Empire building games that would be wildly successful with a remake
K C
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This seems like a pretty standard list, but hear me out! I'm going to leave out a few games that are usually in this list (Civilization) because the debate is too long whether or not they actually need fixes and plus, they're already reasonably successful. This list is for games that SHOULD be more successful and just need a fix, makeover, or total redo. This is usually due to busted rules, so (I could be so bold) game designers -- take note. Final note: this list is by no means exhaustive or ranked in order! (there is plenty of room to add)
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1. Board Game: Supremacy [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:13133]
K C
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The theme is sensational: who wouldn't want to play a near-future superpower (US, EU, Russia, China, etc.) and slug it out for dominance everywhere, jockey for oil in the Middle East, armed with tanks, nukes, submarines, special forces, biological weapons, laser satellites, etc.! It's a virtual goldmine due to its theme and potential entertainment value. TOO BAD THE GAME SUCKS. I own this game, and can vouch that it seems like it was never playtested.
I know it would not be that hard to fix. The numerous variants and house rules on the net are a testament to the strength of the community that wants this game (or a game like it) to succeed. A game based on modern geopolitics is a surefire winner (assuming the rules aren't broken). Hey, Supremacy Games -- if you need some encouragement (or a new designer) -- contact me!
 
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2. Board Game: Federation & Empire [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:4404]
K C
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I'm not a Trekkie, but I think there is a bit of a gap in the interstellar empire builder genre. I am very interested to play Twilight Imperium, and I've heard a lot of positive things about that game. But you'd think Star Trek (or Babylon 5) would be the dominant sci-fi themed game in this universe (Star Wars is unfortunately a bipolar world).
I own this one too. Federation and Empire unfortunately gets bogged down (I mean several magnitudes of bog) in massive record keeping, and severely annoying details. The designers of this game need to go back to design school, or make some friends who care less about the true strength of a Federation electronic drone frigate. Do all of the options and details make the game more fun? Unfortunately, they just make the game unplayable.
Interstellar war and diplomacy, complete with a rich background world, interesting technologies, etc. I guess Twilight Imperium presently has the leading spot. But if I were the makers of Federation and Empire -- I'd be thinking this genre should be an easy one to dominate (just remember to bring a non-trekkie to playtest).
 
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3. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:215]
K C
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Dune! For those of you who haven't yet (and liked Dune to any extent), go see the Sci-Fi Channel's Children of Dune. It's quite good, and much better than both the original Sci-Fi Dune, as well as the David Lynch version (IMHO). With such an incredible background filled with intrigue, a scarce commodity, rival houses, war, worms, etc. where is the game?
I recentply purchased the French edition of Dune and have to say the asymmetrical aspect of the different houses is genius. But the rest of the rules are a bit strange, and the combat side of the game is just too random. You get the feeling that games made in 1979 had a high tolerance for weirdness and ambiguity. Some people can take it, but this game gets on the list just because it could do so much better.
From my own experience, I know this game sells in e-bay. There must be a lot of interested people who are not being satisfied. A new edition that cleans the game up significantly, perhaps also borrowing some of the themes (new Houses) from Children of Dune should take the gaming world by sandstorm.
 
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4. Board Game: Dragonlance [Average Rating:5.34 Overall Rank:14493]
K C
United States
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The Dragonlance Chronicles should undoubtedly be the next big fantasy theme that should be made into a movie trilogy. I doubt I'm the first person to have said that, but in case it is, you heard it here first. Of the great fantasy epics I can think of, Dragonlance is the next best thing to Lord of the Rings.
Again, I think the game playing world is chomping at the bit for a real game in this area. I don't own this game, but it sounds like a race more than an fantasy empire slugout with armies of dragons, infantry, etc. And who doesn't want that?
Three things: 1) Maybe the designers are waiting for the movie to come out to act as the marketing vehicle. 2) Maybe they're afraid the upcoming War of the Ring will take the wind out of other fantasy Empire builders. 3) Maybe the designers/publishers are asleep at the wheel.
 
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5. Board Game: Battlemist [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:6966]
K C
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I have to give a lot of credit Fantasy Flight Games for at least knowing what the market is looking for. Twilight Imperium fills the space empire genre. Battlemist should fill the fantasy empire genre... but despite the winning genre, the game seems like it's broken. I've also read the reviews of Warcraft: The Boardgame, and I think people have mixed up the idea of Empire building with Settlers-style resource management. No angry warlord wants to deal with shortages of sheep or logs! That may be fine for civilization (broad economic/culture/tech) type empire builders, but it misses the core of what makes most empire building fun. Sure there's economics, but it's only one aspect among many: diplomacy, slugfest, and theme. Plus the game pieces look heinous.
Maybe Fantasy Flight has got plans for a second edition to rectify a lot of these problems. If they could partner up with someone (say Dragonlance above? or another fantasy themed world?). Likewise, if Twilight Imperium could partner up with Master of Orion or Babylon 5...
 
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6. Board Game: The Succession Wars [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:5633]
K C
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OK - adding to this list...
The Battletech universe is the gold standard for the Big Robot genre. And for people who've played the game or read about its world of mercenaries, rival houses, declining technology, return of the Star League (clans), etc. it's amazing that they have not come up with a good empire-style strategic boardgame. I saw "good" because they did come up with Succession Wars, which as far as I can tell, went nowhere.
You have to remember that the Battletech brand and world is very much alive today, and you don't have to go to Japan to think Big Robots are cool. The original Battletech tactical boardgame has had a decline in its following, but that is primarily due to its wholesale move into video games (think of the Mechwarrior series on playstation, X-box, PC, etc.). Battletech also lives in role-play, and numerous novels. Battletech is still huge! And the world lends itself so well to political intrigue (shifting alliances, actors like Comstar, external threats, declining economy and technology). And did I mention Big Robots?
Again, maybe if those other space empire games got their acts together, there would be less of an opening here. But the marketing is being done through video games, and the theme and world have already been fleshed out. All a game designer would have to do would be to think of some rules and print the damn thing! And that doesn't even cover a potential opportunity for a move back into a tactical miniature game... FASA or whoever, if you need my e-mail...
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7. Board Game: Borderlands [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:3781]
Eddy Bee
United States
Marin County
California
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This excellent game is just begging for a remake that cleans up some of the twiddly rules, incorporates both expansions, and replaces the dull counters with real pieces. I think Eagle Games should step up to the plate for this one...
 
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