sean johnson(SeanXor)United States
Eminent Domain was the first game that we backed on kickstarter.com back in 2010. The game was getting lots of hype as "Dominion meets Race for the Galaxy", and at the time Alien Frontiers was the new hot game that the majority had missed out on from kickstarter. Like a lot of people, we did not want to miss out on this "next big thing." So we jumped on board and then took part in the long wait, weathered the Gen Con controversy, and then finally got our copy of the game in October of 2011. So does Eminent Domain live up to the hype or was the game overhyped?
Eminent Domain is a different sort of deck building game, where the players build their deck by filling it with various action cards. The goal of the game is to get the most points and points are acquired from gaining planets, trading goods, or building technologies. There are five main actions/roles in the game. Survey is how a player can get more planets in front of them. Once a planet is part of a player's tableau it must either colonized or conquered. Colonize is used to build up colonies on a planet until the colony is big enough then it can be flipped over. Warfare is used to acquire fighters, and once a player has enough fighters they can spend them to conquer the planet and flip it over. Once a planet is flipped, it provides points and can produce a resource. The produce/trade action/role is used to either produce goods or trade previously produced goods for one point each. Finally Research is used to research unique technology cards that can provide a wide variety of actions.
On a player's turn they will first play one of these role/action cards for an action. An action is something only they can do. Sometimes these actions are different from what the card does as a role. For example, as a role Survey allows players to get a new planet in the tableau, but as an action it allows a player to draw two new cards. Most technology cards can only be used during the action phase. On the role phase, a player will pick one of the five roles to execute. They then take one of these role cards from the center stacks and execute the role. At this time, they may play any additional cards of that role from their hand. For example, if a player does the warfare role, they gain a warfare card. They then may play any additional warfare cards from their hand, let's say three. This means the player has four warfare cards in play and may gain four fighters. When a player does a role, every other player has the option to follow (play matching role cards from their hand) or dissent (draw one card from their deck). When a player is done with their role, they may discard any unwanted cards from their hand and then draw back up to five. The game will end when either a set number of role piles are depleted (the set number depends on the amount of players) or all of the influence (victory points) are taken. When one of these two things happens, all players get an equal amount of turns and the game is over. Most points from influence, planets, and technology wins.
The Game We Played
This game offers several different strategies to victories. Many of the strategies focus on a couple of the roles or really utilizing a specific technology card. As it turned out, my wife and I pursued the same strategy. We both sought to get planets with different goods, and then get the technology card that gives a bonus point for each good produced. I beat her to the technology card we were both going for, so she instead settled for the one that gives bonus points when goods are traded. I had also acquired the Advanced Trade technology early. As an action this allows a player to take one influence, so I was cherry-picking points with that card throughout the game. My wife focused on colonizing a lot early, while I took a slightly more balanced approach. This worked out so that by later in the game I already had the trade/produce cards I needed, and my wife had to waste a few turns just grabbing those cards. I had all of my planets ready to produce goods, but I just couldn't get the technology card with the trade/produce cards in my hands. My wife was trying to set up her combo as well. In a 2-player game, when one stack is depleted the game ends. There was only one colonize card left, so neither of us colonized. I managed to pull of my production combo first, and this gave four bonus points which depleted the influence pool and ended the game. We forgot to write down the scores, but I know that I won.
My Rating: 3 (it's ok)
My Thoughts: Eminent Domain is a fine game. There is nothing wrong with it. The problem is that there is nothing great about it either. The issue is when I want to play a space game where I am racing against another person to set up the best engine, I will play Race for the Galaxy. When I want to play a role selection game with player interaction, I will play Glory to Rome. When I want to play a Sci-Fi deck building game, I will play Core Worlds. When it comes to all of Eminent Domain's strengths there is a game that, for me anyway, does the same thing better.
Her Thoughts: 3 (it's ok)
Her Thoughts: I want to like this game more than I do. For me this game always ends too quickly. As soon as I get everything I want to do set up, the game ends. This is really frustrating!
Combined Rating: 6
We do not dislike this game, but we do not love it either. One of the reasons for doing this project is to identify the games we love, and play them more. This means there are other games we are going to regularly play over Eminent Domain. I think we will be looking to trade this game for a game we might like more.