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Eagle Games
MSRP $59.99
Available From:

 www.funagain.com for $47.95

 

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

Pros:

- Smooth, fast-playing combat

- Nice synergy between rules and theme

- Have I mentioned those gorgeous components?

- A second, fine set of rules included in the box

 

Cons:

- Might last too long to get it to the table as often as Iíd like

- Players can be eliminated early and have a long time to wait

 

Related Links:

Tabletop Game: Heroes of Might & Magic IV

Review: Rome: Total War (PC)

 

 

 

 

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Tabletop Game of the Week

Conquest of the Empire

 

conquest of the empire           conquest of the empire

 

The Spin:

ďWill you be the next emperor of Rome Ö or food for the lions?Ē and

ďItís two, two, two, two games in oneĒ

 

The Story:

Players of Conquest of the Empire take on the role of  potential Caesars in the second century A.D.  The 200 year Pax Romana has come to an end and someone must arise to unite the land.  Who that person is will be determined through land and sea battles across the empire.

 

The Play

Interestingly, Conquest of the Empire contains two games in the box:  the main game, which is a re-issue of a fun, but flawed MB Gamemaster game and Conquest of the Empire II, a new design by Glen Drover based loosely on Martin Wallaceís brilliant Struggle of Empires.  Since the original game is more likely to appeal to our regular readers, Iíll focus on that one, but that isnít to say that COEII is a bad game.  In fact, it is the game more likely to see heavy play among my group for a few reasons that Iíll mention later.

 

COE is a pretty basic light war game and, as such, follows a familiar formula.  Players start by placing their initial allotment of troops on the board on one of seven provinces.  After initial set-up, players take turns moving troops around the board engaging in combat in order to expand their empire.

 

Combat is handled using special dice (a mechanic which Iíll be the first to admit Iím a sucker for).  Players organize their forces into Battle Legions and then roll a number of dice equal to 

the number of troops allocated for combat.  The dice have symbols that match the different unit types (Infantry, Calvary , Galleys, Catapults).  Players then match the rolled symbols with the units in the combatóeach match is a hit.  Pieces are removed and combat continues until one player retreats or in completely destroyed.

 

After a player has completed movement and combat, they collect tribute based on the number of provinces under their control.  Money collected in this phase is then used to purchase new units, cities, and roads. 

 

The game continues until only one player remains on the board or all remaining players agree on the new Caesar.

 

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My Take

Itís hard for me to describe just how impressed I am with Conquest of the Empire.  Though it was always hard not to respect Eagleís production values, in the past  Iíve had some issues with Eagle Games products, especially their rules and playtesting. Here, we have a short, simple rule set that polishes the previous editionís rough areas without producing new problems.  Furthermore, the more strategic COE II rules that are included in the box (though not as clearly written) make for an amazing value.  I was a big fan of the original COE and remain one to this day, but I really like Droverís new design (CO II), especially the fact that it can be played in less than three hours and features no player elimination.  Iíll try to do a follow-up review on COE II when Iíve had more time to get it to the table.

 

As far as the originalís game play goes, I love the fact that tributes are acquired mid-turn instead of at the beginning of the turn.  This really rewards aggressive play and is one of the reasons COE doesnít suffer from the ďwait/amass troops/attackĒ rhythm of similar light war games.

 

I also enjoy the feel that building cities, upgrading them, and building roads between them provides.  A much greater sense of empire building is present in the game than in other combat-heavy games with the same theme.

 

Finally, a component review follows, but I must say that the quality of the components, including the amazingly over-sized map, adds quite a bit to the gaming experience.  This baby draws a crowd from across the room, and it simply feels cool to play with all those marvelous bits.

 

All those elements taken into consideration make Conquest of the Empire my current choice for game of the year.  It would be in my top five with just the basic rules, but the excellent COE II just pushes it over the edge.

 

 

The Components:

Conquest of the Empireís box absolutely crammed full of goodness.  The game comes with nearly 400 large, well-sculpted miniatures representing the various combat units.  These are so detailed that the catapults even feature moving arms.  I especially liked that the miniatures were ready to play.  So often with games this size it can take hours to carefully remove the minis from their sprues.  With COE, these were separated, bagged and ready to go.

 

The game also includes large plastic coins to represent tribute and high-impact dice with symbols imbedded in the plastic (no stickers here).

 

Finally, the map has to be seen to be believed.  It is huge (46 x 36 inches) and well drawn by Paul Niemeyer.  I actually have to add the extension to my dining room table in order to place the map and have a place for the players to organize their pieces.

 

- Danny Webb

(October 18, 2005)

 

 

 

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