Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers is a standalone card game for 3-5 players designed by Philip duBarry, published by Tasty Minstrel Games in the Eminent Domain Universe. Players take on the role of a captain of a mighty battlecruiser in the middle of a skirmish and trying to collect precious 15 ore or destroy their opponents. Each player gets cards in their color based on the one of the recommended sets in the rules (dependent on player count). Every player has the same cards as the other players. Upon setup, one of those cards gets randomly discarded, and another face-up in the Recovery Zone. This makes it so not every player has the exact same cards in hand at the beginning of the game.
Each player gets a player card which shows where the discarded cards go, the recovery zone, in play cards, and a reference to how each round occurs. Play goes as follows: Choose a card from your hand and place it facedown in play. Once every player has chosen a card, they are revealed. Starting from the smallest card to the largest, resolve card effects. If no other person played that card, resolve the main card effect. If opponents played the same card, then you resolve the clash effects. Then, cards get picked up from recovery zone to hand, and cards in play into the recovery zone. Check for win conditions, then play another round if no one has won. Play continues until one or more players have 15 points or more at the end of a round or all players but one have been knocked out. A player gets eliminated if they are out of cards in their hand, in play, and recovery zones at the end of a round.
Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers is very akin to games like Libertalia or Eggs and Empires. Battlecruisers is my favorite of the three, for several reasons. Battlecruisers is short with each game being about 15-20 minutes, which is perfect for a game with elimination. There are also many different recommended card sets, as players only use 6-8 cards in a game out of the 33 cards that are included in the base game. Once a group gets tired of one card set, they can try a different card set which will require various strategies. This greatly helps the replay value the game.
I also liked the art of Battlecruisers, loving the space theme that Eminent Domain has. The only issue we have with the graphic design is the card text is much too small. Playing with several different people, they all commented on the text size. In one group, we had to find a table with brighter light as they could not read the text. Also, the clash effect has red text, which was difficult for my colorblind husband to see unless under very bright light. I’m hoping in later editions they increase the text size, especially for people who have bad vision or colorblindness.
Battlecruisers is easy to learn, short, and has good strategic decisions. Do you focus on making your opponents discard their cards or earn victory points? Do you knowingly play a card that will clash to make your opponent get less victory points? While Battlecruisers can be a little cutthroat, it’s short enough that if you get eliminated quickly, you can start a new game soon enough.
Overall, we liked Battlecruisers and it played very well in our groups. Players who prefer short, strategic simultaneous play with a cool sci-fi theme will enjoy Battlecruisers. We recommend it!
We were given a review copy but also did back the Kickstarter.