A long time ago, in a blog far, far away, I started a series of game design articles discussing alea’s Treasure Chest. I kicked things off by looking at Louis XIV and San Juan and planned to cover all of the expansions in time.
But, I’ve found it hard to get the expansions to the table. Old alea games can be a bit of a hard-sell all on their own (mainly because they’re old; shockingly, not even Puerto Rico is seen much locally, nowadays), but introducing new complexities to players who may not know the game can be even more difficult.
Fortunately, this last Thursday I had a specific request for Witch’s Brew with the Treasur eChest expansions. Not everyone knew the game (or knew it well), but everyone went gamely along. So here’s what I thought:
Eminent Domain was one of the many deckbuilding games that was released in 2011. However, it really stood out in the field, as it was one of just two games that totally innovated how deckbuilding worked (the other being dicebuilder, Quarriors).
All of the deckbuilder games to date have treated deckbuilding as a genre of games — that is, they all use deckbuilding as the sole focus of a game. Beyond that, they tend to use many of the core ideas from the first deckbuilder, Dominion, including buys, draws, actions, and money. Eminent Domain is the first game that I’ve seen that steps widely away from those concepts, by instead treating deckbuilding as a mechanic. Sure, you find deckbuilding concepts in Eminent Domain, but they’re not the core of the game, which has just as strong of a focus on role selection, and which even wanders into 4X territory (well, maybe 3X: eXplore, eXpand, and eXploit).