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Author Topic: Empires - A second look  (Read 6022 times)

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Timethief

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Empires - A second look
« on: August 18, 2016, 01:54:35 am »
+2

After having played multiple empires games now, here are my second thoughts on the expansion.

Empires can turn really frustrating (with legionary). Once you breach a certain threshold and got your deck into position i fell like empire cards really shine. Wild hunt becomes a real beast, that, if you are set up well can control and lets you pick up VP tokens and tons of cards each turn. Overlord, as the name suggests, can, depending on the board, be the dominant card. I've played several rounds only buying overlord and winning the game. Empires often brings real power into the kingdom.
But that power comes at a cost. The cost is diversity. Were previously 2 or 3 potential successful tactics on the board the landmarks in particular, events and empire cards often reduce it to one, competing strategy.

I feel this loss of versatility is the biggest weakness, especially if we gaze into the future to potentially new expansions.
Empire is a power boost and if new expansions want to compete with it i fear there will be more dominating cards dividing the game into pre empires and post empires or empires will keep dominating unless the sting of some of its bites get softened.

In very short: Empires offers extremely strong cards. These cards are dominating enough to wipe out alternative strategies on the the board. Its very hard for inexperienced players to compete.
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LibraryAdventurer

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2016, 02:23:49 am »
+2

but buying Dominate four times in a game is fun  ;D
(just did that a few hours ago.)

Chris is me

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2016, 08:11:53 am »
+5

I think the opposite, generally. The presence of multiple competing VP strategies have only increased the number of choices available in games for me, and deciding whether or not to skip a particular method of scoring is a careful challenge.
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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2016, 11:44:56 am »
+3

but buying Dominate four times in a game is fun  ;D
(just did that a few hours ago.)
Somewhat related to this, I'm glad you link the card/card shaped thingy to the wiki. I still don't have all the Empires cards memorized, so that's a helper  :)
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Beyond Awesome

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2016, 02:03:19 am »
+6

Powerful cards aren't actually a problem in Dominion. It's when powerful cards offer less strategies than more strategies. While super strong, KC tends to allow for more strategies and even encourages on some boards for you to buy cards you would otherwise not buy. Peasant is very similar as well. However, on the other end of the spectrum, when a card is very monolithic like Rebuild, that's a huge problem since that single card is the only strategy.

While Empires does provide some very strong cards, I do feel that as far as I can tell they fall in the category of opening up more strategies rather than closing them down like Rebuild.
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Timethief

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2016, 02:32:29 am »
+1

well, lets take bandit fort. its a landmark that gives negative vp for each silver/gold. Big Money essentially becomes unplayable.
wall, negative points for ever card over 15. again, bm/slog quite unlikely to be successful.
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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2016, 07:18:41 am »
+2

Big Money essentially becomes unplayable.
Yeah, but who would play BM anyway?
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Timethief

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2016, 04:25:47 pm »
0

Big Money essentially becomes unplayable.
Yeah, but who would play BM anyway?

Well, I'm not saying everyone should play BM, but its nice to have the option though.
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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2016, 09:13:28 pm »
+6

I know an expansion is good when people complain that it makes Big Money unviable.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2016, 11:31:00 am »
+3

but buying Dominate four times in a game is fun  ;D
(just did that a few hours ago.)
Somewhat related to this, I'm glad you link the card/card shaped thingy to the wiki. I still don't have all the Empires cards memorized, so that's a helper  :)

Chrome extension can auto link cards with hover-images.
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tristan

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2016, 12:57:22 am »
+1

After having played multiple empires games now, here are my second thoughts on the expansion.

Empires can turn really frustrating (with legionary). Once you breach a certain threshold and got your deck into position i fell like empire cards really shine. Wild hunt becomes a real beast, that, if you are set up well can control and lets you pick up VP tokens and tons of cards each turn. Overlord, as the name suggests, can, depending on the board, be the dominant card. I've played several rounds only buying overlord and winning the game. Empires often brings real power into the kingdom.
But that power comes at a cost. The cost is diversity. Were previously 2 or 3 potential successful tactics on the board the landmarks in particular, events and empire cards often reduce it to one, competing strategy.

I feel this loss of versatility is the biggest weakness, especially if we gaze into the future to potentially new expansions.
Empire is a power boost and if new expansions want to compete with it i fear there will be more dominating cards dividing the game into pre empires and post empires or empires will keep dominating unless the sting of some of its bites get softened.

In very short: Empires offers extremely strong cards. These cards are dominating enough to wipe out alternative strategies on the the board. Its very hard for inexperienced players to compete.
I totally disagree with that. Before Empires you might have had Kingdoms in which you had the choice to go for Gardens or Provinces or had to decide how many VPs you are going to make via Goons.
I agree though that Landmarks kinda force your play. It is kinda like Terra Mystica where the faction you play dictates how you gotta play. But you do not have to go for it: at the end you still got two choices, how many VPs to make via Landmarks and how many via ordinary greening. Previously you often had Kingdoms in which you only won via Provinces.

I don't see how the ways to achieve a particular VP goal have been diminished in Empires.
Take e.g. Groundskepper, it is pretty difficult to determine how many you should get, whether having one or two in your deck really makes greening earlier or getting those Duchies more attractive and so on.

In short, I feel like Dominion opened up more.
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Asper

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2016, 12:57:42 am »
+1

As i am one of the people who were the most negative about Empires, i'll share my "Second look", too.

I now like Debt. Of course it isn't trivial in every interaction, but as most Debt cards have a very high cost, cost comparison and gaining issues don't arise really that often.

I don't like Enchantress as much anymore. It's just often not that relevant or even beneficial to your opponent.

I have always liked the idea of Landmarks, although i don't like every Landmark. There are some i think are really cool, though.

Villa is the word Villain missing its two last letters. I bet there are people who love it, but i really don't. Not on principle though, i just find playing with it annoying. Forum, which also gives a buy on buy, is totally fine to me, now.

I love practically all of the Events. They are all very well done. I seriously can't think of any Event i don't like. My favourite is Delve.

I'm split on the Split piles. I like Settlers, Encampment and Patrician, but i don't like Legionary Gladiator and really dislike Catapult/Rocks. Rocks just has too much going on, especially as it also fulfills both of Catapult's requirements. Having to think of four things at once is too much - don't tell me you always placed that Silver correctly from the start. Also the name, and art that looks like a potato. The castles have grown on to me.

Gathering is probably the only thing of the expansion i still dislike a lot. Temple is okay, but i could really do without the other two.

Other kingdom cards i like: Archive, Groundskeeper (even though it has unfitting art). Other cards i don't like: Crown.

All in all i'd say what makes Empires worth it are the Events and Landmarks, not really the kingdom cards. Also the theme, man, Dominate shows a guy who was dead a thousand years before the middle ages even started (who that is i leave as an exercise to the reader).

Seprix

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2016, 10:02:30 am »
0

I'm split on the Split piles. I like Settlers, Encampment and Patrician, but i don't like Legionary...

Gladiator. And boy, does he put the Glad in Gladiator.



I'll give my second thoughts on Empires shortly.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2016, 10:03:51 am by Seprix »
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Asper

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2016, 10:21:02 am »
0

I'm split on the Split piles. I like Settlers, Encampment and Patrician, but i don't like Legionary...

Gladiator. And boy, does he put the Glad in Gladiator.



I'll give my second thoughts on Empires shortly.

Right, sorry. Of course i meant the pink, ribless mess that's Gladiator, and the painted papermaché abomination at his feet that's Fortune. I actually don't mind Legionary, although it's not really fun to get hit by.
Edit: To be honest, i think it's mostly how ugly the card is. Really, it's hideous. From its effect, i actually kind of like Gladiator, although i don't think it needs to be a split pile. It's mostly fortune which drags these two down, as it's again a bottom-half split pile card that's too much at once. Really, you can't even see the card for the biggest part of the game, and it's already a split pile, how complex does it need to be? (This also is my problem with Rocks and was my issue with castles until i started to like them for being, well, castles). The Gold gain on Fortune doesn't add anything new, at the very least, and somehow it being the only debt/coin mix cost card doesn't help.

And the word gladiator is derived from gladius, a sword, just like a musketeer is derived from musket, a gun. Seriously, don't they teach you anything in school these days?

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2016, 10:25:11 am »
+2

Actually, I did know that.  ;)

Here's something you probably didn't know. There's a type of gladiator called an Andabatae, and they basically wore armor without any eye holes. They generally paired up against each other, and just swung blindly, hoping to hit each other. Pretty weird, huh?
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Asper

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2016, 10:36:13 am »
0

Actually, I did know that.  ;)

Here's something you probably didn't know. There's a type of gladiator called an Andabatae, and they basically wore armor without any eye holes. They generally paired up against each other, and just swung blindly, hoping to hit each other. Pretty weird, huh?

Cool, I did not know that. Are you sure there were no eye holes? Because wikipedia says they had one, and apparently they were for the amusement of the crowd. Like clowns. By the way, did you know that the most famous piece of music commonly associated with clowns is actually about gladiators entering the arena?

Seprix

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2016, 10:40:23 am »
+1

Weird, because everywhere else I look besides Wikipedia, it says the Andabatae fought blind.

http://www.tribunesandtriumphs.org/gladiators/andabatae.htm
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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2016, 11:52:17 am »
+3

Asper, are you serious about Fortune? I get that you disliked Empires from the start and you have to find creative ways to express them but this is just ridiculous.

Ignoring the fact that Gladiatior is literally the only top card from a split pile that doesn't work as a single pile since the whole point of the card is to drain other Gladiators. The gold gain is the only incentive to actually buy a Gladiator yourself. It really ties the pile together, dude. And the rest of Fortune is too complicated??? It's literally a treasure woodcutter that generates more money. Not to mention it's not the only coin/debt mix(Wedding), and that itself isn't complicated at all since they are still the same currency.

The funniest thing anyway is that if you still forget what the Papermachécutter does, just turn it sideway like the rules propose!

Or you could just hate the card for valid reasons that it's broken or whatever, then atleast you have a case.

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Asper

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2016, 01:03:33 pm »
0

Asper, are you serious about Fortune? I get that you disliked Empires from the start and you have to find creative ways to express them but this is just ridiculous.
I did dislike Empires from the start, and there's no use lying about that. I have lined out several instances where i have changed my mind by now. The debt mechanic expands the game in a meaningful way, for example, and the rules problems I feared are far less relevant than i thought. I am perfectly fine with Debt and i take back everything i said about it. One major complaint was that i thought it could have been implemented better, but after some discussions I understood this wasn't true. Considering the many cool things debt cards allow for, they are more than worth it. I also always lined out Landmarks as an amazing idea that i think expands Dominion brilliantly. And there are some kingdom cards i do like, after all. Still, Empires is the set with the highest portion of kingdom cards i genuinely do not like. There has to be a set like that for everybody, and for me it's Empires. I have changed my mind in that I will get it, after all, as the Events and Landmarks on their own are worth it.

Ignoring the fact that Gladiatior is literally the only top card from a split pile that doesn't work as a single pile since the whole point of the card is to drain other Gladiators. The gold gain is the only incentive to actually buy a Gladiator yourself. It really ties the pile together, dude. And the rest of Fortune is too complicated??? It's literally a treasure woodcutter that generates more money. Not to mention it's not the only coin/debt mix(Wedding), and that itself isn't complicated at all since they are still the same currency.
Well, Gladiator trashes Gladiators, but it doesn't need to do that. A terminal Gold under certain conditions is still worthwile and could be a fine cornucopia-esque card on its own. Meh, maybe you are right, it's a bit boring, and could use a bit of extra. The problem is that being a split pile IS the extra bit. My problem with the bottom card being more complex than, let's say, Bustling Village, is that you need to know them to see what you are working towards - or look through the pile every time. I also never said that i hated Fortune. I hate other cards, like Rebuild or Warrior. I just don't really like Fortune. And why? Well, it's ugly, it has an effect that doesn't stack, it has a strange cost (which works better on an Event than on a card), and when describing it before i misremembered under which conditions it gains its Gold, because even its Gold gain isn't straightforward. I never said I hate Fortune, but seriously, is it so hard to understand why i don't specifically like it? What do you like about Fortune? I doubt it's the cost, the non-stacking or the fact it gains Golds depending on how many Gladiators you have. I assume what you like is the doubling of your money, and well, that's cool, i don't mind that. It's just the outstanding thing you can remember, accompanied by other things you forget while it's covered.

When i say i am split about split piles, it implies that the others are just much better. Emporium for example has that little extra, but is simple enough to remember when it's covered. Settlers/Bustling Village is just cute. Plunder is cool, and being able to buy one and then cover it up is glorious. Fortune just can't keep up with that. I had the same reservations about Castles, i admit, and technically i could dislike them for the same reason. I do like Castles now. They are even more cards to remember, but they are much more pleasing to look at than Gladiator's feet. I guess alt-VP just hits a weak spot with me.


Edit:
The funniest thing anyway is that if you still forget what the Papermachécutter does, just turn it sideway like the rules propose!

My problem isn't to remember which card the bottom one is, my problem is to remember what exactly that card does.

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2016, 01:12:35 pm »
+2

Asper, just be happy Donald X. didn't approve an Avengers themed reskin of Dominion. I can see it now. The Scarlet Witch would be Witch, Captain America would be Militia, Thor would be Smithy, and Iron Man would be Workshop. Iron Man's computer thingy Jarvis would be Library.
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Asper

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2016, 01:18:02 pm »
0

Asper, just be happy Donald X. didn't approve an Avengers themed reskin of Dominion. I can see it now. The Scarlet Witch would be Witch, Captain America would be Militia, Thor would be Smithy, and Iron Man would be Workshop.

Meh, could've been worse.

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2016, 01:18:55 pm »
0

Asper, just be happy Donald X. didn't approve an Avengers themed reskin of Dominion. I can see it now. The Scarlet Witch would be Witch, Captain America would be Militia, Thor would be Smithy, and Iron Man would be Workshop.

Meh, could've been worse.

That would have at least been somewhat cool.
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Asper

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2016, 01:21:43 pm »
0

Asper, just be happy Donald X. didn't approve an Avengers themed reskin of Dominion. I can see it now. The Scarlet Witch would be Witch, Captain America would be Militia, Thor would be Smithy, and Iron Man would be Workshop.

Meh, could've been worse.

That would have at least been somewhat cool.

I was just teasing you, ol' pal.

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2016, 12:27:54 pm »
+2

Somehow always end up talking about the stuff i don't like. So let's try to turn this around - here's some of the things in Empires i think are really cool:
  • Even though i'm not a huge fan of Catapult, being able to "shoot" Feodums at my opponents is a lot of fun. Just imagine that picture. My first game with it also had Delve - i tell you, that was a Silver fest.
  • Engineer trashing itself basically allows you to buy another $4 for <4> if you buy another Engineer afterwards - which doesn't usually matter, but it may in some rushes, i guess?
  • Capital seems crazy strong. It's awesome to spike very high very early, and buy, e.g. Grand Market or overpay for Masterpiece (did that once, was a lot of fun).
  • Legionary is pretty damn strong. You don't want to sit at the receiving end here. That discard hurts a lot. It's nice to have one yourself, though.
  • Groundskeeper is pretty cool. It needs some support, but i think the concept is really clever and it can get very strong when you built the right deck.
  • Ritual and Defiled Shrine both give VP when you use a buy to get a Curse. That's a little redundant, i guess, but whatever. You somehow have to give a limitation on how many you can get, so why not Curses. I tend to like Ritual a little better, but can't put my finger on why that is.
  • Salt the Earth is awesome. Being able to take a little lead and then just remove the remaining 1-2 Provinces might hurt engines, though. Well, i'm a green-lover, so that suits me.
  • Wedding is really cute. Once had a game with Mint and a terminal Silver for $2 (think Duchess) with a 5/2 opening. Lining up my Coppers with it took a few turns, but being able to Mint Gold every turn after that was worth it. Gold for $4, that's something.
  • Charm has a choice, and that makes it a bit harder to get what it does... It's mostly a Talisman, but man, it works for expensive cards, too. That really makes a difference. It's not the prettiest card in the expansion (floating proximity mine ftw), but i kind of like it.
  • I have a hard time remembering most of the "6 VP per player" Landmarks, but i can always remember Battlefield and Baths. My favourite Landmarks would have to be Obelisk, followed by Tomb, Tower and Wall. I didn't really get Triumphal Arch at first, but now the idea to reward a two-card combo seems cool. It's not something i'd like to have in every game, because it goes against variety, but having it sometimes is nice.
  • Already mentioned i like all the Events (quick look reveals that's actually true), but here are my favourites: Dominate, Delve, Annex, Tax, Banquet, Wedding, Salt the Earth. The other's are still cool.

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2016, 01:26:32 pm »
+3

Somehow always end up talking about the stuff i don't like. So let's try to turn this around - here's some of the things in Empires i think are really cool:
  • Even though i'm not a huge fan of Catapult, ...

Way to start it off positive ;)
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Asper

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2016, 01:54:06 pm »
+1

Somehow always end up talking about the stuff i don't like. So let's try to turn this around - here's some of the things in Empires i think are really cool:
  • Even though i'm not a huge fan of Catapult, ...

Way to start it off positive ;)

I suck at this...

LibraryAdventurer

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2016, 07:59:10 pm »
+1

I love (almost) everything about Empires. Catapult, Villa, and Enchantress are among my favorites.
I think the only thing we agree on not liking is Farmer's Market.
The only other things I don't like as much are Legionary, Salt the Earth, and Conquest.

I just played a game yesterday with Orchard and Wolf's Den. My opponent had 8 provinces but 5 unique cards because he ignored Wolf's Den. I won on my last turn by buying two more of a couple cheap action cards, and a second copy of another card to minimize my unique cards and exploit Orchard. (Grand Market was in the kingdom, so I had plenty of buys.) That was fun.

The thing I really don't understand is why a card's artwork would keep you from liking it.

« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 08:00:40 pm by LibraryAdventurer »
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Asper

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2016, 12:13:00 am »
+2

The thing I really don't understand is why a card's artwork would keep you from liking it.

It's not my main reason to like or dislike a card, but liking something is very subjective. Fortune isn't a worse card only because i don't like how it looks, just as Harem doesn't become a more interesting card only because i like the odd comic art style. If i said "Fortune is a bad card" or "a badly made card", then i'd have to back that up with more than just a little bit of personal preference. Fortune isn't a bad card, though, and not a badly designed one, either. I have a lot of irrational reasons to like or dislike cards, and many of them have nothing to do with how good or bad a design a card is. For Fortune, i just don't feel it.

Asper

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2016, 11:06:40 pm »
+2

Also, for what it's worth, i'm sometimes wondering to what extend my very critical approach towards the newer expansions is because i have become more critical in general. I mean, Intrigue for example is one of my favourite expansions, but you can certainly say that Dominion has become better since then. I'm never complaining about Secret Chamber, Scout, or Great Hall being useless, or Torturer, Minion and Saboteur being rage-inducing, or Masquerade allowing you to pin opponents, even though there are good reasons to complain about those things. It's maybe just, when those were new to me, i didn't look at them that way. Comparing Empires and Intrigue, i like Intrigue slightly better, but the reasons for this are emotional, and if i said that Intrigue was better, i really don't think it would be true. Especially as Empires is so much more elaborate in how it allows for "alt VP" strategies than Intrigue. You'd never just waste a slot on Great Hall today. Instead you'd have an Event costing $3 that just straight gives the VP - or, you know, one that costs a little more and also gives you pile control.

kieranmillar

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2016, 02:06:30 am »
+4

This increase in criticality and negativity is, in my experience, pretty common for people who become extremely invested in something and spend a lot of time on it, and it's usually attributable to burnout. If you're hoping a new expansion will give the same level of excitement as they did when Dominion was still new to you then it's never going to happen. Once you develop a deeper understanding of the game and the implications of new mechanics it won't reach the same highs of excitement because the Aha! moments don't come as often and aren't as fundamental or profound. Maybe consider taking a break for a while?

To be more on topic, Empires has been a smash hit with my group and its my favourite expansion by a mile (have only played base, intrigue, seaside, prosoerity and empires). One of my friends, after having played his first game, went out and bought his own copy and has had a lot of plays with his family. Only card we all aren't sure about is Catapult / Rocks which we all feel is weak and not worth buying, but everything else that we first looked at and were unsure about, like Salt The Earth, have ended up being fine. We were worried Salt games would end instantly and not be interesting, but it doesn't happen. Early salting is suicide, the opportunity cost too large and the one point so easy for other people to overcome. (Edit: yes I know about Salt + Feodum, I know you were getting giddy with excitement to edge-case that sentence)

So yeah, Empires. Bloody amazing! Always wanted to see the return of VP chips and have more than 3 things use them and boy howdy Empires was more than I ever could have hoped for and wildly exceeded even my grandest expectations. Debt is amazing and just a brilliant way to introduce powerful cards that have to cost 8 without having them compete with provinces so people will actually buy them. The people in my group who normally hate attacks still enjoy the attacks in Empires, as even though Legionary is strong you have to work harder for it and feels fairer to them, and Enchantress is novel and they find it easier to play around (although we forget one is in play all the time). Finally the Landmarks add a ton of variety in a wonderful way, feeling like rule modifiers that can change your decisions in both subtle and not subtle ways. The game I had with Bandit Fort was the best game of Dominion I have ever played even if it took an hour in 2 player, learned the hard way that you usually still want the silver.

Empires delivered everything I wanted from Dominion in a way that surpassed anything I could have hoped for, thank you Donald!
« Last Edit: September 10, 2016, 07:18:19 am by kieranmillar »
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drsteelhammer

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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #30 on: September 10, 2016, 07:00:16 am »
0

You become more critical, but only about the new stuff? That seems weird to me. I certainly have become more critical about Dominion aswell, but as a whole and not selectively. In my opinion it's very obvious that Dominion got a lot better with the recent expansions and the early ones are just bad in comparison. Intrigue was my first expansion aswell and I loved it, but comparing it to Empires? doesn't stand a chance at all and I don't see how it could.

Anyway, thumps up for introspection.
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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #31 on: September 10, 2016, 10:26:17 am »
0

The Base Set is awful compared to the new stuff. Adventures almost feels like too much things, but Empires is like the correct mix.
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Re: Empires - A second look
« Reply #32 on: September 10, 2016, 10:54:28 am »
0

This increase in criticality and negativity is, in my experience, pretty common for people who become extremely invested in something and spend a lot of time on it, and it's usually attributable to burnout. If you're hoping a new expansion will give the same level of excitement as they did when Dominion was still new to you then it's never going to happen. Once you develop a deeper understanding of the game and the implications of new mechanics it won't reach the same highs of excitement because the Aha! moments don't come as often and aren't as fundamental or profound. Maybe consider taking a break for a while?

I'll give taking a break another shot. Thank you for your analysis.
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