Monday, October 13, 2014

How To Shrink a Universe Into A Great Two Player Game

This isn't exactly a review - it's more of a "hey, I playtested this game and it's awesome" kind of love-fest. I am not paid by Tasty Minstrel Games, I have received no swag and/or sample product, and I spent my own hard-earned dough on inkjet ink to mock up the prototype to play. Not only do I not have any dog in this fight, I don't even own a dog.

Well, that's not entirely true. I want to see Tasty Minstrel succeed, because I enjoy a good number of the games they are creating and publishing. I want Seth Jaffee (the designer) to design more games. And I want a copy of this game that doesn't consist of my hastily printed-on-inkjet slips of paper shoved into low-quality sleeves with foreign-language Magic: The Gathering cards as backing.

The last of those desires is taken care of, as Eminent Domain: Microcosm is fully funded - all any of us have to do is plunk down our $10 and set our clock radio for the spring of 2015. You have until Friday night (October 17, 2014) to join in and get not only this splendid little 34 card game but some nifty extra cards for Eminent Domain, Dungeon Roll & the upcoming Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers.

So, with that introduction taken care of and way too much discussion about hypothetical dogs & Korean M:tG cards, let's move on to the question and answer portion of this blog post.

Is this just a shrunken version of Eminent Domain?

No. I'm a huge fan of Eminent Domain (and I'm enjoying playtesting the upcoming Exotica expansion)... but this is not Eminent Domain: the Dice Game. (Yes, I know it's a card game... what I'm suggesting is that Microcosm is emphatically not just a simplified version of the original game, created to cash in on the brand.)

10 minutes? Really?!

Not on your first play or two - but those won't be longer than 15-20 minutes. Once you know how the game works, 10 minutes is very realistic. 

Only 34 cards? Really?

Yes, really. Players begin with no cards in their hands and draft a card each turn, then either:

  • play a card from their hand, OR
  • pick up all of their played cards and put them back in their hand
Each of the cards has multiple functions:
  • the action you take when playing the card
  • an icon that affects the power of your actions (most cards)
  • instructions on how you will score influence (victory points) at the end of the game
With that few cards, doesn't the game get "old" quickly?

Absolutely not. There are multiple ways to build your influence over the galaxy, even with the short playing time & limited number of turns. Tactics can be affected by what cards are available to draft - or what planets your opponent has colonized or conquered.

My oldest son & I have played 6+ games of this... and the scores are getting tighter each time. We're learning how to sabotage the other player by drafting to steal points, as well as making strategic "reloading" turns at the right time. Each game is more exciting rather than less... and the playing time has tightened up as well.

How do I order this and be as cool as you are, Mark?

Glad you asked. Follow this Kickstarter link.

Seriously, Eminent Domain: Microcosm a great 2-player game... even if you're not a fan of science fiction games. This is a splendid design.

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