War! Age of Imperialism
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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?
My review is in response to those people that posted saying that there was no strategy, all luck and no playtesting done for the game. This game has a fantastic strategic balance to it. Yes, my first several games were unbalanced and luck played a larger part until I learned the rules and the delicate interaction between economic, war and technology strategies. This game takes the battle fun from Risk, the strategy from Civilization, the detail from Axis and Allies and combines them all into a great game. There is a computer version out now (Sept 25,2003)that speeds things up by eliminating the paperwork side of the game. It also allows you to play over the internet or against computer AI players where you can test your skills so you can actually learn the strategy and get good before you write a bad review. You won't be disappointed.
After seeing the previous reviewer give this game just one star, I felt that I just had to write a review that redressed the balance somewhat. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but to give this game the worst possible rating seems inappropriate.
The components are excellent. The plastic miniatures are of a very high quality, and the board is big and beautiful. Personally, I think that Eagle Games should have included a map of the whole world, instead of omitting the Americas (the Americas map is planned for an extension). However, the miniatures are of the quality that one would expect to pay more for them, if bought separately, than Funagain charges for the whole game!
The game mechanics have been described very well by previous reviewers: this game is not a clone of Risk and Axis and Allies, but rather Diplomacy played with dice and with more depth. If players choose to ignore the diplomatic aspect of the game, then I can see why someone might level the criticism that this game is just a dice fest played on a pretty board with pretty pieces, but even then, the strategic options available to players are still far greater then in Risk. Players have the option to build navies, explorers and engineers, and also to build four types of military units: infantry, cavalry, artillery and leaders. Add to that the potential to build cities, ports, factories, railroads and schools, all of which boost a players economic or military standing, and one can appreciate that this game is much deeper than 'declare an attack and roll the dice.' At the same time, the game is not so complicated that it takes too long to learn. True, it falls far short of a simulation: anyone looking for historical accuracy will probably be disappointed, but this game is a lot of fun to play, and visually pleasing to boot!
One final word of warning: while the game plays well with three or (preferably) more players, it doesn't work well as a two player game, because the diplomatic aspect of the game is then totally absent.
War! Age of Imperialism is not a strict simulation of 19th Century grand strategy, but it is one heck of a game.
The components are outstanding -- few games offer more value for your money. The mapboard is huge, and the miniature army and navy units are excellent. If there are a couple of criticisms, it's that some players have difficulty differentiating between cavalry and leaders, and explorers and engineers, but this isn't really a major problem. (Expansion kits provide grey and black horses to help those who can't sort out their cavalry from their leaders). Also, there is no point track; we use play money to keep track of Production Points. And many of the regions are physically too small to hold all the 1/72 miniatures of a sizeable army --- we use 'off-board' 5x8 index cards to hold them. None of these things detracts from the game, in my opinion.
The rules are written at three levels: Basic, Standard, and Advanced -- each allowing the players to add detail and challenges to their game. The rule book is very readible, with illustrated examples. Veteran wargamers will likely start off with the Standard Rules. The Advanced rules introduce a technology tree, permitting players to make investments to improve military and production capbilities.
Players must manage their resources carefully. The early turns are generally occupied with building resources and an production base. Explorers enter unknown regions in search of resources, represented by randomly placed face-down markers. However, the natives must first be wooed or subdued. If the explorer's dice roll is greater than the strength of the native marker, they are wooed and the resources (if there are any) can be exploited. If the die roll 'fails,' the explorer is killed/eaten, and the natives remain in play. A player will often have to send in an army to ultimately subdue the natives, or he/she may leave a strong native marker be to serve as a buffer between empires.
Exploited resource markers, Cities, ports, and factories provide Production Points (PPs), which are expended to buy more infrastructure (cities, ports, factories, forts, railroads) or military units (infantry, cavalry, artillery, ships, leaders). Explorers can also be purchased, and engineers 'trained.'
Warfare can be very costly, and therefore the game title may be a bit misleading. For unlike games like the Axis & Allies-series, this game is really about diplomacy. Negotiating with other players is the most critical facet of this game. A skillful negotiator can make gains at minimal cost, playing off opponents against each other with a strategy of global balance. In one of our 6-player games, a clever player won without having fought a single opposing player, merely by making timely deals supported by well-positioned military forces. Two or three players allied could have stopped him, but he kept any such alliance from forming.
In summary, this game provides hours of fun that both wargamers and non-gamers can enjoy. While it is not a true simulation, it does capture the major aspects of discovery, technological evolution, politics, and conquest in the 19th Century, and therefore offers a certain amount of realism on the grand scale. I would even say it would serve as an excellent and fun classroom aid, especially since the components are 3-D.
But the bottom line is diplomacy. If you like multi-player games that invite hard-nosed negotiations and combine them with production decisions/planning, and military strategy on land and sea, this is the game you'll want to take a crack at.
The time you spend removing the hundreds of little plastic soldiers and weapons from their sprues will be abundantly rewarded. The result, on a huge, colorful board, is simply gorgeous. This game is a very generalized version of the 19th-century colonial conquests--it makes use of explorers, artillery, ships, factories, and sundry other gear to create sprawling empires. Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced rules are included. Dedicated wargamers will appreciate the Advanced version, which can be prolonged with three or more players. However, the Basic mode is a fusion of miniatures and board game that even non-wargamers will relish! This is an impressive, versatile offering.