Front Page

Content

Authors

Game Index

Forums

Site Tools

Submissions

About

O
oliverkinne
October 03, 2022
65 0

Town 66 Review

Board Game Reviews
O
oliverkinne
September 30, 2022
356 0

Sagrada Review

Board Game Reviews
MB
Michael Barnes
September 30, 2022
953 0
O
oliverkinne
September 29, 2022
457 0
MB
Michael Barnes
September 29, 2022
1628 0
T
thegiantbrain
September 07, 2022
484 1
W
WadeMonnig
September 07, 2022
985 1
O
oliverkinne
September 06, 2022
815 0
O
oliverkinne
September 02, 2022
1032 0

Union Station Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews
T
thegiantbrain
September 01, 2022
822 0

Homebrewers Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews
W
WadeMonnig
August 31, 2022
1011 1
T
thegiantbrain
August 30, 2022
498 0
O
oliverkinne
August 29, 2022
878 0
O
oliverkinne
August 29, 2022
811 0

Aquamarine Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews
W
WadeMonnig
August 24, 2022
761 1
O
oliverkinne
August 24, 2022
1218 0

Undaunted: Normandy Review

Board Game Reviews
×
Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

Recent Topics paging, uploading images and preview bugs require a patch which has not yet been released.

× For those who like to push chits.

Imperial Struggle, follow-up to Twilight Struggle

More
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.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
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

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
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.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Msample, DukeofChutney

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
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.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax, Msample

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
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.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Jul 2020 15:01 #311823 by DukeofChutney
I didn't think much of 1989, it felt amazingly dry to me.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
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.
The following user(s) said Thank You: jeb, jpat, Msample, Jackwraith, lj1983, mezike, DukeofChutney, sornars, BillyBobThwarton

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
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.
The following user(s) said Thank You: jpat, Msample, Brewmiester

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
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.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Msample, Scott_F

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Aug 2020 19:00 #312935 by Gary Sax
We finished the last two turns of the above game and I wrestled him down as the French for the win. Had a nice conversation afterwards about the game, he has soured on it quite a bit. I'm still in the phase where I'm pulling my opinions together so I want to play more but we definitely were on the same page factually about some characteristics of the game we both saw, I'm just still undecided on whether I think these are good things or bad things.

ScottF can speak for himself if he wants, but the main thing we talked about is the lack of randomness and above the table play turn to turn. To me, this is a very Euro area control game in some ways. You need to maximize your turn every tile to do the most and spread the most with your two actions, event, advantages, etc. That is a big optimization puzzle that does not super involve your opponent. At moments I wondered if I was an AI, could I simply win by playing the tile, events, and advantages combination that maxed the number of points I generate for the whole turn regardless of my opponent's play? Maybe!

I still enjoyed it quite a bit but there's no doubt this is a very different and somewhat drier mechanically game than TS, which features guessing about your opponent's hand, assessing their aggressiveness as a player, etc etc.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Scott_F

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 Aug 2020 11:19 #312951 by Scott_F
I think calling Imperial Struggle an optimization puzzle is exactly correct. It is a euro area control game with little randomness, but the randomness that is there cannot really be mitigated or planned for (event card draws and bonus war tile draws adding between a +1 to a +3 for the next war). Everything else is on the board. For me it is a chess game with punches and counter punches and no meaningful surprises or excitement. I could easily see this game scripted for an AI opponent that works very well because of this. The event cards are really bothersome to me because they range from situational and minorly effective all the way to equally as powerful as a normal turn in the game. Likewise the ministry cards are a real missed opportunity as some of them should never ever be used and some should always be used.

I'm at 8 games now and I'd rather play other games in that amount of time. I keep comparing this to Twilight Struggle, a game I've played a couple hundred times now thanks to the app, and it comes up short in almost every category. IS is without doubt a very good strategy game. But it lacks tension, real interaction with your opponent, surprise, or creating any kind of game experience different from the prior game. Twilight Struggle has a ton of faults still, mostly related to the role of luck in the game from either bad coup rolls or bad card draws, but it is exciting to play it, especially face to face with the defcon threat hanging over the game. There may not have been a way for you to win this game of TS given the card draws and your opponent's coup rolls, you were just told you lose. And that does suck. But the opening hand of TS is such a great agonizing decision in most cases, as is each hand about how to minimize your opponent's events and get the most out of yours. I didn't feel any real agonizing decisions, ever, in IS, but instead I've thought "oh shit, I should've taken the last econ tile. That was dumb and obvious" - so a mistake in counting all the flags on the board and considering the action tile selection. There is no gambling, no push your luck, no intuition. Everything is calculated and dry, and what little is random is completely out of your control to affect in any way and can make a large difference, whether it is not pulling cotton for scoring over 4+ turns or receiving event cards that award 2vp each based on luck of the draw or having the good fortune of drawing a +2 basic war tile and a +3 bonus war tile. Not to mention the sheer amount of time spent counting and maximizing your ops later in the turn when an event adds +3, a ministry card adds +2, and you have 2 advantage tiles to use. This game will not realistically end before the 3 hour mark when both players are equal in experience.

But people love it so far and I think thats great, its a very good strategy game. It just isn't for me anymore.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax, dysjunct, Msample, mezike

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
16 Aug 2020 20:51 #313161 by Cambyses
Just finished my first play of this game. Well, I can't say I actually played the whole thing; my partner and I did a one-hour learning play through the first turn, and then we restarted and made it through turn 3 and the War of Austrian Succession. While the learning turn saw France coming out way way in the lead, the second playthrough ended with France up +3

I can definitely see how this is a "spiritual successor to Twilight Struggle," except that I actually like TS and did not like this at all. I see what the two of you are saying about it being an optimization puzzle—and, blissfully, the vassal module counts up your regional score for you, so that wasn't so bad—but it was a fucking LOT of processing time dedicated to each action round. I can see how, if I put in the 30 hours of really learning this game alongside a regular partner, it would feel pretty rewarding to play. Unfortunately, I think I'd rather play TS 10 times in the same number or hours instead.

I'm sorry to say that my brain is a little fried, so I can't make any cogent observations like Gary and Scott have. It seems like the euro crowd's obsession with interlocking points-earning tracks have really turned up the dial for what it means to be a "heavy" game. I really can't imagine very many people taking the time to learn enough about your opponents' potential clever card plays they may be holding back when you are counting up all the regions every action round to figure out what you could be doing to optimize your current point differential.

I will say, though, that just like Twilight Struggle evokes the tense, this-hurts-me-but-it-hurts-you-more of the cold war, this is pretty evocative of the period of imperial expansion. There is a home board that you have to do shit in, but you also need to do a lot of other stuff in the colonies, and there aren't enough resources to get it all done. That, and there's almost no way to tell up front who is doing better than whom. So, that's neat. But not a fun time for yours truly.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax, Msample, lj1983, Scott_F

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
07 Sep 2020 13:57 #313822 by KingPut
It took a while but I finally got a copy of IS. This is nothing like TS. The comparison to TS is meaningless except for the the designers. No Nukes no does the USSR have the SE Asia scoring card. TS is one of my favorite games and my most played game ever but I'm glad Ananda Gupta and Jason Matthews departed from designing another TS clone. That was done with 1989 and maybe 1960. This is a very different game. It probably has more in common to a 2 player game of Struggle of Empires. In a lot of ways Imperial Struggle is a heavy euro point salad game but love the subject matter, the grand scale and the mano a mano massive chess match that is Imperial Struggle. I'm ready to play a low and slow Vassal game. Let me know if anyone wants to play.
Take care - stay safe.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax, Msample, dontbecruel

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
07 Sep 2020 15:50 #313827 by dontbecruel

KingPut wrote: In a lot of ways Imperial Struggle is a heavy euro point salad game but love the subject matter, the grand scale and the mano a mano massive chess match that is Imperial Struggle. I'm ready to play a low and slow Vassal game.


You described how I feel about Imperial Struggle much better than I could.
It feels like I shouldn't like it because it's such a mush of interlocking scoring zones and point optimisation opportunities. But it's not one of those grey, turgid stews, where you lose the features and flavours of the numerous ingredients. It's unique and delicious.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
07 Sep 2020 21:25 #313832 by Msample
It may have elements of point salad, but unlike the vast majority of point salad Euros, this game has a coherent narrative to go with the game play.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Moderators: Gary Sax
Time to create page: 0.225 seconds