What is it?
A giant space opera 4X game scaled down to an area control and resource management game.
What do you get?
Eclipse is not a cheap game. It comes with moderately detailed boards and gaming pieces. The box is pretty big and is well filled with cards and cardboard pieces.
How does it work?
Generally speaking, you are trying to eradicate the other nations in a set amount of turns. Starting off as one of several species your player board dictates your strengths and weaknesses. You player board displays your income and bonus’s per turn and the strength or boons of each type of spaceship class you can create. Typically a turn consists of exploring planets/stars to colonise and claim for resources. The combat is quite simple; almost risk style rolling 5+ to score a hit before modifiers.
Is it any good?
I’ve played 3 games of Eclipse now and the first thing I always note is it’s a pretty long game. Don’t expect to play this in under 2 hours and perhaps look more towards the 4 hour mark, just in case. On the surface, it’s a pretty easy game to get your head around. What’s interesting is every turn new technologies become available and depending on your race they can benefit you more than the others. The starting races are almost the reason Eclipse is a good and replayable game, learning new tactics and playing very differently to the game before.
There is a nice side to it where you can win through trade too. It’s not all about the biggest fleet though one drawback I’ve experienced is the end of every game result in a big space battle. I think this is an issue with the game design somewhere. At first it seemed very cool to finish that way but after the third game it felt a little pointless.
In a sense, I feel like this game inspired a lot of terraforming mars aspects with the resource management, which is the strongest aspect of the game. It’s fun adding all the upgrades to your nation too.
Eclipse is the sort of game you probably only play once a year with some very dedicated gamer friends. I would seriously advise against playing this with kids, parents or those that don’t want to play attention for too long.
It’s a neat game with a lot going for it and I’d love to see where some of its add-ons take it. Maybe that could be my new year’s resolution to get on this again.