How To Play: Imperium: Classics – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Ascend to greatness in Imperium: Classics with a sturdy foundation of its rules and strategic nuances. Embrace the uniqueness of each faction, meticulously manage your deck, and adapt fluidly to your opponents and dynamic game conditions—key principles for virtually commanding empires and achieving victory.


Welcome to the vibrant world of Imperium: Classics! Whether you’re a seasoned commander or a novice ruler taking the reins of your civilization for the first time, this guide is here to chart a path to victory. Delving beyond the basic outline of the game rules, we focus on giving you the best strategies to claim supremacy. We’ll explore the art of understanding each faction’s unique traits, finessing your deck for peak performance, and adaptive maneuvers tailored to shifting tactics and opponents. Ready your legions and scrolls; your journey to becoming an Imperium Champion begins here.

What’s in the box

  • 202 Development cards
  • 48 Fate cards
  • 8 Civilization boards
  • 1 Imperium board
  • 150+ tokens and markers
  • 4 Victory point trackers
  • 1 Round tracker
  • 200+ cards representing the various Nations
  • 8 Reference sheets
  • 1 Rulebook

How To Play Imperium: Classics: Rules Summary


  1. Choose a faction and collect its specific cards, pieces, and tokens.
  2. Assemble the central market with a deck and several open cards to purchase.
  3. Prepare the common deck with generic cards available to all.
  4. Each player starts with a predefined set of cards to form their personal deck.
  5. Place your empire’s markers on the respective tracks and shuffle your deck.


  1. On your turn, draw five cards and play actions, such as establish new regions, develop your civilization, or combat other players.
  2. Use resources efficiently, and consider whether to invest, trade, or prepare for conflicts.
  3. Acquire new cards from the central market or common decks to enhance your strategic options.
  4. Manage your nation’s progress thoughtfully and evolve from a barbarian state to an empire when conditions meet.
  5. End your turn by discarding unwanted cards, signalling owned regions, and refilling your hand.


  1. Progress through your faction’s development, conquering milestones and cities to accumulate victory points.
  2. The game concludes when a player meets their specific victory conditions, which can include a combination of military might, technological advancement, and cultural achievement.
  3. Tally up victory points from achieved milestones, cities controlled, wonders built, and cultural developments. The highest score wins.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. Be wary of factions’ unique abilities and their potential effects on the broader game mechanics.
  2. Special events, devastation of provinces, or epoch cards trigger throughout the game, causing impactful shifts requiring strategic reassessment.
  3. Certain cards introduce unique combat mechanisms or diplomatic elements that if orchestrated cleverly, could shift the balance of power.
  4. Keep an eye on your unrest cards – too many and they clog your deck, too few and you may miss critical turns.
  5. Stay flexible and adaptable to both your factions internal developments and external pressures applied by opponents.

Best Imperium Classics Strategies

Mastering the Majestic Factions of Imperium: Classics

Understanding the unique factions in ‘How To Play Imperium: Classics’ becomes pivotal as you embark on your quest for power and glory. Each faction not only carries its own set of talents but presents new challenges and strategic avenues. With every faction yielding a distinct flavor to the mix, adapting your skills remains as exhilarating as it is crucial.

Get to Know Your Faction

Before conquering as the civilized Romans or exploring with the voyage-loving Carthaginians, you must deeply understand your civilization’s strengths and inherent strategies. When I first wrapped my hands around the Carthaginian deck, I was enticed by its strong trade and navy cards which then defined my strategy for expansion and control.

Capitalize on Unique Abilities

  1. Pay close attention to the action cards exclusive to your faction. In games with my friends, exploiting my Scythian faction’s mobility turned out to be our winning edge.
  2. Assess the synergy between various cards and your faction’s abilities. I’ve learned that certain card combinations can be game-changers, especially with the Greeks’ philosophy and culture cards.

Adjust Your Playstyle

Each game is a new battlefield. Just when my tactics with the Romans felt infallible, I encountered an opponent whose Barbarian hordes used a strategy reliant on sheer force and speed, dispelling the illusion of unbeatable strategies. The lesson? Always be ready to tailor your play to combat each opponent’s faction, utilizing flexibility and innovation as sharp tools in your game arsenal.

Mastering the Art of Deck Management in Imperium: Classics

Annexing the right cards and pruning your deck sensibly defines a winner in Imperium: Classics. Managing your deck with precision advances you swiftly from a barbarian tribe to a thriving empire. Here are some pro tips constructed from my numerous gameplay sessions:

    Selective Card Acquisition

    Early in the game, be choosy about the cards you add to your deck. A lean deck is more efficient, allowing you to draw your strongest cards more often. Focus on cards that synergize with your faction’s strengths.

    Efficient Card Cycling

    Continually evaluate your hand – some cards that were beneficial in earlier rounds may turn to clutter. Phasing out less useful cards is crucial; a trim deck gets you to your power cards faster.

    Timely Transitioning

    Deciding when to transition from Barbarian to Empire is pivotal. If you transition too early, you may not reap the full benefits of your faction’s barbarian-side capabilities. Transition at a moment when your deck is mature enough to exploit the empire’s advantages fully.

    Minding Major Milestones

    Simultaneously, track your progress towards key milestones like the ‘Urbanize’ ability, as timing these correctly can provide a significant advantage.

    Adjusting to Advance

    Finally, don’t forget to adapt your deck management strategy based on the current state of the game and pressure from opponents.

Mastering Flexibility: Adapting to Foes and Fortunes

When you’re delving into the world of How To Play Imperium: Classics, you quickly learn that rigidity is the fast track to ruin. I’ve discovered that strategies must fluidly respond to the shifting tides of the game and particularly, your opponents. For example, I remember a game where one moment, peaceful trade would’ve been beneficial, but with a suddenly aggressive neighbor, swift militarization was essential.

Reading the Room

  1. Analyze your opponent’s moves and anticipate their strategy.
  2. Alter your tactics to counteract adversaries effectively.
  3. Stay abreast of emerging threats and opportunities presented by other players.

Diplomacy versus Warfare

  1. Balance periods of peace with calculated aggression, judging on the state of diplomacy.
  2. Preemptively strengthen borders when tension rises.

Maintaining Tactical Agility

  1. Frequently reassess the value of cards in your deck early and during mid-game to keep options open.
  2. Diversify your deck to keep opponents guessing and neutralized should the game swing.
  3. Capitalizing on Civil Unrest can be advantageous—if approached with careful calculation.

Admittingly, it took a few plays for me to grasp the importance of agility when making decisions. A plan that seemed foolproof was easily overturned by another player’s unexpected innovation. Every new round presents uncanny mirrors of historical happenstance that can compel or cripple—situational context is everything.

Mastering the Art of Empire Building

Having delved deep into the rich tapestry that is Imperium: Classics, we are now armed with knowledge, from the intricate details of setting up your empire to sailing through the tumultuous tides of gameplay. Engaging in battle, shrewd manipulation of cards, and consistently recalibrating strategies will be your keys to ascendancy. Each playthrough is an odyssey—an evolving story punctuated by your decisions. Go forth, bear these strategies in mind, and may your civilization reach the zenith of its power and influence. Play, learn, and revel in the glory of your burgeoning empire. Until next time, may your strategic depth be as profound as the history that has inspired Imperium: Classics.

Want to know what we think of Imperium: Classics? Read our detailed review of Imperium: Classics here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.