For people who want to play the game, either by printing stuff out, or using virtual components for play-by-email (PBEM).
One limitation is that we don’t (yet) have any printable or virtual pieces. These are under development: probably something useful and reasonably complete will be posted in late 2011.
Other than that, what you should do depends a bit on which category you fall into:
For people who played Empire in the 1960s or 1970s, and want to recreate that experience, you can print out some things to help yourself do that.
- Rules: Try the 1976-era rulebook PDF from the Rules page.
- Empire Rules 3rd ed (4 MB)
- Mapboard: Take your pick of classics from the Maps page. If in doubt, try the popular Ackerman II. To print out a mapboard, submit the digital file to your local digital output shop. In early 2011 we got quotes for a single 42″ x 72″ mapboard in Portland, on a variety of media (matte paper, glossy plastic non-tearable paper, or even foamcore mounted), from Moso Graphics ($60-75), AlphaGraphics ($160-190), and FedEx Office ($150-170).
- Pieces: We don’t have anything to help you yet. Empire has sometimes been played in the past without physical pieces, relying primarily on the records, plus marking immobile objects on the board. A common approach has been to lay a sheet of clear plastic, mylar or glass over the board, and then write on that with something like washable (non-permanent) overhead projector markers. Such markers are available in a wide range of colors, and with a variety of thicknesses, including fine-tipped. These can be used to mark immobile objects at least, and optionally movable and self-mobile objects as well.
For people who are playing for the first time, and/or don’t have access to Empire rules experts, and want to play a game with physical pieces:
- Rules: Perhaps the latest rules from the Logistics branch (4th Edition), as being more accessible to folks who haven’t played before. See the Rules page.
- Mapboard: See above. You can use a classic mapboard with the now-optional sub-square rules. Once they are available, you may opt for either a classic board or a Logistics-style board so as to avoid the sub-square rules. The latter option means a less beautiful board because the maps are a little less free-form, but it simplifies the board handling and record-keeping.
- Pieces: You face the same issues as above. Sorry!
For people who want a virtual game (play-by-email), you should probably use the second set of options above, including going with a new Logistics-type mapboard so as to avoid the sub-square rules (and having to handle them on screen). You also will need virtual pieces etcetera.
Although porting Empire to Cyberboard or Vassal seems like a fine idea, nobody has yet volunteered to do it. Plus it might help if some pieces were designed, first.