We’ve played: Eclipse

Eclipse is a very highly rated grand strategy epic game of galactic domination that combines a great engine building mechanic with tactical star battles. This is a true 4X game – eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. It combines epic scale, civilisation building with a limited round count that ensures the game can never go on too long. This was our first play of this and we really enjoyed the multiple elements, the simple and logical rules, the intuitive game play and the fun of engine building and simple combat. It is no mystery to us why this game is so highly rated and popular, being easy to grasp but with huge depth and replayability. Our first play of this took several hours as we learnt it – the second game zapped by very fast indeed. This will be getting plenty more play time at our place!
Eclipse available HERE.

Start of a two person game between Nat in yellow and red for me, colours chosen mainly for photographic ease rather than personal preference!

Each player has a board with influence discs, an action track, three population tracks that show how much of each resource will be earned each round, empty technology research tracks and at the top of the board blueprints for the four different ship types that can be built.

Each player has a starting system hex one hex away from the Galatic Centre hex. Plenty of room to expand without bumping into each other. You’d think …

Nat’s starting player board, exactly the same as mine to begin with. The population cubes will be removed from the board and placed on new star systems, indicating those worlds have been populated. Their removal from the board reveals the resulting increased earnings that population will bring into the player’s civilisation. Populations earn either money (the orange track), scientific capacity (the pink track) or materials (the brown track). Around the outside of the player board is a counting track that indicates how much of those three resources the player has amassed at any given time.

This is a single technology board shared by all players. At the top left are the available technologies that players can “research” – by purchasing with their science resource. New technologies are introduced randomly every round. Once a technology is researched by a player they moved it onto their own board, and they are then able to obtain the corresponding ship parts from the piles at the bottom of this technology board as pictured here.

As play progresses Nat has explored outwards from her starting system in two directions. She has revealed a system inwards towards the Galactic Centre, but this new system is currently guarded by an “Ancient” spaceship that must be defeated before Nat can take control of that system. She also expanded upwards to an unguarded system that she was able to take control of by placing an influence disc, and populating two plants with her cubes, which will earn her more money and materials (orange and brown).

Nat has put out some population cubes from her money and materials track, so will earn more of those resources at the end of the round. The number of influence discs she has allocated to actions or to systems from the influence track at the bottom indicates how much money she will need to spend at the end of the round.

Nat has also purchased a Nanorobots technology using 2 science resources.

Different space system hexes are drawn from these piles as they are explored. The type of system drawn (I, II, or III) is determined by how many spaces out from Galactic Central the hex is. As a general rule the closer n the system is, the more valuable and heavily defended it is.

At the end of round two, I have explored four systems additional to my starting system.

This system has a “grey” planet, which allows me to place a cube from whichever resource track I wish. Planets with the star symbol, such as the orange one here, require the research of a technology before they can be populated.

I have now explored out to this system which has a Discovery tile on it.

Once a system with a Discovery tile is controlled, then the tile may be taken by that player, who must immediately decide whether to keep the tile as two victory points for game end, or redeem the previously concealed benefit of the tile, which in this case is a free technology research event.

Nat has now built up her fleet (soon to be common theme) and is attacking the alien ancient vessel controlling this system hex.

Nat successfully defeated the ancient vessel with firepower and good dice rolls – it is removed.

And Nat takes control of this newly conquered system.

Nat then explores outwards and repeats the process.

Nat’s success this time pays off with a Discovery tile that provides her with a unique and powerful alien ship part she can equip to one of her ships.

Our territories are growing and intermeshing. Here I am boldly advancing into Nat’s system.

I have equipped my Dreadnought blueprints with enhanced power sources, firepower, and nuclear drives, in order to make them more powerful.

Here I travelled through Nat’s territory without trying to take it off her, in order to attack an ancient vessel with a view to taking control of the system it guards.

Unfortunately the ancient vaporises one of my ships.

Leaving a dreadnought to fight this battle – unsuccessfully – I then lost this ship and was repulsed.

Nat meanwhile continues her success in cleaning house, destroying ancients with her very well-equipped fleet.

At game mid-point I have a very good money producing empire with lots of science earnings as well, but not very powerful technology or ships.

Nat earns less than me but has a very effective and well equipped fleet.

I finally manage to destroy the ancient and take the system it guarded, as well as have a presence in one of Nat’s systems. For now …

Nat has obtained some very useful technology and powerful ship parts.

I have now improved my technology and have great productivity, but perhaps too late.

Final round and Nat decides I have too much territory.

Nat takes away my territory by turning my fleet to space dust.

Nat then invades into the heart of my systems.

My system is defended by two cruisers and a space station.

Nat’s superior technology wipes away my vessels and she takes control of my system.

End game board for me.

End game board for Nat.

End game of our first ever game of Eclipse, with a decisive and well earned victory to Nat, whose superior technology and military might outweighed my territorial span.