A Good Kicking – a component overview of Hegemonic

(with apologies to Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber)

Way, way back many centuries ago,
Not long after the Bible began
Jacob lived in the land of Canaan…

…and I backed Hegemonic on Kickstarter. A game of rival houses wrestling for control of the galaxy in a distant future, it looked right up my street, like Dominant Species and Tigris & Euphrates had a space-baby made of hexes. It’s an abstract-ish euro game dressed up with Ameritrash bits. (We clearly need a new term for this. Abstrurotrash? Ameurostract? Abstrameriro?) You can read the rules here and watch the designer’s instructional video here.

Anyway, it funded and it hit loads of stretch goals, some of them fantastic (metal coins, dual-layered player boards so bits don’t get knocked around everywhere, à la Eclipse, etc.) and some of them less amazing (I always would have preferred wooden pieces to the plastic bits it ended up with, but ç’est la vie). With the stretch goals came manufacturing delays, so the estimated delivery date of July 2013 came and went. Finalising the design of the plastic miniatures clearly took far longer than anyone had anticipated, and the metal coins got cross-pollinated with another Kickstarter campaign, so they became a much larger project and resulted in delays of their own.

The delays didn’t particularly bother me. I’d rather stuff was late and correct than on-time and wrong.

Well, Hegemonic arrived this Monday, 24 February 2014 (yes, over a year after successfully funding and seven months later than the estimated date) and it looks like the extra time getting everything looking beautiful was time well spent. It really does look the business. If that sounds like a shallow response, it is. I haven’t even played the game yet. It just looks nice.

And to that end, I present some pictures of it looking lovely. Although to start, I’ve got a picture of the nearly-impossible-to-photograph Kickstarter-exclusive foil-text box.

Hegemonic box

The foil lettering means the game title and designer’s signature on the lid either burn like a thousand suns or blend into the background.

A (faked) four-player game in progress, probably somewhere around halfway through the game.

A (staged) four-player game in progress, probably somewhere around halfway through the game. The red edges denote regions for scoring at the end of each round, with scores based on relative power within each region.

(L–R:) Fleet, Agent, Martial Outpost, Political Embassy and Borg Cube... sorry, Industrial Complex. The original plan was to have wooden squares, circles and discs (and custom shapes for the fleet and agent), and I think I would have preferred that. Still, they're well made, although the pyramidal Outpost is a nightmare to pick up.

(L–R) Fleet, Agent, Martial Outpost, Political Embassy and Borg Cube… sorry, Industrial Complex. The original plan was to have wooden squares, circles and discs (and custom shapes for the fleet and agent), and I think I would have preferred that. Still, they’re well made, especially the solid, slightly rubbery Industrial Complex, although the pyramidal Outpost is a nightmare to pick up.

The sector tiles that form the meat of the game. These are thick, linen-textured hexes with clean, crisp print.

The sector tiles that form the meat of the game. These are thick, linen-textured hexes with clean, crisp print.

Each player has their own set of action cards with artwork colour-coded to their "great house". These cards determine the actions taken in each action phase, as well as the order in which players take those actions.

Each player has their own set of action cards with artwork colour-coded to their “great house”. These cards determine the actions taken in each action phase, as well as the order in which players take those actions.

Each player has a hand of five "semi-permanent" technology cards that can be used to gain special powers, or used in conflicts to boost power in a particular field (industrial, political or martial).

Each player has a hand of five “semi-permanent” technology cards that can be used to gain special powers, or used in conflicts to boost power in a particular field (industrial, political or martial).

A player board, housing all the bases and units a player can build in each of the three types.

A player board, housing all the bases and units a player can build in each of the three types.

A close-up on the player board, showing the dual-layered construction to hold bases in place. Bump-proof! (Not immune to table-flipping.)

A close-up on the player board, showing the dual-layered construction to hold bases in place. Bump-proof! (Not immune to table-flipping.)

Hegemonic is completely symmetrical out of the box, but if you want to mix things up a bit, the 12 Leader cards give each player a few unique powers for that game. Some of the Leader art is really cool too.

Hegemonic is completely symmetrical out of the box, but if you want to mix things up a bit, the 12 Leader cards give each player a few unique powers for that game. Some of the Leader art is really cool too.

And here's what held the whole thing up. Metal coins!  (And a 2p for comparison.) These are really hefty, well-made coins, with different designs on the obverse and reverse. And as you can see, they're big too.

And here’s what held the whole thing up. Metal coins! (And a 2p for comparison.) These are really hefty, well-made coins, with different designs on the obverse and reverse. And as you can see, they’re big too.

It’s not all kittens and cake though – I’ve got some minor niggles regarding colour. As I’ve said before, I’m not colour-blind per se, but I do have trouble distinguishing several colours in certain lighting conditions. When I first opened Hegemonic, I thought I’d been sent two sets of plastic pieces in one of the colours and none of the sixth. On switching on a desk lamp, I discovered that I just couldn’t tell the difference between the yellow and green pieces without strong light. With a camera flash…

Not a problem with a flash.

…no problem at all. But I’m not likely to play this game under lighting that strong. I’ll just have to request that with five players, the unused colour is one of those two. With six, I’d have to bring a torch to shine across the board.

There’s one more colour problem, and this one’s a bit more universal. The Quantum Gates are represented by small cardboard tokens, three pairs in each player colour. Unfortunately, the orange and red tokens are very similar in colour:

Orange-red gates

An enterprising BGGer has figured out a simple solution, but as James Mathe of Minion Games points out there, it’s rarely relevant which gates are whose because their effects are available to every player so this is one instance where colour shouldn’t be a problem.

After seven months of waiting, I’m keen to get this to the table. I’m hoping to get along to Newcastle Gamers next weekend, so maybe I’ll find some willing volunteers to take Hegemonic for a spin. The designer has helpfully written a “teaching script”, so I’d better start studying that now!

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