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Imperius Review

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25 Feb 2019 09:00 #292979 by Vysetron
Imperius Review was created by Vysetron
Dune is a setting I am somewhat under-versed in. I've...

Spiceless.
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25 Feb 2019 09:54 #292980 by Legomancer
Replied by Legomancer on topic Imperius Review
I think this needed some more development. As you say, the machinations one should feel are largely missing, and I think a big part of that is how much control is removed from the players. There are multiple levels of filtering out decisions and while only one is huge, the combination is killer.

1. Since the entire deck isn't dealt, it's possible your faction's cards (the only ones that can score you points) aren't even in play. All you can do is try to keep other factions from scoring.

2. But you have no way of knowing at this point that your cards aren't in play, since it's a draft. Only afterwards will you know that you never had much of a chance. You have no idea what's "out there" so you have little information to make decisions with.

3. Then, each planet is seeded with one of the rejected cards from the draft. This means that one of the five cards allowed for a planet is chosen at random from the cards nobody wanted. So before any players have put a card down some decisions are affected without any real input.

4. This is the biggest one. Each planet can have two face-down cards deployed to it. A planet can only have five cards on it, and one comes from the rejects (see #3) so half the cards on a planet are unknowns. You only know who played it, but because you don't know what cards are in the mix and because a player can draft any faction's cards, this gives you no information to work with. There is occasionally impetus to play a card face up even if you could play it face down, but those situations are rare.

5. A planet can only hold five cards, so it's possible to get locked out of a place and have to go elsewhere. If you're playing 5 players, this can happen before you've had a chance to put down a single card.

6. You have to play the cards you draft, so you can get in a situation where you're probably going to give someone else points even though you don't want to. Along with the other restrictions, towards the end of the placement round you may have no choice where to put the card.

So after all that it's really easy to feel like you have very little control over what happens -- because that's exactly the case. You can't really scheme, you can't really manipulate, because you don't have enough agency to formulate or enact a plan. Every single move is essentially "whatever makes the most sense at this actual moment".

I've only played twice, and perhaps with multiple plays some subtle and clever strategies start to emerge, but no one I played this with was wowed enough to make that happen. There are other things I'd rather do.

I backed based on the theme and the described gameplay, but it's a clunker, I fear. Thanks for this article, you've convinced me to put it in the trade pile.
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25 Feb 2019 10:12 #292984 by Vysetron
Replied by Vysetron on topic Imperius Review
I was told (by people I trust, even!) that the game got better with replays and revealed itself over time. I found the opposite to be true. If you've played it twice and gotten that impression I think it's safe to put it on the pile.

I didn't dig into all the rules in the interest of brevity but the cards not being completely dealt is a capital P Problem. While you are guaranteed to see all the cards because the played ones are shuffled and placed under the unplayed, that just means that if a house got shafted in the previous round their cards will be even more diluted among the players in the next. It's frustrating. If the cards were more impactful than just "get points or don't" it could have worked, but as it stands it just doesn't.

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25 Feb 2019 10:15 #292986 by charlest
Replied by charlest on topic Imperius Review
I really dig this game.

I wouldn't agree Dave that it needed more development. This was originally self-published by Grant as Solstice, and then went through the rigors of Kolossal to update it. My impression is that Kolossal actually spends a tremendous amount of work/effort developing their games (as you likely can see with Western Legends).

You could of course say it needed to undergo perhaps stronger development or maybe under a different hand, but I think there's a real distinction there.

The main issue I see with the game is the random removal of a handful of cards and how that can unfairly impact a player. Overall, I'm willing to eat that flaw because I think it leads to interesting plays and a mix of cards that can present tilted results. It's not balanced, but it is interesting I'd say.

If it was up to me, I wish the game had just a sliver of more control. I think the central concept of struggling to ride the chaos like a bucking bull feels great. It gives me that Dune feel in theme (not setting) because it feels as though everything is tumbling out of control and you're grasping to hang on to whatever you can. When things align and you pull off a huge assassination or large scoring output, it feels devious and maniacal.

This game has grown on me with every play and I'm looking forward to my next.
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25 Feb 2019 10:16 #292987 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Imperius Review
This game sounds like a hard pass for me. I haven't read the designer diaries, but it seems like this game started with mechanics and ended there, which nearly always results in a failure to express the setting. If the designer instead focuses on the setting first, appropriate mechanics will tend to follow naturally. That's why all the early Gale Force Nine games were so good. You can tell that they took their design cues directly from the source material.
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25 Feb 2019 10:35 #292990 by Vysetron
Replied by Vysetron on topic Imperius Review

charlest wrote: I really dig this game.

I wouldn't agree Dave that it needed more development. This was originally self-published by Grant as Solstice, and then went through the rigors of Kolossal to update it. My impression is that Kolossal actually spends a tremendous amount of work/effort developing their games (as you likely can see with Western Legends).

You could of course say it needed to undergo perhaps stronger development or maybe under a different hand, but I think there's a real distinction there.

The main issue I see with the game is the random removal of a handful of cards and how that can unfairly impact a player. Overall, I'm willing to eat that flaw because I think it leads to interesting plays and a mix of cards that can present tilted results. It's not balanced, but it is interesting I'd say.

If it was up to me, I wish the game had just a sliver of more control. I think the central concept of struggling to ride the chaos like a bucking bull feels great. It gives me that Dune feel in theme (not setting) because it feels as though everything is tumbling out of control and you're grasping to hang on to whatever you can. When things align and you pull off a huge assassination or large scoring output, it feels devious and maniacal.

This game has grown on me with every play and I'm looking forward to my next.


I think Imperius is very good at creating an illusion of control with its draft. It tricks you into thinking that you'll be able to engineer these amazing things, when in actuality you don't really have the means to ensure anything. 4p is the only good player count, but 3 actions is exactly enough to fill a planet after you play only 1 card to it and half of them will be face down. It's the worst kind of chaos - blind.

Speaking of, those face down cards. Why? Why are they there? I mean I see why, because wheels within wheels, but they just don't work. If anything I'd want to see that restricted to specific cards as a keyword, not just be able to do so freely. The game withholds all of its information until the last minute when all the facedown slots are taken, at which point you desperately flail and hope for the best. It went from frantic and fun to just irritating over the course of my plays.

It's frustrating because I really do think the draft here is amazing. It just needs to be attached to a better card game.
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25 Feb 2019 10:41 #292991 by Legomancer
Replied by Legomancer on topic Imperius Review

charlest wrote: I really dig this game.

I wouldn't agree Dave that it needed more development. This was originally self-published by Grant as Solstice, and then went through the rigors of Kolossal to update it. My impression is that Kolossal actually spends a tremendous amount of work/effort developing their games (as you likely can see with Western Legends).

You could of course say it needed to undergo perhaps stronger development or maybe under a different hand, but I think there's a real distinction there.


I don't know any of the inside baseball development info on the game and don't really care. I don't grade for effort. What I do know is, when we played it, everyone at the table felt like they were making more or less random decisions and then seeing what happened as a result. That can be fun, if the game leans into it and has a light theme and short playtime, but this is oh so serious and you're told you're manipulating wheels within wheels and nothing here bears that out. Every step along the way erodes the actual room for players to make informed decisions and enact a strategy. Not a single other player seemed eager to play it again (my two plays were with two different groups) and I only wanted more because I'm the one who bought it and wanted to see if it's worth keeping.

If more play can tease out some subtleties, then that's great, but I'd rather just pass it on and play something where I don't have to eventually find it worth playing.
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25 Feb 2019 11:22 #292996 by charlest
Replied by charlest on topic Imperius Review

Legomancer wrote:

charlest wrote: I really dig this game.

I wouldn't agree Dave that it needed more development. This was originally self-published by Grant as Solstice, and then went through the rigors of Kolossal to update it. My impression is that Kolossal actually spends a tremendous amount of work/effort developing their games (as you likely can see with Western Legends).

You could of course say it needed to undergo perhaps stronger development or maybe under a different hand, but I think there's a real distinction there.


I don't know any of the inside baseball development info on the game and don't really care. I don't grade for effort. What I do know is, when we played it, everyone at the table felt like they were making more or less random decisions and then seeing what happened as a result. That can be fun, if the game leans into it and has a light theme and short playtime, but this is oh so serious and you're told you're manipulating wheels within wheels and nothing here bears that out. Every step along the way erodes the actual room for players to make informed decisions and enact a strategy. Not a single other player seemed eager to play it again (my two plays were with two different groups) and I only wanted more because I'm the one who bought it and wanted to see if it's worth keeping.

If more play can tease out some subtleties, then that's great, but I'd rather just pass it on and play something where I don't have to eventually find it worth playing.


I think that's fair. Maybe the distinction is irrelevant, but by and large the cloud around Kickstarter is the lack of development as a result of laziness or lack of commitment, which I don't think is the case here.

I'd be curious for those who have not enjoyed it, was there any table talk? We've done stuff like coordinate to screw people out of points (i.e. "I have Jeremy's Commander, can anyone help me nullify it by forcing a tie?"). It allows you to work around the limitations a bit and we've found it the primary tool for mitigating a lead.

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25 Feb 2019 11:28 #292997 by Legomancer
Replied by Legomancer on topic Imperius Review
We did not table talk.
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25 Feb 2019 11:32 #292999 by Vysetron
Replied by Vysetron on topic Imperius Review
We did, but we're all filthy liars so it only did so much.
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26 Feb 2019 11:37 #293061 by n815e
Replied by n815e on topic Imperius Review
You lost me at loving the movie.

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