Eminent Domain: Escalation Review

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Eminent Domain: Escalation is an expansion for the Eminent Domain base game by Seth Jaffee, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 2-5 players. This expansion makes it possible now to play with a fifth player. It also adds new technologies as well as optional scenarios for starting the game. For a full review of the base game and how to play it, follow the links below.

https://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/eminent-domain-review/

This expansion changes up many different aspects of the game as well as giving new meaning to some pieces. Let me explain.

Setup is much the same as the base game with one exception and a couple of additions. Before setting up the player’s deck, an optional scenario may be chosen in any way that players would like such as drafting, choosing or randomly. Decks are then set up using the starting configuration of these cards. The rest of the setup is exactly the same as for the base game. Once the basic setup is complete, a few more steps are added. Each player is given a fleet tile. Players are also randomly dealt a new start planet tile which now gives them 2; one basic and one new one. Each player chooses which planet to start with and discards the other to the box. New technology cards are sorted by type adding in a new diverse stack of technologies for having a planet of each of the 3 types. Once this is done, play now begins.

The rules remain basically the same in playing the game with a few exceptions. There is now a replenish phase which happens at the beginning of a player’s turn. The player replenishes any empty replenishing slots in their empire. These slots are on some technology and planet cards and provide a token of the appropriate type. For more information on the minor changes in rules, check the rulebook.

I do want to take a few moments to discuss a few new things though. Unlike in the base game, the plastic ship tokens now represent distinct classes of warships. The small fighters remain technically the same, while the medium sized destroyer and the large battlecruiser do not. The destroyer is the only ship that can now take over a bustling or hostile planet. It also allows level 2 technologies to be purchased by spending 2 destroyers instead of 5 research icons. The battlecruiser is worth 2 influence points and grants a 1 fighter discount on warfare costs. A player is only allowed to have 1 battlecruiser though. It also allows level 3 technologies to be purchased by spending the 1 battlecruiser instead of 7 research icons. The fleet tile that is given to each player allows a player to upgrade their ships and can be used in place of playing an action card. It also allows an upgrade instead of research when following a research role. The specifics on upgrading ships can be found on this tile and in the rules.
There are also new types of planets; civilized, hostile and bustling. Civilized planets require either 4 colonies or a battlecruiser to colonize or attack. Hostile planets can not be colonized and require a destroyer to attack. They do however provide a replenishing fighter slot. Bustling planets can either be colonized with 4 colonies or attacked with a destroyer.

There are also new technology icons that provide resources or ship icons. Some technologies also have new research costs which allow technologies to be purchased for fighters, destroyers or battlecruisers instead of research icons. Like with everything else, you can check out the rules for more information. Just like the base game though, the winner is the player with the most influence points at the end of the game.

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COMPONENTS
This expansion adds lots of really great things to an already great game. First off there are more role cards and an additional player aid for a 5th player. There are new starting planet tiles, scenario cards and fleet tiles which are completely great looking and add a lot to the gameplay. There are new types of planet cards as well as new technologies. There are also a few errata cards as well as a sticker that updates the survey and warfare slots to be added to the board. The artwork is the same great quality that is present in the base game. This really adds a lot of amazing new art and cards. No new ships or resource tokens but all that you need is present in the base game. You get around 100 cards and tiles but the wealth of new content far out weigh that. A great looking addition.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rule book for this expansion is a bit smaller than the original. It is printed in glossy color like the original and provides lots of great pictures and examples. It’s all easy to read and understand. It’s laid out well and explains everything in great detail. Also included in the rules is a great appendix for all the new technologies that explains each one in great detail. The new fleet abilities are explained as are all the new terminology and iconography. There’s nothing here that is difficult at all. Like the base game, this book looks and feels great. Another high quality production.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This expansion adds SO much to an already great game. I love that the different types of ships actually have meaning now. I love that there are new technologies that provide lots of new stuff instead of the basic add 1 to this or that like in the base game. I love the scenario cards that really hone your deck and game play into specialized areas instead of everyone starting with the same decks. I love that there are now technologies for having one of each type of planet instead of making you wait till you get 3 of one specific planet type like in the base game for the really good stuff. I like the new planet types and how some require attacking and don’t allow for colonizing. There’s just SO much to love. I really feel like this really deepens the game play and like any good expansion, it really expands the game into a great new direction. After playing with this expansion, I will never return to playing it the old way again. It just really heightens my enjoyment of the game. I love it and feel that this is a must have expansion to the base game.
9 out of 10

OVERALL

Eminent Domain: Escalation expands the already great Eminent Domain base game. It adds about 15-20 minutes more to the game which makes the game around an hour or so, once the basics have been learned. Setup doesn’t really take much longer as there are only a few things extra to do. Like the base game, the artwork is amazingly beautiful especially on the technology cards. I love the new scenarios and planet cards. They add a lot more depth as does the fleet tile for the ships. There’s lots of great strategy already and this just heaps on more to an already great game. The extra rules and information are simple to learn and won’t be difficult for already established players. I would recommend playing a few games of just the base game before diving into this expansion though, just to familiarize yourself with the basics. If you’re already a fan of this game, you’ll love this expansion. As I stated in my review of the base game, fans of deck building and space themed games will really enjoy this one too. I highly recommend it. It is a definite must have for Eminent Domain players.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Tasty Minstrel Games at their site.

 http://playtmg.com

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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