Price– ~$100 !
Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 50min/play (2-6 players)
TL;DR– Some minor issues, but a great game. 90%
Basics– Eclipse is a four X game (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate). Players take the role of different races or group as they explore the galaxy following the fall of the “galactic UN.” Each turn, players use influence disks to dictate which action they will take. These actions range from moving ships, building ships, exploring, researching new technology, upgrading their fleets, or moving influences disks on the main board. When you explore you can also move influence disks to the board and colonize planets. Colonizing planets allows you to move population cubes from your player board to main board increasing your resources which are research (upgrades), money (actions), or materials (ships). Players may take as many turns as they want, BUT each action costs more money. At the end of a turn if you don’t have enough money or resources to exchange for money you have to remove influence disks from the main board which also removes any population resource production cubes you have on the main board planets too. Combat is quick. Each player rolls six sided dice adding and subtracting numbers based on the type of weapons, computers, and shield the ships may have. If you have a six after math or a natural six, you hit the enemy. Different weapons do different types of damage causing either one, two, or four damage on a hit. The game continues for nine rounds. At the end of the ninth round players score points for space sections controlled, research, battles, diplomatic relations, and discoveries. The player with the most victory points has led their civilization to victory across the galaxy!
Mechanics- This game looks complex, but it’s actually pretty simple. Action selection is done very simply by moving discs on your player board. However, that is deceptively simple. You can take as many actions as you want, but balancing growing your society and paying off your debts. I like that aspect of the game. Also, it’s amazingly fun to build up your ships via research and upgrades, throw lots of plastic ships on the board, and then destroy your opponents in war! However, the game walks a bit of a fine line playing like a Eurogame AND an American Style Game. Players randomly explore a galaxy, receive technologies, and get ancient technology, but randomness sometimes can really hurt a good strategy. That can put a few players off. Also, once you explore all the available tiles, the game inevitably turns to conflict. The galaxy of infinite, but the play space isn’t. The last turn is always build some ships then destroy the others guys ships. That predictability kind of hurts the experience. 4/5
Theme- The game does have a solid theme. I do feel like a space faring race exploring the galaxy. Also, the different powers of each race do make the game feel that much more like different creatures. The “borg” have cheap ships while one alien is a plant that spreads quickly across the galaxy. The instructions give a nice run down on each alien race too. I’d like a bit more, but it’s not bad. 4.5/5
Instructions- As I said before, the game is pretty simple, but the designers had to work hard to make the simple show through. It would be easy to confuse the players with this many options. However, the instructions are well done and even dedicate several pages to a turn by turn walkthrough of the game. There are LOTS of pictures to help explain things as well as several breaks in text. The instructions are 32 pages, but you can easily read through them in 30 minutes and understand the game. Well done! 5/5
Execution- This one is an uphill battle. The retail price of the game is $100! That’s a lot of money for a game, but this game has lots of stuff in the box. It’s a heavy box full of lots of cardboard and plastic. The pieces are well done and the cardboard is nice and chunky. Hard the shuffle, but for 100 bucks, I expect something pretty substantial. The colors are nice and the iconography works well once you read the rules. I like what I see, but I still think 100 is a bit high. If you can get this at a con for $70, then do it! 4.5/5
Summary- This is a fun way to spend an evening with some friends. It will take you about 15 minutes to get the rules down pat, and you can take off right away. You do feel like different races fighting one another for dominance, but beware of the late game fights and randomness. If you know it’s coming, then you can prepare for it! 90%