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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review: Eclipse

Eclipse is a board game released in 2011. It is extremely popular among avid board gamers, and has maintained both a spot in the top 10 of "The Hotness" on BoardGameGeek since release (which is predominately controlled by the newest releases), also holding an 8.4/10 rating, making it ranked #5 on BBG's rating all-time rating system!

Eclipse is not a casual board game you throw down with some first-time playing mates on a drunken Friday night. Eclipse is a super complicated Euro game that requires some effort to learn, making it ideal to be played between a regular group of gamers. I was originally drawn to the game by the sheer number of pieces (my #1 rating factor for board games). It combines my love of Starcraft's resource management, Eve Online's ship customization, and board games all in to one!

All the pieces. As to be expected with Euro games, your storage solution can be made a lot easier with some Plano cases!
The basic premise is you command a race through exploration, research, industry, and combat. Taken from the game's BBG page: 

"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 Council was formed to enforce precious peace, and it has taken many courageous efforts to prevent the escalation of malicious acts. Nevertheless, tension and discord are growing among the seven major species and in the Council 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?
A game of Eclipse places you in control of a vast interstellar civilization, competing for success with its rivals. You will explore new star systems, research technologies, and build spaceships to wage war with. There are many potential paths to victory, so you need to plan your strategy according to the strengths and weaknesses of your species, while paying attention to the other civilizations' endeavors.
The shadows of the great civilizations are about to eclipse the galaxy. Lead your people to victory!"

How the board is set up at the beginning of the game. Note that their are more tiles that can be explored going outwards, but we usually don't place them until needed.

A closeup of a starting players tile.

Blue expanding through the galaxy
You have, in theory, an unlimited about of actions each round. You can explore new tiles, research new technologies, upgrade your ships and starbases with said new technologies, build new ships and starbases, or move your fleets around the board.
A player's board, naked.
As the game goes on, you move the little blue squares off your board and in to space and territory you control. As you remove the cubes, you gain the resources underneath them, so the more cubes you move off, the better. However, as you take actions, you remove the blue discs, which reveals increased penalties the more actions you take, so it becomes a risk/reward balancing act not to take more actions than your economy can handle!

A player's board fully loaded.
You control how your ships are built by building blueprints from the ground up. You can research bigger guns, faster engines, better armor, etc, and upgrade them to your ships. However, ships are limited by how much power they can support, so you also have to research power upgrades along with new fancy shiney guns!

A barebones Dreadnought. 

A Dreadnought upgraded with some truly frightening guns.

An example of how discs are removed and their underlying stats apparent.
You can keep taking actions until you feel you have stretched yourself too thin, and then you pass. The first player to pass gets to activate first on the following turn, so sometimes it's a good idea to lay low for a turn to get the jump on your opponent.

As new technologies randomly are drawn to be available for research, going first can be crucial to become the first race to unlock something like Plasma Missiles!
The communal board that tracks technology, turn sequence, etc.
Eclipse Board Game on Amazon

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