App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Eight-Minute Empire is a digital port of a board game that has players quickly compete for world supremacy. It's a game that's specifically designed to be fast and simple, yet still give the feeling of expansive strategy games in its condensed package. While the mobile version of Eight-Minute Empire seems to be a great translation of this board game, the game itself is has some odd design choices and doesn't quite feel deep enough to be satisfying.
Divide and conquer
As seems to be the case with most board games these days, the goal in Eight-Minute Empire is to earn more victory points that your opponent. Since this is a game themed around growing an empire, victory points are determined by the number of territories, continents, and resources you control.
At the start of the game, everyone is given the same amount of money, troops, and starting location, and it's up to each player to spend their money to buy cards that allow them to acquire resources, move armies, train new troops, and more. In the simplest terms, players who have the most troops in an area control it, and players who control the most areas in a continent are given points for that as well. As an added objective, every card that grants actions also provides resources, and acquiring resources strategically can also grant points at the end of the game.
The only other wrinkle in Eight-Minute Empire's gameplay formula is that of its start. Although all players start with the same amount of money, players determine turn order by bidding using this money. It's a strange system that has some strategic significance, but it becomes a problem in the digital version of the game when trying to play online multiplayer.
When trying to play an asynchronous match of Eight-Minute Empire, the bidding phase–that is, the thing you do before you can even start playing the rest of the game–tends to take days to complete. Thankfully, players can opt to play synchronous matches of Eight-Minute Empire, but for anyone looking to play casual turns every so often, they might find themselves waiting a very long time.
Multiplayer gripes aside, Eight-Minute Empire has some other core issues with how it's designed that keep it from being the quick-but-satisfying empire-builder it sets out to be. Most of this comes from the fact your strategic options are limited because of your money and whatever random cards are available to you at any given time.
These are constraints that are ever-present in any given match of Eight-Minute Empire, and they reduce the game to a series of tactical decisions and a healthy dose of luck rather than strategic planning. Further, there's very little interplay between players other than trying to outnumber their troops to take a territory. There are some instances where you can destroy troops, but other than that, there isn't much player interaction.
The bottom line
If you're looking for a digital version of Eight-Minute Empire, this release provides exactly what you're looking for. Although it may take quite a bit of time to get an asynchronous match going, the game otherwise works as intended. That said, playing Eight-Minute Empire isn't all that satisfying, especially if you are looking for a strategic, empire-building experience.