The first thing you will notice about Gigamic’s Eclipse is that 10 of the 11 playing pieces are balls that are chained together in pairs. These are called the Satellites. The 11th piece, called the Comet, is a larger ball. The object of this 2-player strategy game is block your opponent’s Comet so it has no more moves.

The board looks like a smaller version of Chinese Checkers for marbles. Players take turns moving one ball to the extent that its chain will allow. This brings up one of the strategic elements of the game: 2 of the pairs are linked by a very short chain and 3 of the pairs are linked by a longer chain. The longer chains allow for much faster movement but players must be careful: if your opponent crosses over you chain, your linked Satellites cannot move until your opponent moves away.

The large Comets may move to any free adjacent space. They can be blocked by any Satellite or the chain between the opposing satellites. Your Comet may move unhindered through your own chains.

Gameplay is quick (less than 15 minutes) but satisfyingly varied. Although the board seems very small, there are many ways to move the pieces, and our strategies evolved in interesting, sometimes surprising, ways as we played. The rules and movements are intuitive (one short page) although it does take a while to get a feel for how far the long chains can reach. The rule book includes several clear illustrations that efficiently demonstrate legal and illegal moves.

The blocking maneuver is particularly interesting and produced some of the most surprising and frustrating moments of our games. I appreciated the unique conceit of the linked pieces when I could keep my opponent from moving and use that immobility to trap the Comet. It’s always fun to use your opponent’s pieces to your advantage. Major Fun.

All in all, an attractive strategy game with a unique set of playing pieces and an elegant set of rules.

Eclipse by Gerardo Iula and Mirko Marchesi. © 2009 Gigamic Games.

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