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Subject: Eagle Game edition of Conquest of the Empire rss

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Moshe Callen
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1. Introduction: 3 games in 1

Quote:
Especially considering the amount of time I've owned this game, I do not regard myself as having played the game(s) involved a lot. This fact ought be borne in mind in evaluating this review.


While I consider this is be an overall favorable review of the Eagle-Gryphon Games' "edition" of Conquest of the Empire, that positive opinion is not without its reservations. I bought my copy of this game not so long after it had first come out, expecting to receive a re-issue of the Gamemaster Series game Conquest of the Empire. What I got instead was a large game box with equipment to play a game similar but not identical to Struggle of Empires (which I also own and have played) and a fundamentally re-worked version of the game I really wanted. I mention this fact not just to express my annoyance at the near universal practice in the games industry of releasing as supposed new "editions" what are in fact fundamentally different games, a practice I regard as little better than simple false advertising. Anyone buying this game should know what they are getting. The good news is that rules for that original game are available here on BGG and that fairly minimal modification is needed to play that original game with this equipment. (I bought more road pieces to bring the equipment up to match the original game's manifest of parts but this may not be strictly necessary.) Thus, for me, this game-set really involves three games, all of which I intend to discuss-- the original played with equipment from this game (and a few d6 dice), the so-called Classic rules this set comes with (CotE1) and another designer's modification of Martin Wallace's Struggle of Empires CotE2. Each of these is a different game and so (assuming one is willing to print the original rules and adapt a little) we'll be talking about three games here.

2. Components

The publisher has gone with the idea that bigger is better throughout.

The oversize board (seen below) is divided into three pieces which fold into thirds. As one can see, the board includes a lot of wasted space, especially at the corners and where the logo takes up the top quarter of the middle of the board. The good aspect of this is that the board is so large that it overhangs the edges of many tables but players can place their equipment on the board itself in that wasted space-- as I have done in virtually every game I have played.

Some features of the board are not used in all games such as the portion displayed below which is only used for CotE2.

One can see immediately below a general comparison of the units used in this game to those of the original, followed by a close-up view of military units from this set.





Next one sees a Caesar

and a general:

Below one sees a comparison of the coins used to the original's coins, followed by a view of this set's coins by themselves.


The markers seen below have both colors and symbols on them which is good for the color-blind, especially since in practice the blue and purple can be hard to distinguish otherwise even for people without vision problems.

Finally for the equipment common to all the games, one sees a city without and with fortification.


The dice that come with the game show units types (similarly to games like Battle Cry in the Commands & Colors series):

Again, the original version uses standard d6 6 dice (not included but owned by most gamers).

Two sets of rules are included, with covers shown below.


The CotE2 game also uses chaos counters,

province tokens

and cards:




Road pieces are also included but I did not find an image in the gallery.

3. Gameplay

General comments

As someone who began his adult life training for several years to become a Roman historian (before plans changed) I would say that for those interested in theme, the Roman empire depicted in these games is more akin to a Hollywood depiction of Rome than the reality. Nonetheless, the games can still be great games so long as one is willing to accept this fact. The provinces depicted are not completely historically accurate but appear to be from the late third century in that Dacia exists as a province south of the Danube rather than north of it for example. Thus the senate would no longer play any but a ceremonial role in politics and so the premise of CotE2 is more than a bit off. Moreover, the title Caesar was reserved for the heir to the throne, not the actual ruler who was called Augustus. If one is looking for historical realism, this is not the place, but if one just wants a good game, it certainly is.

CotE: original

modifications needed wrote:

All provinces are marked with either a gold or silver coin symbol; respectively, these mark a province's value as 10 or 5 talents. Other modifications needed are straightforward.

This game is the Larry Harris, Jr. classic in the Gamemaster Series. One can see the similarities to Axis & Allies but the game is markedly different. I think the game best with four players because the starting provinces become too close with more players. The game is about hunting down and eliminating other players' Caesar while protecting one's own. When one does eliminate another player's Caesar, one then takes over that player's remaining units. This game pits every Caesar for himself.

The chief complaint above this game is that supposedly he who has the most catapults wins. While I think that criticism overstated, using this set's units allows each player a set number of catapults instead of buying from a common pool of 20. This eliminates the problem (if it really is one) completely in my experience.

Players have a Caesar and four generals to lead legions. Roads between adjacent provinces' cities allow for quick movement. Galleys can allow transport across the sea, including to islands. Provinces controlled earn players money but at the same time fuel inflation which will double and then treble prices of units. The combat system of this game has a player target particular units but one has to roll above a threshold to hit the unit. Generals, Caesars and (for the defender) fortification lead to die modifiers.

This is decidedly my favorite game to play with this set, but then this form is the game I bought this set to play. It's a classic for a reason.

CotE1 or so-called Classic

This game differs from the above primarily in that it uses the combat system implied by the dice that come with this game. One scores a hit by matching the results of one's roll to the units attacked. While this is a great game, it's just not quite the same as the actual classic game. When one changes the combat system of a wargame, even an Ameritrash game, one changes the essence of the game because gameplay adapts to the differences of the new system. Still those who are convinced that the old combat system is problematic can use this one.

CotE2

For those familiar with Struggle of Empires will note the key differences in this game. Instead of home countries, one has a Caesar who unthematically cannot be eliminated but which more importantly can move about the board. Population does not exist. Instead of having tiles all of which are available, one has a limited set of cards available. Disorder is renamed chaos but it does not have the same level of importance as in Struggle of Empires. The most noticeable differences which sets this game apart from Struggle of Empires are the senate votes, the importance of Italia and the larger predominance of military units. Yet as importance is the fact that one cannot directly attack control markers or neutral province tokens; instead one has to buy them but can only do so when a Caesar is present and no unallied units are.

The game works, but like all homages, it does not live up to the original.
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Andrew Prizzi
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Nice review. Yeah I find it surprising that Eagle released a set of "classic" rules that really weren't the classic rules.
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Ray
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Good review and I have given it a thumbs

However, I would like to add some extra information or suggestions for those who are not familiar with this game.

whac3 wrote:

The oversize board (seen below) is divided into three pieces which fold into thirds. As one can see, the board includes a lot of wasted space, especially at the corners and where the logo takes up the top quarter of the middle of the board. The good aspect of this is that the board is so large that it overhangs the edges of many tables but players can place their equipment on the board itself in that wasted space-- as I have done in virtually every game I have played.



As you casually mentioned, the board has a lot of space. But I wouldn't say it is "wasted space" though. For example, Italia can get pretty crowded sometimes. We often use the "Conquest of the Empire" logo at top of the board as a "holding box" for units in the Italia space. Only one unit is actually placed in Italia to denote who has troops there, with extras going in the "holding box" - the CotE logo at top. Very useful, and I think a lot of players do this.

whac3 wrote:

The publisher has gone with the idea that bigger is better throughout.


Not only bigger, but of better quality as well.

whac3 wrote:

The dice that come with the game show units types (similarly to games like Battle Cry in the Commands & Colors series):



Just one example of the quality. Just compare these dice to those found in Battle Cry and Commands & Colors. Nothing wrong with the dice that come with Battle Cry. I have been using them for many many years. Just that CotE dice don't require stickers. I also like the fact that you get a lot of these dice with this edition of the game.

whac3 wrote:

and cards:



From another review http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/433307

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.

Sleeved cards:


whac3 wrote:

The game works, but like all homages, it does not live up to the original.

[/q]

I know someone who does not like chocolate. Yes, I'm sure its uncommon, and some might even think rare, but it just goes to show that not everyone likes the same things. For me, I believe this edition of CotE surpasses the original game. Even though I have an original CotE, I bought this edition of the game to play CotE2. But all three games - Eagles Games CotE1 & CotE2 plus the original CotE - are fun.

It needs to be noted that Struggle of Empires is one of my favorite games. This could be the reason why I favor CotE2 over CotE1 or the original.

Be sure to check out the FAQ
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/47265/faq-for-both-cot...


I would like to point out that some of the official answers to the questions in the FAQ contradict what some gaming forums and/or groups have documented. This official FAQ also contradicts some unofficial frequently asked questions as well as at least one unofficial game summary sheet. The file helped clear up a few things about CotE1&2.

Final thoughts:
I have to say I would recommend this game. 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 great game. However, as I mention above, everyone is different. Even though I look forward to playing this game again and again, this game might not be for everyone. So, even though there is a good chance you might enjoy this game, I would say to be on the safe side, definitely try to play CotE2 (or even CotE) before you buy it.
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Craig Hebert
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I am glad it didn't "live up the broken original". The catapult was so broken as to make the game not very fun.

This game is a work of love - packed with well made game goodness. If I had one complaint, it would be the map could be clearer where provinces start and end. That was easily remedied with a black sharpie.

Like another here, I painted my set (minus a few calvary and ships that thus far havent come into play), as well as made flags for easy identification of who is the current holder of what. All in all, this is a very good game with the Wallace adaptation and I highly recommend it.

Let me also make a recommendation that will speed play immensely - use a 9 card 3 ring binder insert (baseball etc) to put all the cards that are out and available for purchase. We do this, and the time it saves for everyone to have to get up and walk around the gigantic board to see whats up for sale, is substantial. Just pass it around, and it saves time.

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Alex Smith
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Thanks for the honest, authoritative, and comprehensive view of this game. One of my 6 gg to you, fine sir.
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