By Seth Jaffee and Tasty Minstrel Games
First there was Dominion, and it was good….if a little dry.
Then, the pretenders attempted to take the deck-building crown from Dominion. Some came close and others evolved, such as the splendid Seven Wonders and this latest spin on the deck-builder, Eminent Domain.
Eminent Domain uses cards but has lots of tokens. Tokens for resources, tokens for fleets of invading ships and tokens for victory, sorry, influence points.
The aim of the game is to finish with the most influence, thus, the biggest galactic empire.
Influence is gained by surveying planets then colonising or invading them. Certain planets allow you to produce goods which you can then sell for more influence. Simple!
Each player starts with a deck ten set cards from which the draw a hand of five. They also have a planet on their side to start their empire.
In the centre of the table is a set of five draw decks. Depending on how many players their are, the game ends when one or two of these decks is depleted.
Beside the draw decks are three decks of technology cards. These can give players special actions when researched and claimed.
During a player’s turn, three phases can be completed.
In the Action Phase , the player whose turn it is can resolve an action from one of the cards in their hand. This is optional. A lot of the Technology cards allow special actions.
In the Role Phase, the main player chooses one of the draw decks. He can then perform the role/leader action on the bottom of that card, boosting the role with any matching symbols from cards in his hand and planets he controls. Other players can either follow or dissent.
Following means that the other player performs the role from the chosen card, boosting with their cards and matching symbols.
Dissent allows the player to draw another card from their deck.
After cards are used, they are placed in the player’s discard deck.
In the Cleanup Phase, the main player can discard any number of remaining cards from their hand and draw up to five new cards. If their draw deck is empty, then the shuffle their discard deck to form a new deck and so forth.
The cards in the centre stacks are:
- Survey, which allows you look through a certain number of cards from the planet draw deck or draw cards from your draw deck.
- Warfare, building your fleet of ships, invading worlds you have surveyed.
- Colonise, build colonies on surveyed worlds and settle them.
- Produce/Trade allows you to place resource tokens on planets you control that have resource slots or trade those tokens on your planets for more influence points.
- Research can be used to get rid of cards from your deck or gain access to game-changing technology cards.
Each player starts with a Politics Card which is a single use card that allows you take an extra card from the central stack. Once you use it it’s gone!
When I first tried this game it took a bit of time to learn and teach but after a few turns , it did what most good mechanics do….it clicked!
I taught it to my 10 year old son and after a few confused frowns, he picked it up and started to learn some of the strategies. He soon had fleets of the cool-looking ships tokens and was surveying and invading planets wholesale!
I love the SF theme and the fab tokens. They have a lovely tactile feel and transcend this game from being yet another Dominion-wannabe. The art and graphic is very good; very neat, clear and easy to understand.
The rulebook is well written and presented and, at sixteen pages, not at all daunting.
The game lasts less than an hour and I’d quite happily play this again straight afterwards.
If you like Seven Wonders, Dominion, SF, or all the above, then play Eminent Domain. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
Emminent Domain. (2-4 Players, Ages 10+, Approx. 45mins Playing Time)
You can buy Eminent Domain in: