Eclipse Board Game Strategy: Eridani Dreadnaughts

I’ve recently fallen in love with the Eclipse board game. Well, really, I should say that I’ve fallen in love with a board game entitled, Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy. The reason I have to be so specific is that if you go to amazon and type in Eclipse Board Game, you will quickly discover that there are two separate Eclipse board games. One is the one pictured to the right.

While the other is a board game version of the sparkly vampire genre. That game I’m less crazy about.

Part of the strategy for the non-sparkly vampire Eclipse game is to chose your which race you want to play. The race that is recognized as the hardest to play are the Eridani. They start the game with two fewer influence disks than the other races and therefore are severely restricted in the number of actions they can take. This is why they are the most disliked of all the alien races.

I devised a strategy for them that seems to work reasonably well. It involves taking the middle in as little as three turns using as few moves as possible. Possessing the middle gives you a tremendous amount of resources and costs precious few of your already scarce influence disks. Once there you can hopefully hold the middle as well as use it to start moving against your more vulnerable neighbors.

The Eridani suffer not only from a lack of influence disks, but also disks, their problem is compounded by a lack of minerals. The middle tile does have a mineral spot as well as another advanced mining spot. I have finished entire games having these be my only populated mineral resources on the board. Those games are never pretty, but holding the middle can still pull you through some games.

The scarcity of resources means if you ever suffer significant loses in a fleet on fleet battle then it’s very difficult to recover. Therefore, Eridani players should be particularly careful not to engage opposing fleets unless they are a solid favorite. It also means that you need to carefully shepherd your starting interceptor. You poor resource production means you have to squeeze the most life out of your starting interceptor you possibly can.

So if we’re gonna take the middle on turn 3, we need to have some idea of how to build toward that. Fortunately, there are a few programs on the internet that will allow us to simulate Eclipse combats and give us a probability of success. First we need to understand that the Eridani love Dreadnoughts. Dreadnoughts are the only ship design where the Eridani get any bonuses (the one built in power). They are also the most survivable ship to build, and the Eridani’s restricted influence disks means they can’t move mass number of smaller ships efficiently.

So if the most likely initial battle fleet the Eridani can build is comprised of their starting interceptor and a dreadnought, then let’s see the best course of action to take with that fleet.

First off, what do we need to take the center with only a interceptor and a dreadnought. Well we’re going to need to load a gauss shield on our dreadnought and a plasma cannon on our interceptor in all simulations. If we then go on to load a standard hull on our interceptor and upgrade one ion cannon to one plasma cannon, then our chances of besting the Galactic Defense Center are 1 in 3.

So what technologies do we need to add to up our chances? If we can load in a Fusion Source to our Dreadnought and upgrade the second ion cannon to another plasma cannon, our chances victory become slightly better than 50/50. Well that’s pretty good, but not great. If we came across a discovery tile that gave us some s science points and we able to field a Dreadnought that had: Fusion Source (FS), Positron Computer (PC), 2x Plasma Cannons (PC), a Gauss Shield (GS), and 2x Hull to compliment our interceptor, our chances of winning go to around 79%. That’s great, but it’s a rare day when we pull down a science boost tile.

Improved Hull, on the other hand, is a fairly cheap tech for us to acquire. If that was the only tech we researched, and we outfitted our interceptor with a plasma cannon and an improved hull to compliment our Dreadnought’s one PC, 1 Ion Cannon, 1 Gauss Shield, and 2 Improved Hulls, then our chances of winning become roughly 2 to 1. That’s not bad. If we keep that exact configuration and added just 1 more Interceptor, then our chances of taking the middle become a whopping 87%.

Now if we’re stuck with just a Fusion Source and no other technologies, then our chances of taking down the Galactic Center on turn 3 are greatly reduced. They are, however, still there if you feel like risking your entire game on an iffy die roll.

If you are able to field 2 Interceptors with a Plasma Cannon and Hull each, then your chances are improved. In fact, these two interceptors added to a dreadnought that has a Fusion Source, 2x PCs, and a Gauss Shield then your chances of taking the middle are around 73%. That means roughly 1 game in four, you’re simply lose both your fleet and the game. In the other three out of four games, however, you’re looking pretty. And that’s after only adding the Fusion Source.

That second Plasma Cannon on the Dreadnought is really impacting. If you take our prior space battle of 2 Interceptors and a Dreadnought versus the GCDC, switching one Plasma Cannon back to an Ion Cannon (because you didn’t get Fusion Source, for instance) and now your chances of taking the middle erode to a mere 54%.

So now that we know what our objective is, our first turn should be spent rather miserly. We’re going to need most of our money to trade for minerals to get a dreadnought on either turn 1 or 2. This means we simply can’t take many actions. One of them, obviously, has to be to explore the group 1 hex that will serve as our gateway to the middle. As this is one of the few times we’re really going to be exploring, we should pick a hex that counts. We especially should value a hex such as 101, 105 and 107 because they provide both a money boost as well as a minerals boost. Seeing as how the middle contains colonizatios spots for Advanced Mining or Advanced Labs, any hex that provides the same bonus is a real plus.

Hexes such as 106 and 108 are acceptable should you draw them, but hexes such as 102, 103 and 104 are just bad draws and should be discarded. It’s better to waste the action and draw again than be stuck with a hex that’s not going to help you win.

So that’s my opening strategy for the Eridani. Obviously once you take the middle you’re going to need to hold it. Since you don’t have many minerals, Starbases are key to holding the middle. Hopefully they will be available when you need them.

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