Board Games Review #1


– Jeff’s Board Games – Eclipse –

– Premise –

One of my friend gave me the idea to blog about board games after a discussion we had together. I don’t have any idea about the format I’ll use for that since all my blogs are wrote on the fly but I know one thing though. I’ll write about the board games I have in my small collection. I’ve around 55.

For my first blog I’ll will write about the best game I’ve ever played, Eclipse – New Dawn for The Galaxy.

The design of this game, the mechanics and how everything interact with everything else is so perfect that this game is easily on the top spot for me. I’m a hardcore player though. So it may not fit to everyone. If your kind of game is Blokus or Bang, it may not be for you though.

TL;DR at the end with PROs/CONs

Let’s do this.

– Game Details –

Designer: Touko Tahkokallio
Publisher: Lautapelit.fi
Number of Players: 2-6
Playing Time: ~30 minutes/players
Age: 12+

Theme: Science fiction
Type: Strategy
Win Condition: Be the one with the most victory points
Board: Hexes
Difficulty: Medium/Hard

– The Basics –

After the initial setup, each player choose a color/race and everything related to it, ships, race board, tokens, etc.

Then, turn by turn, each players decide what to do with their own colony.

They can:

– Explore another spot in the galaxy;
– Influence a planet to “own” it;
– Research new technologies;
– Upgrade their ships;
– Build ships or structures;
– Move ships for hexes to hexes (this is also used to attack)

The more the player do actions, the more resources it will cost. Obviously, the more you do, the more the colony will need.

After the player thinks he has done enough on a turn, he then decides to pass and the next player starts his turn.

The game always end after 9 rounds. Which is great. No never ending games.

After the set of 9 rounds, the player who has the most victory points (VP) win the game.

– The Kick –

The basics sounds really like any other games right? Pretty much. But I’ll explain some mechanics in details here to give a bigger picture.

Let’s start with the bread of the game, the hexes.

They look like this:

– The Worm Holes –

On the outer part of each hexes, there are worm holes (the white half circles). When you explore and draw a hex, you need to place at least one worm hole connected to another worm hole of another hex on the table. This is needed for traveling. Placing how the hexes connect with each other is a great part of the strategy to decide who will be able to navigate where. You can close the access to your galaxy with another player or open it so you can access that player planets!

– Planets –

All planets give you resources if you populate them. Each planet has a resource color that matches the one on the race board (see below) for you to exploit.

Also, each hex gives a number of victory point if the player control that area at the end of the game. The more area you conquer and keep, the more VP you’ll have at the end of the game.

Hexes can also have enemy neutral ships that you need to defeat in order to get access to that area and secret tiles containing ancient technologies (pretty powerful) or even lots of resources. You can also decide to use these tiles as VP at the end of the game. Yay for other way of gaining VP than combats!

Now let’s go with the race board.

This is how it looks in game:

This looks intimidating at first but this is pretty straight forward in fact. There are just a lot of place to put stuff that you buy and build. Also, all your resources are placed there.

– The Fleet –
The top part is your fleet. You have 4 types of ships.

– Small interceptors;
– Cruiser;
– Mighty Dreadnoughts;
– Planetary Defences

They are fully customisable! You can choose to have super high hull defence ships to tank in battle, choose to have Dreadnoughts with mega cannons that destroys everything or even have suicidal interceptors with missile launchers that they can only use on turn one of combats.

You can also build orbital stations to help you gather more resources and Monoliths that gives lots of VP for a big amount of resources at the end of the game. But beware, if you build one on a planet and another player conquer that planet and own it at the end of the game, that player will gain the VP! This is an option to gain VP without fighting. High risk, high reward.

Full customisation is really awesome. Every game you can try different strategies.

– The Tech –
The center part is the technology section. This is where you put the technology you research. This can go from better guns to better resources gathering from your planets.

There is three different sort of technology

– Military;
– Grid;
– Nano

They are all focused on something like weaponry, ship upgrades, resource gathering and such.

The cool thing is that the more of the same technology you have, the more VP you get. This is another option to get VP without attacking other players.

– The Colony –

This part is where you manage the resources of your colony and your colony itself.

There is 3 resources in this game

– Orange is Money;
– Pink is Science;
– Brown is Materials

It costs money to be able to feed and use your colony. The more you use it, the more it cost money as said above.

You need to spend Science in order to research Technology.

You need to spend Materials in order to build.

As you can see the cubes (blue) in the image above, the more cubes you remove from the race board and put on the hexes, the more resources it generates each turn. Numbers are going up.

The other part is the action sections and the cylinders are there for that. As I said, the more you ask your colony each turn the more it costs. You can see the number going down from 0 to -30. This is what it’ll cost the player at the end of a turn. At least, you get them back from the action part every turn. But beware, the more planets you own, the more it also cost (obviously) since you need to put a cylinder on each hex you own. The bigger your colony, the bigger the cost!

– Resources Tracking and Combat VP –

All the way around from right  to bottom, there is a counter. This is where you put your resources counter so you can keep track of each of them.

After a combat, you get 1 or more VP token. On them there’s a number. You need to put that token on the left of the resources section face down so other players don’t see it. The more you destroy in a fight the more you will pick from the bag so the better your chance to have a big number on it. You can only take 1 per fight.

This is an Eclipse board after a few turns. Beautiful isn’t it?

–  SO? –

All in all, I like everything (almost) about this game.

It’s not that complicated to understand if you already have played real board games before. The setup time for that game is pretty short also, which is cool. Games pieces are great and easy to spot when you play.

But what I really like is all the resources spending in the game all linked to each other and the fact that there are a few different path you can take to acquire VP and win the game. Also, the ship customisation is really great. After a few games, you can also choose to play alien races instead of the humans to have another way of playing. All races have different starting tech and powers.

On a personal side, I hate luck. For me the best games are luckless, 100% strategy, where, if you win, it’s because you are better that the other, nothing else. This game though, as some part of luck. The combats are made with dices. The hexes you draw when you explore are random so are the VP tokens you get after combats. But, you can manipulate luck on some. The more you kill stuff in a fight, the more token you can draw so better chances to get a big number for example. You can also customize your fleet to hit more easily (lower dice number needed).

To any strategy board game fans, if you haven’t played this game, you need to.

Jeff’s rating of Eclipse, 9/10

TL;DR

PROs
– Great game mechanics
– Fleet customization
– Lots of way to win
– Cool theme
– Different races

CONs
– Lots of choices
– Pretty hardcore
– Takes a lot of place (need a big table)
– Games can be long even if it’s always 9 rounds

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