Eight Minute Empire: Legends is a tense filler, deeper than it may appear at first, from Ryan Laukat at Red Raven Games. An area-control game, players buy cards from a price-controlled set and take actions, seeking to control regions and islands for victory points, and collecting sets to the same end.
Layout & Setup:
Setup is quick, with four double sided boards laid out to player preference , a starting region selected and initial armies placed. This is quick, easy and intuitive. At this point, if not before, the artwork will strike the players. It is lush and brilliant but also clear and informative (cards of certain sets, for example, are usually identifiable by the coloring alone)
On each turn, players choose from six cards. One card is free, two cost 1 coin, another two 2 coins and a last 3 coins. When a purchase is made the cards more expensive than the one taken move down the price ladder and a new card is drawn into the most expensive slot.
Each card has two effects: the top banner is an ability which can be taken every turn and is effective immediately. The bottom is a one-time action which can only be taken immediately. Players can place and/or move armies, place a city, have the cost of moving between islands reduced, destroy an opponents army or claim a victory point condition.
When a pre-determined number of rounds have happened, the game is over.
First off, and my only negative, the Eight Minute Empire moniker is inaccurate and cumbersome. When I try to introduce someone to the game the time it takes to play is the first question. And the awkwardly entitled Eight Minute Empire: Legends: Lost Lands expansion come out in Q1 2015. It looks great, but, man, that title has more colons than a gastroenterology convention. Probably hindsight (pardon the reference), but this game doesn't need its predecessor to survive. And let's just say eight minutes is ambitious, to say the least. Closer to twenty.
This game is surprisingly tense. There is limited time to get your armies out, move them appropriately, collect the card sets you want and set up for the future. Do you hold on to armies until you can deploy a city to give you a new starting space? Do you spend your limited funds on that card to expand the set you are building? Do you wait until a card gets cheaper and risk an opponent sniping it from you? You can't do everything and I'm left at the end of many games wishing that I had just another turn or two to cash in on my plans more fully.
We (in my family) love this game. We tend toward lighter fare and this is simple enough for my 7 year old to understand and play well and quick enough for a "sure, we can play a quick game before supper" situation. It has enough depth to make you think and the brevity to force you to build compromise and balance into your gameplan.
Artwork is incredible. Design is tight (though Lost Lands will alter, and perhaps improve, on that). Theme is interesting, if not particularly deep.
Two thumbs up.
Agreed! Great, short, clever game that scratches the area control itch and allows me to avoid longer games of this genre.