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‘Eight-Minute Empire’ Review: A Quick Relief Doesn’t Always Satisfy

‘Eight-Minute Empire’ is the easiest strategy game you’ll likely play this decade. The rules are simple; earn the most victory points.

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A healthy dose of skepticism should be given when a board or tabletop game is converted into a video game. Indeed, even though the Pokémon Trading Card on the Game Boy was a huge success, much of its original purpose was lost in the conversion. Even a genuinely popular board game like Monopoly often translates poorly into a video game, with much of the social experience lost between reality and the screen. And. unfortunately, Eight-Minute Empire is no different, suffering from a lack of content in comparison to its price.

Eight-Minute Empire is the easiest strategy game you’ll likely play this decade. The rules are simple: earn the most victory points by occupying continents, holding regions, and acquiring resources. Every action you take is dependent on the cards you have at your disposal, and these all cost action points. Each card offers a move that the player can use — move troops, recruit troops, build a city, destroy the enemy unit. Each card also has a dedicated resource, and each card you use builds up your acquisition of those resources. This means it’s advantageous to use cards of the same resource type, although that’s dependent on the situation on the board. For instance, it would be astute to move your units to an empty continent regardless of the resource on the card.

eight minute empire

As its namesake suggests, each game lasts between eight and twenty minutes. There are eight turns for each game, and the rotation of player turns is decided by an action point bid, with the highest bid getting to choose who goes first. The game suggests it’s better to go last, but the difference is negligible; to some extent, it’s better to go first, as some maps offer treasure chests, which give you extra action points. Those action points are far easier to drain than an eight-turn game would suggest — in fact, they’re so easy to drain that a prudent recommendation would be to bid a grand total of zero at the start of the game, as from experience, the rotation matters little.

The short length of each game is Eight-Minute Empire‘s greatest accomplishment, which either says a lot about the game or this author’s attention span. Nonetheless, it utilizes the Switch’s portability expertly, as short periods spent waiting can be used to play a full game of Eight-Minute Empire. But due to the lack of content — particularly the few maps — it also means that there’s little replayability; after less than an hour, there’s nothing fresh to stoke the player’s interest.

Eight-Minute Empire does attempt to keep the player hooked with achievements, but as the Switch doesn’t have an achievement system itself, it’s pointless and doesn’t contribute to the overall gaming experience. Many of the achievements are (unfortunately) rather unobtainable, because there’s little chance the game will be played long enough to achieve them. How someone could play 250 games without a drain to the body’s dopamine levels is a secret only the developers know, as simply fighting the controls to move your unit to another region can be frustrating at times.

And it’s the sharp rise and expeditious fall that perhaps Eight-Minute Empire will be most remembered for. A quick relief doesn’t always satisfy; indeed, it usually leads to bitter disappointment after the initial excitement. It’s a reality that most board games won’t transition well into a video game format because they don’t have the content to warrant the price. Games like Europa Universalis 4 are based on a board game format — even completely inspired upon them — but are influenced rather than carbon-copied. Perhaps Eight-Minute Empire would have benefited from a loose association with its original board game, rather than the carbon-copy that was released. However, if you’ve got the cash to throw at a game for thirty minutes, then Eight-Minute Empire might be worth a second glance.

Lost his ticket on the 'Number 9' Luxury Express Train to the Ninth Underworld. Has been left to write articles and reviews about games to write off his debt until the 'powers that be' feel it is sufficiently paid.

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