Monday, January 14, 2013

Session Report - Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients - First Play with Expansion

This 7 player game of Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients was played on 12 January 2013 and was our first play with the expansion, although every player had at least one game with the original. We used the simultaneous turn order and added a house rule of extending the game by one turn, making a total of ten turns. The players were:

Planta – Green
Orion – Black
Mech – White
Rho Indi Syndicate – Gray
Yellow – Draco
Eridani – Red
Exiles – Purple (Me)

The guy who bought the expansion originally put it on layaway last week because his wife said their budget could not afford it so soon after Christmas. As I predicted, he couldn't wait and took the hit with his wife, probably taking the money out of the kid's college fund or some other equally unimportant area, in order that we could enjoy this game. Needless to say, most of us were keen to give it a try.

We set up the board using the 9 player third ring, placing 2 of the new ancients to fill in the gaps of the two missing players. Starting with Planta and going clockwise around the board, the player order was as follows: Planta, Orion, Mech, Rho Indi, Exiles, Draco, Eridani.

Turn one starts out as expected. There are lots of explores and Planta and Orion (friends in real life) connect and ally immediately. A few techs are bought. Draco explores towards me (Exiles) and we establish diplomatic relations. Orion easily kills an ancient and uncovers an orbital (one of the new discoveries). Rho and Mech also connect and establish diplomatic relations, a bit of a risky move as Rho Indi can break relations without getting the traitor card. Rho also uncovers a Warp Portal hex close to his home world, causing some concern for the rest of us as they are a race built for aggression. Draco also discovers 2 Warp Portals in separate hexes during his explores. Draco and Rho are now easily connected for conflict. The turn ends with red having no contact with anyone else and Rho still isolated from Exiles (by design).

Turn 1 - Early Game

Turn two is also very typical. Mostly explore actions with some techs. Orion takes his newly built fleet of cruisers and defeats 2 Ancients, losing a cruiser.

Turn 2

Turn three sees mostly explore and research actions. Red decides to try his hand at one of the Ancient Dreads and is easily defeated.
I am starting to get concerned about my own position. I am stuck with a few ancients around me and I am losing the resources war, way behind my Draco neighbour. If I look too weak he might come after me. I am separated from Rho on my right by Galactic center so I have gained some time there. I have been gaining some techs to improve my fleet but I need to build ships, upgrade them and take on the ancients around me to get some resources. Time to think about getting into an alliance with Draco.

Early in Turn 4 - Note Rho is ready to hit Draco through his Warp Portal
Turn four and things start to get interesting. The races are gearing up for war. There are a lot of research and upgrade actions. Planta builds 2 dreads. Eridani attacks and destroys an ancient hive. Orion kills another ancient and Mech attacks and kills an ancient hive. Even I am able to take out an ancient close to me. Draco takes pity on me or perhaps sees my possibilities and agrees to cement our diplomatic relations with an alliance. But the big news is that Rho makes a move on Draco, moving his ships through his warp portal, splits his fleet evenly and hits both of Draco's warp portals. Draco responds by meeting the Rho threat head on at both hexes. Draco defeats Gray at one portal but loses one ship and retreats the other ship at the other portal. An even split, but Rho loses 2 ships to Draco's one.

Turn 4 - Movement is done, combat is about to begin
Turn five sees 2 quantum grids come out that are snapped up immediately by Draco and Mech. I wanted one but did not have enough research to get one even if they had lasted to my turn. However, I (and also Draco) did pick up an advanced robotics on an earlier turn. Planta starts to look towards victory and builds 2 monoliths. Eridani gets aggressive on the ancients, hitting two separate hexes, losing one but defeating the other one easily. Draco moves to take back the portal Rho took and wins it easily. The Draco/Exiles discuss bringing Eridani into their alliance. Although I think Eridani lowers our victory point total at this time, Planta/Orion are becoming a concern. If we don't move to stop them they will have the VP advantage. Also, Mech's ships are strongly upgraded with computers and shields, making them hit often yet hard to hit. If Mech were to ally with Planta/Orion we could be in trouble, especially with Rho nipping at Draco and/or potentially at the Exile's right flank. Eridani is in, but he is the junior partner and will have to fetch drinks for Draco and Exiles.
Turn 5 - Draco wants his Warp Portal back
Turn six is very quiet. There are no combats, not even with ancients. Everyone is adjusting to the new Draco/Exiles/Eridani alliance and the coming conflict with Planta/Orion. Some research action and lots of upgrading.
Turn 7 - Getting ready to move on GC and Warp Portal towards Planta
Turn 7 sees some combat but more positioning for the coming conflict. Exiles take Galactic Center and Mech hits and takes 2 of Orion's systems, including his Home world, probably trying to snatch some systems as he knows the Planta/Orion alliance will soon be fully engaged with Draco/Eridani. 

Turn 7 - Moving to Battle
Turn 8 kicks off the start of endgame as Draco moves aggressively into Planta territory. Draco's ships are powerful, bristling with antimatter cannons and he has the antimatter splitter. Eridani comes along for the ride and even Exiles sends in a few ships. The battle for Beta Delphini, the biggest conflict seen so far in the galaxy, has begun. Planta, with the only missiles, fires his missile cruisers and kills 4 yellow interceptors, but the battle is one sided. The remainder of the Planta/Orion fleets, including 2 star bases, a dread, 2 more interceptors and 2 cruisers fall to superior forces and technology. Mech uses this opportunity to hit Orion again and he is reduced to one system deep inside Planta territory.

Turn 8 - The Battle for Beta Delphini
Turn 9 sees the focus shift to the Mech problem and the collection of victory points. A few undefended Rho systems are bombed while Planta builds 2 dreads and 2 star bases. Planta/Orion are reduced to 4-5 systems and now Mech has become the biggest threat. With the 3 way split of victory points in the Draco/Exiles/Eridani alliance, and the monoliths and systems Mech has, he may be able to win against Draco/Exiles/Eridani. Exiles research Artifact Key and gets 30 materials which are turned into monoliths. Mech also builds monoliths. Ships are built and moved into position for the final attack on Mech.
Ready for the Final Push

Turn 10 (Final Turn). Planta/Orion, reduced from their strong starting position, are happy to protect what they have and not make any trouble. Rho is a bit more feisty, having researched the cloaking device, he uses his ships to penetrate Exile space, tying up some Exile ships and forcing me to defend a number of orbitals and monoliths. Draco, assisted by Exiles and Eridani, pushes deep into Mech's key systems attempting to pin as many ships as possible, trying to remove influence on key worlds with monoliths.

The battles are well matched with Mech having the advantage in shields and computers but Draco/Exile/Eridani having numbers. Mech successfully defends 1 key system but loses the battle in two others. Victory for the Draco/Exile/Eridani alliance seems assured once bombing is complete. However, Draco/Exile/Eridani failed to note that Mech has Neutron Absorbers and their Neutron bombs are useless. They will have to use their guns to hit the population. Each of the two systems has at least 3 population cubes which must be destroyed in order for White to lose control of the system. The first system falls, its population antimatter cannoned by the Draco/Exile/Eridani war machine. The final system, worth 8 victory points and potentially the game, comes down to the accuracy of the gunners on the Exile cruisers. The shots are true and another system is cleansed of Mech life.

Final Scores

Rho      16 

Planta   28
Orion    18
Planta/Orion Alliance Total      23 

Mech     36 

Draco    54
Exiles    67
Eridani  42
Draco/Exile/Eridani Alliance   54 

The Draco/Exile/Eridani alliance is victorious.

Final thoughts:

The expansion is good, in my opinion very good. The new techs, alliances, additional races, etc, all fit well together and seem to be extensively play tested. They add a lot to the game yet don't go overboard or feel tacked on. We used a modified simultaneous turn order and, as long as everyone is honest and knows the game, it worked well and speeded up game time. It took us 6 hours for this 7 player game, which is below the average time length for us.


  1. Thank you for your great post. This blog is great.

  2. Thanks. Come on back, I try to update at least once a week.

  3. Hi, I know this is an old post, but I found it very entertaining and informational as I'm considering purchasing the expansion. Thanks for putting it together!