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Eminent Domain: Escalation

| Published: 2013
Expansion for Eminent Domain
81 11 0

Welcome back, Emperor. The time for unchecked expansion is over. Warmongers raise their flags over weaker empires, while civilized planets take shelter behind peace treaties. Brace yourself for rising tensions in this next chapter of Eminent Domain: Escalation!

This expansion for Eminent Domain, which cannot be played without the base game, puts the following new tools at the Emperor's disposal:

  • New meaning to the larger-sized ships in Eminent Domain.
  • Additional Role cards to support a fifth player.
  • Additional technologies, each with an alternate cost in addition to their normal Research cost.
  • A new category of technology ("Diverse"), requiring one planet of each type to research.
  • Optional scenarios for asymmetric starting positions and technologies for each player.

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“ED: Escalation - In Space No One Can Hear You Scheme”

[Note: I won’t be walking through basic game mechanics and will be using familiarity lingo and ‘game speak’ (most of which I’ve made up anyway :)) If you would like to hear my thoughts on ED: The Base feel free to visit and also check out some very solid game play reviews by others. —Hai

By definition ‘Expansion’ means motion in all directions – I like to look at game expansions from all sides. This is an expansion review after all, so without further ado…]

Once Upon a Time the Jolly Dragon at TMG put out Eminent Domain: A Deckbuilder (kind of) in Space (sort of). What it did bring to the tabletop was a unique mechanic of Role Building (nifty). People said ‘I want more Domains!’ Others said ‘I want things to be more Eminent!’ Things were escalating in the universe. The jolly dragon said:

Eminent Domain: ESCALATION

Looking Backwards: Tweaks, Bugs, & General Clean Up

Escalation has got it. Standard procedure. Rule clean up of already clean, streamlined rules. A handful of errata replacement cards to fix some ‘brokens’. A sticker fix for the central board display that I thought was going to drive my OCD nuts, but I hardly know it is there. My OCD salutes you Jolly Dragon.

This Universe Goes to ‘5’
Escalation adds extra base cards for a 5th player. The nice thing is an extra schmoe hanging about the galaxy doesn’t increase game time. With an extra ‘dissent’ or ‘follow’ you can plump up your hand or piggyback another role and burn through the extra Influence VP’s in the same amount of time AND split the pizza money five ways…

Spacey Ships
Remember those little plastic ships you held in your hand and felt a bit ‘spacey’. They came in 3 shapes and sizes but it didn’t really matter. In Escalation – Size Matters! Introducing The Fleet:

The little chaps are: Fighters
The medium blokes are: Destroyers
The big bad daddies are: Battlecruisers

You can trade a certain amount of lesser ships for the next rank. Spending the various ship ranks lets you do different things… as we shall see. *Intrigue mounts* 😉

Shifting Sideways Extending the Already

Locations, Locations, Locations
A good part of ED is nabbing planets for end game influence and as a foundation for Tech. Escalation brings in new start planets and new worlds to the Survey deck in new exciting planet flavors.

Expensive Start Planets: Pricey to flip, but two role symbols

Prestige Start Planets: No Tech value, but an ‘any’ resource slot.

Civilized Survey Planets: Colonize welcome – Warfare go home! Colonize at a 4, but expend a Battlecruiser for a hostile takeover.

Hostile Planets: Unable to colonize – but a Destroyer nets a flip.

Bustling Planets: 1 Destroyer or 4 Colonies cost, but a permanent on table ability upon flip that can be used during the Action Phase instead of playing a card.

Tech Sector
Tech is the ED Power-up. Tech gives you the game changer. Tech is expensive to get, but nice to have. More Tech means more options. More options mean more POWER!!!!!! Who doesn’t want more POW…umm…Tech???

Escalation has oodles of new Tech for your Advanced, Fertile and Metallic stacks. 🙂 Tech to give you Influence grabs. Tech to reduce costs. Tech to ignore prerequisites. Tech that gives continuously replenishing resources and ships. And my favorite: looking for just the right card at the right moment?*O RECON!

And new Escalation Tech can be purchased with ships OR research points. Do you really feel like a Warmonger if you can strangle a guy from across the room, but still have to rely on the nerds at R&D by padding your deck with Research cards? No! Escalation Tech cards can be bought by discarding Fighters for Level 1, Destroyers for Level 2, and Battlecruisers for Level 3 instead of those pricey Research costs.

The Warmonger in me says: Nifty!

Also Escalation has some extremely powerful new Tech available under the Diverse banner. Diverse Tech requires a foundation of a Metallic, Fertile, and Advanced in your empire. The prices are high, but no spoilers if I tell you they are worth the effort. I mean being to able rip planets from other empires, peppering your hand with whatever cards you want, and a constantly replenishing source of fighters and destroyers are worth the effort, right? WHOOPS! *SPOILER ALERT*

Pushing Forward Expanding the Universe

Hi Neighbor!
In ED:Base everybody had their own pocket of the universe. You built your empire and gathered influence. Player 2 did the same. Player 3 rinse and repeat. Everybody stayed in their own Eminent Domain and meandered to the finish line. You could piggyback a role, but little player interaction was to be had. Escalation makes you worry about the universe next door because now they can come knocking. With the right Tech and proper scheming players can now ‘steal’ planets from your empire and shut down whatever Tech is giving you a clear path to endgame, among other nasty ‘annoyances’. But going into Deathstar mode isn’t a sure path to victory as ‘Reparations’ will give your victims a boost. Surrender to your Darkside sparingly!

Unleveling Up the Empire
And last but not least – we have the price of admission.


In ED: Base things started out pretty vanilla. Everybody got the same starting deck and set out with some spare change and half a sandwich to build an empire through Role-Building. Escalation introduces Scenario Cards and brings quite a bit more strategic deck building into the mix. Each Scenario Card gives you an asymmetrical starting deck build, a starting Tech (or two or three), and starting planet.

The asymmetrical starts can give you a push of starting Role Cards in one direction so you can hit the ground running or sometimes no cards at all and a single powerful Tech.

Colony Ship lets you start flipping planets from the get go.

Scientific Discovery lets you grab up low level Tech without blinking.

Or maybe you just start the game with a Big Daddy Battlecruiser and an improved fleet have at it!

Things just got very interesting.

These Scenario Cards (the equivalent of ‘Race Powers’ in any other spacey game) really add to the mix by mixing things up. Unleveling the playing field makes each game different and distinct. Each player’s strategy varies based on the starting foot of their own scenario; your path is laid out in the beginning and it is up to your to forge ahead using not only what you can do better, but the opportunities the other players may expose to you as they build up their empires. Best of all, the Role Builder just got a whole lot ‘Deckier’. Your best path to victory becomes one of building the best deck for you: a clean, precise deck that let’s build your empire exactly how you need to while exploiting the other faces in the galaxy as they set out on their agendas.

The Deckbuilder that’s a Role Builder just became an EMPIRE BUILDER and the stars taste a lot less like vanilla now.


Expansions can be a tricky business. More mechanics and especially the more cards, more cards, more cards philosophy can either dilute a game or expand it to the point of bloating.

Escalation is just enough. The new mechanics, planets, and Tech give enough ‘mores’ without any ‘lesses’.

The Scenarios and their asymmetrical start-ups take the game to another level, a level at which it just might need to be.

Let’s land our Starfleet for a moment, leave a few planets unsettled, and disconnect the AI so it can dream of electric sheep.

Let’s break the Big No-No Rule and reference another game. A completely different game. A ‘where is she going with this’ game.

A game of monsters slapping monsters. King of Tokyo .
If you’ve played King of Tokyo – raise your hand.
If you’ve played King of Tokyo with Power-up – raise your hand.
If you’ve ever gone back to playing King of Tokyo without Power-Up – raise your hand.


If you’ve missed my little analogy of Mothra and Dice Matching that’s fine. We can return to our regularly scheduled Ground Control to Major Tom banter.

Escalation does what an expansion should, moves the game in various directions.

The Scenarios push the game forward, reinventing the foundations, so you never want to look back.


The Jolly Dragon of TMG did a very smart thing with Escalation – they made sure it all fit nicely into the Base-ic box. You’ll never see the need to separate it out again.

That’s the highest rating an expansion can get. 😉



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