Imperial 2030, by Mac Gerdts, is a game in which each player takes on the role of a powerful international investor who uses countries as puppets in a quest to earn the greatest profits. The tools of the trade are bond investing, politics, diplomacy, and war. The players seek their profits by investing in the bonds of the six world powers the game foresees in the year 2030: Russia, China, India, Brazil. USA, and the E.U. The player who owns the largest share of a nations debt controls its government, using it as a means to the end of gaining the greatest return on all of his investments. Remember, as a ruthless global investor you are not concerned with quaint ideals like nationalism, patriotism, and most certainly not pacifism. You do not send the troops of a country that you control to war for any cause other than your financial gain. While Imperial 2030 is not a pure war game per se, it is through the conquest of neutral countries around the globe that a nation’s power ranking is increased, and there by raising the value of its bonds. It is through this increase in power, and thus bond value, that players either profit by investing in countries that go on to do well, or suffer financial ruin by backing those that perform poorly.
In Imperial 2030, the rondel is the mechanism by which the player controlling a nation selects what action it will perform during its turn. On a country’s first turn it may select any action on the rondel, but on all future turns it must progress in a clockwise direction choosing an action up to three spaces away from its position for free. In the event that a player wishes his country to perform an action further than three spaces away, he may pay money to the bank from his personal money supply to move a maximum of three additional spaces. The six actions a nation may perform are as follows:
Factory A player may pay $5 million from the active country’s treasury, adding his own money if he so desires, to place a factory in an enemy free home province. There are two types of factories: armament facilities for producing armies and shipyards for producing fleets. There are two purposes for building factories in a country. First, it increases how many armies or fleets a nation gains by taking the production action. Secondly, it increases the amount of revenue and power a nation receives from selecting the taxation action.
Production– A player selecting the production action for a country he controls places one army on each enemy free armament facility and one ship on each enemy free shipyard. This production is free of charge.
Maneuver– A player selecting the maneuver action for a nation may move none, all, or some of its military units. The player first moves all of the nation’s fleets and then any of its armies he wishes. Armies may be convoyed over an unbroken line of friendly fleets to a land destination at a capacity of one army per fleet present. If while moving a fleet or an army, it enters a space occupied by the forces of another nation the active player decides if he wishes to fight or be peaceful. If he chooses combat both countries remove pieces on a strictly one for one basis. If he chooses peace the player controlling the other nation(possibly the same player) decides if he wants peace or combat and resolve either accordingly. If peace is chosen the units coexist without incident for the time being.
Investor– When investor is selected the nation must pay out all interest on bonds currently held by players, with the controlling player getting paid last and making up any shortfalls by the treasury out of his own money. The player holding the investor card now receives $2 million and may purchase any bond in any country he wishes and can afford. Following this action, any player who currently does not control a country(referred to as a Swiss Bank) may, in clockwise order from the player with the investor card, purchase any bond that he can afford. These last two conditions occur whether investor is landed on or merely passed over. However, if the investor space is skipped the country does not pay out interest. Once these actions are completed, any change of ownership for countries resolves and the investor card is passed one player to the left.
Import– When the import action is chosen for a country, the controlling player may purchase fleets and armies at the cost of $1 million per unit from the country’s treasury. A maximum of three total units may be purchased and placed in any enemy free home territories with the only restriction being that fleets must be placed where a shipyard may be built.
Taxation– When the taxation action is selected, the active country performs four steps: calculate tax revenue, soldiers’ pay, success bonus, and adding power points. A nation’s tax revenue is calculated by counting $1 million for each neutral country it controls and $2 million for each of its factories. This amount is then paid into the nation’s treasury. Soldier’s pay is determined by paying $1 million for each army and fleet a nation controls from its treasury to the bank. A success bonus is paid to the player who controls the nation from its treasury based on the nation’s tax revenue as indicated by the chart on the board. Lastly, power points are calculated by taking the nation’s tax revenue and cross referencing it with the chart showing the number of power points gained for that level of income. The country then moves its marker the appropriate number of spaces on the power track. If this would move the nation to, or past 25, its marker is placed on 25 and the game ends.
Imperial 2030 is played on a map of the world as it might appear in the future. Each nation has four home territories that are the same color as the country’s pieces. All tan locations and sea zones are neutral territories that are available for conquest. The board allows wrap around movement via the sea zones, representing the Earths spherical nature. The treasuries are located at the bottom edge of the board and are in the turn order from right to left. Just above the treasuries, on left side of the board is the rondel, and directly above them is the chart for calculating power points and success bonuses based on a nation’s revenue when taxation is selected. Along the top edge of the board is the power track. It is divided into 6 sections that are all marked by a multiplier ranging from 0x up to 5x. When a country reaches 25 on the power track the game ends. All players multiply the value of their bonds held in each country based on its location on the power track. Players then add their personal money supply to the sum of all of their multiplied bonds to calculate their final score. The player with highest total is the victor.
I am not even going to pretend to be on the fence when it comes to my opinion of Imperial 2030. I LOVE IT!!! It is in a very select club of games that I rate a 10 out of 10! Imperial 2030 has all of the characteristics that I look for in a game. It has enough strategic depth for players to explore grand schemes while also possessing a wide enough array of tactical options for opportunistic players to exploit. It feels epic! Yes, I know it is not really a game of global conquest as the goal is economic, but the idea of using global superpowers as playthings satisfies my inner megalomaniac. It possesses tremendous replay value because each country may be played in several ways and thus each combination of countries allows for even more options for players to explore. There is also room for diplomatic propaganda, threats, bluffs, alliances, and betrayals, resulting in many opportunities for intangible plays to be as effective as those taking place on the board. Imperial 2030 scales well from 3-6 players which allows it to accommodate a wide range of play groups. I enjoy it as a two player game, but recognize that it is a vastly different experience and is less likely to appeal to as many players as larger games. I know that it must seem like I am gushing, because I am, but for my tastes Imperial 2030 is as fine a game as I have ever had the joy to play!
Can I even say any negative things about a game that I rate a perfect 10? While I find Imperial 2030 to be a virtually flawless game, I am able to acknowledge that there are a few things about it which some players may be less enthusiastic. It is a relatively long game, taking on average 2.5 to 4 hours to play. The game can run even longer if played by extremely warlike players who are hell-bent on conquering the world instead of raising the value of their investments. If your group does not enjoy games with large amounts of direct conflict I would recommend passing on Imperial 2030. It is a nasty game that is best played by nasty players, and not for the faint of heart. While there are no official player elimination conditions, it would almost be merciful if there were, as it is very possible to be out of contention for the win quite early. Personally I consider all of these things to be positives, but I understand that they may not be for all players.
In conclusion, if you and/or your gaming group are not the sort to be put off by any of the concerns I mentioned, then you should absolutely buy this game. Imperial 2030 is like a good game of tackle football. Sure you could have played two hand touch, but then again you also could have gone dress shopping. You will be exhausted with more than enough bruises and scars to show for the experience, but it is that good kind of tired that leaves you with only enough energy to smile and say, “Good game!”
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Imperial 2030 please consider Circle City Games.