Imperial Age is an abstract simulation of political and economic competition in the 19th Century. You control a country and use its resources to develop an empire. You earn Victory Points (VPs) by reaching certain objectives. The player with the most Victory Points at the end of the game wins.

IA is played on a Game Chart which is divided into boxes representing various regions.


The class is divided into groups. Each group has a moderator who runs the game and keeps records for that group. Each remaining student takes a country.


IA is played in Game-turns. A Game-turn proceeds as follows:

First, the players check the Scenario Instructions for any special rules which apply to a particular Game-turn. Then, up to 10 minutes per turn are allocated for negotiation among the players.

Next, the first player receives Resource Factors (RFs) and deploys them. The number of RFs each player receives is specified in the Scenario Instructions. The player then conducts attacks against other players' RFs. All of this takes place on the Game Chart. This completes the player's turn.

The remaining players receive RFs, deploy RFs, and make attacks with their RFs in the sequence given in the Scenario Instructions. When all of the players have taken their turns, one Game-turn has been completed.

Each game lasts 6 Game-turns. The game is over after all of these have been completed. The players total their Victory Points and the winner is determined.


Resource Factors (RFs) represent a country's military, political, diplomatic and economic strength, and its willingness to use it. RFs are similar to the pieces in Risk and checkers.

Your goal is to attain the objectives listed for your country in the Scenario Instructions. You do this by deploying RFs. Each turn you receive a certain number of RFs. You then deploy your RFs wherever you wish. You may put RFs in any region. You must use all RFs received on that turn in that turn. After deployment, you cannot move RFs. You cannot give them to another player. After deployment you may use your RFs to attack RFs belonging to another player.

To deploy RFs, tell the moderator where you want to put them. The moderator will then record your deployments on the Game Chart in your country's column in accordance with your orders.

Note that it is possible to start the game with a negative number of RFs in a box.


One of your goals is to control regions. You do this by using RFs to attack your opponents. These attacks represent everything from diplomatic threats to major invasions. Attacking is never required. Attacks can be made when you and another player have RFs in the same country or region. In other words, you attack horizontally on the Game Chart. You attack by first indicating your target (the defender). Both you and the defender then remove an equal number of RFs. You decide how many RFs are removed. The moderator records these activities on the Game Chart.

After you are finished with this attack, you may attack a different opponent's RFs in that region if you have any RFs left there. You may attack in as many regions as you wish, as long as you have RFs in them. You cannot attack a player unless he has a positive number of RFs in that particular region. You cannot reduce a player to less than zero RFs through an attack.


You usually achieve Victory Points by obtaining a Presence in certain regions. In some cases, you can earn Victory Points by preventing a Presence. The Scenario Instructions will tell each Player where to win VPs.

You have a Presence in a country or territory when you have at least 5 RFs there at the end of the game. A Presence represents situations such as trade agreements, protectorates, economic activity, spheres of influence, alliances, satellites, or annexations. More than one player can have a Presence in a country or territory.

You can never have more than one Presence in any region. The Victory Points for an objective depend on its historical importance to the country involved.


Several areas start the game with a negative number of RFs in them. These usually indicate local opposition to your plans. To establish Presences in these regions, you must deploy enough RFs to overcome this. For example, if Britain wants to get a Presence in North Africa, an area that begins the game with a -10 in the British column, the British player must deploy at least 15 RFs there to establish a Presence. In effect, you must attack the negative RFs and remove them before doing anything else in that area.


Your other major goal is to consolidate your country and build its economic level. On the Game Chart page you will find boxes labeled Internal and Economic. You can win VPs by establishing Presences in your Internal box, and by putting RFs in your Economic one. Players may not attack each other in these boxes.

Germany's Internal box represents that country's unification. Russia's includes her settlement of Siberia and problems with ethnic and liberal elements. France's internal problems stemmed from Left versus Right infighting. Britain's problems included the Irish, women's, labor, and House of Lords issues. Japan modernized after the Meiji Restoration. US consolidation included Western settlement, Indian Wars, and Reconstruction issues.

The Economic box represents the six powers developing their industrial and commercial infrastructures. See the Scenario Instructions on how VPs are awarded for this.


You cannot win IA unless you negotiate with the other players. Whoever makes the best deals usually wins. However, trust no one! Lies, betrayals, threats, broken deals, and bluffs are all allowed and encouraged. It is recommended that you look through Machiavelli's The Prince before the exercise. If you have any bad qualities as a human being, this would be a good time to use them.


A game of IA normally lasts 6 Game-turns, unless specified otherwise in the scenario. After the last Game-turn, the players compare their RF deployments with their objectives listed in the Scenario Instructions to determine their Victory Points. More than one player can receive Victory Points for a region. The player with the most Victory Points at the end wins.


IA is based on Stratagem, a military and diplomatic simulation designed for use in Western Civilization courses. Stratagem's First World War Scenario covers this period from a European perspective.

For an iconoclastic look at the Imperial Age, try George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series. Highly recommended. See also The Flashman Papers Ring and the usenet group.

Imperial Age is designed by Peter L. de Rosa, and is Copyright, 2003. All rights reserved. Reproduction allowed for nonprofit educational use as long as this copyright notice is included.


Any of the following can be used either singly or in combinations. Make sure everyone knows which rules are being used in a particular game.

RFs can be deployed simultaneously. The players write their deployments out and give them to the moderator who will record all of them at that time. Resolve conflict in the normal player-order. Repeat this each turn.

Allow players to communicate with each other only through written messages.

Normally, one player controls one country. To simulate the problems some countries have in making decisions, more than one player can be assigned to a nation where internal disunity was a significant factor.

The instructor can require all players to record their diplomatic contacts with other players. They are collected at the end of the game. Information from these records (documents) can be surprising.

Any game can be lengthened beyond 6 turns at the instructor's discretion.

If a player has a Presence in your home country, you must remove that Presence before attacking him elsewhere.

If one player has 10 RFs in a territory, and no other player has any RFs there at all, then the first one has Control of that territory and no player can deploy RFs there for the rest of the game. Two players can agree to split Control of a territory, but they both must establish Presences there on the same Game-turn. Both players get Victory Points in this situation.

An attacker loses one less RF in an attack than the defender. For example, the attacker could destroy 4 defending RFs, while losing only 3.


For a five player game, eliminate Japan. Instead, on Turn 4, the Russian player receives -15 RFs in her China box at the beginning of her turn.


To make Conflict Resolution more unpredictable, resolve attacks as follows:

After RF deployment, the attacker identifies the defender. The number of the attacker's RFs is compared to the number of the defender's RFs and the odds are computed. Divide the number of the attacker's RFs by the number of the defender's RFs to get a ratio. For example, 10 RFs attacking 5 RFs would be 2 to 1. Always drop fractions. For example, 14 RFs against 5 RFs would still be 2 to 1. 15 vs. 5 would be 3 to 1.

After computation, roll a die and resolve attacks on the following table:

Die Roll 1-2 1-1 2-1 3-14-15-1+
1 X D D D D D
2 X X D D D D
3 X X X D D D
4 A X X X D D
5 A X X X X D
6 A A X X X X


After several Game-turns, the situation on the Scenario Chart looks like this:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 5 10 8 5
Yurt 6 - 2 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Ariel gets 10 RFs per turn. He puts 5 in Xenophobia and 5 in Yurt:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 10 10 8 5
Yurt 11 - 2 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Ariel then attacks Beauregard in Xenophobia with 5 RFs (each loses 5 RFs) and Chas in Yurt with 2 RFs:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 5 5 8 5
Yurt 9 - 0 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Ariel next attacks Chas in Xenophobia with 2 RFs. (remove 2 RFs from each):

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 6 5
Yurt 9 - - 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Now is Beauregard's turn. He gets 15 RFs. He puts 4 in Yurt and 11 in Zen:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 6 5
Yurt 9 4 - 5
Zen - 16 - 11

Beauregard then attacks Ariel in Yurt with 4 RFs, and Dirk in Zen with 11:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 6 5
Yurt 5 0 - 5
Zen - 5 - 0

Chas now receives 20 RFs. He puts them in Xenophobia:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 26 5
Yurt 5 - - 5
Zen - 5 - -

Chas attacks Dirk with 5 RFs, and then Beauregard with 5 RFs, all in Xenophobia:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 0 16 0
Yurt 5 - - 5
Zen - 5 - -

If this were the end of the game, Chas would have a Presence in Xenophobia, Ariel and Dirk would have Presences in Yurt, and Beauregard would have one in Zen.

Scenario Instructions
Game Chart



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