Stellar phenomenon? We certainly think so, here's our review of Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy

Updated: Sep 30

Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy published by Lautapelit was a Kickstarter funded project to reboot the classic Eclipse game from 2009. The project has now been through the fulfilment stage and is available retail from your FLGS*.


Players: 2-6 Ages: 14+ Game Time: 60-200 mins


Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy, designed by Touko Tahkokallio, is a 4X style game** for 2-6 players. It has an advertised play time of 25 minutes per player, and is suitable for ages 14+. You will play as either a Terran faction or one of the alien species trying to have the most influence over the galaxy after eight turns.


The advertised playtime is a bit optimistic from my experience and would only really apply to veteran players of the game who were focused on a hard-core session, and doesn't take into consideration set-up/pack away time. However, I'm a realist and know that if I'm playing a big box game like this, I assume it is going to take an afternoon. Especially when you account for the time you add in for that crucial social element of a game day.

... playing a big box game like this I assume it is going to take an afternoon

A common feeling for most new players of the game is that Eclipse is primarily a combat-focused game, where you dominate the galaxy with your military might. Not surprising really when you consider that the majority of research is dedicated to improving your military technology.


While this is certainly one play style, it is not the core element of the game. Indeed war is expensive and the threat of military might can often be more effective than actually deploying it, the nuclear deterrent principle if you will.

... the threat of military might can often be more effective than actually deploying it.

At its core, players are managing the economy for their race to achieve the best overall influence and reputation (victory points). This can be achieved a number of ways, and there is a lot more depth of strategy than it perhaps first appears.



Gameplay Changes

  • Balance changes for ALL the races

  • One fewer turn, reduced to 8 from 9

  • Reordering of the technology costs

  • Expansion material included in core rules

  • Economy boost for passing first

  • Computer initiative dropped

The changes from the original, although mostly very subtle in nature, really do compliment each other. They work well to achieve a much better balance overall in the game, and indeed I would say there is no longer one stand out race (unlike the first edition, where Hydran Progress and the Orion Hegemony both had clear advantages).


Check out our upcoming video on YouTube for the breakdown of various balance features by race.

... much better balance overall

The new balance feature of an economy boost for passing first really adds a new strategic element to the game and helps prevent players getting locked out of the game if they suffer from a spell of bad luck.


The Rise of the Ancients expansion pack brought so much additional gameplay to the original version of Eclipse. Much of this content has been adapted and included in Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy, from more diverse discovery tiles (which can now be claimed without having to place an influence disc) to powerful rare technologies, as well as the adaption of ancient home-worlds with the new guardian sectors. These guardian sectors are valuable sectors protected by a guardian class NPC ship and are used to fill empty player sectors when playing with fewer than six players. I'm super excited to have this additional content built into the core of Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy.

It seems like such a simple change but it changes the dynamic of your military...

The last big change that has been made is to computer ship parts. In the original, these parts provided an initiative bonus to your ship blueprints, as well as boosting your attack rolls, well no more. It seems like such a simple change but it changes the dynamic of your military and you tend to see much more diverse ship builds now, so don't underestimate those drives as after all shooting first is often the difference between survival and defeat.


Cosmetics

  • Storage solutions included as standard

  • Alien ship models included instead of Terran

  • New miniatures for NPCs and structures

  • New design styles throughout

One of the best features of this new version is the collaboration with Game Trayz, to produce storage solutions for all the game components. This saves so much time both in gameplay and set-up and pack away, something that was always an issue with the original release of Eclipse. I do have one small complaint in this regard that I wish they had used a slightly higher grade of plastic as I can see that with regular use the trays with wear and damage quite easily.

The new storage trays save so much time...

There are now miniatures for the GCDS (Galactic Centre Defence System), orbitals, monoliths, ancients and the new guardian class ships. Couple this with the fact that the alien ship designs from the original ship pack expansion are now included as standard, you have a wide variety of miniatures. All of them have been produced really well, and have some great detail included; I look forward to breaking out the paintbrush and giving my game its own unique style

I look forward to breaking out the paintbrush and giving my game it's own unique style

Speaking of a new style, all the game components have had a makeover: hexes player mats and even ship components and research. These new designs are so much more unique and contemporary. It's not just cosmetic though, it's functional, with more use of symbols on hexes to identify planet types and different colours used on each of the researches trees.



In conclusion

After a decade of feedback, it is clear Lautapelit have listened to the community as they really seem to have thought of everything. Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy is a great update to a quintessential 4X** classic, bringing much-needed balance and additional depth.


Don't expect a quick game, like its predecessor and other 'big box' games you will need to set aside a session for it to give it justice, especially if you need to teach some new players the basics.


It is not a cheap game but it is good value for money with a huge amount of additional content based on the expansions from the original version and a significant supply of well-crafted miniatures that will keep the painters out there happy for hours.


Overall, I still love this game and think that the designers have done a great job in updating this game and it gets a massive thumbs up from me, even if it did cost upwards of £100.



From the friendly DoaLG rules lawyer,

George E Ohh