In Eclipse you take on the role of one race in the galaxy as you attempt to achieve galactic superiority.
The galaxy itself is represented by hexagonal tiles, and at the outset is largely undefined (all that is on the table is the Galactic Centre (GC) and each player’s home system). Systems are defined by their proximity to the GC: those directly next to it are region 1, the next ring out is region 2 (this is where homeworlds sit), and anything outside that is region 3. Each system may have planets which can produce minerals (brown), money (orange), science (pink), or your choice of one of those 3. Systems can be linked to their adjacent hex if they have a wormhole (half circle) on the edge.
The game goes for 9 turns, while each turn goes around in a number of phases until everyone has passed. Each phase a player chooses one of 6 actions: Explore, Influence, Research, Build, Upgrade, or Move. One players announces and performs their action, then it moves to the next player. When a player announces an action they take an influence disc off their influence track and place it on the action they are taking. Each influence disc has an increasing cost, so you have a limit to the number of actions you can take (as the difference between your influence cost and your money production each turn is added or subtracted from your money resource).
The explore action allows you to select an empty area adjacent to a hex you control or have a ship in (provided there is a wormhole to that space) and select a random hex to place in that area. You get to determine the orientation of the hex (so where the wormholes in and out are). If the system is empty you may claim it by placing an influence disc (more on that later). You may turn over a colony ship (most races have 3) for each planet in the system you want to colonise. It is worth noting that there are a limited number of region 3 hexes (so you can’t just keep expanding outwards, you need to eventually go in). Sometimes a system will not be empty, it will contain an ancient ship which must be defeated before you can claim the system. The GC begins occupied by a Galactic Centre Defence System which is particularly tough (not likely to be defeated before turn 4).
The influence action is where you manipulate the systems you control. It allows you to pick up and place up to 2 influence discs, and also to refresh 2 colony ships (sometimes important if you are expanding rapidly). As mentioned above, having influence discs controlling a system means they are costing you money, so you might use this action if you control systems that are not producing much.
The research action allows you to discover new technology. The technology in the game is represented on a technology board. There are three technology tracks (Military, Grid, and Nano), and 8 possible technologies on each track. Not all technologies are always available: a number are randomly drawn at the beginning of the game, and more are added at the end of each turn. Each technology has a normal cost and a minimum cost. As you research technology along a track it will give you a discount on future tech researched on that track. When you research a technology, you take it from the technology board and move it to your own technology track. Technology costs you Science resource.
The build action allows you to build ships or constructions in a system you control. Each build action allows you to build at least 2 ships or constructions (the Mechanima race can build 1 more each action, and the Nanorobots technology allows you to build 1 more each action). The ships you can build are Interceptors (small), Cruisers (medium) and Dreadnaughts (large). Additionally if you have researched the technology you can build Starbases (immobile ships), Orbitals (space station city planets which produce either Science or Money ), or Monoliths (artefacts to your greatness). Building costs Mineral resource.
The upgrade action is used to place technology you have researched into your ships. Each of your ships (including starbases) have templates on your control board (from the 4 square interceptor to the 8 square dreadnaught). An upgrade action allows you to take 2 upgrade tiles and place them on your ships template. Note that this automatically upgrades any ships you have already built. There are certain rules that need to be followed though: each ship must have enough power to power any upgrades put on it, and each ship must have a drive (except the starbase, which can’t have a drive).
Finally, the move action is used to move ships between hexes. Each move action allows you to move 2 ships 1 hex (or 1 ship 2 hexes). The exception is the humans, who can move 3. Drive technology (once upgraded) allows ships to move further. Moving into an occupied square (be it another player or an ancient ship) is how battle is initiated.
Battling is done in rounds, in initiative order (smaller ships, better computers and drives will improve your initiative, which is a static score for each type of ship). Defenders win ties. All combat is d6 based, with each ship firing its weapons (which do either 1, 2 or 4 damage depending on upgrades). Hit chance is increased by computers, but reduced by shields. Each ship can take an amount of damage (assigned by the firing player) based on its hull points. You can retreat but the other player gets a parting shot.
At the end of the 9th turn players total up their Victory Points (VP), with the player with the most VP being declared the winner. VPs are earned a number of ways:
1) Scientific Research. For each of the three science tracks that you have 4 technologies of, you gain a VP. If you have 5 on that track, you get 2VP, 6 you get 3VP, and if you fill the track, 5VP.
2) Systems you hold. Each system you hold has a VP value from 1 to 4 (4 being the Galactic Centre).
3) Battle/Treaty. For every battle you fight in, you get to take a VP tile (ranging in value from 1 to 4). Depending on if you win or how many ships you destroyed, you take more tiles (but only get to keep 1 from each battle). Alternatively, you can have an alliance with another race and gain 1VP.
4) Discovery tiles. These will either provide you resources or alien technology, or you can take them as 2VP.
5) Each monolith built is worth 3VPs.
More in future entries.
It’s a lot of fun!