Empire's End Pre-order Store

Created by Brotherwise Games

You’ve built empires at the game table, but can you save one? Designed by John D Clair with art by Kwanchai Moriya.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

The Upside of Disaster…
9 months ago – Sat, Dec 10, 2022 at 09:49:26 PM

Greetings,  backers! Just a short update for this weekend, but it’s a fun one. We’ve just unlocked another stretch goal: 11 more Disaster cards in every copy of the game!

Stretch Goal – Eleven More Disaster Cards

Spread of 4 Earthquake cards
Introducing the transformative Earthquake!

We've added a final set of Disaster cards added to the base game, and they introduce a radical new type of Innovation. Just like a real earthquake can uncover hidden treasure at the same time it’s wreaking havoc, Earthquake Innovations have an effect that’s triggered when the attached Location is destroyed.

Activated Earthquake card

In this case, the player has lost their 5-point Army to a Disaster, but all is not lost! Because they had an Earthquake innovation below it, they instantly gain three Wheat tokens. And should they manage to repair this location and have it destroyed again, they’ll reap that reward a second time!

Have a great weekend, everyone. There’s just one more week left in the campaign, but we’re seeing good signs that it will be a big week for Empire’s End. Even more exciting: we're hard at work on a luxurious Add-On that we hope to reveal on Monday. Stay tuned!

Depth of Tiles and Depth of Play
10 months ago – Sat, Dec 10, 2022 at 05:03:51 AM

Greetings, backers! As I write this, we are closing in on $100,000 pledged and we’ve been joined by over 2100 backers. We’ve been thrilled to see people talking about the game across the web, and we’re so appreciative for anything you’ve done to spread the word. Today we’re going to talk depth, both about the game itself and about our latest stretch goal.

A Simple Concept with Incredible Depth

Publishers love to tout “the simple game with surprising depth.” You see that claim a lot. But with Empire’s End, there really is so much that emerges from John’s implementation of the reverse bidding mechanic. By hinging bids on multiple resources and creating the tension between location point value and the acquisition of new innovations, he’s created a game that never plays the same way twice and really does have multiple paths to victory. Let’s take a quick look at just one of the ways that strategic depth can play out: Evolution of your Empire.

As players in Empire’s End are bidding on and either accepting or rejecting Disasters, they’re not just making decisions based on how valuable the targeted location is and the resources in play, they’re making decision based on the utility of that Disaster’s Innovation. This sort of careful strategizing allows players to actively build game winning combos. Take the situation below:

Strategy Example

 This player’s 20-point Town is at risk from Barbarians, but they’ve bid up the resources a bit AND they like the look of that Innovation. They decide to take the Disaster, destroying the Town, but gaining five resources and the Innovation.

a set of Innovations that lead to a cool points combo.

By gaining that Innovation they’ve acquired a powerful addition to their Empire, and built up a set of cards that combo powerfully, allowing them to generate coins, trade wheat for coins, trade coins for double the wheat, trade those wheat back for even more coins, and finally scoring those coins at game end!

Building strategies like this in Empire’s End isn’t a guaranteed thing, though. You must constantly adapt to a changing, challenging situation. And of course, you aren’t bidding in a vacuum; your opponents will be looking to foil your efforts at every turn. It’s this dynamism that leads to so many interesting decisions in the game.

Stretch Goal – Thicker Location Tiles and UV Coating

For today’s stretch goal we’re increasing the thickness of the Location tiles from 1.5 to 2 mm and adding UV coating to the tiles themselves and to the game box. It’s a simple thing, but the slightly thicker tiles makes them easier to pick up, more resistant to damage, and generally more satisfying to play with. The UV coating is just a lovely aesthetic addition, but it has the added bonus of making the destroyed side of the tiles easier to visually identify. Both of these upgrade are hallmarks of our commitment to make this game as classy and player-friendly as it can be.

2 mm thick tiles with UV coating.
Tiles will now be thicker! And have UV coating on the flame effects on the back to optimize recognition.

In-Depth Coverage

It's exciting to see so much excitement and coverage for Empire's End. This morning, Paula Deming and Matthew Jude hosted a live stream of the game on Watch It Played. You can catch it on their Twitch channel now. 

Empire's End on Watch It Played

Tonight, Jamie Daggers will be hosting another Twitch stream of the game. You can catch it live at 8 pm Eastern time on her Twitch channel. And while watching the game is a great way to learn, you can also play it yourself on Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia! Those links will be working through the final week of our campaign.

Just as we were about to send this update, we got a notification that Kickstarter has selected Empire's End as a "Project We Love." The good news keeps coming! Thanks again for your support, and here's hoping for a great final week.

Scoring a New Stretch Goal
10 months ago – Wed, Dec 07, 2022 at 12:53:22 AM

We're now one week into our campaign. We've surpassed $80,000 in funding and have more than 1,750 backers! The campaign is growing at a healthy pace and we're really grateful to those of you are helping make this game happen. With that in mind, let's share a new stretch goal!

Stretch Goal - Screen Printed Scoring Markers

A few backers have made the suggestion of blinging up the scoring markers for the deluxe version and we realized it was an obvious idea. Now, if you get either of the Deluxe versions of the game, your upgraded wooden markers will come with screen printed scoring markers. One side will proudly display your laurels of victory, while the other will have a "+100" to flip to when you lap those other chumps and watch their empires flame out.

Deluxe markers for Empire's End, including the new score markers

Getting the Word Out

Every day, we're working to spread the word about Empire's End. Last night, John D Clair stopped by Beneeta K's Twitch channel for a full playthrough. On Thursday (at 11:30 am Eastern), he'll be joining Paula Deming on Watch It Played. We know that when people who see this game in action, they'll want to back this campaign!

We can also use your help! Tell your friends about the campaign. Make a post on Facebook or Instagram, or share one of ours. Mark it as pre-ordered on BoardGameGeek and put yourself down as a fan. Like the trailer on Youtube, as well as the awesome playthroughs from Monique and Naveen, the Hungry Gamer, and ThinkerThemer. With your help we think we can get to 3000 backers by campaign's end. We're almost halfway through the campaign and we've still got a few more ideas for stretch goals that we'd love to get through, so join us in helping us make the best possible version of Empire's End!

Designer Interview & More Cards!
10 months ago – Mon, Dec 05, 2022 at 01:23:09 PM

We hope everyone's having a great weekend. Today we're sharing a new unlocked stretch goal and an interview with John D Clair!

Stretch Goal - More Cards!

The campaign is trucking right along (over 1600 backers!) and we're thrilled to be able to add 11 all new cards to the game. Because each Disaster set includes exactly 11 cards (one card targeting each location space), we saw the opportunity to introduce some fun new Innovations while maintaining the overall math of the game. We asked John to create a set of "Plague" disasters, and he designed a new set of adjacency-activated abilities, many of which trigger off destroyed adjacent locations.

Set of plague cards.

In Empire's End, you'll inevitably see some locations in your empire destroyed. These new Disaster cards  are perfect for players going with more Innovations and a higher balance of destroyed locations, often allowing them to generate points off those locations. Every copy of the game will include these 11 new Disaster cards.

Designer Interview - John D Clair

John has been one of our favorite designers for some time. His designs are elegant, innovative, and always fun. Getting to work with him has been every bit as cool as you might think, and we loved having the chance to sit down and ask him some questions.

An image of the box cover for Empire's End alongside a photo of its designer, John D Clair who is smiling and wearing an LA Dodgers baseball cap

What's your favorite thing about being a game designer?

I think probably that I look forward to working. I get excited about the prospect of a full day of working on a game. A close second favorite thing would be playtesting my games and watching, playing, and discussing the game with the players. It’s a real joy to see a group of people having a great time with something I’ve created.

What was your initial inspiration for Empire's End?

The brilliant bidding system in the game No Thanks! I love the simplicity and tension and saw it as an uncommonly used bidding system, but one that has interesting design space.

How does it feel to look at the final game with Kwanchai's art?

Kwanchai is a master at box covers. All his art is very good, but his approach to box covers, where you want an image that encapsulates the whole game, is where his talent is thoroughly outstanding. I think the cover he did for Empire’s End is really something special. Kinda want to get a bit print of it done and hang it on my wall.

What's the core tension in this game that drives decision-making in Empire's End?

Empire’s End is a very tight game. You can play cautiously, trying to preserve as many locations as possible, trying to take a minimal number of disasters at only just the right moments. On the other hand, you can play aggressively, taking disasters before opponents might expect you too, building up an engine early to be able to cash in on big end-game ability scores by the end of the game, or force the cautious player's hand when it doesn’t suit them.  Regardless of which strategic approach you take, you are constantly faced with the core tension of the game amidst the ever changing game state; to bid one more resource or take the disaster? It’s often a wicked-hard choice; reading players, considering your opponents’ boards, your board, the approaching phases, and deciding, is It worth one more bid?  Will the bid come back around to me? How good or bad would it be to miss out on taking the pot now?  A well executed strategy ends up feeling like you walked on a tightrope in the wind from the beginning to the end.

What tips do you have for new players? What are common mistakes to avoid, and strategies that might not be obvious?

My overall piece of advice is about mindset. Your goal should not be to “avoid disasters” or to “get good abilities”, etc. Your goal should be progress vs. the end-state. Each bid decision should weigh the expected value of what you would lose vs. the expected value of what you gain. i.e. how many points/useful abilities are you losing vs. how many points will be protected or gained via the resources you’d acquire. In a simpler sense, your goal should be to take disasters at the right time, when the benefit outweighs the cost, and to vigilantly avoid being forced to take disasters at the wrong time.

As a specific tip, try thinking of your cheap locations as resource catchers. If possible, sacrifice them early for resources, then fix them so they can be sacrificed again later. I think a lot of players look at the cost to repair a location and evaluate it based on the VP recovered when it is fixed. This ratio is better for the higher value buildings, but there is a lot of value to be captured by destroying and fixing the same cheap location more than once and then using the resources netted as bids to avoid destroying the high value locations to begin with.

Who do you think will enjoy this game most? What would you tell people who are curious to learn more about Empire's End?

I think Empire’s End is for casual and serious gamers who enjoy the challenge of the tightrope walk and constant tough choices; players who like highly interactive gameplay, but not take-that or aggressive interaction. And finally, Empire’s End is not a game about getting and adding up who got the most. It’s a game about preserving and who can do so the most efficiently. So, it is a game for players who are not afraid to face tough moments of loss in their quest for victory.

What else is on the horizon for you?

I’ve got a number of projects in the works. On the short-term horizon, I’ve got an IP-based design with Gamely games due on Kickstarter in January, if timelines don’t slide; I can’t give more details on that yet. Rolling Heights from AEG should release to retail early in 2023; that is a push-you-luck-engine-driven, city-building game, with meeple rolling as a core system. It shares some DNA with Cubitos and other city-building games, but is very much its own creature. A little further out and with unfinalized timelines are several new games including a Solo/2-player co-op  game coming from Renegade games called Unstoppable and a combotastic engine-builder with AEG called Electrify, as well as expansions for Dead Reckoning, Space Base, and Cubitos.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, John!

And thanks to all of your for supporting this campaign. We think you'll love this tightrope-walk, and we're excited to add even more to the game in the remaining 10 days of this campaign!

Upgrading Your Empire
10 months ago – Fri, Dec 02, 2022 at 07:57:49 PM

Greetings, backers! We're already over 1400 backers! To celebrate we're announcing a Materials Upgrade as today’s stretch goal: Linen Finish on all cards. We'll also talk about what makes Empire’s End such a compelling game.

Stretch Goal - Linen Finish

In Empire's End, cards get moved around a lot, particularly the Disaster cards. They're shuffled in the decks, dealt to the table, held in your hands, and then put under Location tiles to show their Innovation ability. While all of the cards for Empire's End can be sleeved with commercially available sleeves, we wanted to offer sleeve-averse players some extra protection so these cards would last longer. Linen finish does just that, adding an extra layer of protection to cards and helping to prevent nicks and scratches. It has the added bonus of making them a little easier to hold and grab off the table.

Upgrade Your Cards, Upgrade Your Empire

One of the best things about working at Brotherwise is that we only make games we love. And there’s so much to love about Empire’s End. In our first update we talked about how the game brings new life to a very old genre. We’re always looking for games that do things differently, and we’d never seen an empire builder like this one.

But what really caught our eye was the game’s foundational mechanic: the Disaster phase, and the tough, challenging decisions it presents. 

The game board showing a disaster phase.
Oh no! Disaster strikes!

While there are four types of phases in Empire’s End, the Disaster phase is the one that shows up most often, and the one that drives the game’s evolution. Every Disaster phase, one or two disasters are revealed from the disaster deck. Each disaster targets the same numerical location in every player’s empire (but because the order of you locations will shift over the course of the game, this can mean different players see different locations targeted). 

A Fire has targeted the "1" location in each player's empire. For this player, a painful decision arises: their 25 point Town is at risk!
A Fire has targeted the "1" location in each player's empire. For this player, a painful decision arises: their 25 point Town is at risk!

Each player must then decide if they are going to let that disaster destroy their location. If they wish to save that location, they can pay one of the card’s listed resources to stave off disaster for one round of bidding. But, of course, all players are making this same decision, and there’s every chance the bid comes back around to you. Now that player must decide if that location is worth two resources. And this upping of the bid keeps going until one player breaks, takes the disaster and loses that location’s points and powers. BUT... disasters don’t just bring calamity, they bring change, adaption, and innovation!

The player loses the points and ability of the Town when they accept the disaster! But they managed to get four resources tokens out of that round AND a new innovation that allows them to skip a Food bid during a future disaster phase.
The player loses the points and ability of the Town when they accept the disaster! But they managed to get four resources tokens out of that round AND a new innovation that allows them to skip a Food bid during a future disaster phase.

The player that accepts a disaster gets all the resources bid on that disaster that round. This can be a LOT of resources depending on how well you’ve manipulated the other players that round. That player also gets the innovation that’s attached to each disaster, and here is where the game gets really interesting. Yes, you’ve lost the points from the destroyed location, but if you adopt the right innovations you can put together a game-winning resource engine, gain abilities that let you manipulate disasters as they strike, or even get enough extra end game points to make up for points lost to disasters. 

Examples of innovations.
Innovations offer a huge variety of abilities. The wise emperor or empress picks and chooses those that will best forward their plan for change.

This core mechanic presents some tough, painful decisions to players. But during the months of playtesting we put this game through, one thing became clear: the best Empire’s End players didn’t see disasters as destroying their empire, they saw them as upgrading it, and they made the best decisions they could to optimize that upgrade.

If you haven’t yet, subscribe to the Tabletop Simulator build for the game and see just how good an empire manager you are!