The last time my back went out (which happens all too frequently since I don’t exercise nearly enough), I found myself laying around with nothing to do, so I was perusing sales of board games on IOS. In doing so, I stumbled upon Eclipse, New Dawn for the Galaxy. It wasn’t on sale, but an old friend highly recommended it (to be frank, he was my best friend in high school, and though we haven’t talked in a long time, I figured I’d give it a shot. As a matter of fact, we wound up reconnecting just this past month as he was back in town for his 20th high school reunion–have I mentioned that I’m old?)
Yeah, that was a bit off topic, wasn’t it?
Anywho, Rich had recommended the game, and I had listened to the review from the d6generation and they had some nice things to say about it as well (egads, was that really back in early 2012?). Considering I couldn’t do much of anything, and the recommendations from those two respected sources, I figured I’d give it a shot.
Now, I won’t bother doing a detailed review of the game (I’ll leave the folks at Board Game Geek to do that), but I’ll give some overall general impressions. It may be helpful to know that I have never played the board game version, nor have I played with a real person, so consider that when you read my opinions.
To start off, the game has a lot going on. It’s what is considered as a 4x game, where you have to Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate. In doing so, you flip a series of tiles over to explore, and then move your ships and control markers into a territory to expand. Over time, you earn resources for the planets you colonize and use those resources to buy ships, research technology and otherwise expand your empire.
I did wind up playing the tutorials, but they’re fairly long and I became bored of them before I finished–which lead to some confusion about how specific parts of the game truly worked (one of the trickiest parts to learn was that, since you can basically do as many actions as you want during your turn, learning when to stop doing actions so as to prevent you from running out of money in later turns. For the record, this seems to be one of the most fundamental and difficult aspects of the game to master).
With all that going on, it was a little confusing, and it would probably go smoother learning from other experienced players.
There are a total of twelve races in the game, including six factions of humans (which, from what I can tell are all identical to each other), and six alien races that share a color with each of the human factions. This allows everyone to choose between playing the generic human race and a different alien species. I like that all of the different races have subtle differences, and none of them seemed ridiculously overpowered. For the most case, they are very slight tweaks: one race may get to build an extra ship in a turn, but at the expense of researching slightly slower. All in all, the tweaks make each of the races feel and play differently, but they don’t seem to be significant enough to make any one of them lopsided (though I don’t particularly care for the red aliens, whose only advantage seems to be that they start with extra money).
After playing through the game a few times, I started to get the hang of it, and I’ve wound up unlocking all of the single-player achievements. The biggest downside to the game is that there’s no single player campaign, so I stopped playing because it all seemed pretty similar to previous games. I’m betting if I played with real people, it could still be quite fun (though I’m curious how players deal with so many different tracks/components), but I haven’t gotten around to multiplayer on the tablet, because waiting for people to make moves in IOS is significantly less enthralling than doing so in real life.
In the end, would I recommend it? I think it was worth the $6.99 price I paid given that I was incapacitated at the time. If I had to do it over again now that I’m upwardly mobile, I think I’d pass though. It was good for a day or two of entertainment (which is good value at $7, if you compare it to the price of a movie ticket), but I haven’t touched it in the month since.