Despite the many years of peace the galaxy has known since the Terran-Hegemony War, tension and discord have begun to fester once more among the seven major spacefaring species. The Galactic Council seems doomed to fail. Old alliances have been shattered, and new treaties of convenience are being hastily forged in secret. A confrontation between the spacefaring superpowers seems inevitable. The only question is if the shadows of war eclipse the galaxy, which faction will rise victorious to establish its rule?
Eclipse is a massive, operatic game of exploration, expansion, and galactic conquest for two to six players. As the seven major spacefaring species brace for conflict, you must devise and enact a far-reaching strategy that will ensure your empire is the one that ultimately emerges strongest from the battles that appear destined to reshape the galaxy.
As you vie for dominance, you must balance your empire's defenses, research, exploration, and economy. You will want to advance as far as possible in every direction, but with your limited time and resources, you will need to pursue only those advances that best suit your strategy—even as you're forced to adapt to the complications caused by your opponents and the chaos of discovery.
Expanding and Advancing Your Empire
Your empire starts each game of Eclipse at its home world, isolated in a remote quadrant of the galaxy. Around you are vast, unknown, unexplored swaths of space that may or may not be ripe for the taking, and much of your early game is likely to hinge upon your exploration of these regions and your ability to take advantage of the resources you may discover within them.
Each round, you and your opponents take turns performing actions. There are six different types of actions indicated on your player board, and on your turn, you can either choose to perform one of them or pass. Over the course of the round, you can perform as many actions as you wish, but if you cannot pay for them at the end of the round, your empire will collapse. Accordingly, you're always balancing your actions, trying to determine which best fit your strategy, and the economic trade-offs of these actions are even built into your player board.
For example, if you wish to explore a new section of the galaxy, you must take one of your influence tokens from the influence track and move it to the space on your board that indicates the explore action. Then, if you wish to extend your influence to the region of the galaxy that you discover, you must take another influence token from your influence track and place it atop the new space hex. Accordingly, your decision to explore a new region of space and move to exploit its resources corresponds to the temporary loss of one available influence and the permanent reduction of another.
The more influence you use in a round, the greater the strain on your economy. Each token on the influence track covers up a number, all but two of which are negative. At the end of the round, you apply the leftmost revealed value on the influence track to your funds. If the adjustment would cause your funds to drop below zero, you must start gutting your empire, selling off other resources or sacrificing your influence in order to survive. If there's no way for you to recover enough funds, you are eliminated.
Still, your empire-building costs more than just money, and your strategy will need to account for multiple, integrated layers. You need scientists available to research new technologies. You need materials to build your fleet of starships. You need to add to your influence if you want greater value for your actions. As you move through the early rounds, building toward a position that you hope can withstand first contact with a hostile opponent, you will weave a pattern of carefully selected actions, each orchestrated to capitalize upon a momentary position of strength and to bolster your overall plan.
But will these actions form the first measures and movement of a triumphant battle hymn… or an operatic tragedy?
The Shadows of War
What you build in the early game can set you on the path to victory, or it can be obliterated by several dazzling bombardments launched by your opponents. As much as it is a game with deep strategic and economic considerations, Eclipse is a game of galactic warfare, and you need to be ready.
First of all, you need to score points in order to win Eclipse, and military victories are one of the best ways to score points. They also allow you to directly interfere with your opponents' strategies. If you can establish a military presence in a region of space that one of your opponents has settled, you can potentially eliminate that opponent's settlements and even influence. In turn, you can then influence the sector yourself, establishing control of its resources.
Beyond that, you need to build your fleet if you hope to settle those regions of space that you explore, but find to be threatened by an Ancient Ship. These battleships represent all that remains of the mysterious Ancient empire, and they have been described as "ships unlike any known design, with an unsettling feeling of something hovering outside your field of vision." Moreover, their technology greatly outmatches that with which you start the game, so while you expand your fleet, you would also be well served to upgrade it.
In combat, each ship contributes a number of six-sided dice to your pool equal to the number of its yellow blast icons. Each die result of "6" deals one damage to an enemy ship of your choice. One damage is enough to destroy most smaller interceptors, but it won't finish off your opponent's larger cruisers or dreadnoughts. Nor will it destroy an Ancient Ship. These larger ships each have hull values that add to the number of hits they can absorb before they're destroyed, meaning that before you head into battle against them, you will likely want to improve your chances, both by constructing additional ships and by outfitting them with advanced technologies to enhance your dice or penalize your opponents as they return fire.
Whether or not you wish to play the role of aggressor, you need to build your fleet and equip your ships for the coming battles. As Eclipse moves past the first movement that runs through the early game, you will find the mid-game punctuated by the sound of laser fire as the leading races clash with Ancient Ships and with each other. At some point, it becomes likely that the Galactic Senate itself will fall, blasted out of the heavens by missiles, rockets, and a torrential rain of laser fire. Then, if not before, Eclipse will reach its crescendo as the galaxy is ripped apart by all-out war!
Which Faction Will You Play?
While it's possible for all players to join the game as the leaders of rival Terran empires, Eclipse also grants you the ability to pursue an asymmetrical game experience by playing with different spacefaring species, each of which comes with its own unique blend of strengths and weaknesses. For example, you could start with the vast resources and technological wealth of the Eridani Empire, the galaxy's former rulers. Or you could take an early edge in battles with the ruthlessly efficient Orion Hegemony and their powerful warships.
In total, there are six non-Terran species from which you can choose, and each encourages a different style of play and a different gaming experience. The moss-like Planta are generally considered harmless, but their powerful vessels and talent for colonizing new regions could hint at future designs for conquest. The Mechanema have only recently been accepted as a full member of the Galactic Council, but their technological advancements are unparalleled, as are their efficiencies with the Upgrade action. Finally, you have the Hydran Progress, who excel at researching new technologies, and the elusive Descendants of Draco, who are rumored to be directly related to the Ancients.
No matter which race you choose, though, your player board helps you quickly process the appropriate adjustments with its built-in, species-driven information.
The galaxy of Eclipse awaits your discovery!
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Eclipse: Ship Pack One Rules
Rules07 Dec. 20151.8 MBLearn More