Second Dawn’s a Charm

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Chance has it that one of the most notorious 4X game has a new edition currently ripening on Kickstarter. I’m talking about Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy.

Even though I bought Eclipse as soon as it came out in 2011 and, sure enough, acquired the expansions as well, I could easily count on one hand how many times I’ve played it. Of course, this is the situation with most of my collection, but it’s not often that a game in which you invested quite a lot falls prey to moral obsolescence. As a parallel, I managed to sell my copy of Twilight Imperium 3 after TI4 came out. But how will I live knowing that my copy of Eclipse is no longer in trend? Or might I be wrong?

Looking over the KS page, I couldn’t help but notice that “Second Dawn for the Galaxy” is closer to a repackaging or a revision than a full overhaul. Of course, when it comes to board games, the term “second edition” often refers to just to those two things. War of the Ring comes to mind, where the second edition was almost entirely characterized by having a bigger map and cards.

To be more precise, this product combines the base Eclipse game with the technologies and exploration tiles that were initially released in the subsequent expansions and promos for Eclipse. Unfortunately, there will be no Rho Indi Syndicate, no Shapers of Dorado, and neither any other species from Rise of the Ancients or Shadow of the Rift. This is a huge miss for this campaign in my humble opinion, especially since the leading competitor, Twilight Imperium 4, came with all the factions that were ever released, totaling 17 against Eclipse’s 6 + vanilla humans.

Eclipse Race Sheet

The biggest draw however, is that the graphics and artwork have been redrawn. Tech tiles and player sheets now come in sharply contrasting colors, while the resource and production trackers have been detached and placed on a custom indented tray, to prevent any accidental sweeping, which was a practical problem of the original layout. The turn tracker and tech board also fit into a custom insert.

eclipse-2-orbital-mini

Also in the visual department, the Ship pack One miniatures are now included with the base game. Of course, this might be the reason for why they abstained from adding the extra factions. The base game now also contains minis for the Ancients, Orbitals, and the GCDS. I find these additions to be more of a useless expense than an improvement, but since miniatures sell, I can understand the reasoning again.

On the other hand, the combat dice have been improved. Dice are no longer generic but feature printed numbers instead of pips. Instead of 6, there’s a hit icon, while the 1 is a blank side. Now, this is something I can get behind. If these dice are ever going to be released separately, I’m sure to get them.

When it comes to rules, the most significant differences occur in the form of a shortened game. Instead of nine rounds, a session of Eclipse now ends after the eighth. Picking up discovery tiles has been made more accessible as well, which, combined with a “2 money” bonus for the first player that passes, reduces the overall strain on the weaker economies, and almost eliminates the need for performing “tactical bankruptcy” to manipulate influence disks.

I can’t say I dislike these changes. Even though I like Eclipse the way it is, I always felt like being short of money, unless I got lucky to find enough orange planets. But then this sensed problem also expanded the use of the INFluence action. I can now see that the original intention of the creators was for players to use Influence only to whithdraw their presence or to re-claim abandoned sectors. But that was rarely used as such. More often than not, players used the action to tweak their resource, tech, and money income, by exchanging the cubes between the income tracks and grey planets. That particular method is now verboten in Second Dawn for the Galaxy, which is a shame if you ask me.

Surely enough, Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy is much less of a rule reworking for A New Dawn for the Galaxy than Twilight Imperium 4 was for TI3. Even though the components are shiny and there are many small optimizations all around, I don’t feel any discomfort at the idea of not pledging $99 to get them. I would say that if you own the original game and the Rise of the Ancients expansion, then there’s barely any reason to upgrade. Speaking of upgrades. Since there are only minute changes to rules and components, I wonder why Kolossal (whoever these guys are) didn’t think of producing an upgrade kit. This is another missed opportunity that shows the lack of experience with crowdfunding on such an important title.

However, I wager that if you find yourself owning just the base Eclipse game, or if you don’t have it all, this Kickstarter project might be something to follow. This edition looks all around much better than the original 2011 release, and if the tweaks are indeed going to improve gameplay considerably, then I hope I won’t regret my decision.

There we go:

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