Monday, 24 September 2012

First Play: Eclipse

I have been trying to get a hold of this game for a while now after reading a positive review of it on BoardGameGeek, however finally at TableTopNorth I was able to get a play of Ecilpse from Asmodee games. This article is intended to be an indication of my initial thoughts regarding this game and not a full blown review.

Eclipse is a 4X space opera style game with players taking their place as the leaders of galactic empires vying for solar systems full of resources to exploit and scientific discoveries to find. As well as the other players there are ancient aliens to fight guarding random treasures that can give your empire a boost.

Each player gets a race worksheet to record their current resources in the form of credits, science and production, the current allocation of population to resource production, the technologies researched, spaceship blueprints and the orders taken each turn.

The race worksheet handles resource
management elegantly

There is a lot to keep track of on the race sheet but the game is designed to take a lot of the complexity out of the record keeping and tedious bean counting is kept to a minimum. For example I like the way that you stack up your population cubes on your race sheet (the little white cubes on the picture above) and then when There'sallocate the blocks onto factories on the game boards this will uncover a number under where the cube was representing the level of your production in that resource. An elegant method of keeping track of things.

Exploration and Expansion is managed through the placing of hex tiles each representing a star system with differing resources available for you to Exploit. Travel between system is marshalled through wormholes which appear on some of the edges of the hex tiles. As you need matching wormholes to be able to transport ships between tiles by careful placement you can isolate your empire from aggressive opponents or open diplomatic channels to your friends.

Large hex tiles are drawn at random
to make up the galactic map

There is a scientific research system which allows you to modify the blueprints of your spacecraft making them tougher and more deadly. Other scientific discoveries allow you to improve the resource production rates of your empire or otherwise improve your civilisations.

You can of course choose to Exterminate your opponents through building the strongest or most numerous space fleets and bomb their planets to goo. The victor is the empire with the highest points awarded for the various aspects of the game from exploring and settling worlds to scientific excellence in a given field or through participating in galactic genocide. Their are many ways to win this game.

I was very impressed by this game for the way it simplifies what is normally a complex genre and was most impressed by the playing time which was very close to the thirty minutes per player estimate in the rulebook. Even in our very first play we were able to complete a game in under three hours. I intend to bring this game up to the Koffeeklub Sunday night meeting soon so expect a full AAR presently.

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