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Eminent Domain

At the beginning:
Back in November last year, I clicked on a link from BGG to kickstarter to get more information about another deck building game. I really like deck building games, and I own a lot of them, they all feel different to me and I always on the lookout for more.

I think Kickstarter is fantastic, you are giving support to a publisher in gaining the funds to allow them to publish a game that sounds right/perfect for you. I've kickstarted 6 games now ... Tasty Minstrel do Kick Starter better than most (and yes I am the person that started the first thread about high postage costs for us 'foreigners'), my feeling is that they give fantastic incentives, really put thought into over funding, but there is a draw to their games that I haven't seen with other projects (I'd like to also state that Clever Mojo also tick the right kickstarter categories for me). I also love the fact that I'm in their rulebook (though over two lines) and I'm happy to state that I will be in their next rulebook ... and hopefully when they do another kickstarter project (with postage costs allowing) I'll be in that rulebook too. It's a gimmick, but gimmicks work!

Anyway, back to the game, and about 10 to 11 months wait, from paying for the game to getting the game ... ok, this was a tad frustrating, but frustration was only there because I had lots of updates of the game and how good it was looking. When the game finally arrived all frustration left, and because I paid for it so long ago it honestly felt like a 'free' game (of high quality too).

Components:
The components for this game are excellent, I can't state enough how fantastic the quality is. This is a card game, yet all resources and board are produced with such high quality. Again, it left like kickstarters had really aided in allowing the publisher to go that extra mile ... in truth, they went that extra mile and then some!!!

I love the fighters, I love the fact they are different sizes, yet they all are the same value.

The resources themselves are just wooden tokens, but these tokens have very clear pastel colours.

The cards themselves are clear, the iconography is exceptional, but the artwork on them (apart from a card or two - nothings perfect is it!) is absolutely stunning.

Gameplay:
On your turn there are 3 parts to perform.
1) Action (optional)
2) Role
3) Clear up

First you can choose an action, each card has an action on it, you choose the action, play it and then put the card in the discard.

Then you choose 1 of the 5 role cards from the board and put it in front of you, then choose cards with the same icon in the top left to 'boost' it.
Other players can then choose to follow, by selecting cards from their hand with the same icon to allow them to play the follow action of that role. Or the player can dissent, which means they can select another card from their draw pile.

Finally once, the role action is complete the person can remove any number of cards from their hand and then refill back up to five. This gives a lot more control in hand management and gives a great difference to other deck building games.

Right, back to the roles and the core of the game!

The five roles are -
Survey: Select planets which you've discovered in the 'world' that will give you a boost to your 'domain', plus give you victory points. Once a planet is selected, the planet needs to become under your control. So to begin with, the planet stays face down.

Warfare: either build up ships in your control, or if you are the lead player choosing the role you can spend the ships to gain control of a surveyed planet. How many ships is stated on the back of the card that you choose from surveying.

Colony: This is the non aggressive way to gain control of planets. Put colonize cards or cards with the colony icon under the planet until you have enough to settle it. Then play the settle action or lead role to settle the planet. The skill with this way to settle a planet is that cards will be removed from your deck while colonizing it.

Production/Trade: Once a planet is in your 'domain'/control, it might be able to create resources. If they are then you can play produce to put resources on the plant per icon that you've played. Then in another turn you can play trade and exchange your recourse for victory points.

Research: When you have planets you can research each type of planet. Doing so you can choose special cards that will give a (potential) huge boost to your actions/roles. Researching is the real game changer, if played well!

Strategies:
> Firstly watching what others are doing is vital, the ability to follow and maximise your domain while not on your turn is really valuable.
> Colonize or warfare but not both! There are two ways of getting planets in your control. The best results have come from choosing which method suits your strategy. Though, this is my theory and might not be best practice.
> Researching the right cards for your strategy. Do no choose warfare if you are colonizing, etc. But choosing a research card that allows for extra victory points if you have many different resources types, could boost your victory point tally massively and give you a game changing card.
> Produce and trade! It's a basic strategy but its a secure way of amassing victory points.


Thoughts:
I've played Eminent domain a few times now and I honestly feel that I've only scratched the surface. This is a hugely enjoyable game, that has many paths to victory. I feel that I've only just begun to understand how research cards can maximise your hand/cards/strategy. I've chosen both warfare and colony approach for controlling planets and both feel very different, plus both have made my deck quite different to manage.
This doesn't really feel like a deck building game (which I've also read a lot of others state on BGG), it feels much more like a hand management game, where enabling a hand that maximises your turn but also enables actions while not your go is a real challenge. This game is all about your area, but because of the role element the game as a real interactive element to it.
I've really enjoyed every game I've played to date and I'm looking forward to playing it again. I feel this is hugely re-playable game, but as I love expansions I can't wait for TMG to release an expansion for it. I hope and feel that this game has a lot of legs and potential to it!

An excellent deck building game, one of the best to date, I'm a proud kickstarter of this game!
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