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War! Age of Imperialism
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Store:  War Games
Series:  War! Age of Imperialism
Genre:  War & Combat
Format:  Board Games

War! Age of Imperialism

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Designer(s): Glenn Drover

Manufacturer(s): Eagle Games

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Product Description

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?

Product Information

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3 in 11 reviews

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Excellent Game! Anyone that says it's all luck can't play.
September 21, 2003

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.

5 Star Value Components
September 24, 2002

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.

'Diplomacy' on steroids!
July 04, 2002

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.

Risk on Steroids
January 01, 2002

This is a fabulous game. Need a good reason to buy this game? 800+ plastic soldiers, horses, artillery, trains, ships, buildings, etc. Need another? A HUGE mapboard that will cover your kitchen table. Need another reason? Three levels of rules; basic, standard, advanced.

At the basic level, I was able to get total non-gamers and my 7-year-old nephew to play with me. The advanced rules appeal to my regular gaming group. You can play to 5, 10, or 15 turns, play to a time limit, or play until the last man is left standing (or when the sun comes up and everyone else is passed out).

This is a great game for the meat-eaters among us. I would classify this game as a wonderful blend of [page scan/se=0033/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Risk, [page scan/se=0431/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Axis & Allies, and Civilization. Some Euro-Gamers may find it a bit uncouth, but I think it is a rip-roaring good time of exploration, economy building, and conquest! Kudos to Eagle Games! Compare the contents of this game with other games this price--it's an incredible value for the money.

Fantastic components and not a bad game to boot
April 10, 2003

The game, as others have mentioned, looks great. You won't be disappointed there. For those of you RISK players who are tired of RISK and its ilk, this may be a good alternative. It's simple and fun, and although dependent on luck (combat is all dice) there is definately room for strategy. I also really like the three tiered rules set, you can play at the level of your peers: if they're all fans of Trivial Pursuit, you play the basic game, if they're fans of Third Reich (and in the mood for a beer and pretzles wargame!) you play with the advanced rules.

Definately visit eagle game's forums for some house rules, as I find the rules as they are aren't watertight. That is a pity, and keeps this from being a great game.

A great game that needs a bit more work to become excellent.
December 08, 2001

This is a great game for wargamers who enjoy a fast paced, fun little war with plenty of action. However, if you are not a wargamer, you will have a lot of trouble with the rules. For instance, the rules concerning natives and how one deals with them are somewhat vague. What we really wanted was a walk-thru of how the turn was actually played, what came first, etc.

The board is an excellent, massive representation, but like other big boards, it's hard to keep the pieces from moving around. Also the colors of the regional groups are a bit too hard to tell from one another, and the borders of each region are somewhat hard to see, especially those in the sea. The pieces are just wonderful, all 800+ of them, and give one a feel of a real miniature battle. This is much better than chits or block games, especially on us older gamers who find it hard to read that tiny print on most chits. However, we found it hard to tell the 6's from the 9's on the native army chits because there are no lines beneath the numbers to denote which they are. Also, the ship pieces do not stand up on the board worth a darn.

All in all, this is a very cool game and I would recommend it to anyone who favors wargames which require dealing rather than all out attack.

Well... the pieces look nice. This one's a loser.
November 13, 2002

Anyone who has mentioned this game's total dependence on dice, lack of true strategy, or lack of substanitive gameplay is entirely correct. I have never encountered such a gulf between a game's promises/appearance, and its actual delivery. One suspects the artwork was finished long, long before any playtesting.

Its one interesting feature is the 'discovery' process of turning over resource chits to see what's there. Otherwise, our games essentially played the same every time: rapid resource exploitation and economic development (kind of fun) followed by one big anticlimactic war, along stagnated fronts, to end the game. (boring and seemingly inevitable.)

The boats don't stand up, and the railroad markers are counter-intuitive. (Rather than feel good about purchasing a railway upgrade, I keep wanting to move that train somewhere...) My ten year old son became very adept at distinguishing 'cavalry troops' from the nearly pointless 'leaders.' (he wears glasses, however.)

We culled the internet looking for house-rules that could salvage the game. These we implemented along with some tweaks of our own like having an 'industrialized' Europe which wouldn't involve resource discovery and development but instead could offer a different set of build and diplomacy options. (Long story)

Nothing worked. There is no game here.

A few months ago I took it out of the box again to take one more look at the seductive map and pieces. I thought perhaps I could just cannibalize the set to make the jingoistic adventure game I thought I was buying.

The irritating realization in all of this is that there aren't a lot of gamemakers out there offering a colonial warfare/economy game to a broad audience, and that the empty gloss of this game means a missed opportunity for other well-intentioned game designers. Hopefully, someone will have the fortitude to follow this game's hype with a better game.

Anyone who gives this game five stars should have their game-playing experience seriously questioned and examined. Sorry if I sound snobby, but have they played anything other than Risk?

Fancy looking, poor game
October 21, 2003

They forgot to playtest this. Pieces are nifty but mechanics are not well explained. These large epic games have problems because they either are stagnant, or the first to attack gets beat up by the others. All of the recent Eagle games have the same problem, poor playtesting and stagnant situations.

Dice fest in fancy clothes
September 24, 2002

True, the board is stunning.

True, the plastic pieces are wonderful (although you'll need the better part of an evening taking them out of their frames).

And true, it IS a dice fest.

I've played a lot of games over the years, from simple one-rule games to complex wargames, and this one definitely fits in the 'luck-driven-wants-to-be-a-thinker's-game' category. It looks very fancy and you feel you're in for quite an adventure when you sit down at the table, but the game turns out to be entirely too dependent on die rolls. Like someone else said, everybody is entitled to their opinion. But to compare this game with Diplomacy is an insult to poor old Allan Calhamer.

I honestly can't believe this game has been really playtested.

For something different (civilizations through time instead of colonies in the Imperial era), but with a feeling akin to what War! is trying (and failing) to achieve, give Vinci a shot. The components are less flashy, but -- SURPRISE! -- there an actual game underneath it all. And an excellent one at that.

Surprisingly empty for such a heavy box!
September 24, 2002

If you enjoy Risk and don't mind spending twice the cost, by all means try this game. Otherwise, if you absolutely must see tons of little figurines on your board go for Axis&Allies or Shogun instead.

I waited turn after turn hoping the game would be something else but a dice-fest, but my waiting was in vain. Mostly luck disguised by fancy pieces. Don't be fooled by the packaging: you've already played this game. And probably too often already.

What a shame!
December 04, 2007

Believe me, if you like a kit with a lot of plastic figures: buy it. If you want a game, run away. I am a old gamer with a vast collection of games and this one makes me ashame I bought it. Even house rules can't salvage that one! Imagine a game about colonization that do not contain America and you can colonize Europe!?!

Run away!!


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