Note: This should refer to the game Imperium, See Third Imperium for the Human empire of the same name.
|Publisher||Game Designers Workshop|
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This is a two-player game that simulates a conflict between the emerging Terran (human) Confederation and an immense and ancient alien empire, the Imperium. The Sun and nearby stars lie at the extreme edge of this alien space-faring civilization, and the humans struggle to expand against this powerful state.
This setting is the conflict between Earth and the First Imperium in the history of the Traveller Universe from the Traveller role-playing game. The rules, locations and technologies are based on concepts from Traveller, and even some seemingly arbitrary rules are based on the hstory of the Traveller Universe. For example in the first edition the Imperial player was prevented from building fighters (F) and Carriers (CV) until after the Terran player had done so, this represented the "historical" inertia of the Imperium to recognize the Terran threat. While the game is to many players just a great stand alone wargame it also allows Traveller fans to play out what is known as the First Interstellar War, the conflict that in official traveller history lead the First Imperium (or Ziru Sirka) being replaced by the Second Imperium (or Rule of Man).
The fold-out map depicts a nearby region of the galaxy that includes important nearby stars as well hyperspace jump routes between them. This sector forms a single province within the Imperium. The map is printed on a dark background and is overlaid by a hex grid. Each hex represents a half parsec, which would require about 1.7 years to traverse traveling at the speed of light. Along the edges of the map are tracks for marking turns and tallying resources. The map includes a number of commonly known stars, such as Alpha Centauri, Procyon, Sirius, Epsilon Indi, and Altair, as well as a considerable number with more exotic names. Only dozen of the stars have naturally habitable planets, although many more have planetary systems with outpost-capable worlds.
The game includes a variety of ship types, ranging in size from the small scouts and fighters to the mighty battleships. The ship counters are blue for the Terrans and red for the Imperium. Each counter includes a set of ratings, the ship type, and a silhouette. The combat ratings gave the Beam weapon combat factor, the Missile factor, and the Screen factor. Beam weapons were for close range combat, while missiles were fired at long range. Typically a beam weapon was slightly more effective than missiles, and Terrans had better beam weapon ratings while the Imperium favored missiles. Ships with a black silhouette could perform a jump between stars, while a white silhouette could only remain in orbit.
The following ship types are available for production: Scout, destroyer, several different types of cruisers, Dreadnought, improved dreadnaught, battleship, monitor, missile boat, mother ship (similar to an aircraft carrier), fighter, transport and tanker.
The available jump routes can significantly hinder the movement of a side's forces. Certain star systems act as bottle-necks, and can be used by each side as a defensive front. Two of the stars do not allow refueling, so tankers are required to leave these sites. Ships are allowed to move at sub-light speeds across the hex map, and so can move directly from star to star without following the jump routes. However the movement rate of these ships is only one hex per turn.
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The game consisted of a sequence of turns with alternating player-turns, each consisting of multiple phases. Each turn represented a period of two years. The game included an economic system in which the units on each side were produced and maintained. The Terran income was based on what type of world the player currently possessed, and whether it was connected by friendly jump paths to Sol. The Imperial income had a fixed budget, but an increment for each connected outpost and world.
The Terran player always went first in each turn. Each player turn began with an economics phase. The player would then perform movement and combat, followed by the opposing player's reaction movement and combat phase, and finally the second movement and combat phases. Then the Imperial player would repeat the same sequence and the turn would end.
Combat is somewhat abstracted, with the ships being lined up off map. First the players randomly determine the range (long or short). The defender places the ships down one at a time, and the attacker places a ship down to match. At the end, any left-over ships can be assigned to any enemy vessels, or kept out of combat. Dice are then rolled to determine which ships are destroyed. Combat continues until one side is destroyed or until either player decides to disengage.
The game also includes abstracted rules for ground combat. Terran land units are green while Imperium units are black. In addition to regular land units and planetary defense units that can oppose a landing, there are special drop troops that can land on a planet without requiring a ship to transport them to the surface. The ground units have a single combat factor, plus a symbol and a unit identifier. Surface combat used a combat differential with the defense combat factor subtracted from the attacker's combat factor. A dice was then rolled to determine whether the unit was destroyed.
Victory is determined by a "Glory Point" tally earned by the Imperium. Points are gained for conquering worlds and lost for their conquest by the Terrans. A habitable world is worth four Glory Points and an outpost world is worth one. If at the end of a turn the Glory Point total has reached the amount necessary for victory, then the Imperium player wins. If the total drops sufficiently, the Terran player can likewise win. The range between the amount required for Imperium or Terran victory begins to shrink after turn three, representing the decreasing appetite for continued hostilities.
The game system includes a random events table for various Imperium events. These can favor or hinder the Imperium player. The game is fought as a series of wars forming a lengthy campaign. Thus these random events can affect the course of some of the wars. There is also a system built into the game for production, colonization, and other changes during the inter-war periods. Ships can age and be scrapped; the Emperor can grant or withdraw permission to build certain ship types, and territory can be exchanged.
Meta-history & Background (Dossier)
It was designed by Marc Miller and developed by Frank Chadwick and John Harshman. The game came in a cardboard box illustrated with a space battle on the exterior. It included a cardboard-mounted, folding map of a local region of the Milky Way galaxy, a set of rules and charts, and the 352 counters representing the various spacecraft, ground units, and markers, and a six-sided dice.
- A new edition of this game, Imperium, 3rd Millennium, was published in 2001 by Avalanche Press.
- This new release had improved graphics and updated rules.
- In 2002, I3M was nominated for four Origins Awards.
Imperium was originally not connected with Traveller, published in the same year; the original 1977 game rules included only a few sentences of background information. The game situation, with the Terrans fighting a series of wars against an empire with vast off-map holdings, was later incorporated into canonical Traveller universe history as the Interstellar Wars, and the map astrography was incorporated into the design of Solomani Rim Sector in 1982. The many Sumerian names for stars in Imperial space influenced the phonology for Vilani words and names in later Traveller products, which have a Sumerian/Akkadian character. When GDW reprinted the game in 1990, it contained a historical outline booklet detailing the Interstellar Wars and their place in Traveller history.
Credits (Primary Sources)
- Marc Miller - Designer
- Frank Chadwick, John Harshman - Developers
- Board Game Geek reviews and pictures of the original game.
- Imperium, 3rd Millennium official page at Avalanche Press.
References & Contributions (Sources)
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