Pocket Imperium is a two- to four-player game for ages 12 and up designed by David J. Mortimer with art by Todd Sanders. It plays in about 45 minutes.
Published by LudiCreations and Passport Game Studios, Pocket Imperium retails for $30 and is currently available online for nearly $10 less.
How it works:
Seven tiles are placed on the table to make a board. Each has a planetary system, and the largest is placed in the center.
Players take turns placing two sets of two ships on the planets on the board.
They take a set of cards that will allow them to do their actions during the game.
Each round, players choose which order to play their three cards. “Expand” cards let players add ships; “Explore” allows players to move ships; and “Exterminate” lets players attack opponents’ ships.
Players who choose an action their neighbors don’t get to do as much as players who chose something original.
After the players do their actions, each one chooses a tile to score. In the beginner game, each tile has three planets. The player in the center gets to score two tiles.
The game ends after six or eight rounds, depending on the number of players. All tiles get scored at the end, and the person with the most points wins.
Why you might buy Pocket Imperium:
The game works hard to take the elements of a three-hour space game and condense it. And it works.
Even though you have to plan your moves out ahead, there’s room to adjust when an opponent does something unexpected.
The game forces you to guess what your opponents are planning, which is fun. And sometimes funny.
All the tiles have two sides, and the advanced side includes an asteroid belt and a black hole.
There are lots of ways to set up the board, giving a surprising amount of strategy for such a small game.
Every move you make matters in Pocket Imperium. Too many mistakes will be punished.
That said, because your choices are limited each turn, it’s easy to learn, which you lets you get into the game quickly.
The art is cool, and the price is good.
Why you might not buy Pocket Imperium:
Because it’s small and quick, it doesn’t offer the expansive universe of other space exploration games. You won’t be developing technology or making your ships cooler.
Battle is really simple. The lowest number of ships gets taken out. That’s not a weakness, but if you like complicated combat, this isn’t it.
This is a solid game. It’s not as dramatic as some, but it’s a lot of fun, and it has a lot of variety.
It seems like it’s just the right amount of time, enough to get into the game without getting bored.
The game is easy enough for younger players to compete with more experienced ones.
Pocket Imperium packs a lot of game in a small box.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Pocket Imperium from Passport Game Studios. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest opinions.