Eclipse is epic space opera without the special effects

, | Games


Eclipse is out today for the iPad. It’s the port of a streamlined boardgame of epic sci-fi strategy. Or, to put it in videogame terms, a full game of Master of Orion 2 or Stardrive or GalCiv II played in an hour. Look how boring (pictured) it looks.

After the jump, you have no idea

Eclipse can be won any number of ways, but one of the common threads in any game is a lucrative central system heavily defended by a bad-ass NPC space station. It’s a choice piece of territory any space empire would be happy to have. And therefore every empire wants it. In my inaugural game, the defenses were cracked about half way into the game, at which point three of the four empires took turns seizing it from each other.

On the final turn, one of the AI empires showed up with a pair of reconfigured dreadnoughts. As you might guess, a dreadnought is the most powerful ship in Eclipse. But they’re not exactly rare. If you’re willing to pay for them, they’re easy to get. We all had them in play. But these dreadnoughts that showed up in the center of the galaxy on the final turn were unlike the dreadnoughts we’d been using. These dreadnoughts had been stripped of all energy weapons and shields. In their place were missiles. Crazy amounts of missiles. Overkill missiles, if you ask me. Given time, I’m convinced even the onboard computers systems would have been replaced with missiles.


Missiles in Eclipse have their own set of rules. They only fire once before a battle, which then settles into a sometimes drawn-out exchange of energy weapons fire. I had figured missiles might be a nice supplement to regular weapons, but I didn’t bother using them. It never occurred to me to just go overkill. When the AI’s dreadnoughts unloaded their overkill missile barrage, it was as majestic as something without graphics could ever be.

So there went the center of the galaxy, secured by last-minute missiles. The fourth empire that had opted out of the back-and-forth tussle spent the last turn adorning its far flung systems with monoliths — yes, those monoliths — for extra victory points. I had basically boomed up to advanced mining colonies. You can see each player’s score range (some points are hidden), so it seemed like it was going to be close. But how close?


Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. If you’re going to come in last place, as I did, that’s the way to do it.