Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Eclipse round the ear

Tuesday evening, mid October. Time for games.

Today we were six: Myself, Adam, Joe, Sam, Gonz and Quentin, who’d brought Eclipse with me. Well, when I saw that game on the table, my decision was made. It was time to go back to the stars!

Amazingly, people weren’t keen on my suggestion of six player Eclipse, so Joe, Sam and Gonz went into the other room to play something lighter and more fun, and they refused to take the twiglets with them. Adam, brave man that he is, was plunged headlong into a set of rules that, at first, make little sense even when explained patiently by Quentin.

We began, and Adam began by exploring the less risk/less reward III hexagons. I got a couple of lucky planets and ended up with lots of money coming in, allowing me to build up my fleet. Quentin sent his brave Interceptors into battle, only to see them shot to pieces by the implacable alien forces.

In fact, Quentin found himself stuck behind two alien sectors, unable to expand because Adam had taken most of the III hexagons. Instead, he busied himself in making his area as full of victory points as possible. I went for the big prize in the middle: The Alien HQ in the centre of the board! But by chance, Adam also wanted to have a go, too, and arrived at the same time. We we duty bound to fight it out amongst ourselves first.

What could have been a mighty and epic battle was over rather quickly, as luck favoured me and I shot down his two dreadnoughts. And if that wasn’t anti-climax enough, then I wiped out the alien base in one go. We stared at my collection of fives and sixes in stunned silence, before I took the spoils of (a very short) war.

By this time, the we were into the last round, and we tried to get as many victory points as possible. I went exploring, hoping to find more aliens to kill. Adam levelled up his technology and Quentin built a monolith.

Then, we added up the scores, and I’d won: Andrew 34; Adam 33; Quentin 33. But then Adam changed his last move, giving him the win: Adam 35; Andrew 34; Quentin 33. At the time I was so caught up in the excitement of a close result that it didn’t occur to me: You’re not allowed to take back your last go after the results are in. Maybe I’m being over-sensitive about this, but at least I should’ve got to change my last go too (which would’ve given me a win). Any thoughts? I’ll hold back on doing the leaderboard until it’s settled.

[EDIT] Joe has spoken. Adam's win stands.

Adam 35
Andrew 34
Quentin 33

In the other room, they played Kingdom Builder first.

Gonz 83
Joe 58
Sam 45

And followed it up with Downfall of Pompeii:

Joe 12 (fewest in the volcano)
Gonz 12
Sam 11

Hopefully, they'll fill us in with the details soon.

Adam 1 2 1 1 1 6
Gonz2 1 1 1 2 7
Joe1 2 1 2 3 9
Sam3 3 3 21 12
Andrew2 2 3 3 4 14
Quentin3 5 55 5 23


  1. I should probably keep out of it, since there was controversy next door as well - but by the time you guys were adding up the Eclipse scores I was a neutral observer, Sam and Gonz being long gone.

    Since I don't know the details of the particular bonus tile I can't say whether it was an okay switch that Adam made, (though at the time Quentin said he felt it was acceptable) but I can say it was while the scores were being added up, not afterwards - and very much at the start of that process. None of the points on the board had been tallied, and Andrew you hadn't yet turned over your victory point tiles, because I remember waiting with anticipation for you to do so, thinking it might swng the game. 

    Meanwhile, next door, an hour or so earlier . . . Kingdom Builder was being  played, with the requisite rules confusion. I don't think we've yet played a game which hasn't had some sort of moment of clarity, though this time Gonz and I were au fait, having played a scant week ago, and only Sam was hazy on the adjacency rule. It's certainly the first game I've played where I've felt I was properly able to think each turn through rather than just wrestle with the current special tokens and victory conditions.

    I remember this game, when it came out, being hailed as a great gateway game, which I think is nuts - it's no Ticket to Ride. Maybe if you played with a single scoring card rather than three, but I suspect that would make it a bit boring.

    The game has a bit of an AP bell curve - at the beginning your moves are fairly quick, then they slow down as your options increase, speeding up a bit towards the end. We were chewing through each move, it seemed - each of us apologised for holding things up at least once.

    The controversial move was from me - I thought the card I had was a desert; when I finished my move and picked up a new card, which *was* a desert, I realised I'd misplayed a canyon card. I did offer to retake my turn, but since the game was dragging I suggested maybe I could just play the canyon on my next turn nstead, effectively playing the two cards in the reverse order.

    It wasn't a dodgy move in spirit - I certainly didn't have time to work out if it benefitted me,  I just didn't want to hold up the game, but after we'd finished Sam felt it was a bit questionable. However I pointed out it did mean that both he and Gonz got to play a turn knowing what card I was about to play, which maybe evened out any potential bias . . .

    In any case, Gonz took us both to the cleaners, with a 25pt lead. Well played Senor.

    After that we ummed and ahhed and denied Gonz the pleasure of teaching us Dungeon Petz - we briefly considered 7 Wonders with Cities and Leaders expansions, but on realising that would be an assured win for Gonz while we struggled with the additional rules, I perhaps meanly suggested something else. That something else was Pompeii.

    The population phase was unusually long, as the volcano card happened to be at the very bottom of the deck, so there were a lot of people on the board. Sam had managed a couple of three relative placements, and as a result bore the brunt of the volcano-tossing, but as we went into the  evacuation phase he seemed to have the edge.

    But Pompeii is the great leveller, and as the lava starts to flow it seems to burn people to death in a most democratic way. The final score could hardly have been tighter, and I managed to win on account of having fewer people in the volcano, I a rule which is often seen as the wrong way round.

    I was surprised - I thought that playing yellow would garner me unwanted attention; but perhaps Gonz has not yet learnt to fear that most insidious of colours . . . he needs to play against Adam more.

  2. Ah yes, I remember now. Quentin had kept a victory point tile on his board, making Adam think he could have five shields. Thanks, Joe. I shall amend accordingly.

  3. What did happen after the scores were in was me pointing out that Adam's switch had won him the game. I'm helpful that way..!

  4. Kingdom Builder wasn't really that controversial. I was cheesed off that I'd shot myself in the foot - having forgotten that you had to place adjacent to existing settlements, I'd made a real pig's ear of my opening move. Then I was sitting holding a canyon card thinking any other card would have been much better... so when Joe shrugged off his (canyon) card error I was frustrated that I wasn't able to do the same. To be fair though he did then have to play a canyon card next round.

  5. Controversy!

    Eclipse was a case of the clear winner of the game (Andrew) getting bored of collecting victory points and instead concentrating on polishing his spaceships to be as shiny as possible while the other players scuttled around scrounging points from the bins.

    Also I suspect you could have attacked me on the last turn and assured your victory, but you probably made the same assumption we did about how far ahead you were and decided that would be mean. It was a very lucky win... (But I'll defend that points tile to the death - on the grounds that I don't remember being told you have to have four shieldy-shaped ones and one odd-triangly one)

    I liked the game a lot, it has a lot in common with ascending empires and improving your ships is a great mechanic. The only negatives are that I'm not so keen on the dice and it's sooooo fiddly - it reminded me of setting up Ora & Labora!

  6. It's true, I thought I was further in the lead then I was, and since I had all those ships, I wanted to use them. That's why I went looking for aliens. I should've just stayed at home and built a monolith.

    But next time it'll be a four-player, right guys? Or more!

  7. It's a heck of a commitment . . . you could play 17 games of Hey That's my Fish! in the same amount of time if you really got your head down. That has hexes.