Drafting Modular Ships


Eclipse player mat.

Like many others, Eclipse is one of my favorite games. I think the mechanism I enjoy the most in the game is the modular ships. For one, I like them for the obvious reason that you can build the ships you want build. However, that is not the only reason.

Combat only happens at the end of each round and that ships block each other until the combat is resolved. Consequently, during the whole round there is a kind of cold war that goes on between players that are going to fight. In anticipation of what is to come, one player might add a couple of computers. In reaction, the other player will add a shield and a reinforced hull. Then, the first player might add more canons. This can continue back and forth for quite some time, until eventually people run out of actions. But, even though no dice are being rolled, the combat has already begun. And, usually, you can tell who will come out on top before the dice are rolled (but only usually :)).

I have recently been exploring drafting. I’m looking into how it could be used as the ‘building’ part of a space empire building game. Just because I like it so much, I’m going to focus on the space combat aspect, and, in particular, modular ships. My hopes are to have a fast past, 1-2 hour, space empire building game.


Draft of a player board and cards in its slots.

My first idea is to have the cards represent opportunities on a black market. Each turn players simultaneously draft one card from a private hand and then pass the others to the next player. The card can be either discarded for money, played or kept for later use. When played, cards are placed into slots on the player’s personal board. Each type of ship would be represented on the player and the cards assigned to a given ship become the ships blueprint.

The ships themselves can be built onto a modular ‘hex’ board. After each player has had the opportunity to play cards and build new ships, there is a conquest phase. Each conquest phase, players can move ships around to gain access to planets, by forcing other players away if need be. Planets then produce resources for future turns.

What aspects of space empire games do you like? What parts, besides modular ships, would be essential in a card drafting game?


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