After a trying (and rant-worthy) vacation travel story that saw my ~10 hours of flights turn into ~22 hours of travel, I splurged and bought Eclipse. So far I’ve played three games, two training games with the son and a 3-way fight. I’ve also lurked around a few other games (Eclipse is in constant rotation at SABG).
Right now I’m enthusiastic, and I hope Eclipse will garner significant play time. I just printed out an (unofficial) solo variant to get a fix in.
The rules are online, and there are plenty of mechnical reviews. Here are some thoughts.
It really only takes ~30 minutes per player. That’s huge. Twilight Imperium (even the new version) outstays its welcome. Eclipse leaves you wanting more. Arguably a touch short, but that’s much better than too long.
Mini-turns mean little downtime. In other games, when it’s not your turn you leave the table, but here it goes ‘action-action-action’ fairly quickly. Combats don’t resolve until the end of the turn, so there’s no real break. Several players had actions that took no longer than saying them (then the next player goes on while you mechnically do it.) “Researching Neutron Bombs.” “Upgrading to Improved Hulls.” “Building a Starbase and two cruisers over there.” Exploring (with a disc revealed) and sometimes upgrading take a bit of time, but for the most part the downtime is all player driven.
I like the flexible action sequence. Passing first gets you player order, but doesn’t totally lock you out. You can still take some limited actions (move, build and upgrade, but only one unit each). And each action you spend costs more and more money. This also means that you can overspend to move a fleet into position by overspending and hope to recoup your money via conquests (which will increase your income in the nick of time).
The spaceship upgrading and technologies fascinate me. I lost Monday because I had the right technologies and the action to upgrade my ships, but I’d miscalculated the energy and space calculations and botched it…. fleet destroyed. There are lots of little details to this system, and even for the relatively small ships how you get your armada from the starting shape into endgame position strikes me as a delicate balance. Technologies come out randomly (although I believe there are more of the cheaper ones), so there’s no “optimal” order of purchases. Outfitting Tier 2 Components (be it Engines, Shields, Computers or Weapons) then upgrading them costs 3 actions (assuming you upgrade all your ships). Do you want to spend 3 more actions going to Tier 3? What will you leapfrog? What will you ignore?
Lose the battle but win the war. After finishing our game I watched the neighboring game as Ben committed his entire fleet against the Throneworld … and get annihilated. He went on to win the game. You have to love that.
And I haven’t even gotten to the Aliens. Lots to explore here.