Nico Solitander
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I'm looking for some advice for a purchase: I've singled out three games (four actually, but one [Princes of the Renaissance] is excluded because of price/availability):


Imperial
Antike
Struggle of Empires


My main criteria were:
1. Area majority or area control
2. An element of war (but preferably it shouldn't feel like a war game (I'm not ready to there yet), no hexes allowed.
3. Preferably leaning more on resource management (see 2)
4. Not overly complicated rules, explainable by someone who is not great in the art of teaching games
5. Standard group size 2 or 4 or 5
6. Playable in about 120 minutes
7. Multiple paths to victory
8. No out-of-print games
9. EDIT: Luck-factor, low, but not a problem if it is not decisive.

Any comparisons, views on the three above mentioned games in regards of criteria or otherwise would be much appreciated, any other suggestion welcome.

I'm leaning towards Antike or Imperial as of now because the rules look slighly less complicated and they have less chits (lame criteria but I'm desperately trying to come to a decision )
 
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Luca Iennaco
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Points 1, 2, 3, 8 are satisfied by all three equally well.
Point 5 isn't satisfied by any of the three as long as "2 players" are concerned (4 or 5 is fine with all of the three).
Points 4 and 6 probably improve with familiarity (and greatly depend by your group; our first game of any of the three lasted well over 2 hours... but "learning plays" are always longer).
Point 7 requires more experience with those game that what I've gathered; so I'll pass on it for now.


If you like "multiple powers" (to be mixed to shape your own strenghts and weaknesses), then go for SoE (several tiles available since the setup, each tile has a specific effect, and you can take only a tile per turn; so you've to choose which one(s) you prefer and how early you want to take it to avoid someone else picking it).
A note: SoE has the strongest element of luck (dice rolled to resolve combat) of the three. If you dislike luck in complex games, avoid it.

If you like "stock holding" (like 18xx games), then go for Imperial (you do not control a specific country; you just take decisions for those countries where you've spent the most. So choosing where and when to invest is the crucial part.).

Otherwise, go for Antike (since it's the only one left ).


Given your premises, you probably can't go wrong with any of the three.
Have fun! meeple
 
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Dave Bullions
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I'm not familar with Struggle of Empires, but I do own Antike & Imperial. Of those two I (& my games club) prefer Imperial. Both games are by the same designer & share certain features, but Imperial has, we feel, more depth.
Using your criteria:
Antike
1. Sort of
2. Yes
3. Not really
4. Quite easy rules
5. Best played with 4 or 5. Will take longer with more.
6. Possible once players are familiar with the game
7. Victory is possible through researching things, but most games end by players attacking temples.
8. In print

Imperial
1. Strange game, this one, as control of countries changes during the game
2. Yes
3. Yes, You are more likely to win if you don't go to war often
4. Bit more complicated than Antike, but not overly so.
5. Plays well with five or six.
6. Possible with experienced players, but expect nearer to 180 minutes
7. not really
8. In print, but an Essen 06 release so maybe not generally available yet.
 
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Nico Solitander
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dave45 wrote:
I'm not familar with Struggle of Empires, but I do own Antike & Imperial. Of those two I (& my games club) prefer Imperial. Both games are by the same designer & share certain features, but Imperial has, we feel, more depth.

Using your criteria:
Antike
5. Best played with 4 or 5. Will take longer with more.


Imperial
5. Plays well with five or six.
8. In print, but an Essen 06 release so maybe not generally available yet.


Thank you, both dave and luca, for the response. Dave, could you elaborate on as to why there is a difference between the "sweetspots" of imperial and antike? From reading the rules of both it is not evident where the difference lies.

My local gamestore stacks imperial already so availability is not an issue, thankfully.
 
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Struggle and Imperial are, I think, far better games than Antike (more involved, more options during the game ... more fun!). Struggle, however, will not be easy to explain -- at least, if you try to explain all the little details. I'd suggest Imperial.
 
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CHAPEL
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I haven't played Imperial as of yet(boo), but between Antike and SoE which both I love, I like SoE better. However, there is more luck in combat with SoE, something that may or may not turn you off.
 
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Mark Wright
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I think you should discount Struggle of Empires, on the basis of not too much war. Struggle is pretty much all war and diplomacy. The only resources are money and people and these are all centred on being better at war.
Don't get me wrong SoE is a supurb game, but does not meet your criteria. Also SoE will have a time problem. it is lobger than 120 minutes.

I have also played antike and think it meets all you want. it is abit war. resources and the right time. I don't have imperial yet, so can't comment
 
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Dave Bullions
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First of all Nico, thanks for the GG tip. Unexpected but very welcome.
I have played Antike twice & Imperial twice. These were all at my local games club, so near enough it was the same group of players. My recommendations of number of players are based on those plays and of my experience of board gaming in general.
My group likes to play more than one game in a typical session (which, in our case, is 5 hours). With Antike (4 or 5 players) it worked out fine, and we had time to play something else. We felt that, with 6 players, you could add another 30 minutes to the playing time.
The same would, I guess, apply to Imperial, but we had six players so decided to play a six player Imperial. It took longer, but that didn't matter. We had fun, and thats what counts.
 
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Mik Svellov
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dave45 wrote:
With Antike (4 or 5 players) it worked out fine, and we had time to play something else. We felt that, with 6 players, you could add another 30 minutes to the playing time.
The same would, I guess, apply to Imperial, but we had six players so decided to play a six player Imperial. It took longer, but that didn't matter. We had fun, and thats what counts.


We have found that the playing time for Imperial is about 3 hours no matter how many (or few) players you are. This is most likely because the number of actions is the same (one for each of the six nations).
 
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Paul M
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You definitely don't want Struggle of Empires - it takes forever. My nickname for it is Struggle to Finish. Additionally, with the variety of tiles and such, it is quite complicated.

Haven't played the other two, but based on your critera, Struggle of Empires isn't the best fit.
 
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Mark Bigney
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Antike strikes me as the best fit. It is far more accessible than the other two, and its playing time is more manageable. It also seems to work just fine with two if you use the excellent "half-board" variant here on the 'Geek.
Of course, I loathe Struggle of Empires, but I would wager even its supporters wouldn't claim that it meets all of your criteria very well.
 
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Dave Eisen
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Struggle of Empires is a great great game, real depth, and works resource management and negotiation parts of the brain heavily. I love it.

I don't think it is a wargame in the sense that you are saying. It does have wargame like mechanics, but it does not feel at all like playing Eastfront or playing Sword of Rome.

But there is a fair amount of luck in the game. Since that was one of your criteria, I would eliminate it. It is also the longest of the three although this never bothers me when I am playing it.

Antike does satisfy many. Multiple paths to victory are there --- a more military approach, a more resource acquisition approach. Do you go for knowledge or do you go for temples?

Right play time. Not quite as complex, although the rules for battle are hard to get your head around. Plays well with various player counts, although I'm not sure I would try 2.

But my one play showed Imperial to be a much richer gaming experience. Not to knock Antike, which I think is a fine game, but Imperial feels like what Antike should have been. More color to the game. Interesting economic element.

Bottom line: you can't go too wrong here. These are all good games.
 
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J C Lawrence
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nsolitander wrote:

Imperial
Antike
Struggle of Empires


My main criteria were:
1. Area majority or area control
2. An element of war (but preferably it shouldn't feel like a war game (I'm not ready to there yet), no hexes allowed.
3. Preferably leaning more on resource management (see 2)
4. Not overly complicated rules, explainable by someone who is not great in the art of teaching games
5. Standard group size 2 or 4 or 5
6. Playable in about 120 minutes
7. Multiple paths to victory
8. No out-of-print games
9. EDIT: Luck-factor, low, but not a problem if it is not decisive.


Imperial is an investment game. There is a small conflict element, but the primary focus is in stock collection and value manipulation. No area control, but the majority investor governs the countries they invested in. Resource management is not particularly significant in Imperial. Imperial is a perfect information game.

Quote:
Antike


Antike is a nearly pure logistics game. It is often described as a semi-civilisation game meets wargame, but this is a deceptive description. It is a simple logistics game: Who is more efficient in moving the right thingss in the right order to earn more VPs faster? All the rest is just thematic trappings, but when played with poor players direct conflict will play a large role. Resource management is significant, but really only to the extent of logistical timing. Antike is a perfect information game.

Quote:
Struggle of Empires


Struggle of Empires is a negotiation and area influence game. There are large luck factors and it does not play well with less than 3 players. Conflict is a major mechanism in Struggle of Empires.

Of the three I I like Imperial most and would particularly recommend it if you like financial games or games involving shifting alliances and emergent collusion.

Antike is a good game, especially if you like light negotiation and simple logistical planning.

I dislike Struggle of Empires so I'll leave that there.

 
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J C Lawrence
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dave45 wrote:
Antike
...
5. Best played with 4 or 5. Will take longer with more.


I prefer Antike with 5 or 6 and find that 4 tends to be too isolationist and thus uninteresting for my taste.

Quote:
7. Victory is possible through researching things, but most games end by players attacking temples.


Games also tend to end either in a rush (eg gain three VPs in a turn and win), or go into a somewhat protracted endgame jostling for position and then temple sacking. The more experienced and aggressive the players are the more likely the jostling endgame is.

Quote:
Imperial
...
3. Yes, You are more likely to win if you don't go to war often


I partly disagree here. War is central to the game, but only as a tool, a means to an end. For instance I've seen multiple cases where war was used to specifically ensure that a given country did or didn't make it to the next multiplier bracket, or would not be able to threaten specifc production etc.

Quote:
4. Bit more complicated than Antike, but not overly so.


Imperial is also a far less obvious game than Antike.

Quote:
5. Plays well with five or six.


I wouldn't go above 4, too much multiplayer chaos with more.
 
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CHAPEL
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clearclaw wrote:


...
...
...
Quote:
4. Bit more complicated than Antike, but not overly so.


Imperial is also a far less obvious game than Antike.



Well I remember you praising Antike as the second coming last year at this same time. we'll have to hear what you say about Imperial after a half dozen games under your belt.
 
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nsolitander wrote:
Dave, could you elaborate on as to why there is a difference between the "sweetspots" of imperial and antike? From reading the rules of both it is not evident where the difference lies.


Antike's board doesn't change size with increased player count. Conflict is bi-party only and attritive for both players. Player actions are non-exclusive. As a result with fewer players inter-player interaction reduces rapidly and with larger player counts interaction rates are higher. The break point is around 4 players. Less and the players never need touch each other. More and the game becomes one of elbows and negotiation and shoving.

With Imperial there are two classes of players: those who own countries and those who don't. Play occurs in country order; the same 6 countries in the same order every turn. As such players who own several countries (common) will get to play that may times in the turn. Those that own none get to sit back and plan their optimal investments for the countries the other players are driving. Country investment is driven by an investor card that rotates clockwise through the players. Players with the card can invest in a country when certain conditions happen, as can player's without countries when that same condition occurs. It can be very good to be without a country: twice as much investment potential, but at the sacrifice of ability to determine the game's course. With 6 players the investor card rotates slowly and so very very much tends to happen between each opportunity to invest (by a country owner) that planning is almost impossible. With 4 or less players the investor card rotates more quickly, players end up without a country less often, and forward planning is actually viable.

My impression is that Imperial will play well with between 2 and 4 players, with a sweet spot of either 3 or 4 players.
 
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MWChapel wrote:
Well I remember you praising Antike as the second coming last year at this same time. we'll have to hear what you say about Imperial after a half dozen games under your belt.


Second coming? Nahhh. I don't think my Antike rating has changed more than a point since my first game.
 
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clearclaw wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
Well I remember you praising Antike as the second coming last year at this same time. we'll have to hear what you say about Imperial after a half dozen games under your belt.


Second coming? Nahhh. I don't think my Antike rating has changed more than a point since my first game.


Hmmm, not they way my archived copy of Spielfrieks that I'm reading right now is sounding.
 
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Mik Svellov
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clearclaw wrote:
on IMPERIAL:
Country investment is driven by an investor card that rotates clockwise through the players.


Assuming you are playing the basic version.
In the advanced version everybody can invest in the country that activates the Investor space.
 
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Dave Eisen
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nsolitander wrote:

Thank you, both dave and luca, for the response. Dave, could you elaborate on as to why there is a difference between the "sweetspots" of imperial and antike? From reading the rules of both it is not evident where the difference lies.


Even though Dave recommends Imperial with 6, I wouldn't. I have only played it with that number once but that one time had one of the six players never owning a country during the entire game. Well, he finally owned one on the last round but the game ended before he got to take an action.

He did OK (didn't win, came in second or third I think), but it really couldn't have been much fun for him. Sitting there during what was probably a 3 hour game taking no turns and only making decisions about which bonds to buy in the rare situation when he even had enough money to buy anything at all. Well. Not a whole lot of fun.

And I will agree with JC above about how slow the investor card is to come around with 6.

On the other hand, my time playing with 3 was fast moving and engaging, with countries changing hands fairly regularly and the leader in doubt all the way until the end.

Definitely looking forward to when this one is available.
 
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Mik Svellov
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All players begin the game controlling a nation, so it can't have been 'never'.

And while it isn't particularly fun to sit there without doing any actions it is not as bad as you make it sound.

This player can issue a new bond every time any nation is passing the INVESTOR space. If playing it right he/she can end up with quite a lot of small bonds in all the most valuable countries, making sure not to surpass any other player for control. Then, at the right moment, swoop in and grap control of the one the two best countries (the right moment being when you have alot of cash and the Investor marker is at the player to your right: in his turn you can invest in one bond that will give you control and in your own turn can you use the Investor card to buy control in a second country.

That said, I actually prefer to play without the Investor card and with free acess to issuing bonds.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Great Dane wrote:
All players begin the game controlling a nation, so it can't have been 'never'.


In the advanced game there is no requirement for every player to start out owning a country. In our last game I started out owning 2 shares in every country but one and a single share in the 6th (Austria IIRC). I don't think I controlled a country until at least turn 5 or 6. I came in second too...

Quote:
And while it isn't particularly fun to sit there without doing any actions it is not as bad as you make it sound.


Yup.
 
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Nico Solitander
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Thanks for the great response, it has been valuable help, both Antike and Imperial sound like what I'm looking for, but Imperial even more so, that's where I'm leaning.
 
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nsolitander wrote:
Thanks for the great response, it has been valuable help, both Antike and Imperial sound like what I'm looking for, but Imperial even more so, that's where I'm leaning.


I share your doubts about these 3 games and I've been following this thread. My copy of Imperial is on the way...
 
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Diz Hooper
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I own and have played Antike and SoE. Of those two, I would recommend Antike. It's simpler to teach, and new players can pretty much figure it out after a few turns. My experience with trying to teach SoE is that new players tend to look at all the tiles available and think to themselves "What the hell am I supposed to do?" If you're looking for something easy to teach, definitely go for Antike. As for Imperial, I haven't played it, but I'm looking to get my hands on it soon.

 
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