Our group has recently started playing Eclipse (without any expansions), however we have been having trouble with Plasma Missiles. More specifically, simple "nothing but plasma missiles and possibly a computer" ship designs have been completely dominating combat, which is making the ship-building aspects of Eclipse somewhat uninteresting in the late game.

I believe that the main problem is just that we haven't found a suitable counter yet, and that if we found a way to counter these designs they would become less common (or we would at least have some more interesting battles), however at the moment our group is yet to come up with an effective way of fighting these ships other than "more plasma canons with higher initiative" (so your plasma canons fire first).

If another player starts building a lot of Plasma Canons, what should I research / build / upgrade in order to counter them?


3 Answers 3


In the base Eclipse game, there is no hard counter to Plasma Missiles. However, there are tactics that work well against Plasma Missile-focused ships.

  • Cutting off the retreat of missile fleets can be devastating, since they often work best by unleashing their missiles to deal crippling damage and then retreating to fire again the next round. A missile-only fleet with its retreat cut off will be annihilated by even a single surviving ship with a single cannon. (And sending another ship with beam weapons to reduce this threat also reduces the potency of the missile fleet, which is what you want.)
  • Speaking of surviving missile fleets, Improved Hulls are a good way to build a fleet to do so, combined with enough Shields to neutralize the opponent's Computers. Diplomacy will be important because this fleet will be vulnerable to a more traditional fleet.
  • Many missile fleets will be Interceptor-based, since those small ships allow you to deploy more raw missiles for cheaper. You can take advantage of this by using the large number of Move actions this fleet will require to outmaneuver the interceptor fleet. If the missiles are scary enough, nobody will mind if you slip a cruiser past and neutron bomb that faction's planets.

Should you have a chance to play with the Rise of the Ancients expansion, it contains two rare technologies that act as hard counters to Plasma Missiles: the Distortion Field, which grants a -2 to all missiles that attack your ships, and Point Defense, which gives your cannons a free attack to shoot down incoming missiles. Neither of these technologies requires a component--all your ships get them for free. Rise of the Ancients also features another soft counter in the form of Flux Missiles, which are 1-power missiles that also provide an initiative bonus. These are powerful against the traditional fragile Plasma Missile fleets.

  • 1
    "A missile-only fleet with its retreat cut off will be annihilated by even a single surviving ship with a single cannon." - It should be noted that if the missile ships are attacking, the defender doesn't even need a cannon! If neither side can shoot any more, and the attacker cannot retreat, the defender automatically wins. This gives a defender one more hull or shield space. Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 22:04
  • One thing to note is that a plasma missle armanda is meant to completely devastate one battle, but it is pretty hard to split off and attack multiple hexes. Also, keep in mind that winning battles does not equal winning the game. My most recent game was a three player in which both my opponents got plasma missles and tried to conquer my territories. Though we all went down to negative 30 in the final round, I still won because they both went bankrupt.

  • Another option is to have enough hull to tank the barrage of missiles and then respond with your cannons, but that is a little harder.

  • A large fleet of plasma missile ships is hard to move around. Take advantage of that by taking other territories.

  • A final strategy is to team up with other players alse getting dominated in combat. That way you can attack on two different fronts.


Work out the binomial probability calculation* and you'll see that effective counter to the missile fleet is shields.

For example, let's say you're face with a force that shoots 8 missiles at +3. Then a dreadnought that has a phase shield and gauss shield has only a 13.48% chance of being hit by three or more missiles.

So your dreadnought might look like:

nuclear source (+3e) ion cannon (-1e) nuclear drive (-1e) phase shield (-1e) gauss shield improved hull improved hull

will win that combat 86.52% of the time (i.e., survives the missile shot) and that's with only two, much cheaper, researched upgrades.

  • binomial probability calculation of n missiles hitting for an 8 missile shot at +3 targeting.

E(n) = (8 choose n)((4/6)^n)((2/6)^(8-n))

where 8 choose n = 8!/(n!*(8-n)!) and 4/6 is the likelihood of any one missile hitting and 2/6 is the likelihood of any one missile missing.

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