So... About That ECLIPSE: SECOND DAWN FOR THE GALAXY Kickstarter Campaign
UPDATE: Travis Chance from Kollosal responded to many of the question and concerns about Eclipse 2 in the latest bulletin (#4). It is great when a company is open to constructive feedback and willing to course-correct. YMMV, of course, but now I believe Eclipse 2 is a good value. I still think the campaign could have been handled better at launch, though perhaps my value comparison to TI4 was totally unfair; Lautapelit.fi is not FFG. It looks like Kollosal is gonna stick the landing on this one, and I look forward to seeing and playing a new chapter of one of my favorite games!
Eclipse was the very first Big Freaking Strategy Game I purchased, so I have a real soft spot for it. It's not perfect, but it is super fun and one of my favorite games of all time. Eclipse has frequently hit the table with friends over the years, due to it being a 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) space opera that doesn't take a full day to play, even with 8 players! Also, Eclipse is relatively easy to teach, compared to other great table-space-punishing sci-fi epics like Twilight Imperium or Exodus Proxima Centauri. Some of my favorite moments and memories in gaming happened with Eclipse; I haven't played it in a while, and that's a shame.
Over the years, I've collected all content that was released, even the weird "Shadows of the Rift" expansion that still hasn't gotten into the mix, though "Rise of the Ancients" is a must-add! I love the graphic design and iconography, even the grayish color palette as you see below...
Last year, Kollosal Games announced a partnership with the original publisher Lautapelit.fi to craft a second edition, with rules tweaks and extra bling like updated art, custom storage trays, and new minis. Instead of releasing it direct to retail like the first edition, they announced a Kickstarter campaign. Most everyone was excited. Some fans were concerned that this would make the new edition overly expensive. The campaign launched yesterday, for the most part, that is... well... true.
Eclipse 2 is getting quite a bit of backlash for the price point, the underwhelming stretch goals, the expensive costs of shipping outside of US and EU, unnecessary plastic (according to some), a confusing presentation, and not enough information on the game for new players - other than marketing fluff (no beta rulebook). It certainly not the worst I've seen, but quite underwhelming considering they've been working on this campaign for almost a year now.
As I've said in my "how-to Kickstarter" article, Kickstarter is not designed as a preorder platform, but some companies use verbiage and practices that color what potential backers may think about a campaign.. Kollosal is certainly one of those companies. The central question is why should someone back Eclipse 2? it seems like Kollosal hasn't provided a great answer, other than "Eclipse is great!"
On one hand, it's nice that there are no exclusives or early birds for Eclipse 2; everyone pays the same (except for shipping), and all content will be available at retail, but... where is the value for backing when it looks like full MSRP for the base game ($100)? Many of the stretch goals (a few tiles here and there that are very familiar to 1st edition players) are locked to the higher-tier pledge level with the "Worlds Afar" expansion ($150).
In comments, Kollosal states that Eclipse 2 will be priced higher at retail release, but I'm still having a hard time finding the value here. If the retail base game is going to be at MSRP ($120-$150) it will have to compete with heavy-hitters that have arguably more game content at that price point - Gloomhaven at $139.99, Twilight Imperium 4 at $149.99, et al. (UPDATE: MSRP for base game will be $139.99) For the "custom" non-human ship plastic, they are re-using designs and molds from a 1st edition expansion. There are new designs for the "human" ships which are locked to the "Worlds Afar" expansion at the $150 pledge. Twilight Imperium 4 had all new molds for everything. As a side note, Fantasy Flight debated bringing Twilight Imperium 4 as a snazzy edition to Kickstarter, but decided to scale back, lower the price point, and release direct to retail. After seeing the final product, which is fantastic, I agree that it was the right decision. Could that have been the right decision for Eclipse 2? I don't know. I'm not aware of the specific challenges on the Eclipse 2 design and the nitty-gritty details on what was needed to bring it to market, but the TI4 release could have been a great model to follow.
Games are expensive to make and ship, that is true, so it may seem quibble-y to yack about this. I'm sure the folks at Kollosal care very much, completely invested in Eclipse, and want to do this release right. It has funded, and this game will get made, even though it likely won't break any pledge records, or get lots of new players on board.
I wonder what could have been done differently to make that happen.