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Subject: Eminent Domain as a 2 player game rss

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Sharon Khan
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This is part of my series of reviews of how games work with 2 players. For the full list see My 2 player game reviews.

Eminent Domain has been my favourite of the new Essen releases, and I've recently been trying it out 2 plaeyr to see how it compares to the multiplayer game.

Rules - how are they different with 2 players?

There are very few rules changes with 2 players - the gameplay itself is identical; the only thing which changes with less players is the number of stacks required to end the game - with just 2 players it is just one stack, with 3 players it is 1 or 2 stacks, depending on which variant you are playing, and it is always 2 stackes with 4 players.

How is the game different with 2?

There are two main differences I find in the 2 player game. Firstly, as there is only one role for you to follow in between choosing your action and role, your strategy is much more based on what YOU want to do, rather than trying to get into a good position to follow usefully when others choose roles, rather than always dissenting. This means that in practice I'm finding that in 2 player games that the two players play widely different strategies; whereas in a multiplayer game there is naturally more overlap.

The other difference with 2 players is partly as a result of this difference in strategies - which is that it takes a long time for 1 deck to run out, and players get to build up their tableaus much more - in fact often the VP chits run out rather than a stack. However I have heard, and also found myself, that games tend to go on longer with increased experience, as players learn how to use the cards more productively, and you don't just see one deck drilled quickly, as in games with lots of new players, so this might be partly due to that rather than player number, and my 3 and 4 player games might get to this state more often soon, as my multiplayer opponents learn the game.

Verdict

This game scales extremely well from 2 to 4 players, and with very little different feel in gameplay, just a few differences due to the relative amount you lead or follow roles. This game seems to me to be a simpler more streamlined Glory to Rome, and the scaling from 2 to 4 players also seems very similar to the way Glory to Rome scales.

I am looking forward to many more 2 player games of this - at the moment we're playing it almost daily, and I would be happy for that to continue for the foreseeable future!
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LSU LSU
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How does it compare complexity-wise and in terms of iconography from RFTG? I love RFTG but have struggled to get it on the table because everyone I have taught it to dislikes the icons. I have Glory to Rome unplayed as well - partly because I tried RFTG first. Is there any reason to get Eminent Domain if I have an unplayed Glory to Rome?
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Carc >> BSG
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The learning curve is not as steep as RftG. The iconography is much, much simpler. The depth of gameplay, however, is comparable - I'm still learning new things after more than a dozen plays.
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Jason Wallace
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LSUtigers wrote:
How does it compare complexity-wise and in terms of iconography from RFTG? I love RFTG but have struggled to get it on the table because everyone I have taught it to dislikes the icons. I have Glory to Rome unplayed as well - partly because I tried RFTG first. Is there any reason to get Eminent Domain if I have an unplayed Glory to Rome?


The iconography is very simple and there aren't very many of them. (there are 5 icons for the roles, a symbol for +1 Hand size and the VP symbol). They are all very obvious and prominent and everyone I've played with has understood them early into their first play (if not before for half or so of them [i.e. they got it completely during the explanation]).
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Andy Andersen
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Very glad to hear from Sharon, a great source of 2P game recommendations.
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Scott Everts
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I've played two 4-player games and one 2-player game and found the 2-player significantly more interesting. The problem with 4 players is the decks run out really fast so the game is just getting interesting and then its over. 2 players allows more time to plan and build up. I can use a strategy to process VP counters. In 4 player, both games were won by the person that built the most planets.

Now, I realize that 3 plays isn't a lot so we could just be playing it badly with lack of experience.
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Thanks for the review. I have played EmDo fifty plus times with many of those being 2 player. I find my favorite is 3 player extended followed closely by 2 player. I like how the game is extended and you get more time to build up your empire. For those who find that a 2 player game gives you just a little too much time try removing cards from the role stacks. I suggest removing the equivalent of a player's starting deck until you find the right game length for you.
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William Bekking
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kvenosdel wrote:
Thanks for the review. I have played EmDo fifty plus times with many of those being 2 player. I find my favorite is 3 player extended followed closely by 2 player. I like how the game is extended and you get more time to build up your empire. For those who find that a 2 player game gives you just a little too much time try removing cards from the role stacks. I suggest removing the equivalent of a player's starting deck until you find the right game length for you.


You mean the 2 player game is too long? I often read this game is too short. Is that only for 3+ players?
 
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Aiken Drum wrote:
kvenosdel wrote:
Thanks for the review. I have played EmDo fifty plus times with many of those being 2 player. I find my favorite is 3 player extended followed closely by 2 player. I like how the game is extended and you get more time to build up your empire. For those who find that a 2 player game gives you just a little too much time try removing cards from the role stacks. I suggest removing the equivalent of a player's starting deck until you find the right game length for you.


You mean the 2 player game is too long? I often read this game is too short. Is that only for 3+ players?


Let me clarify since long is a little ambiguous. The 2 player game isn't long as far as time goes, just as far as your turns go. You will get many more actions and roles in a 2 player game allowing you to claim many more planets and get to use level 3 tech over and over.

In a 3 player extended game you may actually play for a longer time but you get less turns than you will in a 2 player game. If you get level 3 tech you will likely get several uses out of it.

In a 4 player game, which again may take even more time depending on the players, you will get far fewer actions and it is not uncommon for people to only flip 3 or 4 planets and never even get a level 3 tech, or possibly to get it and only utilize it once or twice.

I find all player counts enjoyable, but I find 3 player extended the most satisfying since it gives more opportunity for following than a 2 player but more time for developing your empire than a 4 player. It also cuts down the amount of cards you can potentially have in hand when your turn starts compared to 4 player which makes your choices in what to keep or discard more impactful.
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Chris Berger
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kvenosdel wrote:
Aiken Drum wrote:
You mean the 2 player game is too long? I often read this game is too short. Is that only for 3+ players?


Let me clarify since long is a little ambiguous. The 2 player game isn't long as far as time goes, just as far as your turns go. You will get many more actions and roles in a 2 player game allowing you to claim many more planets and get to use level 3 tech over and over.


At the risk of putting words in your mouth, I should point out that this is "in general". I had one 2p game where I researched away my Research cards first turn, flipped a couple of planets, and aggressively depleted the VP pile. Just to see how it would play out. I ended up winning, but I think it was more due to my opponent being unprepared for it - he had researched some good techs but didn't really get to use them before the game ended, and didn't get much benefit out of my P/T roles. I think if he'd noticed what I was doing earlier, he could have countered it pretty easy and I don't think a 0 Research Produce/Trade blitz is all that strong. But if I recall my point, it is that that was a very quick game, and it caught my opponent off guard.
 
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William Bekking
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kvenosdel wrote:
Aiken Drum wrote:
kvenosdel wrote:
Thanks for the review. I have played EmDo fifty plus times with many of those being 2 player. I find my favorite is 3 player extended followed closely by 2 player. I like how the game is extended and you get more time to build up your empire. For those who find that a 2 player game gives you just a little too much time try removing cards from the role stacks. I suggest removing the equivalent of a player's starting deck until you find the right game length for you.


You mean the 2 player game is too long? I often read this game is too short. Is that only for 3+ players?


Let me clarify since long is a little ambiguous. The 2 player game isn't long as far as time goes, just as far as your turns go. You will get many more actions and roles in a 2 player game allowing you to claim many more planets and get to use level 3 tech over and over.

In a 3 player extended game you may actually play for a longer time but you get less turns than you will in a 2 player game. If you get level 3 tech you will likely get several uses out of it.

In a 4 player game, which again may take even more time depending on the players, you will get far fewer actions and it is not uncommon for people to only flip 3 or 4 planets and never even get a level 3 tech, or possibly to get it and only utilize it once or twice.

I find all player counts enjoyable, but I find 3 player extended the most satisfying since it gives more opportunity for following than a 2 player but more time for developing your empire than a 4 player. It also cuts down the amount of cards you can potentially have in hand when your turn starts compared to 4 player which makes your choices in what to keep or discard more impactful.


Okay thanks for the reply. It clears up my concern. I play games with my daughter who doesn't like games lasting more than 45 mins max.

Thanks
 
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Kenny VenOsdel
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A 45 minute deadline is a cakewalk for 2-player EmDo once you both are familiar with the technology. Even with 3 or 4 players you can hit that time as long as, once again, everyone is familiar with the technolgy trees.

I would expect a 45 minute game for 2 players for the first few and then when you are more experienced for that to drop to 20-30 minutes per game.
 
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William Bekking
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kvenosdel wrote:
A 45 minute deadline is a cakewalk for 2-player EmDo once you both are familiar with the technology. Even with 3 or 4 players you can hit that time as long as, once again, everyone is familiar with the technolgy trees.

I would expect a 45 minute game for 2 players for the first few and then when you are more experienced for that to drop to 20-30 minutes per game.

Ah that's great. 20-30 minutes is a much easier sell. Thanks for the information.
 
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Take it with a grain of salt though. I don't know your play speed. My buddy and I average 25 or so usually. Some people take much longer I'm sure.
 
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Antti Autio
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kvenosdel wrote:
Take it with a grain of salt though. I don't know your play speed. My buddy and I average 25 or so usually. Some people take much longer I'm sure.

I'll say.. My first two two-player games have taken around 1,5 hours! I'm sure it improves with practise, though.
 
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Trevor Schadt
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aautio wrote:
kvenosdel wrote:
Take it with a grain of salt though. I don't know your play speed. My buddy and I average 25 or so usually. Some people take much longer I'm sure.
I'll say.. My first two two-player games have taken around 1,5 hours! I'm sure it improves with practise, though.
Were those the first games of EmDo you'd ever played? Because those will take a bit longer, although an hour and a half does strike me as inordinately long. Did you and the other player find yourself deliberating over decisions for a long time? (It's certainly possible for players to get caught up in Analysis Paralysis their first game or two, especially when you're still trying to figure out how all the mechanics fit together.)

With people who are familiar with the game, I can usually get through a 3-player game in 40-50 minutes(*), and a 2-player game in 30-40.

(*) Usually closer to 40 for 3p-standard and closer to 50 for 3p-Extended
 
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Antti Autio
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ryudoowaru wrote:
aautio wrote:
kvenosdel wrote:
Take it with a grain of salt though. I don't know your play speed. My buddy and I average 25 or so usually. Some people take much longer I'm sure.
I'll say.. My first two two-player games have taken around 1,5 hours! I'm sure it improves with practise, though.
Were those the first games of EmDo you'd ever played? Because those will take a bit longer, although an hour and a half does strike me as inordinately long. Did you and the other player find yourself deliberating over decisions for a long time? (It's certainly possible for players to get caught up in Analysis Paralysis their first game or two, especially when you're still trying to figure out how all the mechanics fit together.)

With people who are familiar with the game, I can usually get through a 3-player game in 40-50 minutes(*), and a 2-player game in 30-40.

(*) Usually closer to 40 for 3p-standard and closer to 50 for 3p-Extended

Not the first games for me, since I had played a four- and three-player game before, but my opponents were first-timers and certainly took their time..
 
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