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Board Game Review – Empires: Galactic Rebellion

2016 October 21

A long time ago, in a galaxy…hold on wrong IP. But based off this game, you’d think it was a Star Wars game! We’re actually talking about Glenn Drover’s Empires: Galactic Rebellion! A sequel, or in my mind, a spiritual successor to Glenn Drovers Empires … oh hell, I’m talking about Age of Empires III.

Number of players: 2-5 (6 with expansion)

Age: 14+

Playing Time: 90-180 minutes +

Empires: Galactic Rebellion

 

What’s the game about: A description from Eagle-Gryphon’s, web site…

Empires: Galactic Rebellion hands you the reins in an interstellar clash for control of the Galaxy. Take ownership over one of five factions and assert your supremacy in this exciting new board game from designer Glenn Drover.

As the leader of a rebel front, you must manage your personnel wisely to discredit the Empire, lobby the Senate, build up your military strength, and develop new technology all while maintaining relations with your civilian supporters.

Take care, however, as the Galactic Empire’s elite Sentinel units will be watching for any chance to destroy you, and at any time another faction could stab you in the back. When all is said and done only victors take the spoils. Will historians name your battle a failed rebellion, or will it be the start of a new and better empire?

Topple the empire, join the Galactic Rebellion today!

Basic idea in my own words:

 

Empires: Galactic Rebellion pits you, one of the factions of the rebellion, against the Galactic Empire across the galaxy. I can’t help but compare this game to Age of Empires III – it is almost the same thing. And I think that’s OK. It’s more actually, and that’s a good thing! The marketing behind this game blatantly tells you that this game is the sequel to AoE III. Instead of taking place during the Imperial colonization of the Americas back during the Age of Discovery, this game takes you up in space.

Empires: Galactic Rebellion

In the game, you choose 1 of 5 factions, represented by a specific color. You get cubes in this color and tons and tons of miniatures! The game board is a good size and has planets on the left and the player actions on the right. And the board has lots and lots of gold in it (a bit too much if you ask me though). What I like about Eagle’s games is that there is a ton of stuff in them. Eagle-Gyrphon thinks big and with this game, you can tell. When the box arrived, it felt like 30 pounds! The component quality is the first thing you’ll notice. The box is extremely thick and huge, the components are all very thick and the miniatures – all the miniatures!

 

The flow of the game is pretty simple to understand after you get used to it. The game is moderately complex. I love games with this complexity weight though. You really have to know the order of the game sequence and make sure you have your resources lined up make sure that you don’t screw yourself over. After you get used to the game though, the flow is easy to pick up. The game takes place over 3 epochs. Epoch I and II has 3 rounds and epoch III has 2 rounds, then what’s new is a big war at the end. For those of you that are familiar with AoE III, you’ll feel right at home with Empires: Galactic Rebellion.

Differences between Age of Empires III / Glenn Drovers: Age of Discovery and Empires: Galactic Rebellion…

  1. The Obvious – the theme. The themes of these games are completely different. If you like space themed games, this game may be right up your alley
  2. The Sentinels and space ships – There are sentinels placed on planets at the beginning of the game. These sentinels won’t bother you right away, but as soon as you explore a planet, the player that’s leading on that planet, will be in conflict with these sentinels. There are also imperial ships on a couple planets – if these are on a planet, you can’t explore said planet.
  3. Battles – You can battle other players, just like AoE III but you can also battle sentinels and when I played this game, I found myself only battling the sentinels and not other players. What’s different about battles is, you pull cubes out of bag or whatever you may have. And whatever first two cubes in a specific color show up, that color player wins. Sentinels are black.
  4. Trade Routes – these are trader goods worth 2
  5. Galactic Senate – a large space at the bottom of the board to be able to bid on special cards or get points

To a large degree that’s it about the differences of the games. Now there’s plenty of small, nuanced differences, but those are the main differences in my opinion. The two games are functionally the same.

Sentinel

 

How the game plays or, “a turn” (paraphrased):

The game takes place over 8 rounds in 3 epochs. During epoch I technologies cost least, in epoch II, they cost more and in III, they cost even more but are more powerful, and are typically for points. Much else doesn’t change during the epochs except for at the end of epoch III, there’s a huge war that takes place between the remaining sentinels and the rebels (you).

Each round, all players have 5 standard rebels to play, and as soon as all players have placed their 5 rebels (you must place all), it’s time to resolve the actions. As the game progresses however, you’ll have more than 5 rebels to play with – there are ways to obtain scientists, heroes, troopers, smugglers, diplomats and more rebels. These different types of characters can give the player advantages when playing them in certain areas of the board. The game is about playing these characters and playing the action spaces most effectively and most efficiently out of all your opponents.

On your turn, you simply place one of your figures on the board – well, what are these action spaces we’re talking about? *These actions don’t resolve until all players have placed their characters on the board.

  • Initiative: There are empty spaces 1-6 on this area, if you want to ensure you’re first player next turn, make sure you place one of your characters on the 1 space. However, this always doesn’t work out the way you want it to, so it’s up to you to race to the earlier spaces on these spaces. The good thing of being farther behind on the initiative track is, the more far back you are, the more points you get.
  • Planetary Influence: This is the primary way you get your figures on to the planets. Place a figure you want to be on a planet on one of these available spaces. Certain characters will give you benefits. For instance, if you place a smuggler here, if your smuggler lands on a planet where a trade route is (a large trade good), you get that trade route; a diplomat allows you to bring a rebel from the general supply over with you; troopers can be used for defending against sentinels
  • Trade Goods: 4 spaces here are available for taking the randomly shuffled trade goods available each turn. The smuggler gets to take two and you work in order from left to right
  • Covert Missions: In covert missions, if you have the most players in this box, you can go on these covert missions, which is really just doing battles against cards which will give you points/rewards, etc.
  • Research Technology: If you research tech. you pay the required credits and get a technology. Typically techs will enable such features as, “each turn you get a hero,” or some other benefit. Using the scientist gives you a 5 credit reduction cost
  • Warfare: There are 4 available spaces here; if you wish to wage war against another player or a sentinel, you must place a trooper or hero here. Hero’s gives you a benefit of having 2 more cubes to draw
  • Specialists: if you place a figure on a specialist, on the next turn you get to play with that newly acquired specialist (smuggler, scientist, etc.)
  • Galactic Senate: If you commit figures in this space, they remain for the rest of the game, unless you use them to bid on 1-4 faces cards that may give you a benefit or effect all players; at the end of the the epochs whomever has the most figures here (diplomats worth 2), you’ll be awarded with 7 points

Empires: Galactic Rebellion

Coming back to what I said earlier, once all players place all of their figures, the actions are resolved in the order I described above. This happens 8 times and at the end of the game, points are awarded. At the end of each epoch, players get income by having sets of trade goods; benefits from tech tiles and the player order changes based on the new initiative. That sums up the game play. It’s essentially the same as AoE III but with some more added to it. But all these things are good additions. I especially like the war; the war is handled with the cubes.


Component Quality: 5/5

The components are top notch! The chitboard pieces are extremely thick, the cards don’t feel, “special” but at least it appears they have the linen finish. The board is nice and thick, the box is awesome! I love the number of compartments in the box. My only complaint, and I hate having to say this but, I’m not a fan of the art or the graphic design. I feel the colors on the board clash a bit. There’s just way too much gold. And if you know me personally, I’m not a fan of gold. The art is so-so to me (I’m sorry Paul). I preferred the art is AoE III. The art and theme is the only thing that makes me like AoE III a tad more…but that’s it!

Theme: 3/5

The space theme is a theme that’s always of interest to me, but not immensely. I’m not huge on space themed games. I really prefer games of history, or more cartoony pseudo historic games but regardless, the game is cool. But ultimately I prefer the theme of AeE III better.

Instruction Manual: 5/5

Eagle-Gryphons game rules are albs good, nice stock and well thought out, in my opinion. No complaints here.

Luck Factor: 2/5

This is a complex strategy game. There’s not a lot of luck here. Sure, there is but not a lot. The luck involved is drawing the cubes and the cards that come up for your turn.

Strategy: 5/5

This game is as strategic as they come. I love this level of strategy. It’s easy to pick up and get the flow after it gets going and doesn’t bog down in my opinion. It’s certainly a thinky game but not exhaustingly thinky like a stock/train game.

Overall Feelings: 5/5

 

I knew I was going to love this game. It’s a sequel to Age of Empires III – one of my absolute favorite games. I absolutely love this game and series, Glenn Drover’s: Empires. I highly recommend this game. If you’re a seasoned gamer, if you like space themed games, or you liked AoE III – get this game!

Review copy kindly provided by Eagle-Gryphon Games.

Michael Schroeder is a board game enthusiast, has written an eBook entitled, “Beyond Monopoly: A Beginner’s Guide to Modern Board Games” (Kindle, Apple iBook), is busy designing games and owns an eCommerce board game store, Meeple Village! He also has a podcast that complements this blog, “Board Game Dialog (also available on other podcast aggregators).” He is mike6423 on BGG.

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