When comparing Descent: Journeys in the Dark vs Eclipse, the Slant community recommends Eclipse for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Eclipse is ranked 21st while Descent: Journeys in the Dark is ranked 46th. The most important reason people chose Eclipse is:
You will never play the same game of Eclipse due to randomness of the tiles you and your opponents draw, the various strategies you can use, and the seven possible player races. The map will be different every time. The gameboard is made of multiple hexagonal tiles and it’s built out as the game progresses when players choose the “explore” action. There are three decks of hexes, the one you draw from depends on the direction you’re exploring in. For example. if you move away from the galaxy center, then you draw from the third-level hex pile, which contains less goodies than the second and first level tiles. The closer you go to the center, the bigger are your chances for loot. If you don’t like the tile you draw, you can discard it, but this’ll still make you lose an action.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Blends competitive and co-operative game play in one game
The premise is pretty unique in that one player takes on the role of an overlord while all other players act as the heroes who attempt to clear the dungeon. The overlord and the heroes play against each other in a turn-based setup.
The overlord is the one responsible for controlling the monsters and other pitfalls that the heroes will face. The overlord also has access to many powerful spell cards which can be played during their turn. The heroes work together to clear the dungeon of monsters and work towards the victory condition for their quest.
Since the main evil force is player controlled, it creates some really interesting situations not often seen in other boardgames such as monsters being able to play strategically and dealing with spell effects that aren't random.
Pro Accessible and easy to learn game systems
While the actual rule book may not be the most organized manual in the world, the gameplay systems themselves are very simple to grasp, even for new players. Thanks to being both intuitive and easy to follow, anyone can join in on the fun.
Descent uses basic dice rolls for most actions, and how many actions you can take per turn are clearly defined based on your hero class. Movement along the board is handled in a grid like fashion with each tile denoting a certain distance. There is never any second guessing of whether or not you're in range to help a friend or attack an enemy. If you can roll dice, follow a tile based board, and understand a few simple rules, you can easily play this game.
Pro Engaging and replayable full campaign mode
Each 60 to 90 minute game consists of a single quest, however there is a campaign mode where heroes can take on a series of story quests while also learning new skills along the way. This is a great mode for that true epic adventure feeling. If you find a hero you enjoy, you can grow and develop this character over time similar to a standard RPG game. Additionally, no two campaigns will ever be the same. There are 8 different classes to select from, and you can pick and choose the quests you do, which adds a lot of replayability.
Pro Appealing, clean presentation
Everything is laid out cleanly on the board so it's easy to keep track of the action. Each player has their own cards with all usable actions and skills neatly presented. All heroes and monsters have game pieces that can be moved around the board, so it's easy to be aware of your surroundings and plan your next attack. The health system uses special token pieces that are used to keep track of your health. Being able to see your health physically raise and lower to keep track of your damage taken is a nice touch.
Pro Can play solo with the mobile app
There's a mobile app called "Road to Legend" that lets you play this game solo. The app works by taking over the overlord role. It even has multiple difficulty settings so you can get as much of a challenge as you crave. It's a great way to play when you have no friends available for a gaming session.
Pro Bitesized quests for quick fun
Each short gaming session consists of one quest with its own victory condition and two encounters. They are quick to play when you're looking for something fun to do for an hour or so.
Pro Lots of expansion packs to keep the fun going
The makers of this board game have added over ten expansion packs which feature new monsters, quests, campaigns, heroes, and re-balanced mechanics. Even after you've extensively played the vanilla game, there's plenty of ways to extend the fun and keep playing a game you enjoy.
Pro Design encourages replayability
You will never play the same game of Eclipse due to randomness of the tiles you and your opponents draw, the various strategies you can use, and the seven possible player races.
The map will be different every time. The gameboard is made of multiple hexagonal tiles and it’s built out as the game progresses when players choose the “explore” action. There are three decks of hexes, the one you draw from depends on the direction you’re exploring in. For example. if you move away from the galaxy center, then you draw from the third-level hex pile, which contains less goodies than the second and first level tiles. The closer you go to the center, the bigger are your chances for loot. If you don’t like the tile you draw, you can discard it, but this’ll still make you lose an action.
Pro Amazing blend of Euro and Ameritrash mechanics
Eclipse is a "best of both worlds" mix of two different boardgaming genres. The game has a strong theme, player combat, unique factions, and some elements of luck that define the American style while still having plenty of the European-like resource gathering, individual development, and possibilities of no player conflict.
Pro Allows for many different playstyles
There are many possible ways to get points and win the game. Some players choose to take the militaristic approach and win by defeating the other players in combat, others choose to stray away from trouble and gain points by developing technologies. You can also earn points from exploration, colonization, diplomacy, and more.
Players can choose to play a human (Terran) faction or choose one of the six unique alien races. All six Terran factions share traits, but the aliens differ from one another. Race-specific traits give bonuses in specific actions, for example, trading for different rates, more movement flexibility, science or colonization bonuses, etc.
Pro Customizable battleships
Unlike other similar games, Eclipse offers players an innovative battleship customization feature. At the start everyone’s ships are basically the same, they can move, shoot, and have one health point. After you’ve amassed some of the “materials” and “science” resources, you can start upgrading them to different types and adding new components either in empty spaces or by overwriting existing ones.
There are many types of components – reactors, weapons, shields, hull, targeting computers, and engines. By mixing these you can create any ship you want, be it a well-balanced one or something completely ridiculous. You can make your ships into flying tanks able to sustain tons of damage and slowly chunk away the enemy, or instant death machines able to one-shot anything.
Pro Surprisingly simple
Eclipse looks a lot harder than it actually is. The structure of the game is quite straightforward, and the combat is easy to understand.
The game lasts nine rounds, each round has four phases – action, combat, upkeep, and cleanup. Most of the game is spent in the action phase, where players exchange turns performing one action until they’ve all passed. At the cost of an influence disc you can explore, influence, research, upgrade, build, or move. You can do as many actions as you want, but you’ll have to pay upkeep for every influence disc after the first one in the upkeep phase.
The combat phase consists of dice rolling to resolve any battles, be it player vs player or player vs NPC. Combat is initiated if two characters are on the same hex during combat phase. It is done by rolling a six-sided dice. Every 6 is a guaranteed hit, ever 1 is a miss. Whether the rest of the numbers deal damage is influenced by characteristics and equipment of battleships, which can also decide which ship attacks first, how many dice are rolled per ship, and how much victory-point tiles will the participants be able to draw after combat.
Pro Satisfying to see progression
At the start all players are spread out on their own tiles one tile away from the galaxy center. As the game progresses they take actions and discover new tiles around them with planets to colonize that get filled up with the respective player’s colors. Moments later the players are overlooking a big, colorful gameboard filled with colonies and battleships of all sizes.
Con Physical quality isn't the best
The game cards and board are flimsy and wear down rather easily. After only a few games, the wear and tear will be noticeable.
Con Disorganized rulebook
It's usually easier to find the information you need with an internet search since the rulebook itself is tough to navigate. It's arranged alphabetically by rule rather than organized in a manner that would align with the game flow.
Con Rules can be confusing
While the game systems themselves are rather easy to pick up and learn, some phrasing on the cards and within the rulebook is a bit cryptic, which may result in confusion when first starting out.
Con One player will always have to be the "bad guy"
Unless using the mobile app, which may very well ruin immersion for some, there is an evil overlord role that needs to be filled by a player. This is the player that makes decisions and takes actions for all the monsters. As such, this can be the source of many arguments. It can get especially bad when someone feels like they are being constantly targeted or singled out by the overlord.
Con Luck-based combat
The combat is based on rolling dice and drawing tiles after the combat is over. While the luck element of rolling dice is sort of taken care of because of the customizable battleships, the tile drawing part can be very unfair. Basically, once the battle is finished both parties draw a number of tiles that depends on the amount of destroyed ships. These tiles all have different victory point values, but you can only claim one. What this means is that you can lose a battle and still claim more victory points than your opponent from the single tile you draw.
Con Not very accessible to new players
The game isn’t too difficult, but it’s a long game that requires a lot of explaining and a lot of setup, which can be a huge turn-off for beginners. Running over the rules and the various situations will take around 20 minutes, and you will still need to explain a lot during the game itself because there’s a lot of stuff that requires managing. New players will have a noticeable disadvantage.
Con Art style won’t suit everyone
Eclipse has a sci-fi space theme that features aliens, technologies, spaceships, and everything in between. Since this is a pretty popular theme almost anywhere, be it books, games, or movies, to some people this might appear generic, bland, and kind of uninteresting.
The cost of a new copy of Eclipse ranges from $80 to $130 dollars.
Con Can easily make a mess
Even the tiniest shuffle of the gameboard will displace the tiny cubes and influence discs used to keep track of resources and actions. This is not only annoying but can also mess up the game because someone might place the cubes back incorrectly and give themselves an advantage.
Con Long setup and takedown times
Eclipse is already a relatively long game, but a lot of extra time is required just to prepare the game and to tidy everything up after you’re done. This is mostly since there is no official way to store the huge number of components. Setting up for the first time can easily take around 30 minutes, and if you don’t have some sort of convenient storage then it can still take 20-30 minutes for the next matches.
After you’ve set up and played your game, you still must calculate in approximately 10 minutes just to put everything back in its place.