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Subject: A Little-and-Often Review - Imperial 2030 rss

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Adam Taylor
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It is my intention to write a brief review (around 300 words) of every game that I play over the coming months. It won't quite be a random sample of games but there is likely to be quite a range; some will be games that I've played many times before, others will be first impressions of games that are new to me, some I will like, some I will hate, some I may be predisposed to like or hate before I even sit down to them. I make no apologies for this but I will lead with a rough number of plays and my rating.

Plays: 5
My rating: 8

Imperial 2030 has three important elements: it is an economic speculation game in which players must be willing to pitylessly asset-strip the nation that they or (even better) somebody else has been carefully building-up; it is rondel game, in which the timing of available actions is absolutely crucial; and it is - to a relatively small degree - a deterministic wargame. When approaching the game it's really important to bear all of this in mind - I've sometimes heard it described as Euro-Risk or the game Risk should have been - however, if you try to play it as a straight-up wargame, you're likely to fair poorly and you're also unlikely to get the most out of the game. Despite its appearances, the military element of the game is relatively minor.

So long as you are forearmed with this knowledge, 2030 is hugely enjoyable. It's a heavy, thinky Euro that keeps you constantly on your toes - adjusting your plans to the changing game state and to the actions and intentions of your opponents. Player interaction is crucial and, in my experience, it tends to generate a lot of table talk: Players have shared interests in the various nations and will often have an opinion on how it should be managed - there is really no cooperative element though - naked ambition and self interest are absolutely the order of the day.

To my mind, 2030 scales really well up to higher player counts and is perhaps at its best with the maximum six players. It does increase the possibility of a player spending a couple of turns with no active participation on the board (as actions are only taken by those with controlling interests in countries). However, one of the changes from first edition Imperial to 2030 is to allow players with no controlling interests to insist that nations stop at the Investor step on the rondel to ensure that they can buy shares - so, unless you have played very poorly indeed and left yourself with no shares and no money, you will always be able to buy your way back into control. In that position, you don't feel out of the game as the selection and purchase of shares is a vital part of it.

If you're looking for a heavy-ish, long-ish Euro with a good blend of mechanics, high player interaction and opportunities for some really involved and interesting strategic and tactical decisions (and why would you not be?!) then Imperial 2030 is the game for you.
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Dylan Bradshaw
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I know its for me... Now can I get a copy somewhere?!


Great review btw
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dylanbradshaw wrote:
I know its for me... Now can I get a copy somewhere?!


Great review btw


They are in short supply for some reason :s.
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Daniel
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I'm still debating on getting this or Imperial when they become available again.
 
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There's an Imperial at my flgs - for me the choice is not difficult ^^.
 
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Daniel
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So not available online at all? That's disappointing.
 
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Jonathan Schindler
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According to Rio Grande Games' "new and future releases" widget on their website, a reprint of both Imperial and Imperial 2030 is coming soon. (And Navegador!) But this widget has been notoriously unreliable in the past as far as dates are concerned, so I wouldn't count on that. Just know that it's at least in the works.

(And thanks for the review! I just traded for Imperial locally last week and am excited to play.)
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A J
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Thanks for the review! I love this game, and it doesn't get enough attention these days. I prefer 2030 over original Imperial because I find it more thematically fun to take over the world.

I hope the reprint happens soon and boosts this game some.
 
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wayne r
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dandechino wrote:
I'm still debating on getting this or Imperial when they become available again.


I've been trying to get a friend interested enough to add it to his collection. I want to try but economic type games are not really for me.
 
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Edward B.
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I agree that this is a game that scales very well. I really enjoy the game at all player counts. Six players can feel a bit more chaotic and two players feels very much like a type of chess match. I think my favorite is four players, but it works well at all levels.

One nice thing is that player counts doesn't really affect the game length since all nations take the same number of turns per round anyway, independent of player count.
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David Gibbs
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DicingWithDearth wrote:


However, one of the changes from first edition Imperial to 2030 is to allow players with no controlling interests to insist that nations stop at the Investor step on the rondel to ensure that they can buy shares - so, unless you have played very poorly indeed and left yourself with no shares and no money, you will always be able to buy your way back into control. In that position, you don't feel out of the game as the selection and purchase of shares is a vital part of it.


This change does exist, but it doesn't have the implications that you say -- in base Imperial, if the nations marker lands on OR passes over the investor phase, then the holder of the investor card gets $2M, and bonds can be purchased. It just allows someone to also ensure they are paid their interest -- and only if there is enough in the treasury of the country to pay all the interest.

There are other, I think more major, changes from Imperial. They include: 1 fewer home province, very different chart for power gains and also that the controlling player gets a bonus on current level not increase, and that moving extra spaces on the rondel costs 1+power level rather than a fixed 2. (I strongly recommend that last one as a back-port to Imperial for anyone who plays Imperial. It is a drop-in improvement to the game.)
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dagibbs wrote:
DicingWithDearth wrote:


text


It just allows someone to also ensure they are paid their interest -- and only if there is enough in the treasury of the country to pay all the interest.
more text


Don't all Swiss players have that option, as opposed to the guy holding the marker?

Also important, Russia is no longer a corner nation. Wrap-around is important.
 
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David Gibbs
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Derang3d wrote:
dagibbs wrote:
DicingWithDearth wrote:


text


It just allows someone to also ensure they are paid their interest -- and only if there is enough in the treasury of the country to pay all the interest.
more text


Don't all Swiss players have that option, as opposed to the guy holding the marker?

Also important, Russia is no longer a corner nation. Wrap-around is important.


Yes, all Swiss players. Antecedent of my "it" was the rules change referred to, that Swiss players could force a stop on Investor.

And, yes, of course there are map changes. So, the relative borders of the different nations are quite different. I'm not sure the map is better balanced, though. For example, Russia and China both have direct borders with other nations, while Brazil, and the US have no direct borders at all. Whereas on the original map, England was the only nation without a border. And, it was also a corner nation.
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Dylan Bradshaw
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Besides the map obviously, those all seem like changes that can be brought to the original if desired. Is that thr case? In your opinion, can this be done, is it worth it?
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David Gibbs
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dylanbradshaw wrote:
Besides the map obviously, those all seem like changes that can be brought to the original if desired. Is that the case? In your opinion, can this be done, is it worth it?


Back-porting the rondel hurry cost is easy, simple, and completely independent of everything else. Easy to do, I feel greatly improves the game (at the end, when you want to accelerate the game to just visit Invest/Tax it costs more the more valuable the country is) so is worth doing.

The other changes are more integrated with the rest of the game.

1 fewer home province could be done, I guess, by marking one of the home provinces for each nation as a neutral. This will, of course, have nation tax evaluation affects since each has one fewer factory possible, making it harder to reach a higher tax valuation.

Imperial and Imperial 2030 use different tax -> power increase valuation charts. 2030's goes to 18+, while Imperial only goes to 15+ (to get the +10). I expect this change has to be balanced with the map, and it suggests that even with one fewer home territory, nations in 2030 will likely end up with higher tax valuations. I'm not sure how back-porting this would change the balance of things.

In Imperial, the controller bonus for taxation is the increase in taxation since the last time. In Imperial 2030 it is given as part of the taxation to power increase chart, but "happens" to be always power increase / 2, rounded up. The change in taxation charts might change the balance of this -- but I think this could be back-ported pretty easily and would be balanced and workable variant. It changes the incentives slightly... now it is good to continue to run the nation well; whereas previously there was an incentive to run a country as boom & bust.

One extra (higher-value) bond for each country would, also, be an easy back-port.



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Ah yes, I see. My bad meeple.

I've not played a lot of Imperial, only 2030, so I can't say much about backward compatible. I do know China is considered among the better nations in my FLGS, regardless of bordering Russia.
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Derang3d wrote:
Ah yes, I see. My bad meeple.

I've not played a lot of Imperial, only 2030, so I can't say much about backward compatible. I do know China is considered among the better nations in my FLGS, regardless of bordering Russia.


China is your sprinter. I've seen many games where China wins suddenly in about seven turns.
 
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David Gibbs
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bamonson wrote:
Derang3d wrote:
Ah yes, I see. My bad :meeple:.

I've not played a lot of Imperial, only 2030, so I can't say much about backward compatible. I do know China is considered among the better nations in my FLGS, regardless of bordering Russia.


China is your sprinter. I've seen many games where China wins suddenly in about seven turns.


I have to note, China can NOT win the game. China may trigger the end of the game, and some player will win, but players are definitely not the same as nations in Imperial [2030].
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dagibbs wrote:
I have to note, China can NOT win the game. China may trigger the end of the game, and some player will win, but players are definitely not the same as nations in Imperial [2030].


Yeah, phrasing . You know what we mean.

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David Gibbs
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Derang3d wrote:
dagibbs wrote:
I have to note, China can NOT win the game. China may trigger the end of the game, and some player will win, but players are definitely not the same as nations in Imperial [2030].


Yeah, phrasing :). You know what we mean.



And yet, I see too many players identifying with the country they first control. Or currently control.
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True, and guilty as charged.

I do know Imperial is a economic game, and the units are just there for making money. But even when I try to calculate the best stock to buy, taking into account how much money the leading player has so he can't buy it off me, I tend to come in second.

In other words, I am really bad at this game.

I still love it, but there's no denying the fact that I won't make it to the first place in a long time, because I'm not sharky enough (and too attached to "my" country). I'd still play it every week if I could get the people and the time. Well, let's say twice a month, but that's just because there's so many other games that need attention, too! ^^
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dagibbs wrote:
bamonson wrote:
Derang3d wrote:
Ah yes, I see. My bad meeple.

I've not played a lot of Imperial, only 2030, so I can't say much about backward compatible. I do know China is considered among the better nations in my FLGS, regardless of bordering Russia.


China is your sprinter. I've seen many games where China wins suddenly in about seven turns.


I have to note, China can NOT win the game. China may trigger the end of the game, and some player will win, but players are definitely not the same as nations in Imperial [2030].


Incorrect. The nation actually 'wins' by reaching the end first. This is a separate concept from the individual players calculating their scores. This distinction is necessary when explaining the game to new players who might be under the impression that if they control the 'winning' nation that that also means they win, which isn't necessarily the case.
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David Gibbs
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bamonson wrote:
dagibbs wrote:
bamonson wrote:
Derang3d wrote:
Ah yes, I see. My bad :meeple:.

I've not played a lot of Imperial, only 2030, so I can't say much about backward compatible. I do know China is considered among the better nations in my FLGS, regardless of bordering Russia.


China is your sprinter. I've seen many games where China wins suddenly in about seven turns.


I have to note, China can NOT win the game. China may trigger the end of the game, and some player will win, but players are definitely not the same as nations in Imperial [2030].


Incorrect. The nation actually 'wins' by reaching the end first. This is a separate concept from the individual players calculating their scores. This distinction is necessary when explaining the game to new players who might be under the impression that if they control the 'winning' nation that that also means they win, which isn't necessarily the case.


the rules wrote:
As soon as a nation has reached a total of 25 power points, the game ends.


(Taxation section, though there is a very similar sentence, in the section on Object of the Game / End of the game.)

This exact sentence is in both original, and 2030. The game ends.

Players then add up the values of their bonds and cash, to determine a winner.

There is absolutely nothing in the rules that mentions or suggests that a nation "wins".

In object of the game, it further says:

the rules wrote:
In case of a tie, the player who has the higher credit sum in the nation with the most power points wins.


So, even when the rules want to refer to the nation that passes 25, the rules don't refer to that nation as winning.

I think it is quite clear that the game itself has no description of a nation "winning" or a nation that "wins".

Now, if you want to think about it that way -- I can't stop you. But it is not part of the rules of the game.

In fact, if you talk about a "winning nation" when explaining to new players, you may in fact be creating the confusion that you then claim to need to clarify. If you never talk about a winning nation, there is no confusion. There is just the nation that triggers the game end. Of course, it will be the one with the most valuable bonds.

 
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This is my first time reading one of your Little-and-Often reviews as I'm one of the lucky ones who owns this game, albeit it sadly remains in shrink because it's difficult for me to get the player count to the table that makes this game really sing. Just want to chime in and say that you do a fantastic job of summarizing a game with parsimony of words that truly lets the reader know if the game is for them or not. I'll be reading your reviews from now on when ever you post. Thanks for the concise, well-worded and informative game snapshot. I'll be looking forward to more.
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MrMzchf wrote:
This is my first time reading one of your Little-and-Often reviews as I'm one of the lucky ones who owns this game, albeit it sadly remains in shrink because it's difficult for me to get the player count to the table that makes this game really sing. Just want to chime in and say that you do a fantastic job of summarizing a game with parsimony of words that truly lets the reader know if the game is for them or not. I'll be reading your reviews from now on when ever you post. Thanks for the concise, well-worded and informative game snapshot. I'll be looking forward to more.


The game's 'sweet spot' is four players! Three is also very, VERY, fun, though far more tactical than in 4-player. Many fine 3-player to be their favorite. Six players is almost universally considered the worst among experienced players. Pull it out of the shrink.
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