When comparing Eclipse vs Puerto Rico, the Slant community recommends Eclipse for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Eclipse is ranked 21st while Puerto Rico is ranked 33rd. 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.
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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.
Pro Simple to learn, but plenty of strategy
The basic game flow of choosing Governor roles each round is easy to grasp, but in its simplicity, it offers much depth. Sometimes choosing between a role which will benefit you at the moment versus a role with the bonus money can make you pause and plan ahead. Perhaps you might even consider taking a role that you know your opponent wants, just to prevent them from getting ahead. This constant analyzing allows for plenty of strategy to take hold even if the game play itself is rather simplistic.
Pro Offers exciting possibilties during game play
Building new buildings, trading goods, and taking control of the shipping market can offer some intense gameplay. Deciding what role to take each turn for maximum benefit can be exciting - there is a limited supply of everything. Goods take time to produce and there is only limited ships for use in exporting them. If someone else takes the role you wanted that turn and ruins your shipping or trading plans, you'll have to adjust your strategy on the fly. This can result in some pretty exciting gameplay where you're always thinking of multiple paths to victory.
Pro Each round you'll get to try something new
On each round, players go around the table and choose among seven Governor roles such as builder, captain, trader, and more.
Each role has its own special ability and benefit - for example, builders can erect buildings with money and captains can ship goods. At the end of each round, there will always be three or more roles which were not chosen. These roles are given bonus money for the next round in order to encourage players to choose them on the next round. It's a simple mechanic, but being able to try a new role every round ensures you'll have plenty of ways to play out each round.
Additionally, there is a Governor token that is passed to a new player every turn. This token allows you to choose all roles on the round you're in possession of the token. This has to the potential to be a very fun and lucrative turn.
Pro Smooth game flow thanks to balance
There are several aspects of balance that make the game play out incredibly smooth.
First of all, each role can only be selected by one player per round. No two players can choose Captain on the same round, for example. This means no one player can ever dominate a role since it's likely they won't get to choose that role during the next round. The addition of the tempting bonus money to unused roles from the previous round pretty much means all roles will get used eventually.
Secondly, when you go to ship your goods if you choose the trader role, each ship can only hold one type of good. So if you are focusing on sugar exportation, you won't have to worry about your opponent who is farming something else hogging all the ships.
Lastly, while players go around the table and roles are executed in order, their benefits do not take place until after the round is over. This means even if someone acted before you that round, he or she will not necessarily have the advantage.
Pro Easy to teach your friends to play
While there are intricacies and strategies that are learned over time, the basic premise and simple rules are very easy to teach. Getting your friends into the game is quick and easy, even if they've never played before.
Pro Tense thanks to a hidden scoring system
Score chips are placed face down on the table and are worth 1 or 5 points. Only you will know your own score. Even if you know how many chips your opponent has, you won't be able to tell their point total since the chips are worth variable points. This keeps things tense from start to finish.
Pro Everyone can participate
Time wise, the game never feels dominated by a single player. Everyone gets to choose a role for their turn and there's never any scenario or situation where a player is left out or forced to sit out a round. This makes it a great game for any group or get together.
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.
Con Takes a long time to set up
It takes longer than the average board game to set up. This is compounded by the fact that each player has their own board. When playing with multiple new players, helping each one set up their board for the first time can be quite a time sink.
Con Not a lot of visual appeal
The board colors are washed out and very bland. Buildings and other resources are simply cards with text. It's definitely not an exciting game to look at, and that may make some people hesitant to want to play.
Con Requires a minimum of three players
You will need a minimum of three people to play, however even with this number, the game might feel slower than intended due to all the unused roles every round. The game is played best with 4-5 players so that more roles are filled and the game can speed along.
Con It's hard to catch up if you fall behind
It's very easy for more experienced players to quickly take the lead with proven strategies. New or inexperienced players that are trailing behind may never be able to catch up. Since everyone can play all the roles, there's not really any random luck that will allow you to take the lead out of nowhere.