Eight minute empire

Game Overview: A quick playing game that can be played in 15-20 minutes where you are attempting to build an empire and conquer lands throughout the map.  Armies are represented by wood blocks and cities by wooden discs.  You will attempt to add to your army and cities and then moving your armies, so that you control either a region or an entire continent.  While making every effort to reign over the land, you are also attempting to obtain sets of goods which provide an additional path to victory.

Box Contents:  A smaller boxed game that won’t take up much shelf space.  Inside the box you will find, wooden blocks and discs in five different colors, a very small double sided board (11 inches x 8.5 inches), along with a 42 card deck, and multiple small cardboard coin and good tokens.  All are well made.

Clarity of Rules: The rules are covered in a four page manual.  While the text is somewhat small, it is very thorough and does an adequate job in explaining the rules of the game.

Game Play:  With the game setup, each player takes 3 cubes of their color and places them into the designated starting area.  If you are playing with just two players, you will also take turns placing cubes for a “third” player throughout the board that you will be competing against.

The game is built around the cards that you will pay for based on their current cost.  On the game board itself, it shows the placement of six cards and each represents a cost you must pay with the left most being free and the right most costing you three coins.  The number of coins you start with is based on the player count.  You must manage your money or you will always be stuck with the cards that cost nothing as you progress through the game.

The cards have two uses.  The first is as a good (carrot, stone, gems, iron, and trees).  Each card will show you how many points you will earn based on the number of goods you have obtained throughout the game.  They are all based on having one, two, three, or five goods of the same type.  There is also a wild card that can be put towards any good.

In addition, at the bottom of each card is an action that you may take if you choose to.  These actions are how you add additional cubes/armies to the board and allow you to move them around.

  • Place New Armies (number of cubes shown)- Must be placed in the starting area or a region you have a city on.

  • Move Armies (number of cubes shown)- Must be moved on land and you can move a single cube/army up to the number shown or you can split it up the movement across multiple cubes/armies.

  • Move Armies over Land or Water (number of cubes shown)- This is the only action that allows you to move your cubes/armies from one continent to another but can also be used to move on land.

  • Build a City- You can build a city on any region that you currently have a cube/army on.  In future turns, you can add new cubes/armies to this region since it now has a city.

  • Destroy an Army- Can remove any cube/army from the board.

Players take turns obtaining a card and ends when the number of cards played matches a certain number based on the number of players (2 players/13 cards, 3 players/10 cards, 4 players/8 cards, or 5 players/7 cards).

Scoring then occurs for the sets of goods you have collected.  One point is given for each region on the map that you control with the most armies and cities.  An additional point is given for each continent that you control with the most armies and cities.

Replay Ability:  The board is double sided, with each side being unique which adds to the replay ability so each game is somewhat different.  The rules do provide three variants, but only one really provides an alternative to the game itself by adding in good tokens and are placed onto different regions of the board.  If you control the region, that good can be used as part of your set collection.  The other variations are to just play three games and sum up the points for a longer game and an alternative method in determining the first player.

Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 13+ and can easily be played by someone younger.  No reading is needed and everything is based on icons that are found on the cards.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: How quickly the game plays is a huge plus here.  If you don’t have a lot of time and want to get a game in that has some strategy involved, this is one you should consider.  We also enjoy how you may push your luck to wait on a card that you want that is a higher cost until it becomes cheaper as it moves forward on the track.

While there aren’t a lot of available actions on the cards, I feel the game would have benefited from a guide card that showed each of the actions that are available on the cards instead of having to look back in the manual until you have memorized them.

The scoring for the sets seemed off.  The gem cards, which only five exist in the game, give you 4 points at the end of the game if you have obtained 5 gem goods.  Where as the carrots have ten cards and give you 8 points if you have obtained 5 carrot goods.  It seems the less common cards should be more valuable.

While the game sells itself as an empire building game, it feels much more abstract than actually building up an empire and going out to conquer additional lands.  This is simply a combination of a few different game mechanics with set collection and having the most wooden cubes in a given spot on the board and really feels like any theme could be used.  In fact, the theme was later changed to a more fantasy theme with the release of Eight-Minute Empire: Legends.

Ryan Laukat, who has become very popular within the board game community, is one of the few people that does both the game design and the art within the same game.  Unlike some of his other games which can easily be identified with his art style, the art here is very limited with the only inkling this is one of his games being the box cover which also resides on the backs of the cards.

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