Imperial Scramble: A Game of 19th Century War and Imperialism



  • Hello everyone,

    This post is an introduction to a game I am designing: Imperial Scramble. I am posting this here to see if there is any interest for a type of game like this. I think that diplomacy players are the type that would probably enjoy this game. Any feedback you have would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    GAME BASICS:
    Object of the Game: Score the most points as determined by country specific objectives.
    Duration: Between 2 hours (less than 8 player variants) - 5 hours (full 8 player game).
    Players: 3-8 (8 players is best for the full experience, but games are still lots of fun and include all the same features with less people).
    Cooperative/Competitive: Ultimately, there is only one winner. However, it is impossible to succeed without working with other players.
    Player Elimination: NO. It is theoretically possible to eliminate another player, but it would not make sense to do so. Everyone who starts the game also finishes.
    Luck: None. Battles are determined by unit placement, not dice.
    Complexity: Low. There are two types of units and three types of buildings. After a couple turns anyone over 12 will understand all the rules of the game.

    “BACK OF THE BOX” DESCRIPTION: Imperial Scramble transports players to the year 1850 and places them at the helm of the world’s great powers (Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, Russia, and Japan). Players then have seven decades to attempt to complete numerous colonial, military, and political objectives that are unique to their chosen nations and which will bring them across the entire eastern hemisphere.

    These objectives, however, will not be easy to complete. Each objective a country has conflicts with those of another. Often, warfare will be required for a player to accomplish his or her objective in the face of an opponent’s opposition! But warfare will not be enough to prosper as no power is strong enough to dominate its adversaries by force of arms alone. Negotiation and diplomacy are required. Only those players who can employ both pen and sword, who can convert enemies into friends, and who can sacrifice the lesser for the greater objective will succeed. It is these players who will bring glory to their nation and who will be the winners of Imperial Scramble.

    MECHANICS

    The Turn: The game takes place over 7 decades, 1850-1920. One turn equals one decade. Each turn is composed of three phases. Players complete each phase simultaneously by writing down orders for their units and then revealing their orders at the end of the phase.

    War: All players start the game at peace with one another. War must be declared before one player can attack another. Wars do not last the While game. Peace agreements are usually reached by the next turn. War need not be declared on natives in order to conquer colonial territories. Players conquer colonial territories by entering the colonial territory with more armies than the native resistance present in that territory.

    Movement: The board is huge and it is difficult to move about at first because armies only move one space per phase and fleets only move three spaces per phase. However, players can build sea lanes and rail roads to speed up movement. Sea lanes and railroads allow armies to “instamove” long distances in a single phase.

    Battles: Battles occur when hostile units enter the same territory. Battles are determined by the number of units in the battle and adjacent to it. Battles rage on from phase to phase until one side can force the other to retreat through the game’s unique battle mechanic.

    Economy: Essentially, there is none. The number of units a player can have is determined by the manpower value his or her territories produce. Only home territories produce manpower. Thus, there is no counting up income and expenses each turn, etc. players just focus on actually playing the game.

    Winning the Game: Each country has objectives that are unique to it. Each objective is worth a certain amount of points. At the end of the game, each player determines how many objectives they completed and the total points they have, therefore, scored. The winner is the one with the most points.


  • 2017 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Sounds like a good omelet.



  • Thanks for the comment. Do you think the game is it something that you would be interested in playing?


  • 2017 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Reminds me of a thread a year back… before 1914 came out we wondered about such a game.

    I would add Spain.

    I would stay away from Diplomacy style game and more like Axis and Allies.

    An old game called Colonialism also comes to mind. Perhaps your version is like it?

    I think you need Cavalry which can move 2 on land. Artillery would be the 3rd land unit.

    Ships should be Dreadnoughts and Cruisers. People don’t like limited pieces.

    Much will depend on the artwork.


  • '13

    I like the idea. Like others have said, i would rather not have diplomacy style game. If you could come up with something unique and satifying this would certainly be a game i would pay money for.



  • Thanks for the replies! I will tell you a bit more about the rules so you can get a clearer picture of what the game is like.

    The game goes from 1850 to 1920. Each decade is represented by one turn and each turn is divided into three phases. Each country has unique objectives that it attempts to accomplish throughout the game. At the end of the game, each player reviews the objectives for his or her country and is awarded points for the objectives he or she has accomplished. The player with the most points wins.

    The action of the game takes place during the movement phases of each turn. During the movement phases, players move their armies and fleets around the board and attempt to take or hold territory. Players fight wars against other players, minor powers, and natives. Minor powers and natives are non-playable and are subject to special, simplified combat rules. When players engaged in battles with one another, the full combat system is employed.

    Combat is very easy to understand. A battle occurs whenever the units of warring players end a movement phase in the same territory (or sea space for fleets). No dice are used to resolve battles. If either side has double the amount of units involved in the battle, then that side instantly wins and the loser is forced to retreat to an adjacent friendly territory. If neither side has double the amount of units of the other, then the battle is unresolved and continues to the next movement phase. If a battle is unresolved at the end of the third movement phase, then the side with one more unit in the battle than the other wins the battle. If the two are exactly even, then the battle continues to the next turn. The purpose of having battles rage on from phase to phase is to allow players time to bring in reinforcements or adapt to the situation in other ways.

    Additionally, the game uses a mechanic called the “battle line bonus.” This threats units in territories that are adjacent to a battle as participating in the battle. So, if there is a battle between two British units and two French units, but the British have one unit in an adjacent territory, then the british have a 3 to 2 advantage. If the adjacent unit, however, is also engaged in a battle, then it only provides half of its value to the other battle. So in the previous example, if the British unit in the adjacent territory is also in a battle then it only provides 0.5 support to its comrades in the other battle resulting in a british advantage of 2.5. The idea here is to encourage players to build battle lines as opposed to clumping all their units in one territory. The result is more realistic looking fronts developing between warring players.

    As for movement, armies move one space per movement phase and fleets move three spaces per movement phase. Armies can be loaded on to fleets (two armies per fleet). Fleets are not allowed to go into land territories. As the board is huge, it is difficult for armies to move around large territories. However, to help transport their armies around quickly, players can build sea lanes and railroads. Sea lanes connect friendly coastal territories that are separated by sea and allow armies to instantly move between them during a move phase. Railroads connect long distances of land territory and allow armies to move instantly across them during a move phase.

    These are some of the core rules to know. I thought I would also post this little description of a recent player’s experience with the game:

    To get a feel for the sort of decisions players will face, let’s take a look at Germany. In 1850, Germany was not yet unified. As such, an important German objective is to unify Germany by conquering the remaining German territories that it does not own. Austria-Hungary, however, does not want Germany to unify, as it has an objective to that effect, and so will work hard to keep Bavaria out of German hands. In its un-unified state, Germany is too weak to fight Hungary alone. So what to do?

    Of the many options, we will discuss one that actually occurred in the most recent play test. Like Germany, Italy is not yet unified in 1850 either and also finds Austria-Hungary opposing its unification. Perhaps an Italo-German alliance against Austria-Hungary will allow both to unify? War is declared and Germany and Italy fight together to push the Austrians out of their homelands. Despite some success in Germany, the Germans and Italians have become bogged down in their offensive and major battles rage in Bavaria and Lombardia. In hopes of breaking the deadlock, Germany has a private conversation with the Ottoman leader where he reminds the Ottomans of their objective to conquer Hungary and vows to help them achieve that goal. The Ottomans declare war on Austria-Hungary, and the Austrians go into a panic! They had the power to fight the Germans and Italians, but they cannot manage a new enemy on a third front. Austria-Hungary offers peace to the Germans and Italians. Both accept and, with that, both Italy and Germany are unified. Though the Ottomans are mad at the Germans for leaving the war, such is a small price to pay in order to achieve unification.

    Unification completed the German player looked to his other objectives. Of his many options, he decided to pursue colonial goals in West Africa. Unfortunately, he had lost precious time during the war of unification and West Africa was mostly colonized by the French. Ever the crafty diplomat, Germany entered into negotiations with Great Britain, who also had an objective to acquire colonies in West Africa.

    The two decided to both declare war on France and split West Africa between themselves. With war declared, France was too afraid of a German invasion of France to send enough armies to defeat the British attack on West Africa. The war ended quickly and Britain stayed true to its word transferring 4 of the 8 West African territories conquered to Germany. And, with that, Germany became a colonial power.

    By this point the game was half of the way over. In the end, Germany placed fourth as a result of a failed invasion of Russia. Russia actually won the game with France coming in second. France regained its lost African colonies and took over much of Southern Africa when Britain got caught up in a war with the Japanese over the East Indies. At any rate, this ought to give you a feel for the sort of things that happen in the game.

    Let me know if you have any other questions, comments, or criticism. I would love to have any feedback.


  • 2017 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Combat is very easy to understand. A battle occurs whenever the units of warring players end a movement phase in the same territory (or sea space for fleets). No dice are used to resolve battles. If either side has double the amount of units involved in the battle, then that side instantly wins and the loser is forced to retreat to an adjacent friendly territory. If neither side has double the amount of units of the other, then the battle is unresolved and continues to the next movement phase. If a battle is unresolved at the end of the third movement phase, then the side with one more unit in the battle than the other wins the battle. If the two are exactly even, then the battle continues to the next turn. The purpose of having battles rage on from phase to phase is to allow players time to bring in reinforcements or adapt to the situation in other ways.

    This is Colonial Diplomacy for the most part. I hope you get another system. Dice is what you want and need. If you make it too much like Diplomacy, nobody will play it except old white men who wear diapers. So forget this idea. Nothing wrong with luck in combat. They already made this game and i didn’t sell.

    http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/250/colonial-diplomacy


  • 2017 '16 '15 '12

    No, dont shy away from Diplomacy-style. People who cant separate a game from post-game surely avoid it, but luckily, personally I have never seen people being upset about an in-game treachery after a game (well, one). Most likely, they betrayed someone else, as well 🙂 
    No doubt there exist players who can not cope with such situations, though.

    And no, dice are not an unescapable requirement in a game.



  • Simmons Games is proof that dice ARE NOT necessary.  Please ignore Imperious Leader’s trite arrogance.  Your game sounds interesting.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @aekenter:

    The game goes from 1850 to 1920. Each decade is represented by one turn and each turn is divided into three phases. Each country has unique objectives that it attempts to accomplish throughout the game. At the end of the game, each player reviews the objectives for his or her country and is awarded points for the objectives he or she has accomplished. The player with the most points wins.

    I have a question about this.  Does each decade-phase of the game end with an assessment of how many goals were accomplished in that round, with permanent points being awarded for the accomplishment of those goals?  Or is there simply a single assessment that takes place at the end of the game, with a single set of points being awarded at that stage?  Either method would work, but the rules should be clear about which method is being used.

    On the one hand, if the game uses the final-assessment-at-the-end method, then the winner isn’t determined by what happened “throughout the game” – the winner is determined by the final status of the territorial holdings on the game map.  In this method, the players don’t have stage-based intermediate goals, they simply have a final goal.

    On the other hand, if the players have stage-based intermediate goals, then the question becomes whether accomplished goals can be “undone” by subsequent game events.  To pick a concrete example: the player who’s quoted by you says “In 1850, Germany was not yet unified. As such, an important German objective is to unify Germany by conquering the remaining German territories that it does not own. […] Unification completed the German player looked to his other objectives.”  The question this raises is: what if later in the game Germany loses some of the territories it conquered to achieve unification?  Does this reverse German unification? And if so, are there consequences in terms of points?

    In other words, there are two possible models:

    Model 1: Germany has the goal of conquering territories x, y and z at any phase of the game to achive unification.  If at any stage of the game it controls those territories in addition to controlling its original territories of a, b and c, Germany is immediately given a certain number of victory points, which it retains throughout the game regardless of whether or not it manages to hold on to these territories for the rest of the game.

    Model 2: Germany has the goal of being in control of territories a, b, c, x, y and z at the end of the game.  If at the end of the game it controls all of those territories, it receives a certain number of points; if it only controls some (or none), then it receives no points.

    Just from a historical point of view, Model 1 probably makes more sense.  Method 2 would, in effect, give Germany a goal of achieving its unification by 1920 and maintaining it until that date, without giving it any credit for achieving unification by (let’s say) 1870/1871, as was the case historically.


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Imperious Leader doesn’t like Diplomacy because he always loses.

    And losing in diplomacy comes hand in hand with not being able to make/keep/mend relationships…


  • 2017 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Actually I’m undefeated going back to 1975. Back when you were just a bad idea but somebody did the deed anyway. I play Russia, Germany, or UK. Colonial Diplomacy however was played only once and we never completed that game…



  • Thank you all for you comments! I really appreciate it!

    The first thing I want to say is that I wish I could post pictures! However, for some reason, the forum does not let me…

    Imperious Leader: Thanks for commenting, but I must say that I disagree with your interpretation of my game. I like the game diplomacy, but I feel that it has a lot of flaws and I have tried very hard to avoid all of these flaws in my game. For example, players are not eliminated in Imperial Scramble, the game has a set end point, countries are actually unique and different from one another because of their historically based objective sets, war must be declared upon another player before hostilities erupt, peace agreements can be made, players can trade territories, multiple units can inhabit one territory, etc., etc.

    Alexgreat and Pacific War and Gargantua: Thanks for your comments! I am happy to see that people who enjoy A&A (myself included) are also interested in games that do not involve dice. Treachery exists in Imperial Scramble but it is not as devastating as in Diplomacy. In Imperial Scramble, the treachery is a declaration of war when one was not expected. However, the other player then is able to react once war is declared.

    CWO Marc: Thanks for your question! Points are not scored until the end. Therefore, if a player completes an objective before the end of the game, he or she must hold on to it until the end. In the example scenario I gave, Germany “completed” the unification objective by controlling all the German territories. However, had he lost one of those territories by the end of the game, then he would have been awarded no points for unification because Germany was not unified when points were tallied. The reason for this is that the points are meant to reflect a country’s power and prestige at the end of the game. At that point, what you did before only matters insofar as it has put you in your current position. Big gains followed by big losses leave you in a bad position because you would no longer be regarded as a powerful world power anymore. A historical example would be Austria. Despite their great strength in the 19th century, they little more than a minor state by the mid-20th century. While their exploits are fondly remembered, they do not entitle them to great power, prestige, or respect as of 1950 and that is the sort of thing the game attempts to reflect. I hope that answers your question. If not, I would be happy to explain more!

    I have a couple questions for all of you:

    1. Is this a game that you would try playing?
    2. Does it matter to you that it includes a shorter version for 3-5 players that takes only 1.5 to 2 hours (whereas the full version takes 5 hours)?
    3. Would any of you be interested in possible playtesting when the time comes?


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @aekenter:

    The first thing I want to say is that I wish I could post pictures! However, for some reason, the forum does not let me… […] 2. Does it matter to you that it includes a shorter version for 3-5 players that takes only 1.5 to 2 hours (whereas the full version takes 5 hours)?

    Thanks for the answer to my question; yes, the answer is nice and clear.

    Once you reach a certain number of posts, you’ll be able to post pictures.  I think the number is 10, but I could be wrong.

    Having multiple versions is actually a good thing because it gives people more options.



  • CWO Marc: Yes, I agree with you about multiple versions. Most of my work has been on the full 8 player version, but I am spending some time now on getting the 3-5 player game up to speed.

    To everyone that is interested in the game so far, I wrote a blog post about the game’s most recent play test. You can find it at www [dot] imperialscramble [dot] com/blog. (I can’t post links!!!) You can also find more pictures on that site as well. I hope you enjoy!



  • Finally, I can post some pictures! Here are some good ones from the most recent play test.

    Here is the starting situation.

    Here is the board at the end.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Thanks for the pictures.  Are the sculpts from the Viktory II game?



  • I bought the pieces on Amazon from a supplier called Morrison Games. Here is the link. After reading your post though, I checked out pictures of Victory II and found that they look identical. I guess that Victory II buys its pieces from Morrison Games? I don’t know…

    Also, I just want to let everyone know that I am planning an online play test. So, if you are interested, please let me know.


  • Customizer

    Don’t forget Suez canal opened 1869.

    You need to issue shares in the company for player investment.



  • I love Victoria Era Europe, looks great.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Another game that might serve as a useful source of inspiration is War: Age of Imperialism, by Eagle Games.



  • Thanks for sharing nice information about risk game, i really love it Risk game. Risk is one of the world’s most popular board games which are available online.

    “Life is a game but Risk is a serious”

    Also you should follow below link if you want to play it

    flashplay.nl/spelletjes/risk


  • Customizer

    @CWO:

    Another game that might serve as a useful source of inspiration is War: Age of Imperialism, by Eagle Games.

    The Secret Society of Parts Hounds laugh as they deviously strike again! +1 my friend. Never played this one. Though I do own it because I got it for FREE, and had cool parts.


  • Customizer

    @aekenter,

    This game to me is not my personal cup of tea. However I really support your endeavor. There are some Youtube videos made by the guy who designed Victory II. He started out making the game himself and he explains how he got it to market. You should look this up.

    I wish you luck and hope it all works out.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @toblerone77:

    Never played this one. Though I do own it because I got it for FREE, and had cool parts.

    Same for me (except for the part about getting it for free).  I particularly like the standard infantryman, with the raised rifle and pith helmet, whose design fits nicely for possible use as a WWII British or French colonial infantry unit.  The size is just right, the detailing is pretty good and there’s a wide range of colours available. The single drawback is the rectangular base, since it contrasts so much with the round bases of the OOB and HBG units.


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