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Subject: Strategy Article: Geography and Factories rss

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Brian E
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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Certain key geographic concepts have a major impact on gameplay in IMPERIAL. The purpose of this article is to address one of these systematically and by country.

The object of the game is to accumulate victory points by earning cash and holding bonds in countries that generate consistently high taxation. Countries generate taxation through domestic factories (worth 2 tax points each) and external conquests (worth 1 tax point each). Thus, building and maintaining a tax base is crucial, and the quality of the tax base is often a key consideration when making a next investment or understanding which countries will be the next investment targets of opponents.

Factories are more efficient tax generators than conquests. Conquests require units and impulses to capture and maintain, while the units that perform conquests also have to be produced, in a prior impulse, to exist. Units can easily be destroyed. Factories require one impulse to construct and can be passively defended, if needed, by mere unit construction, which happens at factories. Factories can be occupied, but destroying them is usually a waste of three armies. Clearly, a blend of factories and conquests is required to win, and units generally have to move, but in principle, in the ideal sense, factories are a superior tax generator to conquests. (This is a conceptual illustration, not a game strategy).

Because factories are beneficial, and the units they produce can move freely at home, it is usually best to place them where they are not vulnerable to damaging capture. Loss of a factory to enemy occupation, while not always a game-breaking disaster, is often a severe waste of time, and time matters in IMPERIAL. Ideally, a player would never want his factories to suffer enemy occupation. How can this be avoided?

One way to avoid it is to place factories away from Great Power borders. Notably, countries differ in their vulnerability. GB is an island, while GE and AH have three land neighbors each (GE has 4, if you consider GB a neighbor). A factory in GB is therefore much less likely, all else equal, to suffer foreign occupation than a factory in AH. Looking at the map, certain conclusions become evident:

Country / Number of provinces that border a foreign power

AH / 4
IT / 2
FR / 2
GB / 0
GE / 3
RU / 3

Some provinces border two different foreign Great Powers: Genoa, Munich, Danzig, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw. These places are particularly vulnerable. Note that AH starts with a factory in Vienna.

The more provinces a country has that border foreign powers, the more energy (impulses, etc.) it must expend (all else equal) to protect its factories from occupation. Conversely, a dual control situation can protect a border and help remedy this vulnerability for as long as it lasts.

With inexperienced players, it is often annoyingly true that players will occupy neighboring foreign factories willy-nilly, because they can. How often have you seen GE and AH armies occupying each other's factories - and why? Granted, some strategies call for this, but otherwise, both countries have enough problems and natural weaknesses without performing mutual takedowns of this kind. Focusing on the big picture and taking down the leaders will usually yield better game results than two-bit invasions of incidental neighbors.

Other strategic derivations of this principle will occur to the thoughtful player. Dublin is almost surely the safest factory location on the map, and Liverpool is probably next - indeed, GB is a country whose extreme defensive security and lack of territorial raw material for conquests makes it a good candidate for systematic factory construction. The vulnerability of St Petersburg relative to the safety of Odessa is what causes RU to tend to drive south rather than west - it's a path of less resistance.

More commentary welcome! Enjoy the game.
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Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro
Portugal
Leiria
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Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro
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As the author would say: "this is just annoying..." (When someone invades a region with a factory...) - OK, maybe next taxation ...
Great game !
Great strategy(s) !
 
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Stephen Groves
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You live and learn...hopefully.
 
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