I had heard good things about EMPIRE: The Deck Building Strategy Game and decided to check it out! In my head, a strategy deck building game would have you start a campaign with very little cards and as you win fights you'd add more cards to your inventory until you beat the story. That idea sounded interesting in my idea; sadly for me my expectations weren't met. I was wrong about what this game was going to be, and what I got instead was too frustrating to keep me interested.
The objective of the game is to gain 100 victory points. To do so, you kill enemies and build your village. Each turn, you get food and resources from the tiles around your cities, and these are used to build upgrades and recruit more troops for your army. After a while, the tiles become corrupted and aren't worth any more resources, so you have to move away. You start with a deck with a few cards in them, most cards are move units, some are spells - powerful but costly - and a few others give your troops passive offense and defense bonuses. Then there are Strife cards, you start with a few of them and they add up when your units die, these cards only exist to take space and can't be used for anything. There are in-game ways to remove them (build a special building to remove two, and there's also a spell that does it) but I never managed to get there, having useless cards is neat thematically, but gameplay wise, it bothered me very much. This game needs an easy mode without these cards.
I like the idea of upgrading your town in order to influence the content of your deck, but the link isn't strong enough. While some upgrades improve your choice of cards when you win a fight, there's too little choice to influence in which direction you'll try to go with the currently available upgrades. There are three tiers of upgrades - and the last one costs extra resources or gems - and they barely influence the card game. The strategy part almost feels unnecessary - or the deck building part does. As you need to win fights to stay in the game, the strategy part feels to me like it's only there to build more troops before the inevitable next enemy attack.
The battle system is interesting, each faction move automatically each turn and you can play cards that influence how fights go. That said, you're almost always overwhelmed, it's not obvious at a glance what's the attack range of the troops on the field and you might just lose a bunch of units in one turn because of that. This game is just too tough for me, you're always losing on resources, you're always crushed in fights, you barely survive, and there was no real progression in the many games I've played, I never 'got better' or 'good enough to survive continuously', I just lost units - and gained Strife cards - lost towns and lost games. Oh well.