Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy, a 4X board game ported to the iPad by Big Daddy’s Creations, is now available from the app store. A deep strategic battle for dominance among alien races, Eclipse is a robust and challenging affair that translates well to the touchscreen.
Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy Pros:
- Fantastic presentation with tons of info at your fingertips
- Interesting soundtrack that matches visuals nicely
- Tap and drag controls are very easy to use
- Local and online multiplayer options
- Deep strategic challenge
Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy Cons:
- Learning curve can be a little steep
- No log of opponent activities makes it difficult to understand what has transpired on opponent turns
As a 4X game, your goals are to eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate the competition in turn-based fashion. You can choose to play locally or online against the AI (with multiple difficulty levels available), against human opponents, or against a combination of the two. There are a half-dozen unique races to choose from, each with specific strengths. Games play out over nine rounds, with each round ending only after each player has successively passed his turn. When you do decide to take action, there are six types in which to engage: Exploring, Adding Influence, Researching, Upgrading, Building, and Moving. Exploring allows you to place a new hex on the board adjacent to one of your currently-placed hexes. Hexes can contain color-coded planets, ships, and/or ancient artifacts that allow you to acquire a nice bonus item. Each hex also has a number of wormholes that allow passage between tiles when matched up against wormholes on other tiles. You can spin a dial to alter this orientation when placing a tile. Researching allows you to purchase some form of technology that can later be applied to your ships during an Upgrade phase to enhance their abilities in battle. Building allows for the creation of new ships, of which there are varying types and limits to the number of each that you can have in your fleet. Moving puts your ships in a position to battle other ships once a round ends.
Each action requires the use of money, with a certain amount earned each round based on various factors. You can also earn science and materials resources by colonizing planets. These allow for tech purchases and ship creation. The available research is randomized for each game and new options are added after each round, with way more available than could be fully utilized during a game. Beefing up your ships with cool tech is a great way to add replay value. Each move increases your influence, as does controlling a variety of sectors (hex tiles). The more influence you have, the more money you must pay at the end of the round. It’s a form of tax that pushes players toward more balanced play. You can trade in resources or revoke influence from sectors to avoid bankruptcy, as necessary. Battles play out between foes when ships of differing races occupy the same hex. You can choose to attack or retreat. Attacks play out as dice rolls, with high numbers equating to direct hits and low numbers creating misses. Retreating will force you to back out of the occupied sector to an adjoining one. Simply engaging in battle will earn you reputation tokens, while battle success will earn more. These vary in value and contribute to overall Victory Points. The goal of the end game is to come away with the most Victory Points, which includes any sectors controlled at the end of the game, too.
Graphically, the game looks terrific, despite being a bit cluttered given the wealth of options available. The UI does a nice job of tucking away many of the elements in slide-out trays around the screen edges. The color-coded bars for money, science, and materials reside at the screen top, with the influence bar below. Your main action buttons are along the screen bottom, with a slide to pass/end turn ability that incorporates this section nicely. The minor animations are a nice touch (orbiting spheres when colonizing planets, battle scenarios) that could have been static options, though they add a little flavor in an organic way. The space theme looks terrific and there is just a ton of info available at your fingertips at all times. The celestial soundtrack also adds a nice backdrop with music that matches the theme nicely. Controls are tap- or swipe-based and were found to be responsive. They are generally intuitive, and tapping on items will often bring up additional info to assist the player in making decisions.
That’s what I gathered, at least, from my first encounter with the game. It can be a little daunting to the newbie, but seasoned Eclipse players should feel right at home. I can see that there is a great game here once I get the hang of it all. I had the same problems with Neuroshima Hex when I first tried that, as its ruleset was also quite involved. Today, it’s one of my absolute favorite games and a first-screen staple on my iDevice. In time, Eclipse could share a similar role. Replay value is outstanding and the entire package is very impressive. Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy is an iPad-exclusive title. This 4.5-Dimple title will set you back $6.99, a bargain compared to the physical board game’s triple-digit price tag.
Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy Review,