When comparing Eclipse vs Ice Cool, the Slant community recommends Eclipse for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Eclipse is ranked 21st while Ice Cool is ranked 23rd. 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 Often leads to memorable moments
The game can lead to some awesome moments because of the little penguins. Depending on where you hit the penguin, it will move differently. For example, if you flick the head of it, it will make the penguin jump. This can lead to some crazy trick-shots where someone manages to jump over walls. You can also flick them on the side, which will make the penguin spin. By doing this you could spin through multiple rooms and gather a lot of points or catch several penguins on the same turn.
Pro Easy to set up
The gameboard of Ice Cool is big, but it’s quite simple to set up. The playing surface consists of five boxes that all fit in the game’s box. You connect them in the correct places, all of which are marked with colored dots on the edges of the boxes. After that you take the little beige colored fish tokens and place them in the marked spots to keep the gameboard in place, and you’re good to go.
Pro Easy to learn
Ice Cool is very straightforward, it all revolves around flicking little penguin pawns. Doorways will have fish pegs attached to them, when you flick a penguin through it, then you’ll receive the fish and get to draw a fish card that gives you victory points. Each round one player will be the hall monitor who will try to catch other penguins and gather their student ID’s by hitting them instead of gathering fish.
The round ends either when the hall monitor has gathered all ID’s or when someone has gathered all three fish tokens. The game ends when everyone has been the hall monitor. The player with the most points on their fish cards wins.
Pro Beautiful design
Aesthetically Ice Cool looks very impressive. The playing surface is a 3D school consisting of five different rooms that feature many little details all over the walls – maps, fish, basketball hoops, etc. Everything has a blue, cold-looking color scheme, which kind of mimics an igloo.
The cards also have some great artwork on them. The ID’s are two-sided for boys and girls. Each colored penguin has a different look and style. The fish cards depict, you guessed it, fish. The bigger the point value, the bigger the meal.
Pro High quality components
The components of Ice Cool are very interesting and well-made. The game’s playing surface is made of five 3D boxes that all fit in the game’s box. The player tokens are four penguins made of hard plastic that are weighted in the base so that they keep wobbling when hit. Throughout the game players gather fish tokens, which are nice and small wooden pieces similar to pegs. There are also some cards in the game – ID cards and fish cards, which are all made of durable cardstock.
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 Has a learning curve
Ice Cool is quite skill-based and requires practice on flicking the penguin pawns to get them to go where you want to. The rulebook has some tips, but the techniques can only be learned by playing the game. A new player won’t do well against a player who has already played a bit.
Con Luck-based scoring
Catching penguins and gathering fish to get victory points in Ice Cool requires skill, but the values on the fish cards you get range from 1 to 3, which means that even if you’re good at the game, you can lose because of pure chance. Someone could potentially score the same amount out of one card as you with three cards.
Con Only one layout
The gameboard can only be arranged in one way, so the game can get quite repetitive in this aspect.