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Dominant Reign: Earth Expanse Edition Review

Quick Look: Dominant Reign: Earth Expanse edition

Designer: Jey Legarie
Artists: Danijel Firak, Falk Hansel, Kaj Driessen, Martin Sickree, Zack T Jones
Publisher: Gifted Vision, Inc.
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 1–6
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 30-60 minutes
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

Over the generations of humans expanding across the universe, they remained divided as much as they originally did on Earth. The factions moved out and beyond, settling worlds they could call home. There are four main factions vying for dominance: Earth Expanse, Neutral Zone, Star Elders, and The Blight. Each faction continues to grow by creating new colonies. There is never truly peace between them.
On the sidelines of the factions are the real powers that be. These are the hidden hands driving forward the colonization and the conflicts for their own rewards. The factions struggle for what they believe is dominance, but the powers behind the actions are the ones that control the Fates.
Three of the factions
Dominant Reign has multiple levels of strategy as players take on the role of the forces behind the factions.
The object of the game is to be backing the faction that has the most cards in play at the end of the game. At the beginning of the game, players choose a faction to back; however, they can change who they are backing as the game plays.
The faction cards are played out to create colonies and to create battles between the factions settling the colonies.
The fast change in the look of the playing field creates a strategy level that keeps you watching to see what the other players are doing.
We played a couple of games with different number of players and the pace and the timing of the game was consistent. All of the players enjoyed the outcome and the struggle of determining how to build the faction they were supporting, or deciding to throw their support in a different direction.
Everything for playing is contained in a standard sized deck of 64 cards and 6 cards for the rules. This makes Dominant Reign easy to toss into a game bag, or even a pocket.
This is one game we are keeping handy and ready.
Some of the cards and art
Shuffle the deck.
Remove the number of cards indicated based on the number of players to create a Side deck. Most of the time these cards don’t come into play. The removal creates a level of randomness for card counters to deal with. It also creates a balance of play for when you have a different number of players. The rest of the deck is the Exploration deck.
From the Exploration deck, each player gets six cards. From this hand they choose one to play face down in front of them, a Reigning card, which designates the faction they are backing.

A player’s turn is playing a card and completing the action their play creates. The turn ends by drawing the replacement card from the Exploration deck to take their hand back to five cards.
When playing a card there are several options.
Create a colony by playing a card to start the colony. There is no limit to the number of colonies that can be in play. We did notice the number usually doesn’t grow a lot because the conflicts between the factions and the Event cards that were played.
Playing a card on an existing colony is another option. When playing on an existing colony, you can Join the colony by playing a card of the same faction or play a card of an opposing faction to create an Encounter. Encounters are resolved by the higher number winning. They can be played to create a Stalemate (i.e., a 5 versus a 5) which means the colony keeps going as is.
The one way a card cannot be played on a colony is if it could not win the first Encounter. A base 5 card cannot be play on a card valued from 6–10 of another faction, for example.
A number of the cards also have special abilities that can alter values or actions of the conflict. These are settled first, such as the blue “1 Councilor” of the Star Elders faction reads “All Green cards of this colony are considered Blue cards. This card can only be destroyed by a 2 value card unless an ability allows otherwise.” So even if this card was played on a 10 Green, the colony would grow as the Green cards are now considered Blue.
Because of the abilities, the complexity of a colony can build. Abilities are resolved from the bottom up. This structure can also be destroyed when a critical link in the chain of cards is removed.
A complex colony
There are also Event cards that can be played which take effect and are played as directed on the card.
The other option is to place a Reigning card down in front of you. This is also maintained in secret and changes, or not, the faction you’re backing.
You end your turn by drawing a card to replenish your hand from the Exploration deck.
Gameplay continues until the last card is drawn from the Exploration deck. This triggers the final round of play, which is done in a covert fashion.
The next player plays a Covert card face down on the board as during normal play. The only change in the rule is that this card may be destroyed immediately in an encounter. The next player does the same, and they can play a Covert action on another player’s Covert action. This continues until each player has made 1 Covert play.
Resolve the Covert plays in order of play and now you determine which faction, if any, wins. Count the number of cards for each faction in play. The one with the most cards has Dominion. If there is a tie, the Anarchy reigns. Based on these results determines which player has succeeded in backing the outcome.
More art
If a faction has Dominion, the player with the Homeworld or the highest scoring card for that faction as their active Reigning card is the winner. When Anarchy is the result, the highest scoring card is the winning play.
Theme and Mechanics
The science fiction theme of play with four factions was easily relatable and allowed for some great artwork.
The mechanics were quickly grasped by everyone and allowed us to get right into play. The cards are designed so the number and color allow for a staggered stack so it was easier to see what impact a play could have.
The twist in the determination of the Reigning card, and the ability to change that card right up to the Covert play, allowed for planning longer strategy.
Artwork and Components
The sci-fi theme allowed the artists to create wonderful scenes and characters. I appreciate how each card gives credit to the artist. There was time spent during play just to check out the work and appreciate it.
More art
The Good
  • Easy to learn.
  • Good cabin game. Easy to transport and can play with a small playing surface.
Final Thoughts
We enjoyed Dominant Reign. We have one person in our group who keeps an eye out for solitaire games and this looks like it will be going in their collection.
Players Who Like
  • Multiple levels of strategy
  • Science fiction themes
  • Draw and play card games

Check out Dominate Reign: Earth Expanse on


Daniel Yocom - Reviewer

Daniel Yocom does geeky things by night because his day job won’t let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He’s written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines along with stories, after extensive research. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join in the geeky fun at guildmastergaming@blogspot.com.

See Daniel's reviews HERE.
Dominant Reign: Earth Expanse Edition Review Dominant Reign: Earth Expanse Edition Review Reviewed by Guild Master Gaming on October 04, 2019 Rating: 5

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