Tasty Minstrel Games
Age Rating: 10 & Up
Players: 2- 4
Timeframe: 45 Minutes
Style: Civilization Building/Deck Building
Do you want to control the Galaxy? Do you want to rule your own empire? Survey the Cosmos for planets to conquer. Take over civilizations by force using the best spaceships in your fleet. Or, be a gentler ruler and colonize planets by doing research to improve your technological advancement. Discover the best ways to earn influence by harvesting or producing goods. It’s your call! Only you can decide how you will rule!
Eminent Domain is a science-fiction themed civilization building game that is designed by Seth Jaffee. In this game, players grow their empire by collecting a deck of Role cards which they use to perform Action, Role, and Leader effects. The first player to collect the most influence tokens through the effective use of their cards will win the game.
- 96 Role cards (16 Produce/Trade, 20 Research, 20 Colonize, 16 Warfare, 20 Survey, and 4 Politics)
- 27 Planet cards (9 Advanced, 9 Fertile, and 9 Metallic),
- 6 Starting Planet tiles
- 39 Technology cards
- 35 Fighter tokens
- 24 Resource tokens (representing food, water, iron, and silicon)
- 32 Influence tokens
- 4 Player Aid tiles
- 1 Central Card Display board
- Rule booklet
The components are very high quality. The Central Card Display board is well laid out and the design of all of the cards and tokens are in keeping with the science fiction theme. The cards are good quality and the plastic fighter ships are a really, really neat addition to the game. The influence tokens are very small and can easily misplaced. The biggest complaint about the contents of the box is that the game should be stocked with some card separators and have a better interior design to keep components more organized and make setup easier.
The rules booklet is very thorough, but a bit hard to follow. This is one of those games that is easier to try to set up and play through and reference the rules as you go.
At setup, each player starts with a hand of Role cards(may vary depending on the variant played)- 1 Political card, 1 Warfare card, 2 Colonize cards, 2 Research cards, 2 Survey cards, and 2 Produce/Trade cards. These cards create the players’ starting deck which should be shuffled and placed in front of them. Players will add to this deck as the game continues. Each player also gets a randomly selected Starting Planet tile which remains face-down. Then each player is given a randomly dealt Player Aid card. The player who receives the Player Aid with the “Start Player” noted on it is the first player. Influence tokens are then laid out in a central location without the 8 differently designed tokens. Fighter tokens should also be placed in a central pile that can be easily reached by all of the players. Finally, the technology cards should be separated by type and placed in three piles near the Card Display board.
Eminent Domain is played in rounds. To start, each player draws five cards from their deck and the first round begins! Each player completes 3 phases on their turn- 1 optional and 2 mandatory phases. While each of the phases is common to all the players, what actions a player will take is dependent on the Role cards they play and select. The three phases proceed as follows:
Action Phase (optional)
If the player chooses, one Role card from the player’s hand is played in front of them. The card’s action effect is then read out loud and any actions dealing with that action described are completed. Once completed, the Role card is placed in the discard pile.
Role Phase (mandatory)
The player must select one of their Role cards on the central card display, place it in front of them, and resolve the role effect with any Leader bonuses that might also be included. If there are no more Role cards left in that stack, use the information on the central card display instead.
Now each player, in turn order, may choose to “Dissent” and draw 1 Role card from the central card display of their choice or “Follow” and make use of the drawn Role card effect (but not the Leader bonus).
Cleanup Phase (mandatory)
Once all the players have decided to Dissent or Follow, all players place any played cards in their discard piles except those cards that are being used as colonies. The player whose turn it is may also discard any cards in their hand they do not want at this time. The player then draws back up to their hand size limit. Note that none of the other players can discard or draw cards during this phase.
The turn then passes to the next player. The game continues until either met the supply of Influence tokens are exhausted, the endgame is triggered OR if a stack (or 2 stacks, depending on # of players) of Role cards is depleted from the Central Card Display board. Once the endgame is triggered, players have one last turn to ensure that every player has had an equal number of turns. After the last turn is complete, all players count their Influence tokens, Technology cards, and face-up Planet cards. The player with the most Influence points wins the game. In the event of a tie, Fighter tokens and Resource tokens are counted and added to the total to determine the winner.
Family Gaming Assessment
The 10 & Up suggestion for player age seems right on target for this game because it requires a moderate amount of reading and some advanced gaming skills such as: advanced logic and critical thinking skills, the ability to make independent decisions, the ability to understand risk vs. reward, and a basic ability to strategize while managing your resources and hand of cards.
The most difficult part of the game for younger players is developing an understanding of the Role cards and the ability to comprehend that they can be used for multiple things in multiple ways.
We found that the game took a while for children to get into, but once they understood the game, it played much more quickly. We definitely recommend starting with the Learning variant, and then playing with the standard rules once they’ve got a few games under their belts.
Our adult players found both the theme of the game and the actual gameplay enjoyable. We liked the strategy of the deck builder and the fact that there was very little downtime for players because we all had actions to complete during each player’s turn. But, there were a few complaints stating that it got a bit repetitive after multiple playthroughs. Tasty Minstrel Games has created an expansion which may address this issue, but we haven’t had a chance to try it yet.
Eminent Domain is a complex and fun game that has mechanics similar to other familiar games. But, this game combines these mechanics with an interesting Science Fiction theme in an original way. We found this to be a fun and unique game play experience which we have gone back to many times. The MSRP is $39.99, but it can be found for significantly less on Amazon, and is well worth the price.
Disclaimer: a copy of this game was provided to Engaged Family Gaming for purposes of this review.