EVE: The Second Genesis was published in 2006 by CCP. Designed by the same people behind the EVE Online game and really for two-players only despite what the packaging says. It followed the standard CCG model with cards available in starter decks and booster packs containing cards of different rarities. You may have noticed how I just wrote in past tense about the game. That’s because EVE: The Second Genesis is no longer in print. A victim of practically zero marketing outside of the MMO and hardly any retailers carrying it. Incidentally I’ve never played EVE Online so I can’t comment on how well it matches the gameplay there. I can say that the theme for the CCG should be easily grasped by anyone with prior experience in the space empires genre. The theme revolves around you being the CEO of a corporation that also serves as the government for your sector of space. You operate out of a Starbase that you start the game with and want to make money while protecting your assets. Most of your money will come from Locations that either generate it by themselves, require Ships to do some mining for it, or both. Then spend that money on bigger Ships, better Locations, upgrades to your Starbase, and News cards that have a variety of effects. Don’t be fooled by the economics of the game though. With few exceptions you win the game by destroying your opponents Starbase. There are no victory points involved.
The rules are very simple to learn with a short rulebook. The rulebook was available as a free download from the official website, but that seems to be gone now. I’ll see if I can get permission to upload my copy somewhere. In the meantime, here is a breakdown of the gameplay. There’s basically four card types you play with; Ships, Locations, News, and Starbase Upgrades. The layouts are intuitive to the point I pretty much figured out how the game was played just by looking at the cards. The gist of the game is to make money so you can buy more and/or larger ships that you use to destroy your opponent.Each player starts the game with a Starbase and also secretly selects three Outer Region cards they can play for free. Your Starbase is considered to be in your home system while the Outer Regions are “neutral” systems. Both can have Locations such as planets or asteroid fields played into them. While everything in your home system benefits you and is considered yours, any benefits from Outer Regions or Locations in them go to whoever controls that Outer Region. Controlling an Outer Region is as simple as having a ship there. Locations usually cost money to play, but they also produce income and many can be mined by a ship for more income. And like everything else, quite a few of them will have some kind of special effect text. This is a CCG after all. Now for ships we have all different shapes, sizes, and purposes. There are ships for mining, ships for scouting, ships that wait to ambush, ships so big they make your opponents shit themselves, and so on. The thing is the bigger the ship the longer it takes to play. Not just in cost, but there is also assembly time to consider. You can finally afford that Battleship, but will you live the four turns it takes to assemble? Assembling times are written on the edges of the card so you can rotate it each turn to easily keep track. Which leads me to one thing I really like about this game. The use of keywords on the edges of certain cards so you know exactly what they are doing on each turn. You just rotate the card so that keyword is facing up.Next up we have the News cards. These are basically events that happen, often played to hurt your opponent in some way. Some get discarded right away and others can stick around for a few turns or even permanently. Finally there are the Starbase Upgrades, which are exactly what they sound like. Things that you can boost your Starbase with in ways too numerous to get into here. I left some minor stuff out, but I think you get the idea of the game now. As I said before, you make money by playing and/or mining locations in order to build better ships and eventually attack your opponents Starbase. There are a few cards that give alternate victory conditions, but 9 times out of 10 the win will be due to Starbase destruction.
Combat is fairly straightforward. Every ship has a defense and offense value. Let’s say you send in two ships to attack an Outer Region that has two enemy ships in it. First you check if any abilities happen before combat, then either side is allowed to withdraw one or more ships. Then each ship, attackers choose first, choose its target. Then damage is done simultaneously by comparing all the offense targeting a ship to its defense value. If the number is greater that ship is destroyed. As long as there is at least one enemy ship left the whole process repeats. If not a single defending ship was destroyed the attacker must withdraw. If a Home Region was attacked and all the defenders are destroyed the remaining attackers deal their damage to the Starbase. If its destroyed they win, if not they withdraw.
As with many space empires themed games the subject of turtling should be addressed. I’m not sure if it’s on purpose, but the design does work around this. The catch to the easily placed home system locations is that they tend to be the lowest producers for income and mining. So if your opponent is starting to turtle then you only need to start playing the Outer Regions because the benefits you’ll get from uncontested control of those for several turns will make you strong enough to crush even the hardest turtle-shell. Despite no turtling problem, there are still two complaints from mostly new players. The first is that they lost the game early on after sending their ships away. Seriously, people claim the game is broken because they weren’t smart enough to keep adequate defenses. So here’s a tip for everyone. If your Starbase is destroyed you lose the game. Therefore do not under any circumstances leave your Starbase undefended. Because unless your opponent is retarded he’s going to see that all he has to do is send his ships over there to win. Probably half my wins have been because my opponent didn’t keep enough defense at home. Another, less common complaint is the Kamikaze ability that a bunch of one factions Ship’s has. Basically you can sacrifice the ship to do about half its normal damage to a target before combat begins. Get a lot of these out and you can swarm your opponents Starbase for the win. I personally haven’t seen this tactic be an issue due to playing mostly starter drafts. The complaint originated from tournament players. The expansion includes a card that pretty much negates this strategy for those worried about it.
I love space empires games and this is my favorite for two players. The game allows for the strategic scope of expanding your corporation while also having the very tactical ship battles. And it typically plays in under an hour, probably closer to thirty minutes. Also, I love the artwork in the game about half of which is screenshots from EVE Online. Unfortunately this game was hard to find, and a bit expensive even by CCG standards, when it was still in print. There are two different starter sets each with two decks and altogether covering one deck for each of the four playable factions. There are no cards exclusive to the starters so buying boosters is also a way to go. However the starters also contain the rulebook and some cardboard coins to use for money. A quick check online shows the starters still in stock at some places at a reasonable price. There is one expansion called Exiled that adds some more stuff to the game, but I don’t consider it essential at all and the Exiled starter decks aren’t really playable by themselves.
Mad Dog is a member of the Fortress: Ameritrash staff.