Summary of 1938 Rules

[In 2011 Dan Drake found and shared the rules summary his father gave him in 1960, which inspired Empire as we know it. It had been filed away, awaiting rediscovery. — ed.]

The attached rules [long ago lost, unfortunately—ed.] were written by [Mark W.] Eudey to avoid the throw of dice, but I don’t know if they were ever played. The original rules were more or less as follows:

Play started by each player selecting a capital, which could be any wheat square, and putting one of his population-counter thumbtacks in it permanently. Four other thumbtacks of the same color were placed point up on the same square. These were his initial population units.

Two dice were thrown for each move. The moves could be divided between two pieces or given to one. A throw of seven entitled the player to an additional populations counter, placed on his capital. No more than five such counters could be supported by each wheat square occupied on the same land mass. The capital did not count as a wheat square after one additional wheat square had been occupied, which had to be done before any other production squares could be taken.

A throw of doubles entitled the player to produce one unit of a commodity on each appropriate occupied square. Production squares were steel, oil chemicals, and gold (wheat did not produce, but merely supported.) The player could announce which commodity he chose to produce, and got one counter for each such square occupied anywhere in the world by his men. Thus if he announced “chemicals,” he got one chemical on each chemical square he occupied. These remained there until transported elsewhere.

A population unit could carry one unit of any commodity with him on its move. They had to be assembled to produce useful elements, as follows:

(They could be later scrapped for any one of the component commodities.)

One steel and one oil on any seaport (ie a square containing both land and water) could be converted into a ship without loss of move. The ship had to be announced either as a merchant ship or a battleship. A merchant ship could carry an unlimited numbers of commodity and population units, and moved one square for each die-count, just as population moved. A battleship could not carry andy persons or commodities. It could sink a merchant ship by colliding.

One steel, one oil, and one chemical made an airplane. An additional chemical provided it with a bomb good for one explosion. Explosion destroyed everything on the square it was on, except the airplane. Explosion occurred only on the throwing of a double, without using up the corresponding moves or preventing production.

One gold and one steel fortified a point. When two corners, not diagonal, were fortified in any square, nothing could pass that line without permission of the owner of the fortifications. No capital could be fortified on all four corners.

One each of steel, oil, chemical, and population made an army, which moved only one square per die (regardless of number on die) and destroyed everything on every square it moved to. It could go by battleship but not by merchant ship, and not by airplane.

The object was to occupy as much of the world as possible. When an enemy capital was occupied, all his counters were petrified in place, and his commodity supply and ships and planes could be stolen. If occupation ceased, his counters immediately came to life again.

—Stillman Drake, summer 1960

Licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC 3.0.

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