This is a review of Galactic Emperor by Crosscut games.
Overall, it breaks down as follows,
Components - 4
Rules Presentation - 7
Gameplay - 8
Personal Tilt - 7
Replayability - 8
Useability - 9
Final Score - 7.2
Overall, this game scores VERY well in many categories. I couldn't help but not that there were many similarities between Twilight Imperium, and Puerto Rico in this game. It was so much so, that in order to better order my thoughts, I wrote preliminary reviews (which I suppose I'll post eventually) on Puerto Rico and Twilight Imperium for comparisons, just to see how this game might rate in certain areas. When compared to those two juggernauts, this game does exceptionally well, especially from a new company that has this as their first game.
Components - If there was anything at all that I could say, it would be the components. Now, I'm particularly picky about components (which is why normally I also don't review many wargames, as they would rate very low in this area when made out of paper), and it's not just how durable they are, but how they are integrated. I noted early on some of my concerns.
The wooden cubes are nice, and standard quality, and the plastic ships are a delight...at least at first. They are made of a harder plastic, so none of the more rubbery feel of games such as that of War of the Ring, Battle Lore, or even some of Asmodee's latest offerings, but they are nice. They are comparable to some of the plastic in feel to Avalon Hill's Axis and Allies or Risk games, and that type of run.
The money system needs to change a little. The money comes in VERY small little pieces called marks. These are basically cardstock (as ALL the rest of the components such as the chits and tiles are) that has a very nice film of lamination and paint on them. This increases their thickness, but makes them very hard to pick up. Now for a Wargamer, this may not be as much of a problem as the typical gamer, just get your tweezers ready and you're good to go. However the typical gamer may have difficulties picking up these things.
The money/marks are particularly noticeable since they are very small in size. It saves space, but I think I'd rather have the money symbolized by something else...even paper (and it's rare I'll ask for paper over something more durable). Of course that would be paper money that was LARGER in size and easier to pick up, keep track of, and handle.
Furthermore, the tiles are also made of the same way, albeit they are larger. This is not as much of a problem with them since they typically will be picked up once, are not hard to lose, and are laid on the board where they stay for the rest of the game.
There is a MAJOR problem with the tiles however (or the plastic ships, whichever way you want to see it) that interferes with the playability of the game. This takes away major points in the component area as well. The tiles are too small to get the job done...either that or you could say the ships are too large. You can fit maybe three to four ships on a tile along with an empire/starbase, and then things start getting shoved off the tile into another space. This is an even bigger problem when you put dreadnoughts on the tile. The dreadnought is as big as the tile itself. Whilst I appreciate how it in some ways makes you feel just how big and powerful a dread is, it also hampers the game. There is really not much space left for anything after a dread is built. For a game where one can have fleets far bigger than this, as well as putting resource cubes on tiles, and empires/starbases, this makes for a mess. You could resort to just accepting that everything will spill out of the tile, and hope that you don't forget where something is supposed to be, or have someone question your memory, or you could start stacking them on top of each other, which is what we basically have to do.
Someone brought up the idea that even chits may do a better job (in another thread). I personally prefer plastic, and like the ships, but they have a point. If you are going to stack things anyways, even if they are just pictures of the ships, for stacking chits do far better than plastic.
So something needs to be done about either the size of the ships, or the size of the tiles, or a system has to be designed where one can fit more than what fits in the tile...in the tile (perhaps a number system like some other games, where you have a numbered chit go into the tile, and another one outside the board next to a fleet which tells one which fleet goes where).
The plastic is nice, the thin chits, though more durable than just cardboard or paper, are still ultra thin, and some of the operability of some of the components leave something to be desired.
It scores a 4.
Rules Presentation - Some have complained about the rules, personally, I enjoyed the rules tremendously. Some of the wording could be utilized differently to help better one's understanding of the rules, but there are some portions that really stand out as great. It took us several plays of the game, before we probably played it correctly, but everything IS there in the rules. Overall the rules are easy to understand (easy being a relative term). What gives this game brownie points over other rules however, and raises it from just an average score is humor. The rules have a lot of humor and references to other sci fi inside of them. I for one, actually enjoyed reading the rules. Some people enjoy reading rules in general, but some find it just one of those hurdles that must be jumped in order to play the game. I appreciate the humor in writing that made it more enjoyable to read.
For example, the endgame in case there is a tie, and two fleets must enter a neutral tile to fight. It has a Mad Max hidden reference where it says...two fleets enter, one fleet leaves!...which I enjoyed. It's spread through out the rules...and I enjoy the levity, corny as it may be at times.
It scores 7.
Gameplay - This game is a fun game to play, with myriads of strategies and depths. It has elements of Puerto Rico in it, it has elements of Twilight Imperium in it, it has elements of various other Euro games in it. Overall, it is a mesh of many games boiled into one, with a Sci-Fi theme attached.
This means it is uniquely interesting. Overall, I'd say the game starts out as a strong Euro type game, but the end game can end up being a very Wargamey, or even Ameri type game.
There are seven roles to choose from.
Regent which lets you go first, and has everyone gain to Empire tokens to place where they will. Empire tokens cancel each other out if placed in the same spot, and give one control of the tile they are on.
Explorer which deals out tiles which each player gets to choose from and lay on the board.
Merchant which lets a player roll four dice, discard one, and the other three assigned to goods which then assign prices for those goods to be either sold or bought. It also has harvesting of food which then can either be sold, or placed on tiles which have energy or metal on them.
Steward, where the food cubes on the tiles with metal or energy are taken off the tiles and in return the energy or metal is obtained.
Engineer, where one pays money, as well as resources of metal or energy in order to build ships.
Warlord, where players can move ships and fleets to claim other systems, and when contested, fight. (Note there are two Warlord roles in play once all the tiles have been placed, the Explorer role becomes a Warlord Role at that point).
Finally there is Scientist, which lets players trade energy cubes for research giving them techs that give them special abilities. However during the Explorer phase it is possible (and WILL eventually occur) for a black hole tile to be drawn and placed, at which point the Scientist role is taken out of the game.
Overall, the game moves along that seven axis group to rotate around the board in play. This of course is greatly simplified, but that is the core of the game.
Along the way you earn Victory points for planets owned (calculated during the Regent phase) as well as if you win a battle as an aggressor and destroy an enemy empire or starbase.
The gameplay is enjoyable. The beginning starts off with very few tiles on the board, and is more a matter of harvesting and building. In this it is more of a Eurogame type feel. If one goes to war at this early stage, they typically have it backfire on them and it ends up hurting them more then helping.
In the midgame, it starts looking more like a light wargame, as players start looking how to deny other players Victory Points (gotten by planets owned).
In late game, it is all about Warfare normally, though occasionally one also wins via the Regent role. The game runs very well, in fact exceptionally. There is a lot of depth, and everyone I've played with seems to enjoy it.
It scores an 8.
Personal Tilt - I find that I like Twilight Imperium more than Galactic Emperor. I also enjoy Puerto Rico more then Galactic Emperor. In fact, I went over them in depth whilst I debated just how to rate some of the areas of this game. However, when seen on it's own merits, I find I REALLY enjoy playing Galactic Emperor too. There's something that just kind of sticks with you and makes you want to play it again. It helps that you can also get a nice deep experience from a shorter game than Twilight Imperium. It takes only about two hours, which can be a lot less. On the otherhand, if I had the time, I'd ALWAYS choose to play Twilight Imperium first. I know it might not be right to compare the two, but seeing the game mentions the creator of TI right in it's rules, I think something of a comparison can be given. Overall, taken on it's own merits, I think people will REALY enjoy this game...a LOT. There's much to be enjoyed, and overall it's above average.
I personally feel in my own tastes it's about a 7.
Replayability - Overall, this game has great replayability. Players can choose different strategies evey time they play. The random draws of planets adds a little to this, but isn't as big an impact as it may seem. The choices of roles, and interactions of players actually affect the replayability far more in this game. Overall, it has a high replayability factor.
It scores an 8.
Useability - At first I might be hesitant in rating this game that highly in this field. It seems less complex than Twilight Imperium, but more complex than Puerto Rico (actually, yes, I think it is slightly heavier then PR). However, I took a bunch of people who had never really played that many heavier board games before, and taught them to play rather quickly. They even played it rather well and understood the game. They ALL enjoyed it. I think that someone who enjoys Euro's will enjoy the first part of the game (though the end part if there is heavy fighting may turn them off). Someone who likes chance and luck will like the mid and end game a lot (though if they don't like deep strategy, the beginning might turn them off and they might not like some of the game). However, as an overall, I think everyone can find something about the game to enjoy. It is also more easily accessible than I would have first thought.
Hence it ranks VERY well in this category, being an almost perfect because I can use it any game night I want, whether with Eurogamers, or my usual crowd, with New Players or Experienced.
It scores a 9.
Overall, a very strong showing for a first game from Cross cut, and a very enjoyable game. It scores well with a final score of
With it's only weakness really being with it's components, as well as the integration of some of those in the game itself. Otherwise it is very strong overall.
Components - If there was anything at all that I could say, it would be (about) the components.
This is a game that screams to be Eagle-ized.
Short of that, if you are the least bit good with a craft knife and a graphics program, this is a game that screams to have most of its components replaced.
The real question is whether the game is really worth the effort. After two sessions I've yet to make a decision.
I concur with the review and the (negative) point made about the size of the ships/sectors, except that I would not give such a stiff penalty for components (and I would give a slightly higher rating for most of the other categories).
I agree that I prefer plastic ships as well, and for the same reason as the reviewer. The visual effect is great, but in GE it is lessened when the sector becomes crowded with several ships. We obsessive, compulsive would-be emperors (most would-be emperors have a degree of O.C.) like our ships to remain lined up in battle formation, but there simply is not enough room. Maybe if the size were reduced a step - dreadnoughts the size of cruisers and cruisers the size of fighters and fighters a little smaller than they are now.
I didn't find the itty-bitty money pieces all that bothersome. I really like the compact nature of the game.
So, my rating of the game is higher (part of that is my "personal tilt" which is way up there for this type of game), but I understand and agree with the point about the intergration of the ships and the sector tiles. I guess the play is the main thing for me, and I have found it to be exceptional. Adam West and company did a very good job with this game, and I am very glad it is a part of my collection.
- Last edited Sat Aug 16, 2008 3:19 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Aug 16, 2008 3:17 pm
Why did the painter paint the wall for free? Because it was on the house.
There is a MAJOR problem with the tiles however (or the plastic ships, whichever way you want to see it) that interferes with the playability of the game. This takes away major points in the component area as well. The tiles are too small to get the job done...either that or you could say the ships are too large.
Sounds like you need to make some fleet sheets. It appears each player has their own color and symbol in the game. Take an appropriately sized sheet and divide it into an number of boxes big enough to hold your fleets neatly arranged. Make a set of counters of an appropriate number (I haven't played the game, but from the number of ships I see there, it looks like around 6 fleet markers would do it) for each player in their color and number them. Place a graphic of each counter in the upper corner of each box on that player's fleet sheet. Then, whenever you have too many ships to easily fit in a given hex, put them on the fleet sheet and replace them with the corresponding counter. You and every other player should be easily able to tell what the counter represents with a quick look at the fleet sheet in front of you.
Some enterprising soul who owns the game and has a decent graphics program should be able to whip up a file of good-looking fleet sheets fairly quickly.