FTW Staff Picks - Eclipse
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Designer: Touko Tahkokallio
Genre: 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate)
Player Size: 2 to 6 Players
Game Length: 30 minutes per player
For fans of: Risk, A Game of Thrones: Second Edition, Terra Mystica
In the almost year long history of FTW Staff Picks, Eclipse likely sits far and away as the longest and most complex game that we've covered. We typically like to cater to everyone with picks that we think most gamers will appreciate, but every now and then you just want to sit in front of a table and burn 3-4 hours away in a heated table top experience.
Eclipse is my favourite 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate) game. To me, a good 4X game means that all X's have their own avenue to victory. I played a lot of Civilization on PC and I would consider that to be my own personal pinnacle of 4X standard. Eclipse, is the closest I've felt replicated that experience in its own very different ways from Civilization.
There's no way we'd be able to cover all the aspects of Eclipse in this blog, but I'll try to explain what parts of it I really thought were intuitive. The parts that make Eclipse a unique and engaging experience. The one word that immediately comes to mind, when considering what makes Eclipse great is: Economy. The cubes and discs serve dual-purposes of populating and colonizing and also income. The game blends euro-style mechanics seamlessly with standard Ameri-trash ones. Without getting into too much jargon, Eclipse delivers a streamlined 4X experience that looks intimidating, but is actually easy to grasp after a few plays.
Generally, people tend to frown upon games that cross beyond the 2 hour mark. And even in its quickest experience, Eclipse will likely take you at least 3 hours. If you're going to take the time to invest in a game that will take that long, you'd obviously want it to be worthwhile. Eclipse is one of those games where upon its opening turns, it is very much an exploration process and players are all on equal footing. Adapting to the game as it comes, is part of the experience. The most intriguing part of long-form games is what makes them so. Where does the challenge come from? Does it feel manufactured, or natural? The progression in Eclipse can feel overwhelming at first, but it's an overwhelming curiosity as opposed to an overwhelming dread. If you're ever looking to dive deep into the foray of 3+ hours tabletop gaming, I'd highly recommend giving Eclipse your time of day.