Playing Time: 2-3 hours
Period: Science Fiction
-- Turn: 2 years
-- Map: one-half parsec
-- Unit: one capital ship or reinforced division
[Conflict Games edition]
Box: 10x13x2" bookcase-style box
Components: 19x25" mounted mapboard, 352 die-cut 3/4" counters, 12 page rulebook, 2 identical cards of game charts, six-sided die, 6 cardboard counter trays (4-1/4 x 4-7/8 x 1"), GDW product list.
The box for the Conflict Games edition is about twice as deep as the GDW box
[1977 GDW edition]
Box: 11x14" flatbox
Components: 20x25" unmounted mapsheet, 352 die-cut 3/4" counters, 12 page rulebook (copyright Conflict Game Company), two identical cards of game charts, six-sided die.
Box and components for the 1977 GDW edition
[1992 GDW edition]
Box: 9x11" thin bookcase box
Components: 17x22" mapboard (consisting of 4 "puzzle" mapboard sections on thick cardboard), 352 die-cut 3/4" counters, 16 page rulebook, 8 page background history book, 4 page folder of charts and tables, record card, six-sided die.
Counter Manifest: [All editions] Blue - 114 ships, 22 outposts, 11 planetary defense, 2 resource point markers, 1 War/Peace marker, 1 blank. Green - 11 worlds, 10 regular troops, 4 jump troops. Red - 114 ships, 20 outposts, 12 regular troops, 11 planetary defense, 2 resource point markers, 1 Glory marker, 1 blank. Black - 11 worlds, 4 jump troops.
GDW says: "Imperium pits an expanding Terran Confederation against a vast interstellar empire in a series of wars of colonial expansion. Two players work against each other, each striving to win through strategic sense and tactical skill. The action includes space combat, planetary invasions, and economic production as both players fight a series of wars for supremacy."
The reviewers say: "Imperium is intended to be a campaign game consisting of a series of wars fought until one side controls the entire board. Each war is a single game, which could be played independently. At the end of each game, a die is rolled to determine the length of the peace before the next war begins, repatriation of forces, territorial exchanges, interwar income, postwar production, interwar attrition, interwar production, interwar colonization and redistribution of forces." Don Lowry in Campaign #84.
"A nice feature of the counter mix is the very wide variety of unit types for both the Terran and the Imperial player, ranging from Scouts, Destroyers, Missile Boats and four types of Cruisers . . . to Dreadnoughts and Battleships, and including auxiliaries such as Transports and Tankers . . . Where chrome exists it is put to good effect and is in subtle harmony with the mechanics of the game . . . The overall result is a clean, fast moving, but very convincing game." Hugh Baldwin in The Wargamer #11.
"This is either a serendipitous design or a cold-blooded development of a classic. Nicely conceived and beautifully executed." David Ritchie in Ares #1.
Game in progress, 1992 edition
"Imperium has a strong economic base, determined by planetary holdings and, for the Imperial player, a budget. Troops, planetary defenses, outposts, and ships must all be paid for. In addition, ships must be maintained if a player wishes to retain his fleet in fighting trim . . . Imperium brings together many common themes of science fiction, and ties them to an excellent and intriguing game system . . . Its ease of play makes it an enjoyable game. I predict it will be a classic." Tony Watson in Space Gamer #15
Comments: As predicted, Imperium did become a wargaming classic -- and it has just  been reborn in a revised edition published by Avalanche Press.
Collector's Notes: For the Conflict Games edition, Boone's Internet Wargames Catalog (3rd edition) lists low/high/average prices of $10/$24/$15 at auction and $5/$60/$18 for sale. Caveat emptor - those mounted mapboards tend to warp badly! This is not a factor of age as the original reviews also noted the problem.
Boone's lists GDW's Imperium at $5/$30/$15 and $9/$30/$14 without distinguishing between 1977 and 1992 editions.
1977 paper mapsheet at left; 1992 puzzle-piece mapboard on right
The Remulak* controversy: "Imperium has good points and bad, the good ahead by a slim margin. I think it's worth your time since it shows a real regard for science fiction among the designers. The Steve Fabian box art is nice, too. If only you hadn't named that one star system 'Remulak.'" Dave Minch in The Dragon #18.
"Some stars have been given names. Most of these are believable, the only exception being the one called 'Remulak' (not funny or likely)." Dave Minch (again) in Fire & Movement #13
"The GDW staff couldn't refuse a few jokes, of course . . . the planet Remulak has mysteriously appeared (in response to Akroid (sic) and Belushi class destroyers in Battleline's Alpha-Omega, I'm told)." Phil Kosnett in Moves #37.
* Remulak was the home planet for Saturday Night Live's alien family The Coneheads.
Back cover of 1992 edition
Selected Magazine Articles:
Additional Units for Imperium, Space Gamer 17
Imperium & Warp War (combining the games), Space Gamer 19
Modified Rules for Imperium, Space Gamer 17
Strategies for Imperium, Campaign 94
Tactics in Imperium, Grenadier 2
Other games from Marc W. Miller: 1942, Agincourt, Asteroid, Belter, Chaco, Dark Nebula, Double Star, Fifth Frontier War, Invasion Earth, Mayday, Raphia, Snapshot, Team Yankee, Traveller [RPG], Triplanetary (all GDW).
This article was originally published in issue issue 13 of Simulacrum, October 2001