Empire - The Deck-Building Boardgame-like 4X Thingamajig

I’ve been following the Android version of this, and grabbed a copy today (there’s a reason this isn’t in the mobile game forum - more on that in a minute):

On the surface this is a rudimentary 4X title. Settlers build cities, which gather resources (food and materials) automatically every turn from the 8 tiles surrounding them. Food is used to expand cities, and materials for everything else (purchasing troops, exploration). Each city can be expanded 3 times when the food bar is filled, and every expansion you have a choice of two structures, pushing back the FOW three tiles in every direction, getting a settler to build a new city, or converting the food to materials. You can have no more than 3 cities active at a time.

The catch is that the land is dieing. Every turn tiles become dead spaces, and the goal of the game is to accumulate 200 victory points before the entire board is dead. Cities can be abandoned at any time, replaced by a settler unit, so city placement is crucial, and you are always abandoning cities and building new ones as more and more of the board becomes unlivable.

Every so often a monster nest appears, and this is where combat (and the deck-building) come into play. Again, combat is deceptively simple. There are 3 kinds of units - infantry, cavalry, and archers. Infantry can only attack the adjacent tiles horizontally and vertically, cavalry can attack diagonally, and archers have a ranged attack. Combat starts with units placed randomly on opposite sides of a chessboard-like field. Every turn all units either move forward one tile, or attack an enemy unit if one is in range. HOWEVER - every turn you draw 4 cards from your deck. These cards either buff your units, debuff the enemy, allow you to cast a spell (if you’ve built a Shaman’s Hut in one of your cities), or allow you to do something with a unit (i.e. move an archer into cover). If you win a battle, you get to choose a new card to add to your deck. There are also “Strife” cards in the deck, which do nothing at all. That doesn’t sound too bad until you draw a hand of 4 of them. There are spells and city improvement that remove them from the deck.

So why am I posting about this here? Because even though the developer’s website only shows IOS and Android versions available for some reason, I happened to stumble across versions for Windows and the Mac over on GamersGate. It’s also on Steam Greenlight.

One more thing - it’s only $4.99, and well worth every penny.

Thanks for starting the thread. To clarify your final sentence: its $2.99 on iOS.

This has become my favorite iPhone game. My high score has been about 113, far short of the 200-point ‘victory’ level. Some have bemoaned the lack of a true victory, in a Civ-like sense. Here, doom is inevitable, and its just a question of how long you stave off defeat. That design concept does not bother me, but it does others (as evidenced on Pocket Tactics forum, etc). You can’t rush through this game, you need to choose everything at both the overland and battle levels carefully. This game is the epitome of simple-but-deep.

The developer, Keith Burgun (100 Rogues), just released version 1.1 which adds a bunch of stuff. The update is out for both Android and iOS. I’m not familiar with the Win/Mac versions. The update adds Emperor characters and a new resource, gems.

Empire now has three varied, exciting Emperors to play the game with
The Senator is an expert forester and miner and gets extra Victory Points from his feasts.
The War Chief is a combat expert. Her warriors have 4 hitpoints, and she has more card options after a win. Her cavalry is also cheaper
The Wizard has mastered spells. His spell choices are cheaper; he starts battles with 2 command and unit kills give him redraws
Each Emperor has his/her own starting hand of cards, including cards that are now unique. The Meteor, Savage Blows and Magical bounty cards are now unique to only one emperor each
They also have their own set of starting units.
Each Emperor has his/her own leaderboard to compete on.
The Emperor’s special rules can be found at any time by using the new portrait button in the top right.

A new resource has been discovered: gems
Find gems in special mountains, which can be seen even in the distant fog!
Gems can be mined only after building a new, expensive type of mine.
Gems are used to choose Spell cards after combat. These powerful cards now cost 2 gems to put into your deck!
Gems are also used to train Archers now, but their material cost has been reduced.

I haven’t played it since the update, but hope to soon.

My own cryptic tip for battles: sometimes the best way is the long way around.

Tricks and tips (may be outdated by v1.1).

Looks great. The PC version on gamersgate seems to have all the new features of v1.1

The PC version is definitely 1.1. I can’t imagine playing the game without those changes.

I bought the Android version when it came out, but shelved it to wait for patches after hitting too many bugs. Looking forward to giving it more of a shot now that the patch is out.

FWIW, I tried the 1.1 version on my iPad 1 and it still crashed pretty quick. I didn’t keep trying it though, it’s too frustrating. I’m hesitant to buy the desktop version for that reason.

A lot of people were raving about this in the iOS thread so I picked it up. I didn’t find it all that compelling. The corruption mechanic causing you to need to abandon cities really feels wrong to me. Just as soon as I’ve got a decent city going, it’s time to think about burning it down. I don’t think I’ve feasted more than twice with any city. Not saying it’s a bad game, but I prefer my 4x-flavored games to allow me to build something greater, not feebly try to stave off collapse for as long as possible.

I haven’t tried it with the 1.1 update, however, so maybe that will improve my experience.

Abandoning your cities is a fundamental part of the design (it reminds me of declining your races in Small World). It’s a game about holding out during the dying days of an empire, and that involves knowing when to evacuate the population for greener pastures (not to mention pushing back the fog to find those greener pastures). This is definitely not one of those games where you 4X up to a thriving empire. You might as well want Civilization V to be a first-person shooter. :)

I don’t think the update will do anything to change your opinion of the game, but it does give you some nifty options in terms of picking your ruler.


It gets a bit tiresome when the attacks become too much and it becomes a “running with cities” game.

Perhaps I’m a little dense, but I just discovered you can plop a new city down right on top of a dead tile. Makes those dead spots in the middle of forests and mountains a lot more interesting.