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Subject: New player review - Is Conquest of the EmpireII a good game... rss

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Ray
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Is Conquest of the Empire II a good game, and should you buy it.

What makes a good game? Well, this will require a somewhat lengthy response to answer if trying to answer this in detail, but since I’m only really going to briefly talk about Conquest of the Empire II (CotE2) I’m going to keep it short and simple... hopefully. Note, that if you get the new Conquest of the Empire game, you get the rules for the original game as well as a new set of rules (and conquest cards) for the Conquest of the Empire II (CotE2) version of the game, which is really a different game. So its like having two games in one.

Gamers:
There are many factors that I think make a good game. However, since CotE2 is better played with several players - 4, 5, and 6 player games might to be best - the first and most important factor is the players. Who you play a game with can either enhance the enjoyment or diminish it. While most gamers are ordinary, there are a few gamers out there that will tend to ruin a game for everyone. You know, they whine when they are not winning, or when things don’t go their way; gloat when they are winning; complain about every little rule when it doesn’t work for them; insist they are always right even when they are wrong; and several other bad personal traits found in some gamers. The players you play a game with can at times influence your opinion about a new game. I have played very good games that were spoiled by one or more players that ruined it for everyone. As a result, I never played the game again or took a longer time than normal to discover how good the game really was. But it goes both ways. I have also played mediocre games that were made a lot better just because the other players made it really enjoyable.

Then there are the individual players themselves. Lets face it, not everyone one is the same. Sure there are similarities between players, but every gamer has his own individuality. Some gamers like really detailed games while others prefer simpler ones. Some like wargames while others like non-wargames. Some prefer only historical games while others prefer only Sci-Fi/fantasy games. Some even hate one or the other or like them both. Gamers even have different levels of awareness and/or knowledge that will influence their gaming experience (especially with historical games) and likes/dislikes towards certain games. So you see there are different types of gamers out there. In short, you can please some of the gamers some of the time, but you can never please all the gamers all the time. And this applies to CotE2, or even CotE for that matter.

Enough about players, what about the game itself?
I’ll keep this short because maybe you might be tired after reading all that stuff before this, or you have an appointment/meeting to get to and you are running out of time. Or maybe you just want a short review, and in that case, here you are.

Being a Struggle of Empires (SoE) fan, it wasn’t hard to be talked into playing a game of CotE2 once I learned about some of the aspects of the game. Actually, I’m a little surprised I haven’t played this new game before since I had and have played the original version of CotE from MB.

There has always been a fine balance between complexity, playability, and the fun factor when it comes to designing a board or miniature game. Does a game need to be overly detailed to be fun? What if it is too simple? Some games need a degree of complexity to make them more playable/enjoyable... if that makes any sense. But at the same time, some games need a degree of simplicity to make them more playable/enjoyable... if that makes any sense. All games, regardless of their category, need an element of what I termed the "Fun Factor". I think CotE2 has a good balance of complexity, playability, and the "Fun Factor" and I believe this combination is enough for me to say that this is a good game and one worth getting or at least tying.

I played CotE2 with five other players (we had a six player game) and we had a really entertaining game. The players and the game were very good. I’m not a novice gamer, and of course I have played SoE before, so I was able to pick up on this game very easily and I was able to catch on very fast. But even a new comer to board gaming shouldn’t find this game to hard to learn. The game play is pretty good and it is not all that complex. In fact, I would say on the complexity scale it is less complex than SoE and that game isn’t that complex in the first place. But for those who have not played SoE or heard of it, CotE2 is a little more complex than say Axis and Allies Revised edition. I say a little bit more because even though it might be a little easier to play, some of characteristics of the game are a bit more intricate. What makes CotE2 even better is the re-playability of this game. Every CotE2 game you play will be slightly different (until you play a lot of them) than the one before due to a more or less random setup and a random draw of the province tokens and conquest cards - both can influence you strategies. This game has a multitude of different points to be observed while playing, so while it is easy to learn and play, it should not be taken too lightly. For example, you need to give thought to your alliances during the Determine Alliance phase. You do not want to just simply ignore this. It could have critical impacts during the campaign season.

Game Components:
In regards to the game components, I was very impressed with almost everything about the game. Game pieces, excellent; game board, superb; combat dice, good; counters, splendid; rules, simple and easy, but there are a few issues of terminology and lack of clarification. More about that soon, but first I waned to mention my only negative thing to say about this game. That is the cards. While the cards are nicely printed and have good graphics, they are thin, flimsy and overall of lower than normal quality when compared to say the cards you get with games like Battle Cry, Samurai Swords (MB game), Tide of Iron, or even a standard Bicycle brand Poker Deck of cards. But don’t let the cards stop you because there are solutions (maybe). While the conquest cards don’t get a lot of handling, they still get touch and of course, shuffled. I highly recommend getting some card sleeves for your CotE2 cards - even if you have to modify some commercially available sleeves to get your conquest cards sleeved. This way you will be able to enjoy countless more games before they wear out.

Rules:
While the rules are easy to read and more less easy to understand, there are a couple of things that came up that the rules were unclear about. However, a quick look on BGG solved this. The first issue was Taxes and Upkeep. I looked everywhere in the rules to find what needed to have "Upkeep". So we simply ignored that term because it was not defined anywhere in the rules. It turned out it was a good call as there is not upkeep in the game. It should have just simply said "Collect Taxes".

Upkeep talked about on BBG:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/647713#647713

The second issue was chaos and losing a naval battle. It clearly states in the rules that, "The loser of each battle gains 2 Chaos Points." However, a fellow player made a good point to say that it was under the "Land Battle" area of the rules. But since it says "Battle" and not "Land Battle" and the quick reference sheets on BGG say a loser of a naval battle gets 2 chaos, and in SoE (which most of these concepts come from) gives penalties for losing a naval unit, we made the ruling that even if you lose a naval battle you get 2 chaos points. But here is the kicker, in a naval battle one of three things will happen since there are only three rounds of combat. Remember, galleys can not retreat from a naval battle (page 12, Naval Battle rule #4). Here is what we decided to do:

1) one side or the other loses (losing side get chaos points).
2) both sides lose due to mutual elimination (both sides get chaos points).
3) neither side loses or wins after three combat rounds (no one gets chaos points).
*) if a player uses "Favorable Wind", no battle no chaos.

As it turned out, it was a good call it seems.
Naval Battles and Chaos talked about on BBG:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/707269#707269

The other thing I noticed was that in the rules they use the term city and/or fortification here and there. There are no fortifications only cities in CotE2, but we used cities with the fortification base since it looked nicer and you have that little platform to put your figure on to show who owns the city.

Also, the term "Army Units" is mentioned on some of the conquest cards. We are pretty sure it is supposed to say "Military Units" - which are infantry, cavalry, catapult, and triremes - since the terms "Army" and "Military" are closer in meaning than "Army" and "Land". This is important for some of the cards when it says move "4 Army Units" since Generals are the Caesar are not "Military Units". Oh and the term triremes and galleys are interchangeable.

So you can see that the rules/cards need a bit of a re-write to clean up some of the misleading terms.

Overall:
I have to say I would recommend this game. And a recommendation from me doesn’t come lightly. Not because you get two different games in one, but because you don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy this game. Just read the very short Historical Setting on page 4 and you’re set. Now, if this game inspires you to learn more about the Roman Empire, so be it, but anyone can enjoy this fine game. But again, as I mention above, everyone is different. Even though I look forward to playing this game again, this game might not be for everyone. Even though there is a good chance you might like this game, I would say check it out and definitely give CotE2 (or even CotE) a try if you can before you buy it.

Golden Rule (for gaming):
Winning or losing, if you are not having a fun time playing a good game with friends, then there is something seriously wrong. Find a new hobby.

Thanks for reading
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Gordon Adams
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From what you said in your fab review, Ray, it sounds to me that CotE2 is unlikely to be a 2-player game. Is that the case ?
I placed the the game on my Wish List at my FLGS and now I am not sure what to do wow

Thanks.
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Ray
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elfrododumbo wrote:

From what you said in your fab review, Ray, it sounds to me that CotE2 is unlikely to be a 2-player game. Is that the case ?
I placed the the game on my Wish List at my FLGS and now I am not sure what to do wow

Thanks.


I think this game would be better with more players than less, but almost any game can be played with two players. A good friend of mine even tells me that any game can be played solo. But then he is a dedicated solitaire gamer who is brilliant.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how CotE2 could be a good two-player game?
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Scott Randolph
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RayGuns wrote:
elfrododumbo wrote:

From what you said in your fab review, Ray, it sounds to me that CotE2 is unlikely to be a 2-player game. Is that the case ?
I placed the the game on my Wish List at my FLGS and now I am not sure what to do wow

Thanks.


I think this game would be better with more players than less, but almost any game can be played with two players. A good friend of mine even tells me that any game can be played solo. But then he is a dedicated solitaire gamer who is brilliant.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how CotE2 could be a good two-player game?


My game group which plays "Ameritrasher" muilti-player cut-throat style games regularly for the past two years really enjoys "Conquest of the Empire TWO" (CotE-Classic is not a game we are very interested in).

Components: Terrific!...a "10"
Re-playability: Excellent...there are a variety of strategies that can win!
New-Player-Friendly-Factor: Great!...the new guy has often won in our group due to the alliance system and points-based victory system.

This isn't really a "war" game, it is a game of politics. The game is long, but can be abbreviated significantly by altering the alliance auction. We have finished a 5-player, 5-campaign season game in five hours, but you MUST move the auction process along very quickly or alter it to an "eBay style / Proxy" bid system.

Two player game you ask?...No, sorry, this would be a terrible 2-player game. IMHO, this has to be at least a 4-player game. My game group has six players show up regularly so this hasn't been a problem, and we also are all willing to play 6+ hours without anyone complaining, in fact, people are intensely focused on the game the entire time!

Just my quick commentary - this is a great game that blends some "Euro" elements and a points-based system to make a very even, very balanced & competitive, new-player-friendly, game. There is very little down time due to the 2-action limit per player in the rounds, and no one is ever "out" like the older style "Ameritrasher" games (this is a "social 'plus'" for a game group).

Have fun - Cheers! (SFRR)
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Lance Harrop
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RayGuns wrote:
Does anyone have any thoughts on how CotE2 could be a good two-player game?


The essence of CotE2 is the alliance system, so NO, it would not be good with less than four players, and frankly is not worth the effort to play with less than five.

That said, it is in fact a very good game. And it is a WAR GAME because, as von Clauswitz tells us, war is simply an extension of Politics. So this game is great because it melds politics and warfare into one game.

I've played it over forty times (the most reported on BGG in fact). I've won it (not necessarily true when playing multiplayer games) more than once. I've even scored 300 points in one game (a metagaming fact that haunts me to this day). I've played it with players who are really into the system and players who don't seem to have a clue how to play it well. It's a lot more fun with the former rather than the later by the way.

If you can find the right people to play it is great fun. If you find the wrong people and can sustain yourself with patience while they bitch and moan (I'm looking at you Ben) it can still be fun, if only for the Scheudenfreud.

Good luck, enjoy, and remember the point is to have enough influence in as many provinces as possible to score you points.

And take Hail Ceaser!
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Scott Randolph
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Leifr wrote:
RayGuns wrote:
Does anyone have any thoughts on how CotE2 could be a good two-player game?


The essence of CotE2 is the alliance system, so NO, it would not be good with less than four players, and frankly is not worth the effort to play with less than five.

That said, it is in fact a very good game. And it is a WAR GAME because, as von Clauswitz tells us, war is simply an extension of Politics. So this game is great because it melds politics and warfare into one game.

I've played it over forty times (the most reported on BGG in fact). I've won it (not necessarily true when playing multiplayer games) more than once. I've even scored 300 points in one game (a metagaming fact that haunts me to this day). I've played it with players who are really into the system and players who don't seem to have a clue how to play it well. It's a lot more fun with the former rather than the later by the way.

If you can find the right people to play it is great fun. If you find the wrong people and can sustain yourself with patience while they bitch and moan (I'm looking at you Ben) it can still be fun, if only for the Scheudenfreud.

Good luck, enjoy, and remember the point is to have enough influence in as many provinces as possible to score you points.

And take Hail Ceaser!


I liked everything you said Lance, but I will disagree respectfully, that while yes, per von Clauswitz, war is indeed an extention of politics, this game (IMHO) simulates politics first, and warfare only secondarilly, as a means of achieving victory.

Lest I quibble though, as this is not the real point of my reply here, what I really wanted to say was:

WOW!...WOW!!...HOLY HECK!!!...LANCE...you have played "CotE2" 44 times!...and TI3 + TI3-SE 154 times!!!...that's pretty darn amazing. Well, my hat's off to you for sheer plurality of game plays - I don't think I've played even Tic Tac Toe 154 times. Man!!...what a record you have.

Cheers! (SFRR)
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Lance Harrop
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SFRR wrote:

WOW!...WOW!!...HOLY HECK!!!...LANCE...you have played "CotE2" 44 times!...and TI3 + TI3-SE 154 times!!!...that's pretty darn amazing. Well, my hat's off to you for sheer plurality of game plays - I don't think I've played even Tic Tac Toe 154 times. Man!!...what a record you have.

Cheers! (SFRR)


You missed the Rio Grande Imperial at 99 times.

Since I have a CotEII tournament this weekend I'll be up to 47 or 48 come Monday

Thanks,
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