When comparing Balderdash vs Eclipse, the Slant community recommends Eclipse for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Eclipse is ranked 21st while Balderdash is ranked 27th. 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 A great party game
Balderdash has been around since 1984 and has proven itself to be perfect for all kinds of gettogethers. The game is simple and filled with plenty of socialization, bluffing, ridiculous answers, and laughter.
Players receive points from other players, so it’s entirely possible to move forward on the gameboard only because of others applauding what you’ve written. Players can often get some laughs and points out of everyone by making their answers little throwbacks to previous answers.
When everyone has chosen an answer, the correct one is revealed. This can lead to plenty of hilarious discussions about how another answer appeared more probable.
The game is very easy to teach and accessible because there really isn’t much to it. The basics are straightforward – you take a card, roll dice, and choose the category on the card that matches the rolled number (if a player rolls 6, they can choose the category). Then you say whatever is written under the category to the other players – a word that requires a definition, a movie that needs its plot, etc. While the players are writing their answers, you write down the real one. Once everyone has handed in the answers, you read them aloud. Then the players vote, and you write down which player voted for who. After that points are distributed.
If nobody managed to guess the correct answer, then the “dasher” (the person reading the answers) receives three points which translates to three moves on the gameboard. If a player’s written answer was correct or very close, they receive three points and their answer is not read aloud with the others. Otherwise players receive a point for every other player voting for their answer. Two points are given to whoever guesses the correct one. The first person to reach the finish space on the gameboard wins.
Pro Decent replayability
You will never play the same game of Balderdash twice. The box of the game includes 280 cards with 5 categories on each. Even if you manage to draw the same card in a different game, chances are the dice roll will make you read out a different category anyway.
Pro Allows one to be creative
When writing down answers the player gets to be as creative as they like and the game tends to encourage silly as well as ridiculous answers.
Pro Good with larger groups
The description says 2-6 players but it's really fun with a group of 4+, if more than 6 just pair up the players and it will still be a hilarious time.
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 Highly group dependent
The game requires people to understand it, socialize, be engaged, and have fun with it. If a person isn’t really invested into making creative answers, or just isn’t particularly good at Balderdash, then it can be very easy to spot which answers are incorrect right off the bat, which kind of ruins the experience.
Similarly, if a player is just unfamiliar with the game or maybe just learned it, then their experience also won’t be as fun and pleasant as that of an experienced player who knows the ins and outs of the game. For example, the way the correct answers are formulated, common tendencies, etc.
Con Not suitable for younger children
Balderdash might not be the best fit for children under the recommended age of 12. It’s a smart game that requires some higher language comprehension and general knowledge of many things, for example, movie plots and laws, to be able to effectively bluff as you write and formulate your answers.
Con Not fun with two people
The game devolves into a pure guessing game when played by two people. The gameplay consists of one player writing down the false answer and the true answer and making the other person guess which one is correct. While it keeps some of the bluffing elements, it really takes a lot of the laughter and light-heartedness out of Balderdash.
Con Components included are very sparse
Balderdash, for its price should include more in the box as not even including pencils means the game can not be played without outside equipment.
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.