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Rather disappointing. It does accommodate large numbers of players briskly with low rules overhead, which is nice, but the trading never really takes off because resources are so scarce and coarse. No one tends to have any surplus, so there's precious little opportunity to trade. What you're left with is some blind bidding, which ends up being fine but nothing compelling. A shame, because Sidereal Confluence shows us how awesome a trading game can be with lots of players and asymmetry--I was naively hoping for a lighter, quicker imitation.
This is a good negotiation game with an Achilles heel of its last round often falling flat. Normally that's not a problem, but Empires is so short that it can sometimes feel like you didn't get to play enough. Still a cool design though. Notably unique in its niche.