Game Review: Inca Empire

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Number of Players: 2-5

Time: 60-90 Minutes

Game Type: Tile Flopper/Card Flopper (Strategy)

Gamer Type: Casual

Complexity: 4

With the rich cultural history of the Meso-American Empires, you would think there would be hundreds of games floating around on the topics of the Incas and the Mayans. While there are a couple, this is a very under-explored area of the gaming world. With hundreds of games on Orcs v. Humans, thousands of games on World War II, and dozens of games about cats, you would think an amazing historical topic like the Inca Empire would be a hot ticket. Well, it is now with DPH’s Inca Empire.

Story

There are really only three areas where you can create a story for a game. The first is current events, which make “pop” games that quickly fade once they enter the market (“Fancy a game of Bulls and Bears, Anyone…. Literally, Anyone”). The second is fantasy games; these games do well on the market, but often face the challenge of getting a large following. The final area, and the game type that has the most staying power, are historical games. While this game is not “pure history” it has historical elements of “what I would have done.” This is a great little intro to Inca ideas, if not Inca culture. 7 out of 10.

Art

One of the things that I love about DPH games is their artwork. It always seems to fit the mood of the game quite well. Inca Empire is no different. The cards are simple, but they have all the information that you need and great artwork (which is part of the game). The tokens in the games are simple, but the pictures are intricate on them. The box is a little off of a standard size, which means that it will not fit in with all your medium games and may be a little big for your small games. 6.5 of 10.

Mechanics

As a card flopper/resource management game (your chits), Inca empire is a strong strategy game for a card flopper. Everyone has a finite amount of chits (tokens), 70. This means you can see where your opponent is going. Further, the buildings you control and the tiles you lay can indicate which goals you are going after. The goal system is quite robust as there is a large number of goals, which enable players to “feint” towards one play while making another. Another element I love is that you score points by chits you use, which means hoarding is counter productive. 7 out of 10.

Strategy

Card floppers are not usually high strategy game. The card mix often randomizes the game to much for any card flopping strategy to be effective. This is not so with Inca Empire. The card mix allows for some randomization, which prevents draw wins, but it has enough stability to allow you to plan your game. Offensive players may be disappointed, because there is limited ability to “attack” your opponent (limited but not devoid). They can block by road restriction cards. Defensive players can play defensibly, but will also have to come out of their shell. Rush and engine builders will have a heyday with this. Rush players can go after the resources they want early and often, while engine builders can maneuver their hand so that they have a series of good plays. Tokens and trade cards also add to the depth of the strategy. 8 of 10.

Novelty

As I noted before, non-western cultural games are a strong market that we have yet to see develop (outside of Chinese and Japanese themes). This game is well done, introducing people to the idea of the Inca empire, making no comments on its “validity” and not “appropriating” the culture (which is now seemingly a thing in the gaming world). 8 of 10.

Overall

Inca Empire is a masterwork medium scale game that can draw players in but only takes a few minutes to learn how to play. DPH has a great “walk through” which will allow new players to “see” how the game is played rather than reading the directions over and over (still read them though). With a score of 36.5, this game is a great game for a hybrid Card Flopper. As the board adjusts each time, you can get countless replays with up to five of your best friends.

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Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer is a writer for NRN and an adjunct professor at both Penn State University and the University of South Florida. He is the author of several books, most recently “A Criminal History of the Democrat Party” which is available on Amazon and via the publisher, Elite Exclusivity. Follow on Twitter at @Acriminalhisto1

NRN • New Right Network
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