Just finished my first proper game of Eclipse! This is a pretty awesome SF boardgame with a strong theme and lots of strategy!
Eclipse is a grand-scale 4x (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) style board game, where each player plays an alien race expanding from their system into the universe, colonising planets, developing new tech, building ships, and meeting (and probably going to war with) other races. If you're familiar with the Twilight Imperium game, it's a similar idea but much more streamlined and quicker. If you're familiar with the Masters of Orion computer game, it's kinda like that but on a board.
One of the really cool things about it is that pretty much everything you need to know is easily available on the player mats and supply board (e.g. if you forget how many ships you can move how much research you can do per turn, it's on the player mat). This means that after the first couple of turns the rules are be pretty straightforward - the challenge is in determining your strategy and what actions to take.
I'll leave it to the ladies at Starlit Citadel to explain how things works (probably better than I could here) in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97cmmYdEwBA
So... tonight I tried it out with a couple of friends - took about an hour to setup and explain which wasn't too bad. Then we set up a three player game and off we went!
Here's how the board looked at the start of Turn 3 - Red's out on his own, everyone's a bit cautious since we're not entirely sure how things work yet.
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Here's the board as Turn 6 starts - Red's stil on his own but is amassing Orbitals (these let you put down more population cubes to generate more Money or Science income)! Yellow is somewhat hemmed in by Ancient ships. And Blue has built a couple of Dreadnoughts - really *terrifying* dreadnoughts...!!
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This is what Blue's dreadnoughts look like (they're the third ship from the left at the top). The first discovery tile he got was the Axion Computer which gave him +3 to hit on top of the +1 he already had from his Electron Computer, after which he built two Dreads and put it on those, so he only misses on a 1 with those in combat. Then he got Plasma Missiles, which meant he basically won all his combats since those fire those off at the start of combat, and he now only misses on a 1. Then he found an Ion Turret for extra shootiness (he didn't end up using those since the missiles blew up everything he fought). And then to cap it all off he found a Shard Hull, which gave him three extra hull points to resist any damage he might take!
So his Dreadnoughts were ridonkulously powerful and unstoppable (and they still had one energy to spare!)! BTW, the underside of that discovery tile on the side there is the Ancient Hypergrid energy source (which would have given him 11 energy too)... he got REALLY lucky with the discovery tiles.
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This is what the board looked like at the end, after Final Scoring - Blue had 33, Red had 24, and I (Yellow) had 19. The Red cruisers beat the Blue interceptors in their hex, and Blue's dreads and interceptors obliterated the Galactic Centre before it had a chance to fire back! Unfortunately for Blue, Red didn't kick him out of the hex that he just won, which meant (since Blue had run out of Influence Discs) that Blue didn't have any discs to claim the Galactic Centre with! But Blue still won anyway
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All in all, it's an awesome game. The mechanics are pretty simple, it's a lot of fun, and there's plenty of ways to win it. The Technology that is available is random (as well as the hexes) so each time you play it'll be different - so lots of replay value. It is expensive ($99) but you get a LOT of pieces, and they're very well made. And the design of the player mats is amazing - all the info you need to play the game is right there so there's very little need to flip through the rulebook. We managed to play the whole game with three players in four hours - once we understand the strategy and rules better I think we could knock that down considerably. And the theme is great - you really feel like you're running an empire and exploring and conquering the galaxy! I'd really recommend it if you're a boardgame and SF fan!
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