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Subject: Imperial, or Struggle of Empires? rss

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Antonio Chavez
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Both games seem real good, and both seem to scratch the same itch. But I doubt my group needs more than one of them. Which one is better?

For the record, we do like heavy, confrontational games.


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Ben .
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Our group prefers Imperial. Whilst sharing what we considered to be a comparative level of strategic depth and confrontation, playing Imperial highlighted the following issues we had with SoE:

- Learning curve: SoE has lots of special tiles which you really need to know all of quite intimately before you can strategise properly

- Play time: Imperial plays quite tightly, where SoE can drag on a bit

- Luck: The element of luck in SoE conflicts can hamper strategic planning. Imperial has deterministic battles.

But note, these 3 things I mentioned above are issues with the game that are of particular note to our group, not actual problems with the game - the same 3 things may be perceived as good points to another group.

Both games are great and we still enjoy and play both games, but I see Imperial getting more play going forward.

All that said, don't necessarily compare the two games that closely. Although both have conflict in them, they play distinctly differently, because in SoE each player has single control of a (hopefully!) growing empire from start to finish, whereas in Imperial, many players may have vested interests in multiple countries during the game, which may, along with control of those countries, change as the game goes on. As a result, there can be quite a bit of negotiation in Imperial too.

Can you give us some examples of the games your group likes? I had a quick look at your ratings, and wasn't really getting (what I would call) a "heavy, confrontational" vibe.
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Brian Morris
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Struggle of Empires. It's more confrontational and a great game to boot. Imperial is a fine game too but it's very non confrontational.
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Dave Eisen
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Yeah. You're going to have to work awfully hard to convince me that the answer is not "buy both".

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Antonio Chavez
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Maybe I should have been more specific about our likes...

There are usually 3-4 of us. Games that we have always enjoyed: Shogun (the old one--now known as Samurai Swords), Fortress America, Battletech. More recently: Wallenstein, Valley of the Mammoths, Power Grid, Mission Red Planet.

I guess what I'm looking for is the perfect Wallenstein-Samurai Swords crossover

As for buying both Imperial and SoE... honestly, buying them is not the problem. But we have a weekly game session (which is sometimes cancelled), and we like to play other games, so I foresee this game being played 4-5 times a year. I'd rather play one game 4 times and get to explore the intricacies, that dillute it into 2 plays of Imperial and 2 of SoE.

Well, I hope that made sense
 
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k b
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Based on both of your comments on this, I'm thinking Struggle of Empires might be the way to go. However, there is a more old style wargame version of Stuggle of Empires, by Eagle Games, which is now available through Funagain games - Conquest of the Empire. It's two games in one - the first is a good old armies taking over areas with die rolls, and the second is a set of rules by Martin Wallace, who designed Stuggle of Empires. The second set of rules is a Struggle of Empires version of the game - and I think it's pretty fun. Might be worth your while to look into it here on the geek.
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Antigonus Monophthalmus
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Struggle of Empires is my vote. It's less about economic management and more about controlling your majorities and territories. The alliance bid thing is really fun, and works well with any number of players. The combat is fun, too, and the tiles even though they are a pain provide unique gaming experiences every time.
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Chris Trimmer
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I'll second the recommedation for the new Conquest of the Empire. The update of the classic game plus a SoE variant in one package is a very sweet deal. SoE is a great game too.

Imperial is really just a stock market game in a wargame wrapper. It's fine if you like that type of game, but I wouldn't compare it to SoE, Martin Wallace's best!
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David Seddon
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Tough call.

SoE is a VERY deep and involved game. It's pretty high on complexity - not when you get to know it, but initially, certainly. The rules are also a wee bit impenetrable to start with. Best to play it with someone who knows it. SoE is likely to last 4 hours after which you'll likely feel that you were involved in something all-consuming. SoE is in the top echelon of waros.

Imperial - well, first off, it's an easier game to learn - but the play is rather counter-intuitive. You don't control one power for long and nor should you aim to; you want other to have a stake in your wealth. The rules on Taxation in particular need a bit of time to sink in. When you tax, several things happen simultaneously. A friend of mine commented "the thing about this game is that to win you don't need to follow what's going on on the map in the second half of the game. Just look at the investments." Spot on. The more you play, the more you see this. Weird hey! A game that looks like an Empire game and yet all those ships and armies can be next to worthless at the end. Imperial will last 3-4 hours if you get someone with AP when it's their turn to invest. We use the following method - everyone gets a one min egg-timer to choose when it's their turn to invest, except that once per game each player may invoke the "I need 5 mins rule," when you get 5 turns of the egg-timer to think. It works, and the game loses nothing and comes in at under 2 hours - much shorter than SoE.

SoE is the purer waro. Imperial is the more unusual game. SoE is ultimately more complex and satisfying (if you've had a good game), but Imperial is quicker and pretty deep. Fun-wise, it's hard to judge. Depends what you're looking for.

I might add that, if you like shorter waros and are into the idea of a conflict/empire game that is multi-facetted, scratches lots of itches and has great replayability, you really need to look at Perikles.

Take this as a bit of poetic license, but you could describe Perikles as "condensed SoE." I've heard "SoE light," but I disagree, because it's not light! Perikles is one of those games that you just know was thoroughly road-tested, SoE has a few blips (easily solved but blips nonethtelss), Perikles has none.

To sum up, SoE and Imperial are both very, very good and it will come down to personality as to which you prefer. I prefer SoE, but would be happy to play Imperial almost anytime. But take a look at Perikles, too. Despite the slightly abstract looking map, the game plays beautifully.
 
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Joe Wyka
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I have yet to play either (but a friend of mine has both). But, what I have heard about SoE is that it does not play real well with less than 5 players. If he plans to play with 3-4, won't Struggle be a bit lacking? If been holding off playing it, or buying it, because it's rare when I get 5 people to the table who want to play a game like that.

Any preferences given he plays with 3-4?
 
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Dan Rosewater
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Mr.Baggins wrote:

Both games seem real good, and both seem to scratch the same itch.


This depends on how big you define that itch. While they have some traits they share the differences they have are greater. The financial layer in Imperial does indeed give another feel in play than Struggle which focuses on expansion and development.
You may still prefer one to another but they don't feel the same while playing and therefore you can't replace Imperial with SoE or vice versa by considering them being too similar.

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Necessary Evil
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I own both, I feel that Struggle of Empires is a much better game. Imperial is not a bad game, but it has a very euro game feel to it. It is all about maxing your potential each turn.

Struggle of Empires is an area control game. It has some nice mechanics in it as well, like the bidding for sides in the war. But in the end it is all about control. There is plenty of direct conflict in the game, and it still feels a lot like a eurogame, but slightly to the right of center there.

Struggles will take longer to learn and master but i think this is due to the fact that there is more going on there. Imperial is all about figureing out how to get your investments to turn into points. Struggles has a couple of different paths to victory and so you will have to play through it a few times to learn them all.

Both are good and you really can't go wrong with either game.

-M
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Morgan Dontanville
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SoE is a conflict heavy Area Control game that conveys a sense of an empire builder.

Imperial is a brilliant stock game that has wargame pieces.

kabrush wrote:
However, there is a more old style wargame version of Stuggle of Empires, by Eagle Games, which is now available through Funagain games - Conquest of the Empire.


*Shudder*
 
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Morgan Dontanville
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joewyka wrote:
I have yet to play either (but a friend of mine has both). But, what I have heard about SoE is that it does not play real well with less than 5 players. If he plans to play with 3-4, won't Struggle be a bit lacking? If been holding off playing it, or buying it, because it's rare when I get 5 people to the table who want to play a game like that.

Any preferences given he plays with 3-4?


Good point SoE is best with 5 and 7. Good with 6. Decent with 4. I'd never play it with 3.

Imperial is best with 4, Good with 5. I'll never play it with 6 again. I'd never think to play it with 3.
 
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David Seddon
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I'm exactly with Morgan, except that I think Imperial is about even with 4 and 5.

Interestingly, I've only played CoE twice and thought it not too bad. It lost a little the second time, however. It's definitely not as good as SoE. Whether it will lose more appeal as I play it more, I don't know. I've only played the Wallace-style rules.

If you want to play with 3 sometimes, I'm not sure what Perikles would be like. I know it's stonking with 4/5. And it's got lot sof interaction and combat.

For 3, End of the triumvirates is worth a good luck.
 
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Mikko Ämmälä
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Co-incident. I bought both at same time a few weeks ago.

Both are excellent no doubt. Imperial is "easier" to set up and get going. And after you get used to its mechanics it actually is not that heavy. But great it is. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about it.

SoE takes more time to set up and needs at least 5 players to get maximum enjoyment out of it (Imperial needs 4 players). SoE also takes 1+ hour more playtime. SoE strengts are even greater than Imperial's but SoE also has some minor defects almost unforgettable for a game of this caliber: Plain board, strangely useless home countries, plastic money.

SoE combat system is may be the best combat system with dices. Fast, fair, reasonable and meaningfull.

Get both. I did.

.mikko

 
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Darren M
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I have played SoE but haven't played Imperial (yet) so with that in mind...
Struggle of Empires IS NOT an overly complicated game and is well worth owning. The rules as written are somewhat shall we say "condensed" and need a bit of clarification... easily obtained here in FAQ's on BGG. Apparently that's typical of Wallace games. I have AoS, PotR and SoE and that's a trait of them all.

All that said... SoE is in my opinion actually no harder to learn/play than "simpler" Euros like Euphrat & Tigris, Power Grid, Wallenstein etc.

If I didn't own either and had to choose only one... I'd choose SoE first but I'd definitely pick up Imperial as well as from what I have read in a number of reviews it sounds excellent... and the games are quite different.

I've even played Struggle of Empires as a 2 player game and while it's certainly a different feel than multiplayer... it works fine and is still a solid, interesting game.

Buy both as they are both definitely worth owning (I'll have Imperial soon as well).
 
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Michael Debije
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I thought SoE okay with 3.
 
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Pedro
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My vote goes to Imperial, without a doubt!

It's faster (a little less than 3h), cleaner, less luck dependent and I think the rules reflect the theme in a much clearer way.

Struggle of Empires takes a long time (if you play with 5/6 players, which is the only way the game should be played, it takes around 5 hours, in our group) and the rules are much clunkier. The alliance bidding is clever and works really well but the rest of the game is not as good, in my opinion. I hope some day someone will design a better game using the same mechanic.
 
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Stan Mamula
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Snooze_uk wrote:
As a result, there can be quite a bit of negotiation in Imperial too.


This comment alone may cause Imperial to fade from my Want List. I really have not enjoyed heavy negotions in my boardgames. I do feel that what SoE has done with alliances is brilliant and would love to see this appear in more games of this type.

Have others experienced heavy negotiations in Imperial? Is it a primary element of play?
 
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John Laprise
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Having played both, SoE is my favorite. I will, in the interest of fair disclosure note that I am a Martin Wallace fan. On the other hand I like 18xx which some of Imperials's stock mechanisms resemble (though differ significantly). SoE presents a far broader range of strategic choices every turn and its replay value far exceeds that of SoE. I also think that for a dedicated group, SoE will be more rewarding over time as the strategic richness will enable a much larger range of play styles.
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alan beaumont
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Imperial is not a wargame, it is a business game and remarkably cynical as a concept.
Struggle of Empires is a great power politics game, where war may be the least worst strategy to hand! The rules are awful (and the naval rules are silly - see my rants in the forums) but can be overcome with the FAQs quite easily. As with all wargames there are luck elements in the combat, but much of the skill is in anticipating and insuring against bad news in advance. I would go with SoE, but try to get a 5th player.
 
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Chad Mekash
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Having just played SoE for the first time yesterday, I give it a hearty thumbs up. However, I'm not sure how well it will play with 3 players since the alliances mechanic would pit 2 against 1. We played it with 5 and found it to be a blast.

I haven't played Imperial yet. But noting the original poster's current games being played for 3-4 players, I will suggest another game: El Grande. I think it plays very nicely with 3 or 4 and will be a more enjoyable area control experience than Mission: Red Planet (which I like as well, but not as much due to players having less control).
 
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