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Rating: 6.3 Fair
Players: 2-4 players
Playing time: 90 minutes

Created by: Ralf Burkert, Christof Tisch

Published by: 999 Games, Hans im Glück Verlags-GmbH, Rio Grande Games

Alternate Names: Im Schatten des Kaisers, Kaiser, Shadow of the Emperor


In the Shadow of the Emperor is a tactical game for 2-4 players. Players represent aristocratic families at the Court of the Holy Roman Emperor.

Players seek to get their family members into influential positions with the various electorships of the Empire.

Once there they accumulate votes towards being elected to be Holy Roman Emperor.

Players choose actions for their family members to take, which allow them to wrest control of the various Elector States (each of which has a special ability in addition to its voting power) whilst displacing their opponents.

However, family members age and die and the number of action cards is limited, restricting the tactical options. As players build their influence they collect victory points and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Retail Price:$17
Japan Boardgame Prize Best Advanced Game Nominee 2005

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  • Game board
  • 28 barons
  • 12 knights
  • 4 colored chips
  • 12 cities
  • 4 scoring markers
  • 3 empire cities
  • 1 round marker
  • 1 emperor marker
  • 21 action cards,
  • 41 victory point cards
  • 4 election cards
  • 4 summary cards
  • 1 start position card
  • 1 rule booklet

The game board shows the Thaler track, the Emperor's throne with the Round track, 3 spaces for the victory point cards, and 7 Electorates (upper row: 3 spritual electorates = Archdiocese, lower row: 4 secular electorates).

Object of the Game

Germany in the late middle-ages: the players represent aristocratic families, trying to elevate their claims to the throne. To do this, players collect victory point cards by building cities, being promoted to elector, etc. …

  • Rival cost: 0 thaler, number: 1

    The player announces his desire to take the throne. He is the challenger in the up-coming Emperor election.

    When a player takes the »rival« action card, phase IV is over for him; he may take no more action cards in this round. The current Emperor may not take the »Rival« action card.

  • Doctor cost: 1 thaler, number: 4 players: 3 - 3 players: 2 - 2 players: 1.

    The player reduces the life stage of one of his aristocrats (turns it 90° in counter-clockwise direction) or increases the life stage of one of his opponents aristocrats (turns it 90° in clockwise direction). …

The privileges may only be used by the player who has an aristocrat in the elector space of the corresponding electorate. If the elector space is empty, no player may use the privilege.

After using the privilege, the player moves the aristocrat tile to the privilege space to show that the privilege has been used. At the beginning of a new round, players move any aristocrats on the privilege spaces back to the elector spaces.

Archdiocese of Trier

The player may, in phase IV, use an action card that is normally used in phase IV, but is no longer available. He takes the action as though the card was available to take, including paying for it. …

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