So then, Eclipse is everything I thought it would be. It is my new favourite board game, by a considerable margin. I think this is the first time that I’ve seen something I want, thought it looked amazing, bought it and it turned out to be everything I had hoped for and more.
It took a while to explain the rules and set up the game, but it quickly became intuitive to most of us (the guy on my right was a tad slow but never mind) the turns zip by and very quickly each turn becomes an intense strategic decision. Sadly we ran out of time, the last two rounds were foregone which is when my upgraded dreadnoughts would have brought their guns to bear.
The hippie sentient moss race (The Planta) won comfortably. They had lots of room to explore and allied with their only real neighbour for most of the game. Then suddenly they were fielding some of the best ships having started with the weakest. They betrayed their ally, The Eridani, when it was clear they were doomed, but losing three victory points turned out to be negligible when we totted up the scores at the end.
The militarists (The Orion Hegemony) effectively wiped out the Eridani Empire who I think have the hardest starting position in the game, you have lots of money and little else. The suggested strategy online for the Eridani is to spend all your resources in the first turn and get a dreadnought… seems pretty high risk to me but maybe the only way to fight out of the hole they start in.
The Orion Hegemony were expertly boxed in by my adept space exploration so they had no choice but to attack the Eridani. The guy running the Hegemony wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed though and bankrupted his empire a couple of times effectively hobbling his game.
I played the scientist faction, (The Hydran Progress) I got my economy going early on but I made several bad decisions in the mid game and was always a turn away from having the ships I wanted… I came second to last. Maybe if I hadn’t been so very tired…
The builder faction, (The Mechanema) kept to themselves and built monoliths galore, securing second place… a rather boring but effective strategy. I was allied to them and it was a very amiable alliance too, I was struggling to take down NPC ships for most of the game. He could have steamrolled me if he hadn’t been so happy building towards victory.
The game ended with an insane Mexican shootout between me, the Orion Hegemony and the Planta, in the center of the galaxy. I basically handed the Planta six more victory points but we were playing for laughs by this stage because we knew the game was ending early. To be honest I still wouldn’t have won, the Planta had it well and truly sewn up by this point, they had the best ships and could easily build more.
My only criticism is that in a five player game the board is asymmetrical, which in this case gave the Planta the perfect starting position. More room to grow on one side and the doomed Eridani on the other. But I don’t feel bad about that at all, a good time was had by all, what an amazing game. A true great.