They both look great – before they arrived, I was most looking forward to Rockband Manager, but having read the rules for 8 Minute Empire, I’m really looking forward to playing that too!
8 Minute Empire looks like a mini-Civ game, but isn’t really – there is no fighting, and armies and cities can coexist. But after 8 rounds of movement and building (which doesn’t actually equate to 8 minutes, unless you are really racing), you assess who has dominance in each region and score points accordingly. At the same time, there is set collecting going on (the same cards that you choose each round for movement/actions also display a resource), and your final score is a mixture of both. Very simple rules.
Rockband Manager has a longer and more complex set of rules, but I think after playing it once, it will be easy, and another nice short game – 30-60 minutes. The game has 3 stages.
The first is, as a manager, you are acquiring musicians for your band, this is done via a series of auctions, although a large part of the strategy seems to be in selecting *which* artist to put up for auction when it is your turn (much like Power Grid).
The second two stages represents the band’s Debut career and their Apex career. Both play similarly, with each band choosing between making albums, playing concerts and other opportunities. The thing I liked in the rules is that while playing concerts earns you victory points (called “decibels”, but essentially, fame); making albums do not directly earn victory points. What they do is score you points that may earn awards, which in turn gives you “decibels”. This means that while every concert counts, albums will only count if you think you are going to come in the top 3 for the awards.
The abilities of the musicians you have chosen (or have had foisted on you!) may mean you are more effective in one or the other activities. Thus I can see this causing players to pick quite different strategies which will reflect the music industry quite well. You will have studio bands, who crank out albums; and touring bands who are always on the road, acquiring fame. And some bands who will do both. Of course, that is just from a reading of the rules, but I look forward to seeing it work in practice.