Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Konrad Perzyna


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Until now, the Polish publisher and distributor G3 is nearly unknown in Western Europe. Only recently they began to create their own games that is why the gaming scene outside Poland did not take notice of G3 before. But in fact, G3 is one of the biggest game companies in Poland. ST GAMES is the trademark for the new project, and if you have been to the SPIEL convention in 2013 or 2014, you will have realized that G3 takes this project very serious and with a professional view. Having one of the biggest booths right in the centre of the main hall, you could not miss them. And because the appearance of the games is pretty cool, a lot of people were attracted to the booth and it was difficult to find seats at one of their numerous playing tables. So, I decided that it is time to see what is behind this big buzz and I had a closer look at one of their games. Here is the result…

In Imperialism - Road to Domination we cover a period from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. It is the time of colonization as well as some major developments in technology, philosophy and political systems. Of course, it is also the time of a lot of conflicts and long and disastrous wars. Despite this time of unrest, the game welcomes us friendly and not hasty. The gameboard displays a lot of different scales where we keep track of our prestige, glory, army and fleet strength as well as of our goods productions (eight different scales for the individual goods). Also, we can find spaces for different kinds of cards, such as achievement, territory and providence as well as religion cards.


At the beginning we all are equipped with one of the different superpower cards that determines our home state and some corresponding bonuses. All cards of the game follow the same structure: below the head where we can find the name and the type of the card, we see the individual illustration combined with symbols for the card's permanent effects, its contribution to our glory points and as far as war cards are concerned, and its war and plundering modifier. Finally, on the bottom we can find the requirements to play the cards (if there are any), an immediate effect and - in case of most providence cards - an explanation of how the card is used.

Although the various tracks on the boards and the different types of cards seem to confuse a lot of people after set-up, the game is quickly explained: In our turn we first fill up our hand to our limit (5 cards at the beginning of the game). After discarding up to three cards from our hand, we have the option to take one territory card from an outlay and supplement our hand to the limit from the providence card pile where we can find plot, event, authority and some special cards. The alternative is to draw randomly from the territory and the providence card pile. Why is this important? Well, the territory cards demand special requirements to be played, so it is better to know what you are taking. But in some situations you need more than one territory card, or you cannot use the cards from the outlay and then it is helpful to draw at random.


In our turn, we can choose from five different actions. Three of them have to do with the different kinds of cards in our hand, so let us start with these actions:

The first action lets us expand our empire by playing one of the territory cards from our hand to our empire, if we can meet the requirements of the card. These cards are put in front of the players and remain there until the end of the game or until they are removed by another card's effect. This is a very important action and especially at the beginning of the game the most frequent one. Most territory cards have a permanent effect that allows you to advance on various tracks on the gameboard. And being in front is quite useful, especially on the production tracks, because there are special bonuses for the leaders.

With the second action, called "intrigue", you can play up to two cards with an intrigue symbol from your hand. This symbol can be found on most of the cards from the providence pile like plot, authority and some of the event cards. These cards can have positive effects to yourself or negative ones to your opponents. With negative authority cards you even can exchange a leader of another player with the one you played. As a result, this player must observe the negative permanent effects of this authority until he has played a positive authority card against himself. Also, with this action you can change the religion of your people by taking one of the available religion cards from an outlay on the board. There are two cards for each of the three different religions and all demand specific requirements to be taken. So, especially in a game with four people you have to hurry up to get the religion that best fits to you (and has the best bonus).

Last but not least you can take a war action to play one of your war cards against another player. In that case the attacker sums up the attacking value of the war card, his actual modifier on the land or fleet army track (depending on the type of war card) and all modifiers on cards that have been played to his country and are still in play (territory and leader cards). The defender on the other hand can play at most two war cards to defend himself, and he also adds his modifiers to this. The winner receives glory and prestige points, and in addition it comes to peace negotiations or plundering if the defending player is defeated. Quite interesting is the fact that in peace negotiations the defender can choose one out of three different possibilities by himself. Of course, all of them are not really desirable (losing a territory card, ducats or prestige points), but still it gives the player a fair chance to get back into the game.


Talking about ducats, these are needed to play some of the cards as well as increasing army levels and other benefits, and this brings us to the two other possible actions a player can choose from: development and taxation. Both increase the player's reserves of ducats. The latter comes from the territory cards a player possesses, whereas the form originates from the different goods. The benefit is given by the player's individual position on the corresponding track on the board. Most of these tracks also have a leader and economic gain that further develops the player's abilities.

Finally there are the achievement cards. Whenever a player meets the requirements of one of the available achievement cards (at set-up you reveal one card more than the number of players), he takes it and immediately gets the bonus of the card. Especially after the first third of the game it becomes extremely important to look after the requirements of the available achievement cards. As these cards are sorted at set-up, they become stronger as time progresses. You can achieve a lot of victory points in the end game if you can meet the requirements of these cards. For this reason only one of the cards can be taken in a turn, but because the taking of a cards does not use up one of your actions, it is the best way to reach your goals.

Imperialism - Road to Domination is a typical Euro game. It features a lot of scales, different ways to reach your goals and a clever scoring mechanism. At the beginning the different symbols on the cards are a little bit confusing. So, it takes some time to understand how the game works. This is aggravated by the fact that a lot of cards can be used in different ways. But at some point in the middle of the first game, most players feel a "click" and everything falls into place. The artwork of the board and the cards is pretty cool and fits to the medieval theme of the game. Because each card has an individual artwork, your expanding empire will be very unique. That contributes to the great atmosphere of the game.


In my first two games I thought that the game has some balancing problems because there seemed to be no chance to catch up with the leading player when the game was at halftime. But with my third game I was taught better. I was leading by a large margin and although I was feeling safe and was not dissatisfied with my cards, I ended second because my opponent cleverly met the requirements of different achievement cards with every new turn. This was also the case in some games afterwards, and so I am quite sure that the game - although dependent on luck - can be won with different strategies or better tactics, because you must adopt your strategy to your opponents' progress and your own cards.

I also had to learn that two games of Imperialism - Road to Domination can vary a lot. One time you are attacking or being attacked in every second round, while in another game all players concentrate on the production scales and peacefully co-exist. Although the game lacks totally new ideas, myself and all players I invited to test the game liked playing it a lot, and so I will keep a vigilant eye on the upcoming games by G3.

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Copyright © 2014 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany