Empires: Age of Discovery
Finally got through a complete game of this last night. Just three players and I think the game suffered for it, but it’s still quite nice.
I think my favorite aspect of the game is that the ratio of rules:tension is off the charts. That is to say, you get a lot of tough choices out of a very lightweight game. As elaborate and, frankly, overwrought as this edition is (this is the ultra blinged Kickstarter edition), you can teach it in five minutes.
Probably the game’s greatest sin is that it isn’t very dramatic. There are no sudden reversals or surprise plays. Everyone sees every choice, there’s no hidden information, no randomizers, no big gambles. Honestly I think this is all to the good: go the other direction and you end up with a total luck fest. It’s a fine balance.
That said, one place I’ll bet the drama steps up is with more players. The only way the game scales is that there are more spots available to send colonists to discovered territories. Otherwise it’s ever more players competing for ever fewer spots. Probably at six you end up with some really ugly AP, especially on the last round.
I think I’ll put Empires on my “step up from Catan” list. It’s also so very large and beautiful that it’s super inviting to less committed gamers.