Recently I ordered a copy of Middle Empire (primarily because I'm a board game collector and inventor -- SherCo GrandSlam Baseball and Amazing Space Venture, and Nate White is a "neighbor" -- sort of -- in as much as we both have homes in Delaware).
Middle Empire delivers all that it promises: 15 minutes to learn, about 30 minutes to play (2-players; 3 or 4 may take a bit longer), doesn't rely on dice but rather a unique card drawing and playing mechanic, and most of all, it's fun!
The game board is full color (albeit rather muted), sturdy, and there are a nice variety of wooden parts: pawns (empire pieces), cubes (strongholds), strips (roads), and some really nice city walls which allow a player to reinforce strongholds and empires.
Three decks of cards provide for construction of the above items, as well as their attack and defense. Knowing from which deck to draw cards, and which ones to play and when is paramount to the strategy of winning.
The rules are extremely simple, well written and laid out with lots of pictures and examples. As I noted above: the game delivers all that it promises on every level.
Recently, I took the game with me on a "Rockin' the Caribbean" cruise, and when not enjoying oldies and moldies being performed by many still singing R&R groups (e.g., The Crests, The Teenagers, The Tokens, et al),
retired to the cigar lounge to relax and get in a quick game or two. Also, my wife and I played a few games on deck in our leisure time. Needless to say, the game attracted a lot of attention and many of our fellow travelers asked about it.
As a side note: I know how difficult it is to launch a new game company. SherCo Grand Slam Baseball (originally SherCo Baseball Simulation) was launched in 1968 as a mail order company and copies still can be found on e-Bay. There was no Boardgame Geek,
only a few major gaming conventions, and certainly no social media (heck, there weren't even many PCs)! However, at the time, my game was a lot different than Stratomatic and APBA in that it didn't use player cards but ratings instead, and was played on a 28x28 military-style grid that included individual stadium charts and had a lot of features (wind factor, astroturf, automatic umpire rules) that were a break- through for that time period. But, unlike Mr. White, I didn't give up my day job to venture into game design, production, marketing. I just nursed the game along, improving it every year, attending as many conventions as I could to show off the game, and ultimately it was a success (financially and emotionally).
ASV, on the other hand, marketed in 2007, wasn't as successful even though I had a lot of support, especially with distribution, and I still have about 500 games in cartons in my garage.
The point of me adding all of this additional personal information is to let Nate (and any other "wannabe" game inventors) know that it's a tough business and any new game "worth its salt" needs to be supported.
Therefore, I encourage everyone to spend a few bucks and purchase Middle Empire for their own collection or as a gift. Customer support from Nateco is great (my game arrived within a week with no dings or dents, along with a follow-up email from the company).
BTW: I don't know the inventor so I'm not shilling it! I just know the game. It's certainly not my favorite board game in my collection, but for a "filler" or just a short, enjoyable experience, I heartily recommend it!
Thanks for reading this. (It's my first review).
Thanks for the review Steve!