EVE Conquests Impressions and Review
I suppose it is hardly surprising to find me writing another set of impressions for yet another game based on a license. I’m pleased to report that my opinions of it are quite high, owing to the surprisingly customizable game length and the choice of victory conditions, as well as the extremely simple rules. So without further ado, I bring you my impressions of EVE Conquests.
As everyone here is aware of at this point, I am a huge fan of games in all their forms, but I favor adventure-heavy games, which is why I tend to gravitate towards video games with large worlds. In terms of genre, the MMO has the gigantic world aspect covered. Not only does EVE appeal to me because of the massive size, but since the game’s continued growth is heavily influence by players, both from a lore and politics standpoint, and from an economic standpoint. I’ve recently gotten back into the game as a sort of diversion while busy with other things. A few weeks ago I saw a copy of this board game in Myriad Games, and did some quick research before deciding to buy it almost completely on a whim. The selling point? Most reviews said it had a distinctly euro feel, and being in a huge euro games kick lately I took a leap.
The box itself is quite attractive, and very simple from a design standpoint, as much of EVE’s branded merchandise is. The rules manual is fairly standard as well. The rest of the components are fairly nice. There is a bevy of outpost tokens, all molded plastic, which correspond to the different types of resources they can produce. Each faction in the game also has a unique home outpost token that in most cases is quite attractive (except for the Caldari token, which looks a little bit like a floppy uh…lets just say its not very sturdy and while boxed it will end up bent). There are 30 dice included in the game, which are all 10-sided dice with symbols on each side. These are used exclusively for military conflicts. The game also comes with two very attractive EVE branded dice bags, which would be much cooler if they were useful during the game. There are also two types of cards included in the game (resource and political landscape) which are also very attractive, particularly those whose artwork is taken from EVE game assets. Next we have turn markers which are small plastic versions of the different faction crests, each pertaining to the a certain type of turn. Finally, there are the poker chips. Each faction gets 60 chips to represent their various ships and influence in different regions of the map. Initially they can be a little off putting, but as the game advances and your stacks of units grow, it is hard to deny the coolness factor of shuffling abstracted versions of huge fleets around the galaxy.
The actual game setup is extremely brief. The players decide on the victory condition (either a victory point race or points within the time limit), and then the game length, which boils down to 2, 3, and 4+ hours, though we found once you are comfortable with a game the shorter options really shouldn’t go that much longer than 90 minutes, and in cases where there are 2 or 3 players only, it should go even faster. After that, each player chooses their starting region from any green space on the board, as well as placing 8 units on or around their starting location in an early bid to claim some of the regions. Finally, the political landscape cards are revealed. These are the key to victory, as they correspond to various regions on the board and list their victory point value. To claim them, during an empire phase, if you happen to control two of the regions shown, you may claim the cards and reveal two new ones, thus adding to your point total. Everyone then places their turn tokens on the in game calendar in the order of their choosing after randomly determining a first player, and then the game begins.
The game itself is fairly fast moving. Each player has an empire card which summarizes the three turn types and the actions they can take, as well as what changes for that turn type if they upgrade that particular part of their empire. To upgrade, you would assign the resource given to you by controlling a region (and thus having an outpost on it) to one of the turn types from your reserve pool. In most cases this will give you several more actions to perform in that turn while also lengthening the ‘turn cool-down’, thus preventing total domination in production or empire expansion. The third turn type, logistics, is the exception in that improving it allows you to take more fleet based actions while also lowering the turn cool-down significantly. Even if you aren’t playing an aggressive military game, this is extremely important, because without it you would be hard pressed to move your fleets into a defensive position promptly.
Combat itself is fairly simple. An attack action can be issued to one region to an adjacent region once per logistics turn. The amount of ships you have present dictates the base number of dice you can roll, though this can be modified by other factors. You select from a dice pool of three types of dice. Attack dice yield damage against your enemy, defense dice nullify damage dealt to you, and tactics dice let you manipulate the die results after a roll. The other primary factor in combat is the agent. When in your empire turn, you may, instead of expanding to unoccupied regions and attempting to claim them for yourself, place an agent in an adjacent enemy region. These agents act as a unit in an unfriendly region for the purposes of further expansion, but in a battle, the side with the most agents presents gets the advantage of forcing one side to select their dice first, allowing the defender or attacker to choose appropriate dice in battle with. After the dice are rolled, combat resolves, and the appropriate number of ships from each side are removed. If the attacked region is now empty, the attacker may move any number of units from the attacking region in to occupy. The game tends to fall into two modes. One if a frantic expansion and resource production mode which happens when their isn’t any friction alongside borders. Much of the game can be spent in this mode if your starting positions are far apart. Once those borders bump though, the tension rises and the game gets very interesting. Choosing what to upgrade first becomes top priority, and how you spend your logistics actions can be the difference between life and death. No matter what mode the game is in though, it never stops being fun, as the sheer joy of seeing the borders of your empire expand is just too good to pass up.
As far as recommending this game goes, if you like simple but fun strategy games with a heavy emphasis on politicking and border tension, it is an easy recommendation. I do suggest playing with either 2 or 4 people though, as having an odd number has the tendency to force favoritism and at some point someone will feel outmatched and outnumbered (which happened to us when David ended up getting aggressive initially which made Junelle and I pincer him brutally near the end of the game). If the space setting isn’t really your thing, but the empire building aspects appeal to you anyway, definitely try before you buy. There are many other empire games out there that may serve you better. Generally I’m a huge fan of this game and I definitely recommend it. I suppose someday I should review a game that I don’t like, but that would mean I have to play it. As always we play at our local store quite regularly, and if you’d like to see EVE or any other of these games in action, we’d be happy to kick your arse – I mean show you the ropes. Cheers and see you next time!