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× For those who like to push chits.

Imperial Struggle, follow-up to Twilight Struggle

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06 Jul 2020 21:01 #311732 by Msample
I think the Advantage tiles are huge in some cases. Besides the aforementioned Debt reduction tile, the other two that are critical IMO are the Naval Bastions / Gibraltar ( boot out an enemy squadron , normally costs 2-3 AP ) and Slaving Contracts ( 2 AP discount on Squadron builds ) . Both are connected by territory spaces though, which means you have to win the European War by 3 or more.

The game forces some hard choices on players - sure, Demand is scored every turn, but winning Wars is the only way to secure territories and seize control of enemy forts . The latter is important as it safeguards your trade spaces as well as allows chaining additional ones . In later wars, Forts also confer bonuses. Squadrons are similar - I think getting them out early is optimal, as they never truly die, just go back to the box. And like forts, they protect Markets as well as allow chaining of new ones.
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08 Jul 2020 17:13 #311793 by DukeofChutney
playing a game of this now, 4 turns in.

> I like it quite a lot

> but it is a more old school almost retro grade design. You could remove the cards and it would still work so it isn't really a CDG, its mechanically far less efficient.

> essentially you spend actions to put control markers around and then there are several semi complex scoring systems wrapped over this. Most of the game is in different side tracks and chomey systems for scoring points or controlling what you can spend actions on. Event cards are more sporadic bonuses.

> whether it gains traction i think will depend on how much strategic depth there is as its not going to appeal to the clever efficient mechanisms crowd

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08 Jul 2020 17:49 #311795 by Gary Sax
Agree with all of your points.

The multiple opaque but countable layers of scoring is where I'm on the fence on this design. The trackable parts within a turn, to be clear, not the randomized nature of it between turn, I don't mind that at all.

The nice part of the random nature of the scoring, if I'm being positive, is that there is such a thing as thinking about your overall board position. You don't know what's going to come up so while you'll focus on what's being scored now there's a lot of incentive to get extra points on the board in other theaters.
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08 Jul 2020 18:27 - 08 Jul 2020 18:30 #311798 by DukeofChutney
The random scoring makes the game a lot less scripted. The only really heavily scripted component is the wars, they will always be the same so there is some incentive to plan your strategy around them.

I think this game will disappoint a lot of people who are hoping for Twilight struggle 2. But i'm really digging it.
Last edit: 08 Jul 2020 18:30 by DukeofChutney.
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08 Jul 2020 19:21 #311799 by Msample

DukeofChutney wrote: The random scoring makes the game a lot less scripted. The only really heavily scripted component is the wars, they will always be the same so there is some incentive to plan your strategy around them.

I think this game will disappoint a lot of people who are hoping for Twilight struggle 2. But i'm really digging it.


People who want another TS clone should check out 1989.
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09 Jul 2020 15:01 #311823 by DukeofChutney
I didn't think much of 1989, it felt amazingly dry to me.

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18 Jul 2020 03:01 - 18 Jul 2020 03:04 #312189 by Gary Sax
Not Sure and I finished 4 turns (out of 6) in about 3 1/2 hours or so this evening.

The game is growing on me, I do stand behind the idea that this is a better area control game than Twilight Struggle but missing the drama/brinksmanship angle. Which, if you played a lot, wasn't always super present in TS once it was experienced players. The game is vastly more variable than TS, the random awards and the random products being scored are going to be make each game play out really differently in emphasis.

I still have the same big issue with it. The counting is truly brutal and you really need to be counting and adjusting every single round to make smart plays---we had a couple miscounts or adjustments we missed and it really sucks. Things are always on a razors edge. If you've played Twilight Struggle, the constant score count is like a filled up Africa and having to count and recount for total number of countries held every round for dominance, if rounds could flip in different ways and and often have multiple space flips. And doing so for 4 regions and 3 products---I never realized how much the battleground countries criteria, which generally was the big difference maker, made the TS counting much more streamlined. Honestly, the physical game needs some sort of physical tracking system to be playable at a high level (for me). Included sockets for counting dice? I dunno.

The game is also a heavy lift, lengthwise. To its credit, a good portion of the time involves browing furrowing staring at the investment tiles, trying to do the most things with a single one of the tiles but also knowing that you may need to take one of the big 4 point tiles just to get points out on the board.

I still do not think this is going to be a mainstream hit, though I think in many ways it's just as good as TS. The designers did not take the easy way out, it is a big departure and very creative.
Last edit: 18 Jul 2020 03:04 by Gary Sax.
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22 Jul 2020 00:16 - 22 Jul 2020 00:17 #312317 by Gary Sax
We finished our tabletop simulator game of this, took about 1:45 to finish the last two turns after the first four hour play got through the first four turns. This is always going to be an afternoon or very long evening game, I think, though we had sped up a lot by the end and most of our time was spent in that perplexing and fun kind of agony, staring at the tiles and trying to figure out how to take those Spain spaces or whatever..

I ended up pulling out the win with 26VP, but Not Sure was ahead in the midgame pretty strongly (lowest was like 6 or 8VP?).

The biggest thing is that there are some absolutely core, key elements of the game that are not apparent the first couple times you play it. Not all countries in Europe are equal, and not all advantage tiles are equal. The two debt baltic trade tile is beyond vital, as is the German States tile---I had the german states one locked down by midgame and used it like a bludgeon on Not Sure throughout the whole. Similarly, the way US independence plays out can be absolutely savage on the British, unravelling their entire position in N. America and even the Caribbean a little bit.

Right now, I'm liking this game better than Twilight Struggle. The different kinds of points and how to chain them together build a lot of angst into the game and there is a similar ability to induce point exchanges and stalemates in TS. The difference in Imperial Struggle is that you are given a lot more tools that have to be used to break a stalemate---those advantages and events given you a huge variety of different ways to crack a particularly stubborn area.

I think the designers have actually succeeded in countering all of my big criticisms of TS. But that definitely did not come with a reduced complexity level. I'm ok with that, but as I think has been made clear all over this site I like longer, complex games compared to the current vogue of bitching about how non-streamlined a game is.
Last edit: 22 Jul 2020 00:17 by Gary Sax.
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30 Jul 2020 01:53 - 30 Jul 2020 02:40 #312594 by Gary Sax
Scott and I tore through 4 turns of an imperial struggle game this evening in ~3 hours on tabletop simulator---still a slight advantage to Scott VPwise though I've gotten back in it after some rough turns. So maybe this could start to get faster. I will say that the one thing we weren't doing was regularly doing an exhaustive count like when I played Paul... but it was also clearer who was winning in each region besides Europe so maybe that helped too. It was much more of a seat of the pants subjective scoring thing for me. I think if you're willing to accept that you can have much more tempo in your game.

I still really like it! The plays feel a lot more clever and fun than TS plays, which I think is a big compliment. In TS you really just bludgeon someone and then hit them with a dice roll you hopefully have a +2 in. Things are much more subtle but still reasonably readable in this game---you can usually see when you're in a very vulnerable position from a conflict marker, isolation, something like that. Totally unraveling a position takes a great events points combo or you can see it more than one turn in advance.

I think a key factor is understanding the interplay between winning wars and winning on the board. You will not necessarily always be winning markets in a region but if you hold forts and are placing conflicts you can still win the wars. ScottF put a tremendously damaging event down with some other good plays to really get the leg up in a war in India on me, while I managed to get the upper hand in the French and Indian War. There's a lot of subtlety there.

One thing that is not subtle is that it really matters which commodities get drawn. The only reason I am still in the game is that sugar keeps coming up and I have an iron grip on sugar and tobacco. I wonder if the designers did the math and reps to see what the combinatorials look like---it can get very swingy. My instinct is that 3 draws out of a 6 tile pool 6 times probably creates a pretty low chance of really extreme repeated regions.

We had some rules questions after this game, I will say. Be sure to read up on how major actions granted by events work with existing points, and how that plays into territory.
Last edit: 30 Jul 2020 02:40 by Gary Sax.
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