I added Eight Minute Empire to my wish list after seeing a copy in the Toast Bar of the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham last summer. The concept of a quick-to-play empire building game intrigued me. I got a copy last November for my birthday so it was time to try it out. Could the game live up to it’s bold name? If so – or even if not – would it be a fun way to pass the time? Find out in this review.
Build an empire and conquer the land in around eight minutes!
In Eight-Minute Empire, players take turns selecting a card from six displayed. The card gives a good, and also has an action that the player takes immediately. Actions help players take over the map, but sets of goods are worth points at the end of the game, so players have to balance the two aspects.
Eight-Minute Empire is the super-quick area control game with tough decisions. It’s easy to learn and perfect for when you only have a few minutes.
- Publisher: Red Raven Games
- Number of Players: 2 – 5
- Play Time (Approx): 8 mins – 20 mins
- Ages: 13 +
The game consists of a series of simple components. There’s a small board, which marks out the regions of a fictional land mass or two. There’s a deck of cards and a pile of coin tokens. Finally, there are four sets of wooden components – cubes and counters which represent cities and armies for each player.
Setup is a simple matter: the board is placed, the deck is shuffled and six are turned face up at the top of the board. Then each player is given a set of tokens and a fixed number of coins. This is not a game that takes as long (or even longer!) to set up than it does to play, which really helps its case when games are considered for a tabletop session.
The rules are simple as well. Players take turns, buying a card from above the board for zero to two coins depending on its location in the queue and then they perform the action on the card. Cards contain three areas of interest. At the top is a resource type. Resources are used to determine victory points at the end of the game. The central part of the card indicates how many victory points the player gets for having a number of that resource type in their hand at the end of the game. At the bottom of the card is an action (such as move armies or build a city) that the player can perform as a result of taking the card.
Play continues for a number of rounds, un-picked cards being slid down and then a new end card selected at the end of each player’s turn. Play continues until all cards have been used up and then victory points are tallied. As well as points for resource cards, there are points available for having the most armies in regions, continents and so on.
Play can be fast or slow, depending on the amount of time players take to consider the cards available and perform actions, but the manufacturer’s estimate of eight to twenty minutes is pretty spot on. The first game I played was with my wife and my parents. My parents are … shall we say … slow when it comes to picking up games, but we managed the first game in twenty minutes and a second in around fifteen. Playing since, the average even with new players seems to be around ten to twelve minutes. I’ve also yet to play a game with a new group who haven’t wanted at least one more go at the game before moving onto something else.
Answering that initial question: Yes, the game can live up to its bold name and it’s a fun eight minutes to boot. Eight Minute Empire is one of those games that is so simple and yet has a strategy to luck balance that makes it a fun challenge to play. After a single game, newcomers should become as competent as long-time players.
If the game has a downside it’s that its simplicity does mean that there is very little variety to the gameplay itself. Of course, this is exceptionally forgivable: the game lasts mere minutes after all!
Eight Minute Empire is a worthy addition to any board game collection. It’s fast and fun which make it a perfect opener to a gaming session. Its simple nature also lends it to being a nice introduction to board games for any interested in getting more involved with the hobby than the annual game of Monopoly at Christmas. Red Raven Games have also published two expansions for the game to add some extra variety to the game that is perhaps lacking in the base game.
Rating: 5 / 5