway
BoardGaming.com Beta 2.0 Tester
9
142 of 147 gamers found this helpful
“It's finally here!”

I’ve been waiting for Eclipse to hit the store since I first heard about it late last summer. After its release got pushed beyond the initial release window of october I kind of forgot about it. So I was plesantly surprised when I found it during a random trip to the game store and purchased it imidiately. I then rushed home to punch out the pieces and read the rules before playing it later that same day. After puching the pieces I didn’t have any time left to read the rules before our planned session, but we’ll get back to that later.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

When you first open the box you notice the quality components. Heavy cardboard pieces which make up the technology chits, the space ship components and the hexes which make up the game board. The space ships are plastic and come in three diffrent varieties; interceptors, cruisers and dreadnoughts. Unfortunately the space stations are cardboard rather than plastic models but they are still nice. Giving the game that little euro feel is the wooden pieces that come with the game. A whole bag filled with cubes, discs and one large pawn given to mark the first player of every turn. The only gripe I have with the components are the player mats and the technology mat. Although they are beautifully designed they are printed on thin cardboard instead of the thick one like the rest of the pieces. This might make them susseptible to slight warping. But they do serve theire purpose well. You also get 2 nice string bags for use in randomly drawing the technology chits and the victory point chits, more on those later.

THE RULES:

As I said earlier I didn’t have time to read the rules before our session began and this is where I was most impressed with the game. When we sat down to play I laid out all the pieces on the table and began reading the rules. While doing so we set up the game as instructed and I read aloud the rules to my 3 buddies playing with me. Not word for word but the important parts. And this is what surprised me… it acually worked. We have tried learning ourselves new rules with this method before but this is the only time it worked and I think that says a lot about how well written the rulebok is. By reading the rules once and ocasionally looking up things like what technology does, we managed to play the game and just missing 2 rules.

I’ll give a quick overview of how the game plays. In every round the players go round the board taking one action each untill every player has passed. There are 6 actions to choose from; Explore, Influence, Research, Upgrade, Build and Move. You can take as many actions as you want in a turn but every time you do your upkeep and the end of the round become more and more expensive.

The Explore action lets you take a hex from the shuffled pile and place it on the game board next to a hex you allready control. This way building the board as the game progresses rather then a pre-set randomized board like Twilight Imperium.
The Influence action allows you to move you control markers around to manage your empire.
The Research action allows you to purchase one technology chit that lies on the technology mat. The available techs are randomly selected at the beginning of the game and replenished as you play. Making the availabilty of techs diffrent in every game.
The Upgrade action allows you to take upgrades made available though technological advances and place them on your space ship blueprints on your player mat. Here you have spaces where you can upgrade each of the 3 space ship types with different weapons, shields, engines, hulls and targeting computers. Just make sure you have a power source large enough to power all your new gadgets.
The Build action allows you to build new space ships, space stations and other structures giving you advantages.
The Move action will offcourse allow you to move your ships into other areas and attack enemy players.

Then when every player has passed their turn the combat phase begins if there are opposing ships within the same hex. Combat is very simple in Eclipse. Take a number of provided 6 sided dice and roll them. Every dice hit on a 6 or more modified by the bonuses from your targeting computers and penalties from the enemy shields. The dice are colour coordinated according to the type of weapon your ship carries and therefore the damage they do when they hit.

Then there is the upkeep phase and the cleanup phase at the end. When you have completed 9 turns like this the game ends and the player with the most victory points wins the game.

I am very impressed by how well designed and sleek the game rules are written. They are very easily understood with only a few questions that will arise during game play.
The only thing I miss are more rules for diplomacy. Not better rules just more of them. Basically you can ally with a player when you make contact which gives each player 1 victory point at the end of the game and a slight resource gain. Should a player attack an “allied” player the diplomatic relations is broken and the agressor earns himself the traitor card which awards him -2 victory points at the end of the game. The traitor card is however passed to the next player that brakes diplomatic relations with an ally so you can get rid of it.

There are also 7 diffrent species in Eclipse. There are 6 alien species with the human equivalent on the backside of the player mat. The 6 aliens each have their special abilities but the 6 humans are all equal but diffrent from the aliens. The rules are all written as if your playing a human and the aliens modify these rules with their special abilities.

VERDICT:

I’ll just come out and say it, I love this game. This is the kind of 4x space game I’ve been loooking for my entire gaming life. I liked Twilight Imperium but it was just too cumbersome for me, and it took way too long to finish a game. Eclipse manages to feel epic even though it only takes a single evening to finish a game. Eclipse also scales nice with the number of players which to me is excelent since we can be anything from 2 to 8 people showing up at a gaming session. The randomness of the game board and the technologies also gives this game great replayability. So here’s to the designer Touko Tahkokallio for creating what I would claim to be game of the year for 2011. I hope there will be many expansions in the future.

 
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3
Bard
Freshman
8
75 of 79 gamers found this helpful
“Very streamlined space exploration.”

I don’t have a lot of experiences with 4X games, I’ll open with that. So playing Eclipse was a new experience for me, and I very much liked it. Here’s a few thoughts after two games:

– It plays quicker than I expected. Not to say it’s a short game, it still took 3ish hours, but typically these games take entire evenings. It also helps that play generally flows fairly quickly. Players alternate taking actions rather than full drawn out turns. The actions tend to be quick: explore space, move, research, build ships, that sort of stuff. Unless you’re playing with someone who takes their forever, you won’t have a ton of down time.

– While it may seem daunting at first, the rules actually pretty simple. There’s a lot of little things that you’ll likely need to look up throughout the game, but the basic actions and symbology are easy to figure out. After a complete turn or two, you’ll know what you’re doing. Why, however, will remain a concern for a while longer.

– There are a lot of technologies, and what you’ll want will really depend on what everyone else takes. However, missiles seem like the obvious strategy. I don’t think they’re overpowered as some may say, but it’s not hard to get and it’s easy to make a glass cannon interceptor that can take down most anything before it can return fire. Without the expansion, the best defense against missiles becomes getting missiles yourself (if you can). This just creates mutually assured destruction, and it’s not as fun. The expansion does address this, but it is a concern the whole game. When you see one person jump for missiles, you’ll have to start considering your options.

– And getting to combat, it can really be a detriment to your progress. If you get involved in a combat early in the game while everyone else is expanding, you’ll have a lot of ground to make up later. You’re not automatically out of the game, especially if you draw some higher reputation tiles, but you can miss out on exploring. There’s a limited amount of space to explore, a.k.a. limited tiles. You really need to colonize planets to increase your production.

– The missiles, the combat, they are small problems on a great, great, game. My only real frustration with the game is the amount of luck involved. I’m not against luck in a game at all. In fact, I like a bit of it. The luck involved in combat is fine, and it can be mitigated with technology. There’s a good amount of luck in pulling reputation tiles, but you can always keep fighting to get better ones. The frustrating kind of luck is in exploring. If you don’t get space tiles with any planets, you’re going to fall behind. Again, you won’t be in an unwinnable spot, but it’s frustrating when you are struggling to keep up. Others will get the bigger research tiles before you, or they’ll be able to build bigger ships, or they’ll explore more space. It’s my only real problem, and in two games I’ve seen it happen to two people.

Overall, again, the game is great. The expansion does help to address some of the issues I mentioned, and none of them ever put a player in a spot where they are out of the game. The myriad races also help keep the game fresh. I’m sure this one will see the table often in the coming months.

 
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5
Went to Gen Con 2012
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
9
81 of 86 gamers found this helpful
“This game eclipses other space games.”

There seems to be a debate going around as to who is the better ” big box space game” is it Eclipse or Twilight Imperium? If you are looking for a game that has political or diplomatic interaction as well as in-depth battles play Twilight Imperium.

However if you are looking for a space game that takes less time than twilight Imperium, diplomatic interaction is not important, and you can play with some streamlined battle rules,play Eclipse.

Eclipse will require you to read the rule book prior to playing. Maybe a couple of times, but after you get the flow down you can actually have turns happen quickly. The game takes place over 9 rounds. You can however do many things per round, as long as you have money to pay for them. You are after all creating an empire, you are going to have to pay for all of the expansion that you do.

During each turn you can:
1. Explore – turn over a hex – plant you flag and put down a population. Remember you have to have money for upkeep of these planets.
2. Influence – If you decided a planet is simply not worth the cost, you can remove your influence token (think flag) and put it back into your supply. If you decided you want that world back later you can use influence to plant your flag again.
3. Research- This is the euro component of the game. In order to upgrade you ships that you are sending out into the vast void of space you need to do some research in order to upgrade them. This is a little bit random. What is available to be researched is pulled from a bag at the beginning of the game, and at the end of each turn. Examples of research items includes improving you hull, or purchasing the technology to shoot missiles. It is possible that you would like to purchase the ability to take more shots before being destroyed, but the person who played before you purchased that research first.
4. Upgrade your ship. You purchased the research, its time to place it to good use and upgrade your ship.
5. Build – You can build ships, monoliths (if you have the research) starbases, or orbitals (again you need to have the research).
6. Move – will you have done research, upgrading your ship, let’s move and attack or explore.

You will not be able to pay to do all of these selections each time. You will not have the funds. You constantly need to be thinking, if I want that in the future should I just stop my turn now.

You can battle the ancients that are on the planets you are exploring or you can take on the other players. Battle is done very quickly and easily summed up – if you roll a 6 you hit. There are ways to make you hit on lower numbers and take more damage all by how you set up your ships. But compared to other games, battle for Eclipse is quickly done.

Here are some of the reasons I like Eclipse:
You can customize you ship, and you can play alien races with their own strengths and abilities or play the human race.
You can play a lot of different ways and still win.
Once you have the various moves down that you can do a turn the game flows quite quickly.
Even when you lose you want to play again.

What I don’t like about Eclipse:
I thought the game would benefit from better art design.
I understand that you need to keep track of numbers for research, and money, and science. I just don’t understand why they had to be little cubes that manage to hit every two seconds. (Slider bars anyone?)I never know what row this cube goes in that just fell on the floor.

There is certainly enough difference between Twilight Imperium and Eclipse to make them separate games in my mind. Twilight may be a deeper game in a lot of ways but you can’t beat a game that you can play in about an hour or so that lets you become the galactic empire. I’m just going to take my dreadnaught over here….Hum is that a plasma missile? Guess I will just take my ship and go back home.

 
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6
Zealot
I'm Completely Obsessed
10
72 of 77 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“My favourite 4x game!”

Right now I have played around 60 games of Eclipse and I love the game more and more after each one! I’m HUGE fan of 4x games (both PC and board games) and this one is definitely in my top 3 list – right after Galactic Civilizations 2 and Endless Space. The game requires perfect combination of good strategy and “calculated” luck which leads to a unique gaming experience every time you played it.

Components:
The game comes with:
– Bunch of little components – techs, ship upgrades, exploration tiles, game board tiles etc…
– A box that have only 2 sections and a bunch of little plastic bags ( + 2 really nice bigger bags). Needless to say preparing the components for the game is a little nightmare if you don’t buy proper storing equipment.
– Little box with 84 plastic ships that look nice, but are reused from other games.
– 6 player boards. The art is so-so, but their design is perfect. The board is all you’ll need to perfectly track your space empire.
– Several generic 6 sided dices in 3 different colors (one for each weapon type).
Overall the components are with nice quality, but some might say that you can get more for the price of the game.

Learning Curve:
The rules are perfectly written and there is no confusion about them. You will be ready to play after one read.
The game can be explained in around 30 minutes and every new player will need no more than 3 game turns to be perfectly comfortable with them, but you will need at least few playthroughs to start mastering some clever strategies. In other words – The game is quick to learn, but slow to master.

Game Play:
After everyone understand the rules the game is just smooth sailing!
It is incredible how fast a game of such complexity can go. The game design is just top notch!
The length of the game is the following – for every new player add between 45 to 60 minutes. For everyone else add 25-45 minutes (depending on how fast they take decisions). This leads to games that can end in under 3 hours with 6 experience players!

The game have really deep strategic elements that are combined with few luck factors (exploration hexes, technologies you can research, dice rolling in combat), but all of them can be mitigated or even completely ignored with proper planning and player cooperation (you can always tell if someone is ahead and ally against him).

Overall the game is a perfect mix of luck and strategy!

Replay Value:
My personal opinion is that the game have huge replay value, because of the luck factors and the fact that there are many different configuration of races that can play (Even more with the expansion), although if you are not a fan of 4X games the gameplay might seem a little repetitive – you just eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate, nothing more, nothing less

Who is this game for:
Family gamers – No. Unless your family is a bunch of gamers 
Social gamers – No.
Casual gamers – **** NO!
Strategy gamers – I’m yet to find a strategy gamer that don’t like this game :0
Avid gamers – **** YES!
Power gamers – Yes, but some of the don’t like the dice rolling.

TL DR;
Pros:
– Really smooth game design.
– Quick games (relative to other 4x games)
– Perfect Blend of strategy and luck
– Huge replay value
– Has expansion that fixes almost all issues that you’ll encounter in your gameplay!!!

Cons:
– Slow games (relative to the average board games that I usually play with my play groups)
– Looks intimidating at first
– It is a gamer’s game. It is definitely not for everyone.

 
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7
I play purple
Football Fan
Movie Lover
9
76 of 85 gamers found this helpful
“Creating grand-strategy space game fans since 2012”

You know you’re dealing with different expectations and genres when reviewers mention 2-4 hours to be a “fast” game. But this is exactly where Eclipse succeeds, you don’t notice the time as it’s so enjoyable and engrossing to play.

10 out of the 12 people I’ve played Eclipse with are casual gamers and had never played Twilight Imperium or any other space games, and they all loved Eclipse (even when they came in last place!).

It does take a while to learn, and I did have to go through the entire rulebook (note, apparently v1.0 has mistakes) to deal with questions that arose throughout the game. Once you have the initial “learning game” down, it’s a breeze for future attempts with the exception of learning the different rules for different alien races.

The alien/human game sheets are the least impressive part of the game – while the graphic design is nice, it’s just so easy to warp and accidentally knock all of your banked resources, population cubes, and other components off the thin paperboard. I can easily imagine this being remedied in future versions or even with colored paper clips now.

The replay value comes from a) changing races, b) randomness of tiles, dice rolls, and technology, & c) changing the number of players (3-6) and starting locations (ie. not good to surround the newbie with two aggressive veterans). Since we don’t have control over b, it can also be the most frustrating aspect either when the dice are cursed or if the best technology was snatched up early and never reappears. Fortunately the game does reward you for failed combat as this is one of the main ways of obtaining reputation (ie. victory) points. With only 9 turns, it’s very rare to be able to predict the final outcome by turn 6 primarily due to this randomness and uncertain diplomacy. Plus there are many different strategies you can try.

Again, this is one of the most refined and enjoyable game playing experiences I’ve had out of all genres, and it is a clear gateway game for getting your friends into the strategic space genre or just into games that take longer than Catan.

 
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6
I play orange
Miniature Painter
Veteran Grader
Intermediate Reviewer
8
117 of 131 gamers found this helpful
“Twilight Imperium, meet your new brother”

Typically, Sci-Fi, big-box epic games I like. I’m a major fan of Twilight Imperium and the like.

Eclipse turned out to be a fabulous game, but I’m not too certain of it’s replay value.

The good: Managing your empire. Essentially Eclipse takes the resource management system from Through the Ages. Its a fine mechanic and I think more civ-managment games should explore shuch integrated mechanics like this.
Developing the galaxy map. This is a subtle way to interact with the other players. 1 game everyone can turtle up, the next players can force instant action via population pressure.
The tech market: Its always a joy to crunch through possibilities of how to develop a strategy. The tech tree/market is the main way to do this. Even better than TI:3.

Not much in this game is bad. The biggest complain I’ve heard is the battle resolution.
Being an avid tabletop wargamer, I think the battle resolution is actually quite fantastic for this size and depth of game. It could be better, but then you’d be pushing the game into more of a tactical wargame rather than empire expanding boardgame. In the few games we’ve played, the space battles have actually been quite suspenseful. Other games it can be dry and sterile.

The not so-good: the components are not top-tier with the state of the market. But this shouldn’t affect the decision to buy or play the game. Some games rely on its attractive coating, Eclipse doesn’t.

I only wish there were more of a political or diplomatic interaction in the game other than basic negotiation of, “I won’t attack you if you won’t attack me.” Games like this need more than just a ***-for-tat exercise. Its needs something more dramatic than build up a ship and blammo. Its constructing an empire, its managing a large population across multiple planets against multiple borders. Its needs tension from scheming and politicking.

Some folks prefer to play empire building games, but limit it only to warfare. But then its not truly empire building, it’s only empire expansion.

All in all, Eclipse is a good game. Its on the light side of a civ-style game but it does not supplant TI:3 by any means.

 
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7
Knight-errant
Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
9
67 of 75 gamers found this helpful
“A great blend of space exploration and resource management ”

Space exploration and resource management are two themes in board games that seem to go hand in hand. After all, space is a pretty barren place, and resources can be hard to come by and easy to exhaust. Tack in a bit of politics, diplomacy, and space war, and things become that more involved. It can be difficult to find a blend of facets that work together and find a nice balance, but Eclipse seems to do that nicely. A game that is centered around galaxy conquest and establishing colonies on distant worlds, it manages to do a lot without being overly complicated.

So what do you need to know about this game? The first thing you need to know is that the setup time is no small feat; every player gets a playing board that outlines key components to be used in the game. Most of these components consist of small colored cubes, disks, and ships that go on a player’s play mat to be later placed on the board itself. The cubes mark three resource tracks: Money (colored orange), Science (colored pink), and Material (colored brown), essentially. As you set up colonies on various planets and stations, you can place those cubes where appropriate to increase how much you get at the end of the turn. The disks essentially indicate how many actions you can take per turn; the more actions you take, the more costly it becomes to perform each following action. Having more disks helps offset the costs you will incur. In addition, there are several ships that you can build to fly around the board. Light class ships are the cheapest, but have the weakest durability for combat. Heavy class ships are costly in material to build, but they are built to fight and take punishment.

Aside from the player mats and setups, there are a collection of technology advancements which are put into play for players to research. There are three general paths of research that you can take, and each provides some benefit to warfare, travel, or general improvements. For example, one can research better hulls for ships to withstand more punishment, or research better engines to move more hexes per turn. Or research the ability to make orbital stations which can increase production when built. Technology advancements are drawn randomly from a science bag, so you never know what will be newly available each turn. If there is only one technology token available and someone researches it before you do, you’re out of luck; you have to wait until the next tech draw and hope it comes up again if you really want it.

The game board is actually designed via hexes, and the hexes form an overall map of the playing field with the more you explore your surroundings. Each player starts in a remote system surrounding a central hex which is controlled by aliens at a starbase. The object of the game is to accumulate the most victory points by the end of the game (which is set after 9 rounds) by gaining territories, getting into fights, researching tech, and managing resources.

Each round of Eclipse has players take an action, then pass the turn to the next person. If a player chooses not to take an action, they can pass their action, indicating that their role is over, and from that point they can only do reactionary actions (as in the case of an attack). An action consists of either Exploring a hex, Influencing to manage colony systems you have control over or to occupy uninhabited territories, Researching a new technology, Upgrading current tech to newer versions you have researched, Building new ships to add to your armada, or Moving to travel to new destinations around the board. Since each action depletes your funds, it is important for players to identify what they want to do most and which actions have priority, as other players can ruin your plans if they use an action to intercept your researching of a tech or the taking of a colony. Once every player has passed, the round is over, and everyone refreshes their action disks, gains their resources, then pays the costs of the upkeep of their colonies.

Exploring is an interesting mechanic in this game: there are three stacks of hex tiles to choose from when exploring space. If you are exploring towards the center starbase tile, you draw an exploration tile from pile I. If you are exploring around the center tile, you draw from pile II. If you are exploring away from the center towards the outer reaches of space, you draw from pile III. Each pile has general degrees of difficulty; the odds of running into aliens in pile I is relatively slim, where you are much more likely to encounter hostiles in pile III. If a planet is revealed and there are no aliens occupying it, a player can colonize it for free without requiring to use an Influence action. If there are hostiles, combat will need to be initiated to occupy the area. There is also a chance to just pick up a random bonus on a tile, such as extra VP’s or special alien tech. In addition to the features of the tile, there are locations on the edge of the tiles that are wormholes. In order to travel from hex to hex, two halves of a wormhole need to align and become whole to make travel possible. There is a tech that can enable a ship to travel through half of a wormhole, but it will not always be available.

Combat is a relatively simple affair in this game. When a fight occurs, first initiative is figured out by the relative speed of the attacking ship(s) and the defending ship(s). If the attacker has a higher initiative, they will go first; otherwise the defender attacks first. To calculate hits, a player rolls a number of six-sided dice equal to the number of guns and/or missiles on a ship and tallies up the results. On a roll of 5 or 6, the attack hits and does one point of damage to the ship. Some guns and missiles are more powerful than others; those weapons will inflict more damage on a single hit if they connect. A ship has one point of damage it can take before it is destroyed, but having a hull will add more damage that it can take. In addition, having a ship’s computer will lower the difficulty of hitting, while a ship having shields will make it more difficult to hit. With the proper upgrades, even a light-class fighter can be a match for a heavy hitter, along with some good dice rolls. After each combat, each player who participated will get a draw from the victory point bag for a random value, with the winner getting to select two and keep the highest value.

Eclipse offered some opportunity for diplomacy as well; players can form alliances with one another to allow passage through one another’s territory and to form trade routes. A trade route enables a minor increase in commerce, but one should beware of breaking such an alliance; to do so means that you will gain a bad reputation from other factions, and there will be a penalty incurred at the end of the game (unless someone else breaks an agreement, in which case the focus will be shifted on them instead).

Overall, I highly enjoy this game; there is very rarely a lack of anything constructive to do, and there is a lot of strategy involved. The only detriments to this game that I can see is that there is a lot of waiting time between decisions among more than two players, which can bog the game down a little, and the sheer number of pieces that are involved in setting the game up and putting it away make the process a rather tedious chore. However, the production quality is very good, and the overall experience is well worth the time one puts into it to get the game going.

 
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3
Eminent Domain Fan
9
59 of 68 gamers found this helpful
“Simple and fun, but worth the price?”

First of all, I played this game and loved it. For a 4X-style boardgame, it’s extremely straightforward and streamlined while still being a ton of fun. Not that I’d ever say Twilight Imperium was simple, but by comparison with Eclipse, TI seems positively byzantine. Eclipse still allows for a diversity of strategies, but the rules are intuitive and easy to grasp, and turns don’t feel like they take forever.

Players will have a little downtime in the course of a round, however (especially if they pass on their turn while other players have lots more they want to do), but it’s minimal. But when you are taking your turn, it goes quickly and actions are simple and clear.

The only thing that isn’t clear is pathing; it’s not always easy to tell from just a quick glance at the board where wormholes connect versus where there is only one half of a wormhole. A little bit better graphic design on the map hexes could have solved this. Perhaps some kind of distinct border on hex edges where there isn’t a wormhole?

The game seems to all but need a banker player to handle the supply of chits necessary for technology and upgrades. If only it weren’t un-fun, a non-player could sit at the table with you, categorizing and distributing chits and rolling combat for NPCs.

But those are all minor quibbles and only detract slightly from my enjoyment of the game. If those were the only issues, this game would still solidly be in my favorites. But there’s one reason I won’t be pulling this off my shelf to play on a regular basis: there isn’t a copy on my shelf. I was ready to purchase this game as soon as the demo was over at GenCon, but the $90 price tag made me reconsider. Seriously, $90 for this? I could see $60 easily, and an argument might be made for as much as $75, but $90 is just outrageous. I’ll admit the game does have a lot of chits and bits, but nowhere near as many as, say, Descent or Arkham Horror, both bit-heavy games from a bit-loving publisher, Fantasy Flight, and valued at $80 and $65 respectively. I’m even more dismayed to see Eclipse asking for so much when it uses ship figures recycled from the old Galactic Emperor game; Eminent Domain also uses the same figures, but I purchased that game for only $35.

All in all, an awesome game spoiled by the fact that their asking price and my valuation don’t meet.

 
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5
The Gold Heart
I Am What I Am
Strategist
10
62 of 73 gamers found this helpful
“Create a Space Empire of which you Can be Proud!”

The game of Eclipse has a daunting appearance at first glance however the goals and mechanics are easily understandable. At the conclusion of nine rounds the goal is for your space empire to have earned the most victory points. Simple, right? Victory points are gained by participating in combat, controlling hexes of the game board, researching technology, and forging alliances with other players. The greatest triumph of Eclipse is that all of these routes to victory are equally valid to pursue and all interact with each other interdependent.

When you choose a route to victory you can be assured that the route you choose will be viable and exciting. Eclipse keeps all of the participants focused on the table as you may need to amend your strategy mid-game. The research that is available each turn is determined by tiles drawn out of a bag, the contents of hexes are revealed as they’re explored, and combat is as unpredictable. Every round of the game is can bring something fresh and new causing the 2 – 4 hours to pass quickly.
Eclipse is a space game that will give you the feel of an ever-changing universe.

Commerce & Battles

While at first look Eclipse can appear cumbersome with so many pieces and elaborate rules. Yet, it is still approachable and can be easily understood. It is a graceful and intuitive game that while admittedly time-consuming is a great deal of FUN.
The “launching pad” for each player is the individualized game board that contains and controls you empire. It measures resources, income, ships (their upgrades), available technologies, and even the number of actions you can perform during your turn. Absolutely all the information you need is at your fingertips. Best of all you can also easily see the other player’s information. Eclipse depicts all of your options clearly and encourages you to take decisive action.

The game also makes sure that the scale remains manageable, while expansion is certainly a hallmark it never becomes too large. The layout of the hexes insure that you will make contact with other races yet fleets of ships never become excessive. Even tracking resources, controlled territories, and taking actions are all controlled by the same circular chip. Playing Eclipse is the only way to experience just how smoothly everything interacts.

Find It – Play It – Buy it – Have FUN!

Even though this review is relatively short that is a testament to the playability of Eclipse. The game delivers a complex space-conquest experience for everyone without creating the levels of complexity that could cause it to be left on the shelf. I’ve played Eclipse once and I’m anxious for a another opportunity to play again. While Eclipse is not a simple game, the complexity is easily managed and certainly worth the effort.

Space + Aliens + Commerce + Battles = FUN!

 
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3
I play red
10
61 of 76 gamers found this helpful
“Not too much, not too little, just right.”

Eclipse can be aptly called “Twilight Imperium Junior”, but is its own well made stand alone game.

I say this because it is a long game, but not too long. Maybe 3 hours with 6 people and an hour and a half or less with 2.

The game flows nicely and the mechanics are sound. The races are balanced, so are the tiles. You still get a feeling of an epic space empire, but without the extras and massive depth of Twilight Imperium. This is not a bad thing, because you don’t always have time for or want to play a massive game.

Eclipse is definitely a solid mid-line space empire game that is perhaps a bit daunting at first to some, but very easy to learn if you give it a fair try.

The only potential let down is that by the time you build a respectable fleet and tech tree (most of the time), there are only a few rounds left in the game. So you can almost always expect a Round 6 or 7 invasion somewhere on the board. Perhaps earlier if somebody gets lucky with their discoveries and has an edge.

As a side note, I highly recommend going to BoardGameGeek and downloading the official extras from the developers. There are a number of extras that they did not include in order to keep the cost down, such as a compact tech tree for print out with only the tech track and round marker on it. This is a fantastic option if you do what I do and store your ship part tiles in a plano box pre-sorted. It’s a huge space saver.

 
Player Avatar
7
Advanced Grader
Movie Lover
I'm Completely Obsessed
9
83 of 105 gamers found this helpful
“A fun, fast economic space exploration game”

This is a great game.

I’ll elaborate, Eclipse is a beautifully designed space exploration game. The design alone makes this game worth playing as the cubes coming off your 3 progress tracks for the different commodities uncover your income in that particular commodity. The distinctive shapes or icons for all the different actions show you exactly what you can do with that action. Basically everything is outlined right there on the table for you.

Like I said, that alone would make for a great example of graphic design and intuitive gameplay, but it has been incorporated into a game which is genuinely fun to play. The modular hex-based board provides a different orientation for every game which increases the replay value and the game has multiple ways to gain victory points – although the game also pushes you into a confrontational state fairly quickly as the prime way to gain points. A lot can also be said about the customization aspect of the game, the different ships you have under your control can be endlessly modified and optimized with different weapons, shields, and engines, along with the batteries to power all your add-ons.

The games I have played have been close, with no dominant player running away with the lead combined with a tense interaction among the players. Obviously, I have had a great time playing this game and will play it at any opportunity.

 
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3
My First Heart
8
17 of 22 gamers found this helpful
“Awesome 'Master of Orion' type game!”

It’s like Twilight Imperium Light.
Game is well thought out with many races to choose from.

Universe is carefully crafted with these races, big planet to take over, and other smaller ways to win if combat isn’t your style or you get a bad run of luck with your surrounding planets.

Pro’s –
Moderate time to play.
Many races to choose from.
Amazing design, iconography/artwork answer most questions after your first play thru.
Economy system is well balanced and thought out.
Having your own card with resource cubes is always cool!

Con’s –
Universe can take a bit of space if played in a smaller apartment with mid-sized groups.
Can be a drag at times if you have bad luck with your surrounding planets. Though you usually are afforded an out somehow.

This is one of my favorites, and I not the biggest fan of sci-fi genres.

 

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