Europe in the age of imperialism. International investors try to achieve the greatest influence in Europe. With their bonds, they control the politics of the six imperial nations: Austria-Hungary, Italy, France, Great Britain, the German Empire, and Russia.
The nations erect factories, build fleets, and deploy armies. The investors watch as their nations expand, wage wars, levy taxes, and collect the proceeds. Since the European nations are under the shifting influence of different investors, new strategic alliances and conflicts arise between them again and again!
Each player represents an international investor. Only he who succeeds in increasing his capital and gaining influence in the most powerful European nations will win the imperial competition.
Imperial is a varied strategy game without the luck of dice or cards. Two to six players, from about twelve years and up, take on the role of imperial investors. The duration of the game is about two to three hours.
- 1 gameboard
- 54 bond cards of the six nations
- 90 flags in 6 colors (15 per nation)
- 6 nation flag cards
- 1 investor card
- 130 Bank notes
- 1 instruction booklet
- 1 quick intro
- 1 booklet "Historical Data on the Six Powers"
- 48 armies in the six nation colors.
- 48 fleets in the six nation colors.
- 30 factories (15 brown armament facilities and 15 light blue shipyards)
- 6 octagonal high markers in the six nation colors
- 12 octagonal low markers in the six nation colors
- 1 turn maker (wooden pawn)
There are six great Powers on the gameboard:
Austria-Hungary, Italy, France, Great Britain, the German Empire and Russia. In the rules following, they are called "nations". Each Great Power has five home provinces. Land areas outside the Great Powers are called "land regions".
1. General Set-up (see.illustration.below)
Nation Markers: The high nation marker for each nation is placed into the middle of the rondel The low nation markers are placed on the first space of the scoring track ("0") and on the lowest space of the tax chart ("2-5")
Factories: Each nation starts with two factories that are placed onto the square cities on the gameboard: a brown armaments facility on the brown squares and a light blue shipyard on the light blue squares The 18 factories that have not yet been built are placed next to the gameboard.
Bonds: The 54 bonds are sorted according to their nations in six piles in ascending order (lowest value on top) Each pile is placed next to the appropriate nation's treasury.
Bank: The money is sorted and placed next to the gameboard as the bank
2. Distributing The Bonds
The starting money and government(s) handed out to the players depend on the number of players.
4 To 6 Players:
Each player receives 13 million (1 x 5 million, 4 x 2 million) from the bank. The 6 nation flag cards are shuffled face down and dealt to the players in turn; each player gets one nation flag card.
Each player receives 24 million (2 x 5 million, 7 x 2 million) from the bank. The nation flag cards of Austria-Hungary, Italy, and France are shuffled face down and dealt to the players in turn; each player gets one nation flag card. After that, each player gets one more nation flag card: Great Britain to Austria-Hungary, Russia to Italy, Germany to France.
Each player receives starting money amounting to 35 mil. (3 x 5 mil., 10 x 2 mil). from the bank. The nation flag cards of Austria-Hungary and Italy are shuffled face down and dealt to the players in turn; each player gets one nation flag card. After that, each player gets two more nation flag cards: France and Germany to Austria-Hungary, Russia and Great Britain to Italy.
The initial distribution of the bonds is shown on the backs of the nation flag cards. Each player takes the bonds shown on the back(s) of their card(_) from the bond pile and pays the corresponding price into the treasury of that nation. When all initial bonds are distributed among the players, each player will have 2 million remaining - the rest will be in the nations' treasuries.
Each player keeps the nation flag card(s) that he has been dealt. This indicates that he has given the highest contribution to the nation and therefore forms that government.
With four or five players, not all nation flag cards are distributed initially. The remaining card(s) is/are given in each case to the player(_) who own(_) the "2 million" bond of this nation (since they have the highest credit sum). If none of a nation's bonds have been distributed, its nation flag card remains in the bank for the moment.
Variant For Experienced Players
This variant for bond distribution increases the strategic possibilities and is therefore recommended for experienced players.
Each player gets the following starting money from the bank:
- With six players, 15 mil.
- With five players, 18 mil.
- With four players, 22 mil.
- With three players, 28 mil.
- With two players, 40 mil.
Determined by lot, one of the players is the first who is allowed to grant a bond of his choice to Austria-Hungary. If he decides to do that, he chooses one Austro-Hungarian bond from the bond pile and pays its amount into the Austro-Hungarian treasury that is on the gameboard.
After him, all other players are allowed to grant one Austro-Hungarian bond in clockwise rotation, and in that case pay its amount into the Austro-Hungarian treasury on the game board.
After Austria-Hungary, bonds are given to Italy. The player who is sitting to the left of the starting player is the first one allowed to choose an Italian bond. After that, all other players in clockwise fashion are allowed to grant any available Italian bond (one per player).
Then bonds are given in turn to France, Great Britain, Germany, and Russia in the same way. The price of the bond chosen must be paid into the respective treasury. Finally each player who does not form a nation's government receives a Swiss Bank instead. After every player had the opportunity to grant bonds to every nation, the game can start.
The six imperial Great Powers (nations) operate on the gameboard. The players are investors who grant bonds to these nations. The player who has granted the highest credit amount to a nation controls the government of that nation and decides the actions on the gameboard. This player is referred to as, in short, "the government of the nation".
Regardless of the number of players, all six Great Powers (nations) take part in every game. Selecting a space on the rondel The move of a nation consists of choosing a space on the rondel. In a nation's first turn, the game piece is placed on any space of the rondel.
All following turns are chosen on the rondel by moving the game piece clockwise; remaining in place is not allowed. The playing piece may be moved to one of the three spaces ahead at no cost; each additional space costs the player who leads the government of that nation 2 million, paid to the bank. The maximum move on the rondel is six spaces.
Italy is standing on the "Investor" space on the rondel. In order to choose "Taxation" on the next turn, Italy must move forward four spaces; the Italian government (player with the flag) must pay 2 million to the bank accordingly. In order to move from "Investor" to "Factory", the government would have to pay 4 million to the bank, etc.
Object of the Game
According to their economic power (factories) and their military strength (occupied sea and land regions), the nations collect power points in the course of the game. The points are added on the scoring track. As soon as a nation has reached 25 power points, the game ends.
A player's final score is the interest of their bonds multiplied by nations' Power Factors on the scoring track, plus cash on hand.
The players add up the values of all their bonds and, after that, add all their cash. Each million equals one victory point. The player with the most victory points wins the game.
In case of a tie, the player who has the higher credit sum in the nation with the most power points wins. If there is still a tie, the credit sums in the nation with the second most power points are compared, and so on.
Treasuries / Start of the Game
The treasury of the six imperial nations and the individual cash of the players have to be kept strictly separate. The players hold the treasuries they control in trust. They are not allowed to dispose of the treasuries personally nor lend or give away money from the treasury. However, they are allowed to give personal cash to the treasury at any time in order to support it financially.
Each player may check the contents of all treasuries anytime for control purposes, but he may keep his own, personal cash secret from the other players.
Players are not allowed to lend or give money away to one other. They are also not allowed to trade bonds among each other or to relinquish them in any other way.
Start Of Play
Austria-Hungary begins the game; after that, the nations move clockwise according to the order of their national deposits on the edge of the gameboard (1. Austria-Hungary, 2. Italy, 3. France, 4. Great Britain, 5. the German Empire and 6. Russia). The turn marker is used in each case to identify which nation's turn it is.
In case a nation has not been granted a bond, it has no government yet. In this case, the move of this nation is skipped.
At the start of the game, the investor card goes to the player seated to the left of the player who controls Austria-Hungary. If there is none, the investor card goes to the player to the left of the player who controls Italy.
Spaces On The Rondel
The function of the spaces on the rondel is explained in the following passages.
The nation is allowed to build one new factory. Armaments facilities may be built only in brown cities whereas shipyards may be built only in light blue cities. A factory may be built only in one of the nation's own cities if there are no hostile armies (standing upright) in its home province.
Only one factory may be built in each city. The nation pays 5 mil. into the bank and the chosen factory is placed on the gameboard in the appropriate city.
Example: Germany has factories in Berlin and Hamburg. There is a French army in Cologne. Therefore, a factory can be built only in Munich or Danzig.
That means that on the rondel "Factory" space, Germany may build either a shipyard in Danzig (light blue) or an armaments facility in Munich (brown). To do that, 5 million must be paid from the treasury to the bank
Each armaments facility and shipyard of a nation may produce one army or one fleet respectively for free. Factories in a home province in which hostile armies (standing upright) are present cannot produce. Nor can the occupying force itself produce in an occupied foreign factory.
The new armies and fleets are placed on the gameboard in the home province of their factory. In this context, it is unimportant how many military units are already present in that region.
Example: Germany owns factories in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. There is a hostile Russian army (standing upright) in Berlin, and a friendly French army (lying) in Munich. When on the rondel "Production" space, Germany can place a fleet in Hamburg and an army in Munich.
The nation may buy military units for 1 million each from the bank. The number of military units, however, is limited to three in total. The military units may be placed in all home provinces that do not have hostile armies (standing upright); fleets, however, may be placed only in light blue seaports. Deploying several military units in the same home province at the same time is allowed.
Example: Austria-Hungary imports two fleets and one army, paying 3 million from its treasury into the bank. All three military units are established in Triest. It would also have been possible to deploy the army in one of the other four Austro-Hungarian home provinces.
This turn is conducted in three steps. First the fleets are moved, then the armies, and finally flags are placed in newly occupied regions.
All fleets of a nation are allowed to move to an adjacent sea region (to cross a blue sea border). After their production or their import, fleets lie in the harbor; consequently, their first move is always to the sea region that is adjacent to the harbor (this region is additionally marked by an anchor). Once fleets are at sea, they cannot return to land.
Example: The fleet from the English Channel can either move into the North Atlantic, the Bay of Biscay, or into the North Sea. The fleet lying in the harbor of London can only move into the English Channel (anchor) and the fleet lying in the harbor of Dublin can only move into the North Atlantic. As an alternative, any fleet may stay where it is.
If a fleet moves to a sea region in which fleets of other nations are present, it turns into a battle if at least one side wants it. In a battle the fleets are matched 1:1 and removed from the gameboard. The government of the invading fleet may choose, if need be, which of the fleets in the region it wants to match.
If fleets already in the sea region want a battle, it has to be declared directly after the other fleets have moved in. If none of the parties wants a conflict, they keep peacefully lying next to each other in the same sea region. Fleets of the active nation that do not move can also battle fleets of other nations that are in the same sea region.
Example of a fleet battle: If the purple fleet moves to the left Sea, Purple can decide whether the fleet should fight. If it does so, Purple can also decide whether the purple fleet fights against the green or the yellow fleet.
If Purple does not want to do battle, the purple fleet moves to the left Sea and Purple asks the other governments if they want to fight. The order in which the other governments are asked is decided upon by the purple fleet. If no one wants to fight, all three fleets remain peacefully side by side in the Ionian Sea.
All armies of a nation are allowed to move to an adjacent land region (except for Switzerland) Alternatively, they can also be transported overseas via their own fleets (convoy) In doing so, they may cross one or more adjacent sea regions provided the nation already has a fleet in that region Each fleet may transport only one army per turn.
A sea transport is only possible if an army is in a land region that is adjacent to a sea region, or reaches this region by railroad (see next paragraph) After doing the convoy, the army is in a land region again.
Example of sea transport (see picture above): There are two yellow armies In Triest. Via ship, one of the armies can land in Algeria. In this case, however, the second army cannot be transported any more over the western Mediterranean Sea since the ship in the western Mediterranean Sea has already been used by the first army.
But the second army can land in Tunis, for example, since there is another ship in the Ionian Sea that has not yet transported any army; and Tunis is also adjacent to the Ionian Sea.
Railroad transport: Each nation has a railroad network that exists between the home provinces and ends at its own national borders If hostile armies (standing upright) are present in a home province, the railroad network in this home province is suspended Before or after they move, armies may be transported by railroad within the country at will.
Example of a railroad transport: The Dutch army (see illustration to the right) cannot get to Denmark, Sweden or Norway. A direct sea transport is not possible since there is no German fleet in the adjacent sea regions.
The army can move to Hamburg; then it can get to each other German home province. But its "Maneuver" turn is done, and it can neither leave Germany over a land border nor move to another land region by means of the fleet in the Baltic Sea.
The German army in Cologne can get to Hamburg by railroad and then take its "Maneuver" turn, either directly to Denmark or by means of the fleet in the Baltic Sea to Denmark, Sweden or Norway.
Battles: The battle between armies is conducted in the same way as the battle between fleets, i.e., the active nation may match armies in land regions 1:1. Armies of foreign nations can call for a battle if their land region has been invaded. Fleets and armies can battle against each other only if the fleet is still in the harbor. In this case, an invading army can attack the fleet or the fleet can call for a battle.
Entering provinces of other Great Powers: If an army moves into the home province of another Great Power, the government of that army has to decide if the intentions are hostile or friendly. A hostile army, placed standing upright in the province, blocks the province (no production, no import, no building of factories, no taxation). A friendly army, however, is laid on its side; it leads to no constraints. During the next maneuver turn of the nation, the status of the armies can be changed, even without moving them into another province. Also in the case of such a status change, armies of other nations in the province can call for a match.
If a nation has only one factory left that is not occupied by hostile armies (standing upright), the province of this factory may not be entered by hostile armies. Armies of other nations that enter this province are laid on their sides.
Destruction: A foreign factory may be destroyed by three armies if no armies (fleets) of the defender are (any longer) in the home province.
The foreign factories and the three armies are removed from the gameboard. Exception: If a nation has only one factory left that has not been occupied by hostile armies (standing upright), this factory cannot be destroyed
Example of the destruction of a factory:
There is one shipyard in Venice, and one fleet still lies in the harbor of Venice. First, a yellow army may move from Vienna to Venice and battle the fleet. The armies from Budapest may go to Vienna by railroad, then they may move to Venice along with the army from Vienna.
Now three yellow armies are standing in Venice and may destroy the factory. In this case, the three armies and the light blue shipyard are removed from the gameboard.
A nation's flag is placed in newly occupied land or sea regions that don't contain foreign military units. Home provinces of foreign nations cannot be assigned flags.
A flag remains in a region until the region is occupied exclusively by another nation. As the result of a battle, it may happen that an inactive nation winds up occupying the region exclusively; in this case the previous flag is removed and replaced by a flag of that nation.
This turn is conducted in three steps Steps two and three are executed when the "Investor" space on the rondel is not landed on but is only passed through. In this case, the action determined by the space landed on is completed first.
1. Paying Out Interest
Each player who granted bonds to a nation gets its interest paid by the treasury. If the treasury does not have enough money to pay all interest of its bonds, the player who leads the government must turn down his own interest, completely or partly, and, if necessary, must take on the payment of interest to others from his personal cash.
2. Activating The Investor
The player who is holding the Investor card (Investor) gets paid 2 million from the bank and then may invest in any nation. He may only select from the bonds that are available in the nation's bond repository, and may choose whether to take a new bond or increase an existing bond of the same nation.
An additional bond is paid in total to the appropriate treasury, and the player takes the bond card. This way, he may own even several bonds of the same nation. If an existing bond is increased, the card of the bond is sorted into the pile of the nation's bond cards, the new bond card is taken from the repository, and only the difference between the two bonds is paid into the treasury.
Example: A player takes the Italian 12-million bond and puts the Italian 4-million bond back into the pile. He pays the difference of 8 million into the Italian treasury.
3. Investing As Swiss Bank
Each player who has a Swiss Bank and does not hold the investor card at the same time is also allowed to invest once. Investing with the Swiss Bank is done in the same way as if the player holds an Investor card, but without collecting two million from the bank.
If several players have a Swiss Bank, investing is done in the order of play (clockwise), starting from the player currently with the Investor card.
At the end of the Investor turn, a check is made to see if there will be any changes of government. In this context, the sum of all bonds of a player in the pertinent nation will determine the government of that nation.
If, due to the allocation of bonds, a new player has achieved the highest credit sum (a tie is not sufficient), he takes over the government of that nation and is given the nation flag card. If several players achieve the same highest credit sum, the player first in seating order, counting from the player with the investor card, takes over the government.
If a player does not control any government, he gets a Swiss Bank instead Ownership of a Swiss Bank continues as long as the player does not control a nation. If he takes over a government again, he has to return the Swiss Bank.
The owner of a Swiss Bank may force nations on the rondel not to pass over Investor if its government intends to do so However, this can only be done if the treasury of that nation has sufficient money to pay out all interest.
Finally, the Investor card moves clockwise to the next player.
Taxation This turn is conducted in three steps.
1. Tax Revenue / Success Bonus
The national taxes are comprised of two components:
- 2 mil. per unoccupied factory
- 1 mil. per flag.
A factory is unoccupied when there is no hostile army in the home province of the factory. The maximum possible tax revenue is 25 mil. (10 mil. from 5 factories plus 15. mil. from 15 flags).
The taxation is completed, then recorded on the tax chart by means of the game piece. If the taxes are 5 mil. or less, the game piece is put on the lowest space of the tax chart ("2-5"); if the tax is 15 mil. or more, the game piece is put on the highest space of the tax chart ("15+").
For any increase on the tax chart, compared to the previous level, the government (player) is paid a success bonus from the bank. The bonus is 1 mil. for each additional space. If the taxes are constant or decreasing, no bonus is paid out; however, the owner of the flag does not have to pay anything.
2. Adding Power Points
According to its tax revenue, the nation gains additional power points as shown on the right side of the taxation chart. The newly acquired power points are added to the previous point standing on the scoring track at the bottom edge of the gameboard.
As soon as a nation has reached a total of 25 power points, the game ends. If during the move to the "Taxation" space the Investor space has been passed through, part 2 and 3 of the Investor move are not conducted any more.
3. Collecting Money
When landing on the "Taxation" space on the rondel, the nation has to pay 1 mil. soldiers' pay to each of its armies and fleets. One million for each army and fleet of the nation is subtracted from the tax revenue. Only the remaining amount is paid from the bank into the treasury on the gameboard.
If the amount is negative, no payment is made.
Example: The German game pieces stand at 6 (mil). on the tax chart and at 1 on the scoring track. The illustration shows the German situation: The German Empire selects the "Taxation" space on the rondel.
The tax revenue is 7 mil. (2 factories and 3 flags). So the tax marker moves up from 6 (mil). to 7 (mil).. Since the tax marker has moved up one space, the German government (the player with the German nation flag card) gets 1 mil. paid from the bank as a success bonus.
The tax chart shows "+2" points. Accordingly, 2 points are added on the scoring track, and the German marker is moved from "1" to "3".
The German Empire has two armies and one fleet. So 4 mil. (7 mil. tax revenue minus 3 mil. soldiers' pay) is paid from the bank into the German treasury.