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Imperium: From Republic to Empire» Forums » General

Subject: Reflections on the most recent game rss

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Mike Mollineaux
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We had an opportunity to play a 4-player game last weekend. Here are some reflections on how things went…

The game lasted a little over four hours which is a bit longer than the ‘target’ length of three hours. Given that we were within two turns of finishing off the war deck, I figure the maximum time for a 4-player game is about five hours. Previous games have been much shorter (between 1-2 hours) due to senators gaining prestige too quickly. I think this imbalance may have been fixed by adding a few more Assassin cards to the action deck to provide more opportunities for eliminating high-achievers.

The game could have ended a couple hours early when another player’s senator was within reach of victory at round four. The only way to stop her was for me to play an Assassination Plot card against her senator during the Senate Phase. After a quick discussion with the other two players I learned that one faction would support the assassination attempt while the other decided not to support (given the consequences of failure). With the lack of popular support for the plot, the assassination would be successful only if I was able to roll a 10. Seeing that the other supporting faction also held the Censor this turn, there was a quick verbal agreement that they would NOT to prosecute the potential major corruption charge of my faction leader if the assassination failed. He agreed (could I trust him?). Amazingly, I rolled a 10 and we dispensed with the ambitious senator.

By the eighth round, Pompeius (one of my senators) was finally able to pull off a 12-point victory after returning victorious from the Roman-Parthian War. The underlying strategy was to not have a single senator gain prestige too quickly (since high-achievers are very conspicuous and are often dealt with quickly by the other players). Instead, I slowly earned prestige over a number of different senators within my faction which required more patience but was much less risky and much more financially lucrative in the long run. The fact that many of my senators were of the same ideology added to their cohesiveness and made attracting other senators of the same ideology much easier. Toward the end of the game I had gained enough influence over the Senate as to deploy the bulk of Rome’s legions with Pompeius to Asia---assuring the victory that put my faction over the top.

On the positive side, this was probably the most enjoyable game of Imperium that we’ve played so far. Lots of interaction, plotting, and scheming. We’ve played it enough that by now the steps and procedures of each turn have melted into the background and become intuitive. Play was fluid for the most part and we rarely had to consult the rules (and yes, I DO forget my own rules from time to time). The game responded wonderfully to our actions as well as to our complacency. Simple strategies won’t allow for an easy victory and risks must be taken. We’ve played with some test cards that appear to have resolved many of the remaining balance issues (I plan on publishing an errata sheet with some replacement cards soon).

On the negative side, sometimes the mental math and chart-referencing got a little in the way of the fun for my wife and daughter. But if you fancy yourself any kind of grognard, resolving actions in this game won’t seem like much work at all. Because Imperium borders on being more of a simulation (and less of a ‘card game’), the status tracking can get tiresome for many but really does a good job providing a thematically immersive experience.

Well, that’s about it. I hope this provides you with a little more of what you might experience while playing the game. As for me, playtesting has been suspended indefinitely while my wife and daughter recover. After my participation in about a dozen compensatory games of Splendor they might be up for it again.

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