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


Review
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
Setup
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.


Gameplay
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.

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