Recommend
53 
 Thumb up
 Hide
15 Posts

Imperial» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Turtles, Rabbits and Proxies (strategy for each country) rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: Strategy_and_Tactics [+] [View All]
Greg Berry
United States
Unspecified
Virginia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This Imperial strategy article focuses on not any one game situation but rather on the countries themselves. I would like to stress before going forward that to succeed at Imperial you can't have any emotional attachment to any one country. This article is not about how to win by owning a certain country but rather how to dispassionately look at the various countries strengths and weaknesses and understand a little better about how to run a country when you have it and how to recognize other well run countries.

An important aspect to proper investment strategy in Imperial is to understand how each country most naturally functions. With that understanding in place it is possible to best assess how them play of any given game has altered the natural flow to the benefit or detriment of each country.

I use three terms to think about countries in Imperial. Countries are either a turle, a rabbit or a proxy.

Turtle: A turtle is a country that can gain significant influence simply by building factories and controlling the regions it immediately touches. Turtles can often get to 25 on the influence track without doing much fighting.

Rabbit: A rabbit is a country that has a lot of easily accessible neutral countries and sea zones to expand into. Rabbits can get to 25 on the influence track the fastest of any country type if they find a way to keep their neighbors out of their hair.

Proxy: A proxy is a country that often doesn't get to 25 on the influence track. A proxy countries purpose is to be used by the controlling player to knock down the strength of countries that are owned by players other than the owner of the proxy country.

Austria - Austria is mostly a rabbit. It has access to the rich field of neutral countries of the balkans, and with a little effort can get access to the Ionian sea and from there africa or the rest of the Med. As a land power Austria can even turtle a bit by building enough army factories to make it too hard of a target for its neighbors to want to tangle with.

Build armies and army factories first for Austria (importing a navy or two early for use in the Ionian Sea can be a valid strategy also.) Austria's natural enemies are Italy, Germany and Russia. If most of those countries are either controlled by the player owning Austria or are busy fighting other countries then Austria can make rapid progress to 25 influence.

Signs indicating a poorly positioned Austria include Italian or German armies in Austrian factories and/or Russian dominance in the Balkans.

Italy - Italy is mostly a rabbit. It is the only nation with a starting navy factory in the Med. From the Western med it can reach into Africa and Spain as well as moving a little to the east and going into the Ionian and from there the Balkans.

Italy starts as a balanced sea and land power, but must not lose control of the Med if it hopes to grow and keep its factories safe. Italy's natural enemies are Austria and France. If either of those two countries make a concerted effort to have navies in the Med. then Italy will be significantly weakened. On the other hand if France and Austria are either controlled by the player owning Italy or are busy fighting other countries then Italy can make rapid progress to 25 influence.

Signs indicating a poorly positioned Italy include a shortage of Italian navies, complete French control of the Wester Med. and Africa and/or Austrian or French armies in Italian factories.

France - France is perhaps the most natural rabbit. It has access both the northern and southern water areas as well as land contact with two neutrals in Spain and two neutrals in Northern Europe. Africa is also often a easy hunting ground for French Armies.

France will likely need armies before buying new navies but France requires the most careful consideration of what to build as it has many opportunities and threats on both land and sea. France's natural enemies are the UK, Germany and Italy. I believe France is, by a slight margin, the country most likely to reach 25 influence first as it has ready access to the most neutral areas and only touches three other countries.

Signs of a poorly positioned France include lack of French control of Spain/Portugual and Western Africa. Of course as with all countries it is never good if foreign armies are in French factories.

United Kingdom - United Kingdom is a natural born turtle. With just three sea areas on its border United Kingdom can prosper by simply building navies and factories all game. By just controlling its neighboring sea zones United Kingdom can avoid making enemies and settle down into being a point making intrest paying machine from its factories.

United Kingdom starts the games with no army factories and an army factory should typically be the last or second to last factory built by United Kingdom. If France is kept under control by Italy or Germany then my experience shows United Kingdom to be the most likely country to reach 25 influence first. Importing a couple of armies early is a viable strategy, though one that may bring the UK into more conflicts than a pure turtleing/navy strategy would suggest as optimal play.

Signs of a poorly positioned United Kingdom include a lack of growth of factories, loss of control of the English Channel or the North Sea, and of course as with all of the other countries the presence of a foreign army in a UK factory.

Germany - Germany is in most games typically a proxy country. Germany has land contact with three other countries and is one sea zone away from another making it a magnet for conflict. This access to other countries does often make it a big player in the role of spoiler as Germany can strike down Russia, Austria, France or even Britain if given half a chance.

Germany starts with a navy and an army factory. Germany's first actions on the Rondel will likely determine its destiny in the rest of the game. Build a naval factory early in Danzig and Germany becomes a threat to Russia's and UK's ambitions but keeps open options for operations in Norway and Sweden. Build an army factory in cologne and become a threat to Austria, France and possibly Russia but have a higher likelyhood of surviving as a country and conquering Holland, Denmark and maybe Belgium. Skip building an early factory at all and Germany may resign itself to a full time role as a proxy warrior to the highest bidder, inflictling damage as it can. Germany rarely is the first country to achieve 25 influence but it is possible if Russia and Austria are fighting and France and UK are fighting leaving germany access to most of the nearby sea and neutral lands.

Signs of a poorly positioned Germany include few having few factories or the occupation of its factories by Russia or Austria. As a country that typically serves as a proxy country it should be looked at almost in reverse from all other countries as an investment opportunity with its war making advantages being first consideration and any investment gains as a secondary consideration.

Russia - Russia is another candidate to be a turtle. The fact that Russia is on the Eastern edge of the board and only really touches Germany and Austria makes it easy to keep out hostile troops and concentrate on domestic growth. Russia may have some good opportunities to play rabbit if Germany or Austria are friendly controlled or busy fighting other countries.

Russia starts with an army factory and a naval factory on its south side. This positioning of its factories makes Russia tend to look southwards first for its growth but that direction brings direct conflict with Austria. Russia may build a naval factory (or import navies) into St. Petersburg but this act will likely place it in direct conflict with Germany. Russia needs to choose her enemy carefully in order to gain the growth necessary to win. Russia probably ties with Austria (after France and UK as the country most likely to reach 25 influence first.)

Signs of a poorly positioned Russia include Russia being in conflict with both Germany and Austria as well as Austria owning Romania. Signs of a dominant Russia include Russia owning a the Black, Easter and Ionian Seas and/or russia owning the Baltic sea and Sweden and Norway.


27 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Patrick S.
United States
Laguna Niguel
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great post. I was aware of the different ways the nations should play, but hadn't seen them as nicely defined types. In the couple games we've played, your archetype has been proved very true.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ray
United States
Carpentersville
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gberry wrote:
As a land power Austria can even turtle a bit by building enough army factories to make it too hard of a target for its neighbors to want to tangle with.

I'm glad you called this. Too many players see this only as an import oriented proxy, and avoid heavy investing in this (it's really a turtle/proxy hybrid). Lots of army factories with armies staying home to defend them is a nasty thing to have next to you (they can be used against any rabbits and rebuilt before they can respond).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jon dee
Denmark
Unspecified
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Nice with someone trying to actual analaze a little and not just call everything a result of group thinking!


I don't fully agree! Austria is no way a rabbit! I see austria mostly used as a proxy! It does have a very difficult time NOT too exchange army units alot with italy , and does mostly give and take alot in balkan, and that will nearly always slows it too much down to be a rabbit! While it has acesss to balkan the road down there is long and the armies down there can not defend its homeland! Making it very unlikely that it succeed as a rabbit!


And about turtles, i think turtles is also about not having a posibility to be a rabbit. England does stand to exchange most of its fleet against a german and french navys .and with out armies there is no way to be a rabbit, leaving only turtle- factories and massing fleets, but not without fighting ! Where Russia is a very likely rabbit, as it has both balkan and scandinavia where it can be lucky to progress without having to use exstra actions to get new troops and then get them somewhere! And with both germany and austria as proxy countries, its often just a matter of time, before russia is having a freeroll to 25. And ofcoase it can have behaved like a turtle until that!

With that said i think that another difference is how easy a country is to attack , both russia and italy is difficult to get to ! it takes some actions to shut them down and take their teritories from them, when they are up rolling. Where the rest of the countries takes a lot less actions to shoot down! And thats the reason i don't see france as the best rabbit, though it does make a god start! Or maybe we need another term for a country that suddenly is unstoppeble without having being a turtle! Maybe a snake!

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
jondeefool wrote:
Nice with someone trying to actual analaze a little and not just call everything a result of group thinking!


The problem is that while it is fine and accurate in generality, the details suffer. In quick example I've seen Austria's navy hold the Bay of Biscay(!), Germany hold Morocco, France hold Sweden, Russia in the English Channel and even England holding Greece.

That last game was particularly interesting. The English player slowly built up a considerably army and got all his fleet onto the board while the Italian player did likewise. A quick investment gave Italy to the English player when nobody else had much cash and two maneuvers later Italy let England through to the Balkans and most of North Africa for a tax base of well over 20 (still just +10 I know). After than England just spin-cycled to victory, buying up his own bonds before anyone else could. The other countries in unison simply couldn't bring England's tax base down fast enough, they couldn't take Italy away fast enough, several of the players didn't have the cash to spin-cycle, and all the remaining English bonds were too large for anyone but the English player to afford. It was brilliant.

Quote:
And with both germany and austria as proxy countries, its often just a matter of time, before russia is having a freeroll to 25. And ofcoase it can have behaved like a turtle until that!


Locally Russia is the country that has least often done well. In most games here Russia ends at x3 or below. I'd guess that one game out of 10 sees Russia at x4 or above. For a while I took to reversing that, leading Russia to x5 three times in a row, but the problem isn't with Russia.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Berry
United States
Unspecified
Virginia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
jondeefool wrote:
Nice with someone trying to actual analaze a little and not just call everything a result of group thinking!


Glad that you appreciated the effort.

jondeefool wrote:

I don't fully agree! Austria is no way a rabbit!


No one needs to fully agree with anything I think. I just put it out there for what it's worth and then let time prove out who is right and who is wrong

jondeefool wrote:

I see austria mostly used as a proxy! It does have a very difficult time NOT too exchange army units alot with italy , and does mostly give and take alot in balkan, and that will nearly always slows it too much down to be a rabbit! While it has acesss to balkan the road down there is long and the armies down there can not defend its homeland! Making it very unlikely that it succeed as a rabbit!


Every game is different and so any country can take on any of those three aspects. I agree Austria can make a fine proxy country if that is what the distribution of country investments dictate at a given time. Two initial army factories and a central land position make it a fine proxy to hurt Germany or Russia or Italy.

I really disagree with you though that Austria and Italy have any innate need to come into conflict with each other. Italy is much more of a sea power by force distribution and necessity than Austria is. Italy and Austria can both make significant influence gains without butting into each others board interests. Italy is poised early to take a couple of sea areas and most of Africa without confrontation. Why would it necessarily be in the best interest of an investor in Italy to trade units with Austria when there are likely to be easier targets in Africa and at sea?

jondeefool wrote:

And about turtles, i think turtles is also about not having a posibility to be a rabbit. England does stand to exchange most of its fleet against a german and french navys .and with out armies there is no way to be a rabbit, leaving only turtle- factories and massing fleets, but not without fighting !


I agree that no country, including the UK, can count on not having to fight. What I was trying to say is that the UK is at its heart a one trick pony with four naval factories and only one army factory possible. It has no land contact with its neighbors so could survive and flourish simply by owning its neighboring sees. The UK should be able to swat down all but the most dedicated naval incursions of Germany, France or Russia. Sure if the UK isn't somewhat diligent in building navies or is ganged up on by those three countries it can be in trouble but what country can survive 3 on 1? If the UK makes a solid effort at building and maintaining a strong navy and leaves the continent to continental powers it can often grow its influence points quite high with just the use of its internal factories and a couple of neighboring sea areas.[/q]

jondeefool wrote:

Where Russia is a very likely rabbit, as it has both balkan and scandinavia where it can be lucky to progress without having to use exstra actions to get new troops and then get them somewhere! And with both germany and austria as proxy countries, its often just a matter of time, before russia is having a freeroll to 25. And ofcoase it can have behaved like a turtle until that!


Again, all countries have a potential for being any of the three arch-types or some combination. Russia is poorly positioned for being an initial rabbit as it starts with one naval factory in a bottled up southern port and one army factory. Austria's first interest, if not being used as simply a proxy, is to conquer the Balkans. All but a dedicated effort into the Balkans is likely to achieve limited success against an Austria that can grow to four land armies and cause Russia some significant heart burn if Russia grows too aggressive.

In the north Russia can expand quite quickly if Germany is otherwise engaged but if Germany is pursuing any sort of influence point growth path it will need to be a player in the north and will butt heads with, and slow down, any Russian Rabbiting. Even the UK may want to extend its reach that way if it is left unchecked too long.

I may be mistaken but am I right in guessing that your Imperial group uses Germany and Austria strictly as proxies? I would suggest that having played Imperial a lot of times with a wide variety of players both on BSW and in person against at my FLGS that strong players do not automatically consider either of those two countries as only having potential as proxies, especially Austria. One guy at my FLGS has been recording the results of Imperial games at the store and he has captured slightly less than 100 games with around 25 different players playing in the games. Without saying that these results are the end all be all I would note that Russia finishes at 25 influences less often than France and the UK and about tied with Austria. I hope he publishes his results here, or lets me do it as I think it would be of value to the BGG community. Each of has our own experiences but at least let me suggest to you that you try using Austria as more of a Balkans rabbit, with some turtleing tendancies, and see what happens, you might be surprised.

jondeefool wrote:

With that said i think that another difference is how easy a country is to attack , both russia and italy is difficult to get to ! it takes some actions to shut them down and take their teritories from them, when they are up rolling. Where the rest of the countries takes a lot less actions to shoot down! And thats the reason i don't see france as the best rabbit, though it does make a god start! Or maybe we need another term for a country that suddenly is unstoppeble without having being a turtle! Maybe a snake!


How hard or easy a country is to shutdown depends on the position of its neighbors. I would re-state my guess that in your group most people use Germany and Austria soly as proxies and in the middle/end game they are low on factories and military units. In that case Russia would be hard to stop. I would imagine that if you all have that group think at the start of the game then at the end of the game all the good players have about equal shares of Russia as your belief that it was likely to get to 25 first would have encouraged you to invest in it. That same investment would make it less likely that any of the major investors would work against Russia. I encourage you to play several games on BSW with a variety of different players and see what happens.

Thanks for your thoughts and time spent on my post.

-Greg
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nick Szegedi
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Locally Russia is the country that has least often done well. In most games here Russia ends at x3 or below. I'd guess that one game out of 10 sees Russia at x4 or above. For a while I took to reversing that, leading Russia to x5 three times in a row, but the problem isn't with Russia.


I actually won with Russia (3 times now!)- helps especially if you also control Austria-Hungary too!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Berry
United States
Unspecified
Virginia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
clearclaw wrote:
jondeefool wrote:
Nice with someone trying to actual analaze a little and not just call everything a result of group thinking!


The problem is that while it is fine and accurate in generality, the details suffer. In quick example I've seen Austria's navy hold the Bay of Biscay(!), Germany hold Morocco, France hold Sweden, Russia in the English Channel and even England holding Greece.

That last game was particularly interesting. The English player slowly built up a considerably army and got all his fleet onto the board while the Italian player did likewise. A quick investment gave Italy to the English player when nobody else had much cash and two maneuvers later Italy let England through to the Balkans and most of North Africa for a tax base of well over 20 (still just +10 I know). After than England just spin-cycled to victory, buying up his own bonds before anyone else could. The other countries in unison simply couldn't bring England's tax base down fast enough, they couldn't take Italy away fast enough, several of the players didn't have the cash to spin-cycle, and all the remaining English bonds were too large for anyone but the English player to afford. It was brilliant.


I fully agree that any given game can possibly go down some radical paths that are different from what I laid out. My intent was not to try to lay out how every game of Imperial must be played out to be played "correctly" but rather to try to get most Imperial players to consider the basic strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that Imperial provides to each country.

Your examples of things like where the UK held Greece would indicate to me that there was likely either some really, really unusual once in a hundred type game situation going on or that there was some less than stellar play by some of the people involved in the game.

I offer my "turles, rabbits and proxies" post merely as food for thought for others to consider. I had previously found it to easy to get into "group think" with Imperial play and it was not until I had played a significant number of games with a significant number of opponents before I understood the true general basics of solid Imperial play.

If you have played a lot of games with a lot of different people I would encourage you to post a strategy article for my consideration. If you have played fewer games with perhaps only your local group of 5-10 different Imperial players I would ask you to consider what I posted and see if it holds any value to you.

clearclaw wrote:
jondeefool wrote:
And with both germany and austria as proxy countries, its often just a matter of time, before russia is having a freeroll to 25. And ofcoase it can have behaved like a turtle until that!


Locally Russia is the country that has least often done well. In most games here Russia ends at x3 or below. I'd guess that one game out of 10 sees Russia at x4 or above. For a while I took to reversing that, leading Russia to x5 three times in a row, but the problem isn't with Russia.


I have found like you clearclaw that Russia often does worse than UK, France and Italy and about as well as Austria and better than Germany.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
gberry wrote:
My intent was not to try to lay out how every game of Imperial must be played out to be played "correctly" but rather to try to get most Imperial players to consider the basic strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that Imperial provides to each country.


And you did that well. What I'd really dislike to see however is players prescribing their play on that basis.

Quote:
Your examples of things like where the UK held Greece would indicate to me that there was likely either some really, really unusual once in a hundred type game situation going on or that there was some less than stellar play by some of the people involved in the game.


There were bits of both. I only play without the Investor card, which makes the game a bit more fragile WRT money in the early game. The result is that certain early and nominally good decisions can leave holes which a well positioned player can slip through.

Quote:
If you have played a lot of games with a lot of different people I would encourage you to post a strategy article for my consideration.


I've played a few dozen games across a set of perhaps 30 people in 5 groups. I do not play any online games. I've written considerably elsewhere on BGG on Imperial, tho mostly about not using the Investor card. With very rare exception I don't write strategy articles and am unlikely to write much more about Imperial outside of comments. At this point Imperial has been out of rotation for some months. Wabash Cannonball and Greentown have taken its place with Pampas Railways and various 18XX looking to replace them in rotation.

Quote:
I have found like you clearclaw that Russia often does worse than UK, France and Italy and about as well as Austria and better than Germany.


Yep. However my point was that this is no fault of Russia's. It isn't hard to lead Russia to a good position, I did it for 3 games in a row, but rather that local prejudice weighs against it. Thus the problem isn't Russia.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jon dee
Denmark
Unspecified
Unspecified
flag msg tools
gberry wrote:


I offer my "turles, rabbits and proxies" post merely as food for thought for others to consider. I had previously found it to easy to get into "group think" with Imperial play and it was not until I had played a significant number of games with a significant number of opponents before I understood the true general basics of solid Imperial play.

If you have played a lot of games with a lot of different people I would encourage you to post a strategy article for my consideration. If you have played fewer games with perhaps only your local group of 5-10 different Imperial players I would ask you to consider what I posted and see if it holds any value to you.
.


The food for thought i like, else i would not give it so much time.
But i will not comment every thing her as i find it very important when analysing a game like this , not to drown in the detail, but instead try to grasp the concepts.

I think what i try to take into consideration is the race game aspect!
Because while having free access to territories is nice (the rabbit defination) , i find it much more important not to have to fight for them , in terms of actions needed to grow! Because you save actions bye not having to rebuild and then move them into action again!

And in that sense i find russias position very strong, and austrias weak as a rabbit! The fleets in black see offer manuverbility and access to balkan and return fast. And it can even most of the time take eastern med unopposed in next movement round , and then russia just mass fleets and wait for ionan see! Of cause other things can happend and will. But its a nice return for a factory to have!

gberry wrote:


Why would it necessarily be in the best interest of an investor in Italy to trade units with Austria when there are likely to be easier targets in Africa and at sea?


its the weakness of being able to reach a factory in 1 movement action. Its not a need , but its a posibility that is there in every movement action in the game. And it treats to slow a country down! And what can italy build that does not increase that treat of a conflict at the border of italy/austria? And with your look at a rabbit to get to 25, i think thats the kind of things to take into account. If rabbit means only how to get a good start by getting most neutral territories fast then its a different story! But i just think that there can be put more into your terms.

gberry wrote:

I may be mistaken but am I right in guessing that your Imperial group uses Germany and Austria strictly as proxies? I would suggest that having played Imperial a lot of times with a wide variety of players both on BSW and in person against at my FLGS that strong players do not automatically consider either of those two countries as only having potential as proxies, especially Austria.


Wrong you are , my experience here comes mostly from watching a few games daily for the last few months at bsw. And as the watcher of 100+ games i see some patterns now! And if you have another experience , then i must have spotted a recently trend! I for sure am not a very experienced player at bsw standards, but am a keen observer! And just for the sake of it, i see germany as a proxy , but its not that it has been that alot in my gaming group!

And please don't jump into that trap buy asuming that i only see Austria as a proxy. but you setup thesse viewpoints, for countrys to invest in and i disagree at how to view it! A see austria as mainly a proxy, that can be played as a rabbit, but still not the most likely.
Maybe it comes from that a player don't necessary buy austria as a proxy, but someone will be very tempted to take it over and use it as a proxy. So if he don't see it's proxy potential, when he buys it then he might be surprised! And that sure belong into an opening consideration.

gberry wrote:

How hard or easy a country is to shutdown depends on the position of its neighbors. I would re-state my guess that in your group most people use Germany and Austria soly as proxies and in the middle/end game they are low on factories and military units. In that case Russia would be hard to stop. I would imagine that if you all have that group think at the start of the game then at the end of the game all the good players have about equal shares of Russia as your belief that it was likely to get to 25 first would have encouraged you to invest in it. That same investment would make it less likely that any of the major investors would work against Russia. I encourage you to play several games on BSW with a variety of different players and see what happens.

Thanks for your thoughts and time spent on my post.

-Greg


i feel that you take too easy an approch to my post by asuming that the thought behind are groupthinking (= unexperienced), instead of going into the argument about if easy access to neutral territories is a better way to define a rabbit, than being less likely to have to fight for them and defend your homeland?

thx for the reply !
Jondee
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
g s
United States
Moab
Utah
flag msg tools
mb
Nice to see some strategy discussion for Imperial.

After 154 plays on BSW (my only opportunity to play Imperial), I feel like all the countries have fairly equal chances for any of the roles you describe, with the exception of Germany, which seems to be in the weakest position of any country. Germany seems to end up being a 'proxy' type country more often than any of the others.

The more important consideration (at least when using the investor card version) is timing of investments and taxation. To me, this is the heart of the game and gives it tremendous variety.

Even after 154 games it is still very enjoyable. I've found few games that have that ability to stay fresh.

Yes, I'm an Imperial enthusiast... I rate it 11.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Berry
United States
Unspecified
Virginia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gesa wrote:
Nice to see some strategy discussion for Imperial.

After 154 plays on BSW (my only opportunity to play Imperial), I feel like all the countries have fairly equal chances for any of the roles you describe, with the exception of Germany, which seems to be in the weakest position of any country. Germany seems to end up being a 'proxy' type country more often than any of the others.

The more important consideration (at least when using the investor card version) is timing of investments and taxation. To me, this is the heart of the game and gives it tremendous variety.

Even after 154 games it is still very enjoyable. I've found few games that have that ability to stay fresh.

Yes, I'm an Imperial enthusiast... I rate it 11.


Glad that you appreciated my effort to talk strategy. I really like this game and think there is a lot to it.

I agree with you that any country can be anything. I to have played enough games to see every country do it all. I just wanted this particular article to look at one aspect of the strategy of the game which is the strategic outlook of each country. The more important consideration of overall game strategy is the rondel and when to invest and tax as you said. If you have ideas for a strategy discussion article please post. I am interested.

-Greg

PS - In my review of the game that I posted here on BGG I did discuss game strategy regarding early, middle and late game strategic considerations for investing and the use of the rondel in selecting appropriate actions.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian E
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
I've played several dozen games on BsW with a roughly 35% win rate. I don't play with fewer than 4 players. So, I'm an intermediate player of intermediate skill level.

I like this analysis a lot, but I would change one thing. I think Italy and France are rabbits, Russia and Britain are turtles (and yes, Britain is the ultimate turtle), and Germany and Austria are proxies. Clearly, this isn't an ironclad description, I won the game once behind Germany and more than once behind Austria, but this is the default mode for each country - it is how the game will be structured unless the players push the system, fairly hard, out of equilibrium.

There are two related angles I'd like to touch on. One is the "Interior Provinces" question. This measures countries by how many home provinces are not next to other home countries - a measure of how safe a country's tax base is from sudden cross-border raids by neighbors.

Britain 5 (very safe)
Italy 3+
France 3-
Russia 2+
Germany 2-
Austria 1 (very vulnerable)

In other words, it's hard for Austria to build a factory and feel very safe about it. The spaces Vienna, Prague, Munich, Danzig, and Warsaw are really tough since these spaces border not 1 but 2 different foreign home nations. Russia has only 2 neighbors and only 1 such space, but Germany and Austria are both far worse off in this regard.

The + and - are modifiers. Striking toward France and Germany is usually more profitable as it often yields incidental access to neutral countries, while striking toward Russia and in particular Italy are often dead ends or cul-de-sacs for the invader.

Here's another list - Number of home nation neighbors

Britain 0 (2) (splendidly isolated)
Italy 2
Russia 2
France 2 (3)
Austria 3
Germany 3 (4!) (a high-traffic area)

This is a measure of how easy it is to find yourself conveniently attacked through an unfavorable change in control in some neighboring country. (#) pretends that Britain is not an island but borders France and Germany. Because attacking Britain without fleets is impossible and attacking Italy without fleets is prohibitively difficult, these two countries are the most defensively secure under the default structure of the game. This matters because so much of the game is about building a taxable empire, however temporary, that is safe from (in particular) cheap or casual/throwaway raids, for long enough to reap the benefits of taxing it, and stably enough that its long-term tax potential (once you've made your investment, whether you continue to direct the country or not) isn't irretrievably shredded through persistent invasion by determined neighbors over time.

What this boils down to is that Britain and Italy are superior in the sense that the controlling players of these two countries will usually be more able than the controlling players of other countries to see attacks coming before they hurt, and be able to effectively forestall them. This means these two countries can be most easily maneuvered into positions where they can enter the Tax/Invest oscillation dynamic that usually precedes a win. Also, the potential invaders of these two countries can often easily be counter-invaded and ruined from some other direction (in addition to facing the defenses of Britain or Italy), whether those other countries are under the control of the British and Italian controllers or run by third parties.

One neglected element of IMPERIAL is the balancing aspect. Players often raid beaten-down neighbors because they can, instead of focusing on restraining the leaders. How often have I seen Austria overbuild armies, repeatedly occupy Berlin, and leave Italy alone, when Germany (and its player-owner), far from winning, have already been crippled and trashed and Italy, unopposed, runs away with the game? These kinds of "Ha ha" or "Just because you're there" attacks are rarely profitable and players would be wise to see the big picture and devote a measure of extra effort to reduce the security of Britain and Italy while being more hesitant to raid and invade countries that are not in the cockpit.

The last game I played was a 6-player game against one of the most skilled players on BsW. I won by 1 point, which was fortunate - he was slightly ahead in "VP track points" but I had enough extra cash to make up the difference and be barely ahead in total. He is still a better player than I am and I was lucky to pull it off. What was not accidental, I believe, was that I was behind Britain and he was behind Italy (although we each had cross-investments in each other) since no other player came close to our scores. Italy closed out the game - had he been able to get the Italy marker from Taxation to Investor before he closed, he would have won by about 5, but at the crucial time, he appeared to lack the $2 to move the Italy marker the extra space to Investor and so had to jump to Taxation for $4 after another round of incidental cash collections. That's painful...Don't let that happen to you! ;-)

Finally...a note of higher strategy. Keep in mind that one way to restrain the leader is to (counter-intuitively) refuse to buy bonds in his country, particularly just when the game leaves its opening stages. This strategy works when the money in the treasury can't pay all the existing investors even after taxation. This often means that he cannot keep milking the country for bond yields while maintaining full speed ahead, particularly if his expansion has been expensively Factory- and Import-driven and unit-intensive, because you refuse to provide the cash injection to the depleted treasury, cash that he seeks to redistribute...above all, to himself, of course! :-) In other words, remember that once some initial investments are made, the new investor's cash is often redistributed, with only a fraction going back to the new investor and the rest to all the prior investors. :-) The problem here is that 1) you have to invest somewhere to win and 2) this strategy can fail the prisoner's dilemma (i.e. some other opponent can undermine your embargo and give his own cash to the leader anyway), as is true of so many other strategies in this great game... :-) Just be aware! Don't spend your cash to help someone conveniently raid a treasury if you can avoid it.

Have fun! See you on BsW.
13 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
g s
United States
Moab
Utah
flag msg tools
mb
SumatraTiger wrote:

...
One neglected element of IMPERIAL is the balancing aspect. Players often raid beaten-down neighbors because they can, instead of focusing on restraining the leaders. How often have I seen Austria overbuild armies, repeatedly occupy Berlin, and leave Italy alone, when Germany (and its player-owner), far from winning, have already been crippled and trashed and Italy, unopposed, runs away with the game? These kinds of "Ha ha" or "Just because you're there" attacks are rarely profitable and players would be wise to see the big picture and devote a measure of extra effort to reduce the security of Britain and Italy while being more hesitant to raid and invade countries that are not in the cockpit.

...
Have fun! See you on BsW.


Nice post Brian. The analysis of the various countries' exposure to attack is very interesting. I hadn't really thought that through.

Your comments about the "ha ha" attacks are so true. I see this mainly from new players or those who just never seem to 'get' the game.

What is your user name on BSW? Mine is ges.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
G W M
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
flag msg tools
badge
Don't play in the street....
Avatar
mbmbmb
Thanks for the great post Greg, I have played Imperial twice now and have not done well, so starting to do a bit of pre-reading for my next encounter!, Cheers GuyM
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.