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War! Age of Imperialism – getting your ass kicked on the cheap

December 31st, 2004 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Uncategorized

I am now playing two simultaneous online sessions of War! Age of Imperialism, both hosted by a fellow game reviewer. In one of them, I am so far behind and stuck in southern Africa that I will likely end up waiting out the game. The other has just started, but I have a bad feeling.

If you haven’t played this now inexpensive gem, I recommend picking it up. I reviewed it for DIYGames last year, but only now is it getting the shelf space and word of mouth that are essential to sales.

My misgivings expressed in the review still stand, though. The board game system it is based on means that luck plays as big a role as skill. On the Risk vs Diplomacy axis, it is much, much closer to Risk. If you get bad rolls on the exploration phase (or are surrounded by 12 strength natives) you can’t get going early enough to make up the territory gap.

A savvy player can salvage this if he has a good plan and is not operating alone. But in a match versus equals or superiors (like the game I’m midway through), it can look like a lost cause. I’m not giving up – I never give up. Even when my friend Kevin is killing me in any of the many wargames we’ve tried.

Still, the revival of interest in WAOI means that there is now an easy to play MP experience that doesn’t have a lot of time intensive turns. Turns only take a few minutes, results are quick and intuitive and the rules are really simple. This is probably the best beer and pretzel TBS out now. Sure, Civ 3 is a better game, but who are these people who play it online? And does anyone really have the time to play Europa Universalis online? WAOI means you can get a lot of turns done in a night, and since it is easy to figure out, there is none of the “What was I going to do next?” problems if a player goes a week or two without a turn.

In casual online play, you want something closer to Risk and, so long as it is a little more sophisticated (I hate Risk) and avoids the “Battle of Karelia” problem that plagues Axis and Allies, I’ll jump at it.


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