If you're not part of the soultion...
You're part of the precipitate!
JP 46 – Dale 33
Next we tried the area control game called Imperium. Again, I thought that I remembered all the rules to this game from my New Games in Old Rome, but it appears that the good Doctor (Knizia) or GMT felt the game could be improved, so there were again new rules to digest.
Imperium is a simple game where each player plays up to three control markers to the board on each turn. The board has 8 different regions on it with differing point values on them. In the two player game, the regions are simply worth 1 point to 8 points for the winner of the region (with the loser getting nothing). In the multi-player game, the winner still gets 1 to 8 points for winning, but there are some values for coming in second and third place.
Each player has a hand of cards – 1 card for each of the 8 provinces and three special cards. On your turn, you choose three cards and once everyone has chosen, you reveal the cards and do the corresponding actions. When you play any province card, you place one of your 14 markers on that area. There is one special card that allows you to place a second piece in an area on a turn – you can use this over and over – it’s just a tool to allow you to distribute your markers 2 and 1 rather than 1-1-1. Another special card allows you to see where everyone plays their pieces and then allows you to play any three cards you wish. You only get to use this card once per game, though. After all players have placed their pieces, there is a scoring round.
Scoring goes around the board by value. So after the first round, you score the region that gives 1 point to the winner – and in the second round, you score the region that gives 2 points to the winner – and so on until the 8th round where you score the region that gives 8 points to the winner. This order can be changed by the final special card, which can only be used once, and causes you to score the next two regions on this turn instead of just the next region.
When you win a region, you must leave a marker behind in the region to show your consulship. You also score one point for this consul. Finally, you then look to see if you have any adjacent connected regions with consuls in them – and if you do – you get one extra point per consul in adjacent strings. If the game continues around, the consul will also act as an additional marker in that space the next time it is scored! The game continues on in this fashion until someone scores 40 points to win the game.
Our game was hard-fought, and our similar personalities led to very similar strategies from the start. After the first round, we were still tied, because we had both chosen to play in the 2 and 3 regions! As the game progressed, we were neck and neck for awhile as we traded winning regions – however, I had forgotten about the adjacent consul rule and was not as organized as John was about controlling adjacent areas. These bonus points started to loom large as John was getting three and four bonus points with each area that he won. And to compound problems, since he had a consul in these areas already, when we made our second circuit of the board, he already had an inherent advantage to keep control of these areas and then re-score all the bonus points. In the end, I was unable to break his string of four contiguous areas on the eastern side of the board and lost 46-33.
Still one of my favorite games of the set, but I’m not sure how much I like the new rule changes. I do like the score two regions card, but I miss being able to play two banner cards so that I could play all three markers in one region if I wanted. I also didn’t like the consul scoring. They definitely made scoring more interesting and added a little more strategy to where you would try to win, but since the total allotment of markers is still just 14 – we both found that we were running out of control markers by the end of the first revolution. But, all longlasting opinions of this one will have to wait until we can play it with multiple players – where I think this can be a great tense 20 minute filler.