CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
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- For 2 to 6 players
- Playtime of 120 to 180 minutes
- Six imperial nations build their empires
- It is a board game
- Challenging strategy game
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From the Manufacturer
Internationally operating investors aim for the highest political influence in Europe. By giving credits they gain influence over the six imperial nations Great Britain, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Italy and France. These nations desperately need money to build up their economy and to buy troops and fleets. With their growing power in Europe, they collect more taxes and pay their rising interests to their investors. Because the six imperial nations are under changing influence of different investors, strategic alliances and conflicts arise between them. Sometimes this leads even to war. The players represent internationally operating investors who stay in the background. The turns in the game are executed by the six imperial nations, not by the investors themselves, who only impose their financial influence onto various nations. Only the investor who gets the best return on his investments, who gains influence over the most powerful imperial nations, and who can influence the European diplomacy to his benefit, may win the game. Imperial is a challenging strategy game without any luck of cards or dice. To see an example of the first 5 rounds of a 4 player game, please click.
Top Customer Reviews
I will provide a basic overview of what gameplay looks like below, but I must say that this is one of the best board games I have played. It has a slightly steep learning curve but the depth to the game will make sure that you can play this game repeatedly and have interesting experiences each time.
The starting bond and money distributions vary based on the number of players, but the idea is each country starts with a majority stakeholder and minority stakeholder (a player might be majority or minority for more than one country). The majority stakeholder 'controls' the country during its turn. During a country's turn, the majority stakeholder (from now on referred to as the Government) chooses from one of the following actions: build a factory, produce military units (at factories), import military units, move military units, tax owned lands, or activate 'investor' phase. Which actions you can choose from are constrained by the country's previous action.
Combat and movement rules are similar (if not identical) to Diplomacy, which means that ships move first, and land units can convoy over ship units to travel seas. Combat between two armies or fleets results in both being destroyed. You can also place an army in the territory containing another country's factory to 'disable' the factory. If at the end of a movement turn a country is the only one that has units in a neutral territory, then that country places a tax chip on that territory.
When you choose to tax you count the number of territories + active factories and that number is called the 'power' of the country. The Government gets a cash bonus for increasing the power from the previous time the country was taxed. Add the power to the 'progress counter' for the country. If the progress is between 0 and 4, the country's value is called 0x. 5-9 is 1x, 10-14 is 2x, 15-20 is 3x, 20-24 is 4x and 25 is 5x. The game ends when any country reaches 25. The umber in front of the x is used in end of game scoring which we will discuss later. Now subtract the number of military units from the power and place that much money in the country's fund. Funds can also be added by additional investors buying bonds. The country's funds (which can be supplemented by the Governments personal funds) are used to purchase factories and import units.
The 'build factory' action allows you to build a factory (of either land or sea unit producing type based on where you choose to build it) within the country's territories for the cost of 5k from the country's funds.
The 'import' action allows you to place three units of any type in your home territory for 1k each.
The most complicated action is probably the 'invest' action. The actions are listed on a circle and you move in one direction upto 3 spaces forward at a time (you can pay form your personal funds 1k per additional space upto a maximum total spaces of 6 I think). If you actually choose the 'invest' action then the country needs to pay interest to the various bondholder. Each bond has an interest amount listed on it. Starting with the minority bondholders, the country's funds are used to pay the interest. If there isn't enough money in the country's funds, then the personal funds of the Government are used to pay out the interest. If there is enough money left, then the Government can take his/her share of the interest. Next, the investor card is activated. Whoever holds this card receives 2k from the bank and can purchase bonds from any country at this time. The holder then passes this card to the left. Going clockwise from the holder of the investor card, if there are any players who are not the majority in any country, then they can also buy bonds at this time. The interesting part of this game is that the investor card activation and bond purchasing happen every time a country passes over the 'invest' action.
The end of game scoring happens as follows:
Each player counts the total value of the bonds they hold in a country and multiply that by the 'x' as determined by the progress counter. Add this number to the money you hold personally in hand. That is your score. The player with the highest score wins. These rules sound difficult but are easy to get used to and make for a satisfying game. Try it out.
This is not Monopoly or Risk! This is a deep strategy game, and I wouldn't consider this a family game.
Rules can be vague, but a quick view of a review video at www.boardgamegeek.com will go a long way to getting a handle on them.
It appears to be like a Diplomacy game; it is set in Europe prior to WWI; but it is much more fun and without the deceit that seems to be fundamental to Diplomacy. (If you haven't played Diplomacy, that's OK, or even better as you won't have bad habits...) The active countries are Russia, Austria, Germany, Britain, France, and Italy, and there are all the smaller countries of the Balkans, Benelux, Iberia, and North Africa. All 6 major countries are active, even if there are less than 6 players, and so unlike many games, it is still very enjoyable at any number of players. The playing pieces are very high quality wood items, plus money and "bonds".
And the "bonds" are the key to the game. You are not a political leader of a country; rather, you are an international investor in all the countries. You buy bonds in the various countries. At any given time, whomever has the most total investment into a given country will control its actions. This control can (and will) change over time. So, the investors want to build up countries they control, but not to such an extent that those countries become clear "takeover" targets. In fact, it is not too uncommon for the lead investor to "trash" his country (not so hard to do) in order to "milk" the country of its treasury. This generally makes the country less desirable for obvious reasons.
It is tempting to get into armament races which invariably lead to bloody wars with neighboring countries; but that is not at all a clear path to overall victory in the game. The military aspects of the game are not the main focus, except to new players who might think this is a war game - and end up losing as a result.
There are many interesting choices to make to get to victory; and I have not figured out what is the best way. (I've only won once...) In summary, this is a game I like to play any chance I get.