Authors: Larry Harris &
Glenn Drover


Awards: none



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

It was in the early 80s when MILTON BRADLEY gave birth to his famous Gamemaster Series of war games with a highly developed design and advanced and reasoned rules, which kept us busy many afternoons, evenings and nights. While I was quite familiar in those days with the titles Axis and Allies and Shogun, I had no real contact to the rest of the series. Conquest of the Empire was produced in 1984, but there were not too many copies of the game available here in Germany, so when the production ended it became quickly very rare and expensive. Thus, I was very surprised when I got hold a new copy of the game from EAGLE GAMES in the late afternoon one day of this year´s game convention in Essen. As I could learn, EAGLE GAMES had acquired the rights of the original game, made some redesign and had put the game in a big box with a huge board and beautifully designed miniatures. Already on first sight, this new version of the game looks even more impressive than the original game.


The game comes with two different sets of rules. First there are the classic rules by Larry Harris, which were a little bit redesigned by Glenn Drover, eliminating some minor disadvantages of the old game (CotE I). My first thought was that the second set of rules would introduce some more options and thus expand in a way the classic rules like it was in EAGLE GAMES´ Civilization. But what really surprised me was that these additional rules (CotE II) are completely different and actually describe a totally independent game. So in fact you will get two games in one box by buying Conquest of the Empire.

In this review I will give you a short introduction to the rules of both variants that will give you a general idea about the different mechanisms. I will then describe some of the major differences.

The Classic game, CotE I

So let us begin with the classic game. The rules of this variant are not very complex but the game itself becomes very tactical, so 15 minutes or longer for one turn of a player should not surprise you too much. After the set up in which each player chooses a home province and places his Caesar all 4 Generals and some minor army pieces in this province the game follows six sequences of play in each turn of a player.

In the first phase the players may move their armies on land or on the sea. Only Legions are allowed to move, so I´ll better explain the concept of a legion first. A legion comprises always at least one of the leaders (a Caesar or a general) und up to seven land units (that are infantries, cavalries and catapults). Whereas the leaders and the Cavalry may move up to two spaces in a turn, the other land units movement is limited to one space. In the game, the choice of the best combination - where a legion must be split and combined - is one of the major tactical elements. A legion can also move on sea spaces with the aid of a galley, which can move up to two spaces in a turn.

Wherever a legion moves into an occupied country, a combat will take place. Combat is done by rolling Special Combat dices for each combat unit. On these Combat dice there are the symbols of the different combat units in play. A unit hits if the dice matches up the type of the unit. After all eliminated units are removed both players decide whether to continue the battle or retreat. There is also the possibility of a pursuit, if the player winning the battle has any cavalry units in his legion. If a Legion is eliminated prior to pursuit, all Leaders are captured and can be released by paying a ransom. If however the Caesar of a player is captured, he and all of his armies are eliminated from the game.

Next phase is collecting tribute for all of a players´ provinces (of course there are provinces that will give more tribute than others).

In phase four, you may destroy your own cities, if you feel unsure whether you can hold a province until your next turn. Thus you will prevent your opponent from capturing a city and having the advantages of getting more income (a city increases the income by 5 talents) and building roads (a Legion on a road can move on this road for only one movement point, no matter how far).

The fifth phase is for purchasing new pieces (land units, cities and roads). Also a city can be fortified in this phase, giving some advantages in certain combat situations. Note that there is inflation during the game that will increase the costs for the units.

In the last phase, all purchased units may be placed on the board.

This way the game continues, with war waging between the players and the winning and loosing of provinces. In the end, the game is won by the player who has the last Caesar on the board.


Conquest of the Empire II, CotE II

The new variant of the game is a little bit more complex. The game consists of four Campaign Seasons, so the first difference to the classical game is that there is a limitation of time. The game is won by victory points, which are scored at the end of each Season. A Season consists of four rounds of play and in each round a player has two actions. What makes the game really interesting is the fact that you form alliances at the begin of each Campaign Season, defining which players may attack each other and which may not. Next to the units and coins of the classical game, there are cards (giving the players various abilities) and chaos tokens in the game. Chaos tokens are a fine for those players who want to recruit units, raise special taxes and who loose battles. Chaos tokens are added up at the end of each Campaign Season, resulting in a loss of victory points for the player who has the most and the player with the second most Chaos tokens.

To set up the game each player draws randomly four provinces and marks these provinces with an influence token. Besides he gets a specific amount of units and some money.

Then the campaign season sequence starts: Some more province tokens, depending on the number of players are revealed on the map and can be bought in a later phase of the game. Then conquest cards equal to twice the number of players are drawn from the deck and are revealed as well. These cards, once purchased by a player, can be a useful help in the later game, enabling the player to do special actions like assassinate opponents´ generals and building cities. In comparison to CotE I this element gives the game much more possibilities to influence the game flow.

The next phase is truly a major element in CotE II and a big difference to CotE I. Players have to divide into two alliances. This is done with the element of bidding. The player pronouncing a bid proposes an alliance by placing one un-allied player token in Box A and another one in Box B on the board. Then the next player may rearrange this proposal by making a higher bid and so on. This procedure goes on, until all players are forced either into Box A or Box B. All players in the same Box build an Alliance for the rest of the Campaign.

After the cards and provinces for the Campaign are drawn and Alliances are pledged, the players actions take place. Each Campaign season consists of four rounds and in each round the players have two actions. Player actions are:

  • obtaining a Conquest Card
  • recruit
  • buy influence
  • special tax
  • move land units
  • land battle
  • naval move / naval battle
  • pass

Battles are done similar to the classic game, but can be influenced by Conquest cards and allied units may support the attacker or the defender.

At the end of the Campaign, taxes are collected and victory pints are gained for each key province. The game ends after the fourth Campaign Season with the option of a fifth Season.


As you can see, the two variants of Conquest of the Empire differ a lot. Thus, you can actually pose the question which set of rules might be the better one. I must confess, I cannot decide it. Both games have their charm and some weaker points. CotE II is more sophisticated and balanced and will be the favoured for easier and shorter games. CotE I on the other hand is more strategic but has the disadvantage that players can be eliminated or strongly weakened so that they will loose joy in playing. In the end, the individual preferences of the players will be decisive of the one or the other variant. But luckily enough, you don't have to decide it in the first instance, because in the box you will get both variants.

No doubt, Conquest of the Empire from EAGLE GAMES is a great and wonderful game. Some people may have some prejudices and might fear a confusing and long-lasting game due to the huge, gameboard and the large number of game pieces, but they should definitely test the newer variant of the rules. As far as the old Conquest fans are concerned, they get a great new design with the option of additional rules. So as you can see, I am very happy with the game. Go on like this, EAGLE GAMES !!!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany