The Tasty Minstrel Gets Kickstarted!

Tasty Minstrel Games is going the Kickstarter route with its next game Eminent Domain.  Listen to Michael Mindes discuss this news.  And here is the BGG link.

Why am I posting about this?  One,  think Tasty Minstrel is a class outfit.  I think Michael and Seth are trying to bring us quality games.  Homesteaders is one of those and if they continue with their future games, we will benefit.  Second, I’m playtesting Eminent Domain.  I contacted Seth Jaffee, the designer and TM Game Developer, through Michael.  I volunteered to be a playtester of any of their games.  Eminent Domain was the one, hopefully the first of many, Seth sent me.  So I got the files for the game, built a copy, and have been playing it for about 6 weeks now.

What is Eminent Domain?

It’s a deck building card game.  I hear you.  You’re groaning ‘oh boy. another Dominion clone.’.  Wrong.  I’ve played Dominion several times.  I did not like it.  With all the cards and combos, it is hard to pick up unless you play it a lot.  Which I haven’t.  I just wasn’t impressed.  Back to Eminent Domain.  While it shares some mechanics with Dominion, it is a game that stands on its own.

First let’s talk about theme.  In Eminent Domain you play an expanding galactic empire.  You play cards to colonize and settle or attack an conquer planets.  Each planet is able to produce resources.  Those resources can be used to get victory points.  And everyone likes victory points.  How do you do all this?  Each player starts with a hand of the same cards.  These cards are Colonize/Settle, Research, Politics, Survey, Trade/Harvest.  Each card type has an Action and a Role.  These two aspects allow you to do different things on your turn.   Colonize/Settle allows you to begin establishing colonies and/or take over a planet.  With Research you can get cards out of your deck.   Trade/Harvest allows you to produce and then trade in resources for VP.   Survey lets you draw two cards from your deck.

On your turn you to do a couple of things.  You can choose to take an Action or not.  The actions are described above.  Then you must take a Role.  These Roles are Colonize/Settle, Research, Warfare, Survey, Trade/Harvest.  Each of these enables you to do certain things.  Colonize/Settle allow you to add colonies to a planet.  Research allows you to get new technology to your civilization.   With Research you can ‘buy’ Technology Cards which give bonuses and special actions.  There are 3 levels of these corresponding to how many of each planet type you have in your system.  Warfare allows you to attack and take over a planet, adding it to your system.  Survey lets you bring a new planet into your system ripe for conquest. Taking your action and your role constitutes your turn.

One of the unique things about Eminent Domain is the Follow action.  Follow allows you to do something to/with your system based on what role another player has taken on their turn.  These Follow actions are similar to Role actions letting you enhance your system in some way.  This is a really cool aspect of Eminent Domain.  It adds a level of complexity and interaction that you don’t find in the other deck building games.

What do I think of it?  I like it a lot.  It is very easy to learn.  My eight year old son has picked it up in just two plays.  The small number of card types makes it easy to remember what every one does and that enables you to build strategy from the start.   The rules are fairly clear though it did take some correspondence with Seth to clear a couple of things up and ensure that we are playing correctly.  The game play is fun.  There is enough depth and interplay between the cards and making combos to engage your brain.  And the Follow aspect just bumps the thinkiness up notches.  This part of the game really leads to hard decisions.  How does taking this Role affect the other players?  Will it enable them to get a leg up?  Can I do something to hinder them?  I really like this part of the game.  It reminds me of Witches’ Brew’s “so be it’.  And I’ve heard that there are similar aspects in Puerto Rico.  But I haven’t played that yet.

All in all this is and will be a great game.  I cannot wait to see a professional version of this.  I hope you will visit the Eminent Domain links and support the Kickstarter campaign.







4 responses to “The Tasty Minstrel Gets Kickstarted!”

  1. Frank Hamrick Avatar

    After reading the preview I’m not sure that Eminent Domain will be successful. It seems to be not so much a “Dominion” type game as a Race For The Galaxy knock-off. It almost sounds like it’s RftG. But of course, I’m only going by a review of the game, not having seen it or played it.

    Further, since the reviewer did not mention Race, and had only played Dominion a few times (and stated he didn’t like it), the review came across negatively to me! I would give more credence to a review by someone who had more Dominion experience, and even liked Dominion – and someone who was well acquainted with Race for the Galaxy. It struck me that the reviewer was not a highly experienced Euro Gamer. Thus, I would take the review with several grains of salt.

    Just my initial thoughts. It would be hard for me to promote a game I knew so little about from one who seemed to know so little about our hobby.

    1. tomgurg Avatar

      Hi Frank,
      Thank a lot for visiting my blog. Though I don’t quite agree with you on some of your points, I can see where you are coming from with them. You are right in that I have not played Race yet. Perhaps when I do I will see the similarities. And I have only been gaming for about 3.5 years. But I like Eminent Domain. It’s fun and easy to learn. I was surprised that you thought my review came off negative to you. Could you elaborate on what gave you that impression? I’m always open to learning. I visited your blog and it is pretty nice. I was pleasantly surprised to see you are so nearby. I’m in Durham. Will you be at MACE in a couple of weeks? Perhaps we will see each other there. Please continue to visit this blog. I value your opinions and comments.
      Thanks again,

  2. Seth Jaffee Avatar
    Seth Jaffee

    I am the designer of Eminent Domain, and I have played Race for the Galaxy and Dominion (each of them quite a bit). I like the both.

    That said, Eminent Domain shares very little with either game. THEMATICALLY, Eminent Domain is a lot like Race for the Galaxy, because there are planets and you get them into your Empire – this is something that happens in any game with planets. Race for the Galaxy is also a Role Selection game, but with it’s simultaneous role selection I think it feels rather different. Part of the reason that Eminent Domain sounds similar to Race is that Race was based on the idea of a Puerto Rico card game (kinda, originally) and Eminent Domain was based on the idea of a Twilight Imperium 3 card game (kinda, originally). Both are role selection games.

    Comparisons to Dominion are bound to occur because of the Deck Building in Eminent Domain. In fact, my original design goal was to use Deck Building as a mechanism in a ‘bigger’ game that was not merely a deck building game. So yes, you have a deck, and over time the contents of that deck changes… but there are several significant differences between Eminent Domain and the myriad Deck Building games (“Dominion clones”) out there:

    * In deck building games, you choose what card you want in your deck, and (if you can afford it), you buy it. In Eminent Domain, your deck changes as a result of an action you take. Sure, you could take Research simply to get a Research card into your deck, but more often if you take Research it’s because you are interested in the effect of the Research action, and the deck changes as a side effect of that. This results in a game where the more you choose a particular Role, the better suited you are to do that role (you have more cards for it in your deck). Practice makes perfect!

    * In Dominion you are forced to discard your hand every turn and start with 5 new cards – nothing ties one turn to the next (except for the overall configuration of your deck). In Eminent Domain you may keep any cards you like and discard the rest before refilling your hand, thereby allowing you to build up to a particular action. You want that Level 3 technology? It costs 7… better start saving those research cards!

    * Eminent Domain isn’t really a deck building game. Eminent Domain is really a Role Selection game with a deck building mechanism in it. The game I think Eminent Domain is most similar to (structurally) is Glory to Rome.

    With elements of Glory to Rome, Dominion, and Race for the Galaxy, I think Eminent Domain succeeds in standing as it’s own game, not really feeling like any of those games which inspired parts of it.

    This is coming from someone who is completely biased, as I enjoy Eminent Domain very much and m very happy with how it has turned out, as well as someone who has played over a hundred games of RftG, Dominion, and Glory to Rome, and who likes all three.

    And because apparently it matters, I am a 7+ year veteran of euro-gaming, and am pretty familiar with the hobby 😉

  3. 2010 in review « Go Forth And Game Avatar

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