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.

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