Saturday, May 9, 2015

Board Game Review: Eclipse

Before I start the actual post, I wanted to mention that this is not a review of the interstellar conquest game by Asmodee. Instead, this is about the two-player abstract strategy game from Gigamic Games.

That said, this post would normally not be a board game review. But this past week has been so ruddy busy and stressful, I simply don't have the time or the energy to think of anything more in depth right now. So I'm going to take the easy route and review another board game.

There's a booth at Scarborough Faire in Waxahachie Texas that sells board games and card games. I spent some time looking at their wares, and decided to pick up a simple little wooden game called Eclipse. Now I will review it for you. Starting with the numbers:
Strategy and Randomness are rated from 0 to 6. A 0 means the rated aspect plays no part in determining the game's outcome; and a 6 means that it is the only factor that determines the game's outcome. Complexity is also rated from 0 to 6; a 0 means that it's so simple a six-year-old can play it, a 3 means any adult should have no trouble playing, and a 6 means that you'll need to refer to the rulebook frequently. Humour can be rated as 'None,' meaning the game is not meant to be funny, or it may have one or more of the following: Derivative (meaning the humour is based on an outside source, such as a game based on a comedy film), Implicit (meaning that the game's components are funny, such as humourous card text), or Inherent (meaning that the actions the players take are funny). Attractiveness has nine possible ratings. Ideal: the game is beautiful and makes game play easier. Pretty: The design is beautiful and neither eases nor impedes game play. Nice: The design is beautiful but makes game play harder than necessary. Useful: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but eases gameplay. Average: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Useless: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Utilitarian: The design is ugly, but eases gameplay. Ugly: The design is ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Worthless: The design is ugly, andmakes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Average Length of Game Play describes how long an average game will probably last, give or take.
Strategy: 6
Randomness: 0
Complexity: 0
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Pretty
Expected Length of Gameplay: 20 minutes

Eclipse is a very simple little strategy game. The board is a wooden disk, about 25 cm (10 inches), marked with holes laid out in a hexagonal grid. The pieces are small wooden spheres, most of them linked in pairs by chains. Each player's set consists of two pairs linked by short chains, and three pairs linked by slightly longer chains. In addition, there is one larger sphere that is not linked to any others. The linked pairs are called 'satellites' and the one larger unlinked sphere is called the 'comet.' The object is to immobilise your opponent's comet.
A close up of the pieces on the board in the middle of a game. You can see several vacant holes, but most of them are occupied by the little pairs of wooden balls linked by dog-tag style chains. Some of these pairs are a light orangish-brown colour; the others are a dark purpley-brown. A couple of the pairs are arranged so that their chains cross over the chain of another pair. In the bottom of the picture, one of the light coloured balls is larger than all the others, and is not linked to another.
The game begins with each player's pieces arranged on his or her side of the board. Players take turns moving one piece. The comet may move to any empty adjacent space, and is allowed to cross the chains of your own satellites in doing so, but is not allowed to jump over the chains of opponent satellites. A satellite moves to any space that it can reach within the limit of the chain linking it to its partner satellite. If a chain is placed across another chain, as in the case of the pieces in the top centre of the photo above (the chain that links the satellites of the darker colour is on top of the chain linking the two of the lighter colour), then the satellites whose chain is on bottom cannot move until the pieces that have trapped them have moved.

If, at the end of your turn, your comet has no available legal moves, then your opponent wins the game.

That's it.

Like I said, it's a very simple game. There's not a lot of depth to it, but it's fun for a quick match. It's all strategy, with no randomness at all, so in a way, it's like a super-simplified game of chess. The addition of linked pairs of pieces makes for a nice touch, in my opinion, It changes it from a standard move-and-capture game like chess or checkers to a slightly more esoteric game in which the placement of your pieces changes the way you are able to move. You cannot just charge across the board, but must move two pieces in tandem, leap-frogging them over one another to make any progress.

It might not be enough of a game for serious strategy enthusiasts, but as a quickie between longer games, or if you don't have a lot of time, or especially for younger players who can't yet grasp the subtleties of grander games, it can be fun on occasion.

And that's it for this week. As always, I wish you a fond:

Game on!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'd love to play Asmodees eclipse with you some time,it's one of my favorite games