The world domination of Risk with none of the dice rolling and just some of the fun.
Eight-Minute Empire continues the deluge of digital board games arriving on Switch. This torrential downpour of tabletop experiences has seen both highs and lows, but the ease and simplicity of its gameplay makes Eight-Minute Empire worthy of consideration for fans of the physical game or the mobile version, even if those qualities are also its greatest weakness.
Your objective is to score the most victory points by occupying individual regions within a continent, holding a majority of regions in the content, and acquiring resources. Every action you take is dictated by a card that you and your opponents take turns drawing from a selection of six displayed at the bottom of the screen. From the starting region where all players have a city and three troops, you can choose and play a card that lets you acquire more troops, move them across land or water, build a city, or destroy one of your opponent’s troops. For example, on my first turn I select a card that allows me to move four spaces; I can now move one of my troops four spaces, or I can move two of my troops two spaces each, or I can divide up the movement points in a few different ways. All of the movement points must be exhausted before I can end my turn.
At the end of the game, you score one point per region where you have more troops than your opponents. You score one point per continent where you control more regions than your opponents. Finally, you score points for collecting sets of resources like gems, lumber, and vegetables. Throughout the game, you will know where you stand in relation to the other one to four players, and this transparency helps you plan your next move. All this said, the core gameplay is quite simple and accessible, and each game does indeed take about eight minutes. Achievements round out the package and provide some incentive to play solo.
As a life-long board game player, I find Eight-Minute Empire a little too basic and boring. I’ve played Risk and Settlers of Catan hundreds of times and countless other games with regularity, and I don’t see myself spending a lot of time here. Online multiplayer offers asynchronous play, but that just means dragging out the length of something designed with brevity in mind, and that’s if you can even find people online to play with. You can play with up to five players on one TV, and this seems to be a good representation of playing the physical board game. Even though the overall map selection is somewhat lacking, the UI and menus are easy to see and navigate. You could bring this out for a few warm-up rounds before moving towards a more meaty title, I suppose, but I don’t really see the lasting appeal.
Eight-Minute Empire belongs to that class of board games that tries to hook you in with a quick burst of fun in hopes that maybe you’ll want to play multiple games or bring it out for a more relaxing evening. Ultimately, though, the gameplay loop just isn’t all that interesting. The limited number of turns and actions for each game means you don’t actually do that much before the game ends. With friends, this title probably has more longevity, but playing with A.I., even with a handful of difficulty modes, didn’t hold my attention for very long. If you’re looking for a board game that’s accessible to a fault, you could do worse than Eight-Minute Empire. Fans of the physical version should enjoy this one, but I’m spending those eight minutes elsewhere.