Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Eminent Domain: Microcosm

Product– Eminent Domain: Microcosm

Producer-Tasty Minstrel Games

Price– $7 here http://www.miniaturemarket.com/ttt3003.html/?utm_source=boardgamegeek.com&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=BGG_Text_Ongoing&utm_content=Text_SKU-TTT3003_Ttl-4_Dsc-2_MMUrl-Yes

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 5 minutes (2 players)

Type-Euro

Depth-Light

TL; DR– Bad rules hurt a great game. 83%

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Basics-Vie for galactic dominance!  Eminent Domain: Microcosm is the two player microgame version of the popular Eminent Domain game.  The game is set up by separating the types of planet cards based on how many colonize/warfare it will take to get that planet.  These cards are placed face down.  Then, the main deck of action cards is shuffled and three are placed face up in a row to be selection.  Finally, the five different technology cards are placed face up for all the players to buy.  After set up, players take turn drawing a face-up or top of the draw pile card, refreshing the visible row, and then playing a card or drawing as may cards as the player wishes from his or her discard pile.  The cards have an action on them, a symbol for other actions, and a way to score end game points.  The main actions on the cards are research, warfare, and colonization.  When a player plays a warfare or colonization card for its action, he or she chooses a planet pile.  These planet cards have different values of both colonize and attack needed to take the planet, but these values are hidden to the player when he or she chooses.  Players can show, not play, other cards from the player’s hand to meet these values.  If the colonization is successful, then the planet is placed face down in front of the player.  Planets have a symbol that can be revealed to add to other played action cards.  If a player plays a warfare card and has the needed symbols, then the planet goes to the spoils pile.  Planets in the spoils are only worth end game points and cannot be revealed for their symbols.  But, warfare has an added bonus.  A player can declare warfare on an opponent’s colonized planets, stealing them, and making the game much more combat focused. The last major card type is research.  Research allows you to take a technology card from the center row OR move an opponent’s technology row to the center row.  If a player can shows three more research symbols on other cards, the player can take the research action again moving the same or other research cards around.  The technology cards provide extra symbols for research, colonization, warfare, or other actions.  Play continues until every card from the selection row is taken, and then the players score points based on the cards they have: one point per colonized or planet in spoils, one point per political symbol they have, and then they get extra points based on the extra point conditions on all the cards they selected.  Winner of the game has conquered the (micro)cosmos!

Mechanics– Quick, lean, and deep are not words you hear together too often, but this game has that.  It plays in less than five minutes.  It’s not full of clutter as every card in the deck could be the difference between a win or defeat.  And, deep as playing what and when are the hardest choices you have to make in a game.  Honestly, once you know how to play, you won’t put this one down. 4.5/5

 

Theme-This game feels like a contest between two players over planets.  It’s not perfect as the random nature can really limit what strategies you can employ.  But, the addition of conquering colonized planets really adds a new depth to the game.  As you scorched-earth conquered planets, that really add to the strategy AND the theme.  Are you a galactic empire bent of destruction or are you peaceful colonists who will co-exist with the planet and use its resources? 4.5/5

Instructions-Tasty Minstrel….. where do I begin.  These rules are just bad!  You have some nuggets of gold here, but a lot of that is fool’s gold.  This isn’t a game where scores are 3 to 90.  This is a game where scores will be 30 to 31.  Knowing how to score is the most important part of this game, and you don’t really teach players how to do it.  If you go to Board Game Geek, there are no less than four different explanations to the rules.  This is a microgame!  I shouldn’t need to use my Ph.D. to score the game!  I love that you added cards to your other games, but honestly, I’d like one extra sheet over cards to the base Eminent Domain game.  I’ve played several times, and I still don’t think I’ve scored properly.  Also, you don’t really teach me how to play.  The cards give the basics, but the rules sheet doesn’t do a good job of that.  If I don’t think I’m playing properly, and I’m not sure I’m losing or winning properly, I can’t enjoy your game! 1.5/5

Execution-Tasty Minstrel Games knows how to make a card game.  NO STICKERS!  That right there makes me love this game.  I kid, I kid (kind of), but what is in this box is top notch.  The cards are good quality, the art is great, and the extra cards are icing on that cake.  It’s a simple game that a ton of fun.  5/5

Summary– This is the lowest rated Tasty Minstrel Game’s product, and it all has to do with the rules.  Honestly, on game play alone, I love this more than Eminent Domain.  It feels more right in this game to mess with the other player than it does in Eminent Domain, even with the expansion.  On theme, this is better to as now I think I’m really fighting over planets, and fighting has costs.  Colonizing is quick, but a gamble as you can really lose some points if your opponent swings planets away from you with warfare.  The game itself is well put together, but it should be for a card game that is less than 35 cards.  What hurts is the rule sheet.  There isn’t enough there.  I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s no fun if I don’t know how to play and score.  I can more easily score Seven Wonders than this game as that rulebook walks me through it!  If you rewrite the rules on two sheets instead of one, I will love this game more than any other two player microgame I have and bring it with me everywhere like Coin Age.  Altogether, this is a spectacular game with bad rules.  83%

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