Empire: Box Cover Front
Empire - Empire, AVStudioGames, 2022 — front cover (image provided by the publisher) - Credit: W Eric Martin
  1. Empire: Box Cover Front
  2. Empire - Empire, AVStudioGames, 2022 — front cover (image provided by the publisher) - Credit: W Eric Martin

Empire Review

Empire offers deep strategy and beautiful components. Despite a complex setup and steep learning curve, its rich gameplay and balanced mechanics make it a must-try for strategy enthusiasts.
  • Game Mechanics and Rules
  • Player Interaction and Balance
  • Replay Value and Variability
  • Component Quality and Artwork
4.5/5Overall Score

Empire offers deep strategy, balanced mechanics, beautiful components, and high replay value, though complex setup may challenge newcomers.

  • Number of players: 2-6
  • Playing time: 90-150 minutes
  • Recommended player age: 12+
  • Setup time: 15-30 minutes
  • Game type: Strategy
  • Publisher: Strategic Games Inc.
  • Components quality: High, including detailed miniatures and thick cardboard tokens
  • Deep strategic gameplay
  • Beautiful components
  • High replay value
  • Balanced mechanics
  • Complex setup
  • Steep learning curve
  • Challenging for newcomers
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Hey folks! Welcome to my review of Empire, a board game that promises a lot of strategic depth and engaging gameplay. After several sessions with my friends, I’ve got a lot to say about its game mechanics, player interaction, replay value, and those ever-important components. So grab your favorite snack, sit back, and let’s get into it!

How It Plays

Empire is a game overflowing with strategic depth. Let’s break down how to play, from setting up to claiming sweet, sweet victory.

Setting up

First things first, you’ll want to set up the board. Place the main board in the center, and distribute player boards to each participant. Hand out resources and starting units based on the player count. Don’t forget to shuffle the deck of event cards and place it nearby. Finally, pick your starting empire and assemble your troops. (Tip: Make sure no one swipes extra resources while you’re not looking. It happens!)


The game plays out in a series of rounds. Each round has several phases like resource collection, actions, and combat. Players take turns performing actions such as building, trading, and moving troops. One key thing to note: planning ahead is crucial. If you act without thinking, you might end up in a sticky situation. Trust me, I learned that the hard way.

Keep in mind that the gameplay is highly interactive. You’ll be negotiating treaties, backstabbing alliances, and all those fun things that ruin friendships. (Just kidding…sort of.)

Winning the game

Victory in Empire is all about achieving your empire’s objectives. You might be aiming for territorial control, economic dominance, or achieving specific milestones. The first player to meet their win conditions claims victory. And remember, gloating is optional but highly encouraged.

Want to know more? Read our extensive strategy guide for Empire.

Game Mechanics and Rules in Empire

Empire is like a fine wine: rich, complex, and just a tad overwhelming if you’re not ready for it. When my friends and I cracked open the box, we felt that familiar thrill of anticipation. The mechanics revolve around strategy and resource management. Each player aims to expand their empire by conquering territories and managing resources like gold, food, and troops. Trust me, it’s more fun than it sounds.

The rules, however, could put a monkey to sleep. It took us a good chunk of time to get through the rulebook. At one point, we needed a lifeline. Too many nuances and specifics. One friend even attempted to train his dog to read the rules. Spoiler: It didn’t work. But once we got the hang of it, we found ourselves engaged.

A big plus for Empire is the minimal luck involved. It’s strategy-heavy, so you won’t find yourself cursing the dice gods. The game favors those who plan ahead and think a couple of moves in advance. It’s like chess, only with more betrayal and less staring contests. Be warned, though: the game’s complexity means it isn’t for the faint-hearted or those who dislike deep strategy games.

Another key feature is the game’s pacing. Games can take a while, so pack some snacks and get comfortable. If you don’t have patience, Empire might feel more like a siege than a skirmish. The largest downside is that the rules might scare away new players.

Next, let’s chat about the nitty-gritty of player interaction and balance. Buckle up; it’s about to get personal!

Empire - Empire, AVStudioGames, 2022 — front cover (image provided by the publisher) - Credit: W Eric Martin

Engaging Player Interaction and Balance in Empire

Playing Empire feels like being part of a grand epic. The player interaction is both intense and engaging. Imagine five friends around a table, negotiating, backstabbing, and forming alliances like a binge-worthy TV show. As you plan your moves, you’ve got to keep an eye on everyone else, or you might find yourself at the bottom of the food chain.

The game design encourages players to continuously interact. I remember one game night where my friend Dave thought he was smooth-talking us into giving him a win. That was, until we all secretly banded together to foil his plans. That’s the beauty of Empire. It’s all about those twists and turns driven by clever player decisions.

Balance is another strong point in Empire. Unlike some games where certain strategies are overpowered, here, every path to victory feels viable. However, I did notice that if someone falls behind early, it’s quite a trek to catch up. I once spent almost an hour just clawing my way back into relevance after a couple of poor decisions at the start. But hey, that’s part of the challenge, right?

One thing to watch out for is that sometimes, strong players can dominate the table, making it hard for newbies to enjoy the full experience. If your group has a mix of experience levels, be prepared for some growing pains.

Stay tuned for my thoughts on the replay value and variability of Empire, where things get even more interesting!

Replay Value and Variability in Empire

One thing that keeps Empire fresh on the table is its massive replay value. Picture this: you and your pals have already conquered realms, betrayed alliances, and laughed over the ruins of defeated empires. Yet, the game still feels brand new after countless plays. The reason? Variability!

Each session of Empire can unfold in a myriad of ways. The game comes with diverse scenarios and objectives. No two games feel the same. You might be chasing different goals like economic supremacy, ruthless domination, or diplomatic victory. This keeps everyone on their toes and keeps your strategies from getting stale.

The game also throws in plenty of randomness in the setup, but thankfully, not in the gameplay. The board layout, initial resources, and event cards shuffle things up every time. You can plan like a chess grandmaster or wing it like a reckless pirate. Whatever your style, the game accommodates it.

Empire also has expansions that add even more layers of fun. New factions, special abilities, and extra scenarios can turn your regular gameplay into something epic. I once played an expansion where my faction could summon mythical creatures! It messed with everyone’s plans, and we talked about that game for weeks.

Now for a little spoiler. The next section will delve into the wonderful world of Empire’s component quality and artwork. Spoiler alert: it’s not all sunshine and rainbows!

Component Quality and Artwork in Empire

Alright, folks, let’s talk about the component quality and artwork in Empire. Now, I’ve seen my fair share of board games, and I gotta say, Empire really knows how to spoil its players. The game pieces are solid and have a good weight to them. We’re talking high-quality materials here, not that cheap stuff that feels like it will break if you look at it wrong.

The board itself is a work of art. It’s got this detailed map that just pulls you in. I felt like I was planning my empire’s expansion every time I looked at it. The colors are vibrant, but not so much that it feels like a kid’s birthday party. It strikes a perfect balance, making it easy on the eyes while also being functional.

And the cards, oh, the cards! They’re thick and have a nice finish on them. You won’t have to worry about them getting bent out of shape after a few games. Plus, the artwork on these cards is top-notch. Each card has unique illustrations that really set the mood. They’re detailed and thematic, adding a layer of immersion that I didn’t know I needed until I saw it.

The only downside? Setting up all these beautiful components can be a bit of a chore. But, honestly, once you get everything laid out, it’s worth it. Trust me on this.

In conclusion, if you’re willing to invest some time in setup, Empire’s component quality and artwork make it a feast for the eyes and a joy to play. I wholeheartedly recommend it.


So, there you have it, folks! Empire is a board game that delivers rich strategic depth, intense player interaction, and keeps things fresh with its variability and replay value. The high-quality components and beautiful artwork also add to the overall enjoyment, though it does come with a bit of a lengthy setup and detailed rulebook. If you’re someone who loves plotting grand strategies and can handle a bit of complexity, Empire is definitely worth checking out. Just be prepared for newcomers to feel a bit overwhelmed at first. That wraps up my review. Happy gaming!

4.5/5Overall Score
Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.