Founders of the Empire
Designers: Alexy Kalinin and Petr Tyulenev
Illustrator: Andrey Shcherbakov
Time: 30-45 minutes
Ages: 12+ (although I think younger players with a spatial sense would be fine)
Reviewer: Jonathan Franklin
Played 6 times with a varying number of players (review copy provided by RightGames)
Hey, you got your tech tree in my tile laying game!
A portable games from the Russian game producers, Right Games, Founders of the Empire has a tech tree, tile laying, and a simple rule set. Read on to find out if I want to play it again.
The game comes in a smaller square box with a tone of tiles and some tokens – no board – which totally plays into my love of modular board games. It could easily fit in a ziploc bag for a camping trip.
The goal of the game is to score the most victory points when one of three end game conditions is met, no more victory tiles, no more city tiles, or all players agree no more victory points can be earned.
The game has four kinds of tiles – basic resource, intermediate resources, finished resources and victory point tiles. Basic resources include two basic resources, for example, water + wood or wood + stone. Intermediate resources are weaving, for example which requires two basic resources, stone and grass.
Now comes the tricky part, each turn you place a tile in your city. To place the weaving tile, it must be adjacent (orthogonally or diagonally) to both of its needs on two different tiles, so one basic resource tile provides the stone and a different tile provides the grass.
Just as with intermediate resource tiles, finished resource tiles must be adjacent to one basic and one intermediate resource tile. Thank goodness they did not have finished resources need to be next to two intermediate resource tiles! The finished resource tiles give you a token, coin, helmet, cart, or amphora. These tokens can be used later in the game or remain unused and earn end game points.
Coin tokens let you purchase a resource from an opponent’s city. Coins are powerful because they permit you to used the purchased good anywhere in your city, so adjacency does not apply. Although the person whose city the coin was used on cannot use the good, at the end of their next turn, they get to take the coin and use it or keep it for end game points, so it travels around. Clever.
Cart tokens permit you to turn four tiles in your city into a 2×2 megatile – this permits you to move any item produced by any of the four tiles to be adjacent to any of the 12 spaces surrounding the megatile. It remains there for the rest of the game.
Amphora tokens earn you bonus victory points for production of a certain good. You get a random good token on the other side of the amphora. If you cover up the depicted good, you stop producing that good at that locations, but you get an extra 2 points at the end of the game.
Helmet tokens permit you to attack other players. Don’t stop reading now. Most tiles are protected from attack because there is a tile above it. Only tiles exposed to the center of the table (the top tile of each column of tiles) can be attacked. That tile won’t produce resources or generate victory points from the amphora token. Generally, this drives you to build victory point and important tiles on the bottom side of the city. In reality is adds more of a spatial consideration to the game than a truly attacky feeling. Furthermore, you can always replace any tile, including a tile with a helmet, with another tile at a cost of -1 victory point. If you really despise this token, try not using it, but make the unused token worth 1.5 points at end game, rather than 1 point for all other unused tokens.
There are 8 (2 players) or 12 victory tiles turned face up at the start of the game. On your turn, after flipping a tile up and using tokens you may claim a victory tile and place it in your city. Teh rules of adjacency apply to them just as they do to all other tiles. Be careful not to put them at the top of your city where other players can prevent you from getting those points by using a helmet.
That is pretty much the game. On each turn, you reveal a tile of one tile, basic, intermediate, or finished resource to the tableau, then you use special powers, then you take a tile and add it to your city if you can.
I saw Founders of the Empire at Essen and was tempted by it, but never pulled the trigger. By the time I knew I had the room in my bags, it was sold out. I was excited to have the opportunity to get a review copy later in the year because I still liked the look of the game.
I really enjoyed Founders of the Empire and would happily play it after dinner almost any time. I put it in the same clump with Splendor, Builders: the Middle Ages, and Oddville Nice little games that are great fun for their cost and length of play. The only caveat is that there is a fair about of spatial reasoning in Founders of the Empire. If you build the grass in the wrong place, you cannot then build the grapes where you need them to be to earn the victory point tile that can only be built adjacent both grapes and anvils.
Other Opinionated Gamers Opinions:
Opinionated Gamers Ratings
I love it –
I like it – Jonathan Franklin
Not for me –