Tasty Minstrel Games: Eminent Domain – Basic Strategy

December 5, 2011

So, to start with I’m going to assume you already know how to play Eminent Domain. If you’re looking for a review or rules description, check out my previous article which is linked below.

First Plays

The first couple turns of the game can really have a big effect on the rest of your game and so I’m going to go over some things to consider.

Your Start Planet & Related Research

Start by taking a good look at which starting planet you have. This card will have a strong influence on what strategy you decide to follow. Certainly you can follow any strategy, but if your initial planet does not synergize well with your starting planet you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.

So, what you’ll want to do is look at the cards available for research if you collect more of the planet you start with. Pay close attention to the 5s and 7 point research cards. These are the cards that you’ll want to base your strategy around. Generally, a successful combination will involve acquiring the 7 along with one or two of the 5 point research cards. The challenge is recognizing what cards work well together and getting them before your opponents do.

Warfare vs. Colonization

Whatever strategy you decide, your next big choice will be to decide if it makes more sense to go warfare or colonization. First consider your start world, metallic lend themselves to warfare and fertile lend themselves to colonization. Advanced worlds can go either way.

Next consider what other players are doing. If lots of people seem to be doing one or the other you will probably want to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. The reason for this is that if everyone goes the same route that card pile will deplete quickly and it will be a struggle for everyone to get points before the game is over.


Once you’ve picked a route you’ll also want to consider if you are going to be doing produce/trade. Advanced worlds lend themselves the most to this, but fertile and metallic can also produce/trade they just don’t have as many cards to assist with this path.

Card Elimination

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to be doing it will be readily apparent that there are some cards in your starting deck that will not be useful. The first couple turns are the best time to use your research cards to eliminate these unwanted cards.

For example, if I am doing a pure warfare strategy, I benefit greatly from removing both colonize cards and both produce/trade cards, as I will never have enough of these to create a powerful follow effect.

First Turn Optimization

ONce you have an idea of what you’re doing, next you want to carefully think about our first turn. You basically have 3 roles you can do depending on your hand and which strategy you want to do.

Colonize:  This role is best picked when you already have two colonizes in your hand. The reason for this is that you can save one of them to play as your action on the following turn. In this way you can take your start world at the beginning of your next turn which could then set you up to be able to immediately research.

Warfare:  This role is best done when you have your politics card and warfare card in your starting hand. In this way you can play your politics card to gain a warfare card that you will save till your next turn. Then you can pick warfare as your role (along with your starting warfare card) to gain two fighters. Then during the action phase of your next turn you
can attack your planet and flip it over immediately setting you up to pick research as your role.

Survey:  This role is best chosen if you don’t have a way of assuring that you can settle on your next turn. It is best picked if your starting hand has both surveys in it, however if the top card on the planet pile matches your starting world (in terms of type) this can be a powerful first play even if you have no survey cards in your starting hand.

Politics:  If you have this card in your starting hand not all is lost. If you know that you’re going to be colonizing or doing warfare you could use it to go ahead and grab one of these two cards and then pick it as your role. The reason for this is that if you discard your entire hand you are assured of drawing the last one in your deck and will be able to play it as an action.

Other:  Your hand truly is terrible, your best option is to play a survey card as an action to draw two more cards. At this point you should have a colonize or warfare card to combine with a role. Alternatively, you can take this opportunity to use a research card to go ahead and remove cards that you’ve determined you won’t need. The downside is you’re likely going to have to pick that role again to settle your planet on your next turn which will delay your ability to research cards.

Below, I’ve presented one strategy that I’ve been able to use to great effect. It is not the only way to win but it does work extremely well. I hope to play the game more to develop similarly powerful strategies for other types of start worlds. Once I have I will present them here. But hopefully this will give you an idea of what to look for.

Metallic – Warfare Strategy

If you have a metallic planet you’re probably going to want to consider a warfare strategy. The reason for this is that all of the best warfare cards require the colonization of metallic planets. Some cards to take special note of

Mobilization: This card is an amazing card for any warfare strategy. The reason is that you basically get to collect 2 fighters and attack a planet independently of any other roles you pick. Often the best roles to combine with this are survey, and warfare. In this way you’ll be able to quickly collect fighters and attack planets, including the one you just
collected via survey.

Productivity: This can be pretty devastating when combined with mobilization and/or scorched earth policy. Being able to play two actions a turn can allow you to do a fair amount without ever having to pick the warfare role.

Scorched Earth Policy:  This card helps more than might be readily apparent. Some of the most expensive planets take 6 warfare to attack. With this card in play this gets reduced to four. Four ships is surprisingly easily to get in a single turn where as 6 can easily take 2 turns. So having this in play will really speed up the rate at which you’re able to collect planets.  The loss of production is marginal at best.

 Tasty Minstrel Games: Eminent Domain
 Tasty Minstrel Games: Eminent Domain – Basic Strategy


  1. Just found your blog and this post. Now my experience is pretty different than yours, but we were playing with 4 people, so that might have some effect. I know that the cards vanished pretty quickly.

    In my first game, I was the only one using a warfare/colonize strategy. If I had two survey cards in hand, I would follow other players and take whatever planet… I didn’t care what it was. If the other players colonized, I would too. No one else was warfare. My turns were all about getting planets. That was it. Warfare or colonize. I could sometimes get two planets a turn.

    That game, no one went production, so except for a few victory chits from research cards, the game was one by planets. I won with 18 points… all planets.

    The second game, I went a production/colonize route. I did the same thing with surveys, I didn’t care what the planet was, as long as I had one in the cue. No one else was doing production, so my turn would be action: colonize planet, role: production/trade. I ended up winning with 28 points. The guy who did warfare that time was doing research too and only ended up with 18 points.

    Neither game did I buy a single research card. In fact, I only used research once as a card burner in the first game to get rid of the production cards.

    The two people who, in both games, went a major research route were just left in the dust. Neither had double digit scores at the end of the game. Besides the annoying issue of having the search through all the available research cards for something useful.

    Personally, I think it just clogged up their deck. Now, in a two-player game that might be a viable plan. But in 4-player, I don’t think that research is worth the effort. There doesn’t seem to be enough time to get the cards that you need.

    • certainly, the games you’ve played have been different from the ones I’ve played. I played this game just the other night and ended up winning with a score of 53. I primarily did warfare and researched cards to fit with my strategy. It was only a 3 player game and my score was a bit on the high side, though the player in second place had 48 so it’s not like i won by a large margin.

      It sounds like you aren’t getting much diversity in strategies though. In a four player game if everyone is doing colonize to get planets down the stack exhausts really fast, which could account for the low scores. Also, just doing lots of research isn’t going to automatically get you many points, you really have to get cards that compliment what you’re doing. For example, picking up the advanced warfare cards doesn’t help much if you’re primarily using colonize to place planets.

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