Home > Gaming > Games – Imperialism (1997)

Games – Imperialism (1997)

Set from 1815 to 1915, Imperialism is an interesting take on the 4X genre, although it has aged to the point that it could be completely simulated in something like Civilization 4/5. I remember playing this game way too much as a kid – in fact, until I found Simtex’s entries into the genre, this was basically where the genre began and ended (with the possible exception of Call to Power, but that’s another story).


Most importantly, you need to build a thriving transport network with enough capacity to carry goods to the capital. Much of your money comes from trade, although some resources provide profit without processing or sales. The gameplay relies more on industrial buildup and diplomacy than anything – the player has to build up their resources and turn them into manufactured goods, soldiers, workforce, etc. Here’s a (simplified) view of the chain:

Overworld Worker (railroad engineer, miner, forester, etc) -> Raw resources (minerals, lumber, crops) – > Finished goods (weapons, canned food, luxury goods) -> Diplomatic/Financial/Military power (More overworld workers, more soldiers, more factory workers, more diplomatic influences, more infrastructure capacity, new technology) -> Loops here

Technically, if you’re good enough at the game, you can conquer the entire world through simple warfare (the battles need not be simplistic if you play on tactical battles), but most likely you’ll need to be more subtle – turning the minor nations to your favor, buying access to their resources for your own sales purposes, keeping good relations with strong nations, possibly taking a bite out of the territory of weak ones. Definitely a 4X, but the setting and the focus on infrastructure and diplomacy, in my opinion, makes it worth a look – it’s given me plenty of hours of entertainment.

The sequel expanded the concept somewhat, adding more exploration elements to the game, and covering a larger swath of time, but it didn’t really click with me. You all might like it, though.


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