Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Eight Minute Empire Review

Eight-Minute Empire
  • Designed by Ryan Laukat
  • Published by Red Raven Games
  • For 2-5 players (I prefer 3 or 4) ages 8 and up.
  • Playtime is marketed as 8 minutes, but in reality, you're looking at 10-15.
Ever wanted to take over an area of land and do it in around 8 minutes?  Well, if you have, or this sounds like an intriguing idea, then this might be the game for you.

A bunch of cards in the game
On your turn, you pick a card which has two aspects.  First, it has a set type (Ore, Tree, Ruby, Carrot, Anvil, or Wild) and then it has an action.  You keep the card in front of you, and perform the action immediately.    The trick is that only one card is free to take.  The others have a cost depending on how far they are from the free spot.  Most of the cards let you place more armies (cubes) on the board, or move your armies to neighboring regions.  At the end of the game, you get 1 point for every region you have more armies in than anyone else, you get 1 point for every continent where you control more territories than anyone else, and then you get points for the sets of cards that you have.
The interaction in Eight-Minute Empire comes in two parts.  The first is which cards you select.  For instance, you may see that an opponent really wants to get rubies, so you decide to buy a Ruby card even though it costs 2.  The second is in how you move your armies.  You can try to take over someone's territory, but you have to weigh if that's worth more than expanding in other ways.  There are times where you want to compete, and there are other times where you want to let someone be on their own.

The theme here is weak at best.  That's not a bad thing for me.  It doesn't promise all kinds of theme, which would only detract from really solid gameplay.  I can see a bit of theme when it comes to ship movement versus land movement and such, but the theme isn't the driving force behind this game.


Eight-Minute Empire isn't going to win any awards for components, but what's in the game is perfect to play the game.  The cubes are exactly the right size, the board is very clear, very well illustrated, the cards are simple, but completely effective.  Every component in this game is solid.  My one knock is the good tokens, that are in the game as a variant, show the good on both sides, making them hard to randomize.  That's a minor quibble, since you can put them in your hands, and then drop them one at a time, which is pretty random.

Learning Curve
I can explain Eight-Minute Empire in about 3 minutes, but it really takes playing the game through once to start to understand some of the strategy, and what different things are worth. That being said, the game feels at least slightly different each time you play, so strategies have to change accordingly.  All that to say, I'm still learning to play this game, but I like the challenge.  The basics don't take long to learn, but the strategy takes a good amount of time.

I've played Eight-Minute Empire 7 times over the past 2 months, and I enjoy it each time I play.  The order the cards come up really changes the strategy.  Some of the variants really change the game in subtle ways while making players change the way they think.  I can easily see playing this game 100 times eventually.  It may take several months or years, but I don't see myself getting tired of it anytime soon.

Why I like Eight Minute Empire
A sample end game.
Blue has 14 points.
Red has 11 points.
The game is challenging, it forces players to make tough choices, but it's all done in a quick manner.  If you mess up, you don't have to suffer for long.  The game feels really well balanced, most games I've played end up having very close scores.

Why I don't like Eight Minute Empire
Sometimes there's nothing you can do to win with the cards that come up.  Sometimes everyone else takes the card(s) you really need.

Eight-Minute Empire is a keeper for me.  The game intrigues me, it makes me think, other people like it.  It's simple enough to teach, plays quickly, and meets a gap in my collection.

Would it be a good game for Tabletop?
No. Plain and simple, I wouldn't watch this on Tabletop.  The decisions are interesting in one's head, but there's not much to actually talk about, and there's no real in game scoring to track.

Want to buy the game? Here's a link to Amazon, and you'll help support BoBG.
That link is fulfilled by the publisher.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

King of Tokyo: Power Up! Expansion Review

Since I'm reviewing an expansion, my normal format kinda goes to the wayside.  With any expansion, the main question one has to ask is something along the lines of "does this offer enough extra things to warrant the price?"  Now those extra things come in many shapes and sizes.

Power Up offers 2 things - a new character, and evolution cards for each monster.  So first thing, the new monster is the Pandakai.  Not really from the realm of Godzilla movies, but with the success of Kung Fu Panda, no one can blame them for wanting a Panda in the game.  The monster alone wouldn't be enough to justify buying the expansion in my book, so we have to go to the evolution cards.  The expansion includes 56 cards, 8 cards for each of the 7 monsters, that give them some kind of unique ability.  Some evolutions are temporary, meaning one time use, while others are permanent.  When a monster rolls 3 or more hearts on a turn they get a random evolution from their deck.  They hold on to the card, keep it secret, and play it at any time.  This introduces some new strategic choices.  The cards make your intentions a little less obvious, which is good.  It also gives you something to go for at the beginning if you roll more hearts than you need to heal, or if you roll hearts while in Tokyo.

So, the verdict on Power Up.  I like the way it changes the game.  I don't introduce it to new players, but I'll try to bring it in within 3 games.  The evolution cards give each monster their own unique feel.  The Cyber Bunny has cards that make it easier for it to get energy and buy cards, while the King, Gigazaur and Meka Dragon have cards that help them attack.  It will push certain monsters in different paths, but that's not a terrible thing.  I've seen people win without drawing any evolution cards, and I've seen people with 4 evolution cards wipe the floor with everyone else.  These cards do add more luck to an already luck based game, but they also add more flexibility, and offer more choices, which is a good thing in my book.  Overall, I'm happy to own Power Up! I think it's a great addition to King of Tokyo.  The base game is perfectly good without it, so don't feel like you have to go out and get it.  Power Up gives you more things to add to a good game.  It will keep it feeling fresher longer, and that's a good thing for any game.

Want to buy the expansion and support BoBG?  (Right now June 11 2013 the price is a bit high.  It can be had for <$20 if you look around)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

In Memorium - Games With Two - Jason Moslander

I woke up today (June 6th 2013) to find out that Jason Moslander had passed away suddenly yesterday.  He was 27, a husband and a father.  He's best known to me through his blog Games with Two.  I never met Jason in person, but I had interacted with him several times.  We worked together on the Christmas buying list, and formed a bit of a collation early on to highlight each other's work.  He most recently wished me a Happy Birthday, which brought a smile to my face then, and a tear to my eye now.

I'm not feeling his loss to anywhere near the extent that his family is, but he will be missed in the gaming community.  He was a friendly guy, always looking for great games to play with his wife, and I never heard anyone say a bad thing about him.  I enjoyed reading his writing and getting ideas for articles of my own, as well as trying to find great games that I will be able to play with my future wife.

Times like this make you realize how small the board game community really is.  We all kinda know each other in some way, even if we never meet in person.  There's rarely a logical reason to why someone goes when they do, but somewhere, someone is being touched by this is a way that no one can imagine.

To Mrs. GWT, know that you're not alone in going through this.  The gaming community is sending our collective thoughts and prayers your way.

To everyone else, be sure to enjoy the time you have with the people you love, and the people you game with, and especially with the people you love and game with.  We never know how long we have, make every moment, and every game count for something.

Edit on Friday June 7th - One of Jason's gaming buddies got in touch with me and wanted to share the following info.

Mossy (Jason Moslander) Introduced me to games, but I never got too involved online so I don't know where to get the info to.

A fund has been created for them by the deacons of Rockport. All that is given will go to their support. Please make checks out to Rockport Baptist and designate the gift as -- "Acts 4 Fund: Moslander" or even "Moslander" 
Send to Rockport Baptist Church 
3761 Telegraph Road
Arnold, MO 63010

Also here are the funeral arrangements:

Visitation will be Sunday (june 9th) from 3 to 8 PM at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester Rd, Kirkwood, MO 63122 
The funeral will be held at 11 AM Monday (June 10th) at Twin Rivers Worship Center, 10575 Tesson Ferry Rd, St Louis, MO 63123.
Pastor Scott Lee from Rockport will be officiating.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

May 2013 Recap

Another 31 days and a new month, as well as my birthday, meaning lots of games being played today on June 1st.

May was a good month of gaming.  I had my first experience playing games with a group at church, primarily Catan, but also some other games.  I didn't have as many Mondays due to finals.  The good news is that it's summer, which always means lots of games.
I played 36 games in 31 days, gaining just a tad, but the summer tends to be a boost.  That brings the YTD total to 147/365.  Ideally I would be at 151, so just 4 behind.  I played 15 games for the first time this year, which brings me up to 59/100.  I also got to play with 21 new people, bringing that count to 49/50.

Just a quick list of what I actually played in May

6 Times

  • King of Tokyo

5 Times
  • Eight-Minute Empire
3 Times
  • Catan
  • Flash Point

2 Times
  • Smash Up
1 Time
  • 23
  • Ace of Spies
  • Alhambra
  • Article 27
  • Cinque Terre
  • Dominion
  • Imperial
  • Kingdoms
  • Martian Dice
  • Nefarious
  • Race to Adventure
  • Scary Tales
  • Screaming Eagles
  • Star Trek Catan
  • Talisman
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Tiki Topple

I acquired 2 new games in May - Eight-Minute Empire (Kickstarter arrival) and The Hunger Games District 12 game (B&N 75% off clearance).  I also caved and bought the expansions for Dominion online - - which I've been playing a lot.

Looking ahead to June, my game playing should see a bigger uptick.  My birthday leads to a lot of games, game groups tend to run later since there's less going on, and more people tend to show up.  I'm hoping to review Eight-Minute Empire so look for that soon, as well as a review for the King of Tokyo and Smash Up expansions.

Until next time, thanks for reading.