Rainy Day Games' Board Game Review of War! Age of Imperialism
The board begins with the players in their small starting territories and the balance of the board covered with Natives who will resist your attempts to control their land and take possession of the valuable resources there. You'll have to defeat the natives, take the resources and begin to develop an economy of cities, ports, factories, etc. and also producing a military. There are also technologies to research and leaders and explorers to send out into the Frontier.
This is one of our favourite "big" games, and War! has so much to recommend it, but we want to make sure you know what you're getting into. So lets start with its good points:
War! Age of Imperialism is one of the most visually stunning boxes you'll ever buy. The game board is HUGE. And it comes with over 800 pieces of artillery, infantry, naval units, explorers... The list goes on. This is high gaming at its best.
The guys at Eagle Games have recognised that there are different kinds of gamers out there (as well as different kinds of gaming sessions) and have included 3 versions of the rules, from Basic to Standard to Advanced. I think of Basic as turbo charged Risk, Standard as Risk plus Diplomacy, and Advanced as Risk plus Diplomacy plus Civilization. So you can choose the level your group is comfortable with and have time for.
And simply at its base level, the War! Age of Imperialism board game is a great gaming system. There is war, diplomacy, treaties, industry and economy, a technology tree (although the Basic game doesn't include all that), and it makes for a very interesting strategic challenge, either for a 90 minute short game or a 5 hour marathon of conquest.
BUT, we want to make sure you buy the games you like, so here are a couple of warnings:
Yes, War! Age of Imperialism uses dice. Before you hit the "Back" button, in its defense the dice rolls are highly modified by such factors as force composition, technology, presence of leaders etc. so that development and tactics play a big part in battles. And on the topic of chance, the resources and Natives are distributed randomly on the board and are UNKNOWN to you while you place your initial territories and so you can find yourself in a very dangerous and resource-poor region, or a very safe and rich region based on random card-draws.
And finally, a lot of players describe War! Age of Imperialism as a board game perhaps released a month or two too early, before the rules and game play were polished enough. While I don't want to say that's true, our games of War! improved quite a bit after an hour on the net reading about house rules and variants. Adding some of these extra ideas into the game has really made this game into a winner for us.
The Publisher's Board Game Review of War! Age of Imperialism
Conquer the world!
War! Is a game of empire building, exploration, economic expansion, technological advancement, diplomacy, and tactical battles in the age of Imperialism (1830 – 1900). Players rule one of the great powers of the era as they attempt to carve out an empire. Should they build up their army or economy? Negotiate or attack? Spend on research or a new fort to protect the frontier?
Send explorers into unknown regions to discover hidden treasures and the native peoples that guard them;
Create a robust economy by developing resources and building factories, railroads, ports, and cities;
Research new technologies to gain an advantage in production or battle;
Negotiate with native peoples to join your empire, or form alliances with other players to protect its future;
Produce armies of infantry, cavalry, artillery, and leaders to conquer new lands; Build navies to control the seas, and build forts to guard the empire from attack
Hundreds of detailed miniature pieces representing armies of infantry, cavalry, artillery, and leaders, as well as ports, cities, factories, railroads, forts, explorers, engineers, native armies, and fleets of warships.
A gigantic 46” x 36” gameboard representing the world in the late 1800’s (the age of Imperialism).
3 sets of rules from Basic to Advanced.
Easy to play “Basic Rules” allow anyone to get right into the game, while the “Advanced Rules” create a more in-depth experience.
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