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     " Or should I just stop being catty and just give it all five out of five? Hmm…definitely the latter is best. "

      Title: War! Age of Imperialism by Eagle Games

      Format: Global Tactical Strategy

      Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult

      The Hype: When Eagle Games debuted last year, they declared their intent to become the unquestioned leader in the boxed strategy game field. They said, rather haughtily, that companies like Games Workshop and Avalon Hill would be ground beneath their boot heel and buried in a shallow, unmarked dung filled grave. Okay, so they didn't actually say that…but they sure did imply it. Well, we've finally gotten our first glimpse of their new line with War! Age of Imperialism. But does it match up or end up covered in it's own stink? Read on, my monkeys. Read on.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Playability: Historically speaking, boxed tactical strategy games have always been a pain in the ass to play. Don't get me wrong, I love 'em. They just take forever, have rulebooks as thick as your arm, and generally have only been able to appeal to those with lots of time on their hands and little social life. Best described as Age of Empires meets Risk, the game involves the rapid expanse of imperialism and the colonization of the new world. You'll move from province to province, scouting, developing industrial centers, and engaging in conflict with indigenous natives and other players. And while War doesn't blow the lid off of that old predicament, it certainly does quite a bit to revolutionize the field.
          War does something that all games of its ilk should do- it includes three different sets of rules! That's right…From now on, if you're not one of those hard core geeks who needs a totally elaborate playing environment you'll have actual rules, instead of just impromptu house ones, to play by! Increasing the time, difficulty, and complexity of the game, the rules begin with a nice, simple, standard system and progress to one of the most involved I've ever seen. The increased rules not only elaborating on production scopes and unit values, but make the game more complex, far more elaborate, and infinitely more tactically oriented. Best of all, none of the rule sets suck! They're all fun, they're all applicable, and they gear themselves nicely to you slowly ramping up your style of play. Start off simple, move to standard, and then hit advanced when your brain can handle it. Or, better yet, play the advanced when you have time but bump down to the basic when you don't have 6 hours to play.
          It's fun, it's dynamic, and it may well be the best set of global strategy rules of all time. 5 out of 5

      Learning Curve: Thanks to the three levels of difficulty, the learning curve is not only short it's easily rampable. Start off simple, using only the most basic rules, then slowly advances the complexity as you see fit. It's very cool and a great game for veteran gamers to bring their beginner friends in on. 5 out of 5

      Aesthetics: Hmmm…How to grade aesthetics. Should I look at the giant, full color map? Should I default to the intricately detailed plastic miniatures included? Should I grade the gorgeously colored and illustrated instruction book? Or should I just stop being catty and just give it all five out of five? Hmm…definitely the latter is best. 5 out of 5

      Story: It's global strategy so there really isn't, nor could there be, a story.

      Value vs. Cost: All right, monkeys- brace yourselves. War! Age of Imperialism runs in at $49.95. Now, for the computer gamer that's not a big deal, but for the tabletop gamer that tends to be a bit pricey. However, that wasn't what I wanted you to brace yourselves for. What you need to be sitting down to hear is that, for that fifty bucks, you get 816 scale plastic miniatures (and they're good ones, too…Not the dumpy stick figures most games give you), a 4x3 foot map board, and 3 different levels of instructions!!! It's vast, it's epic, and it may be the single best game for the money I've ever seen! 5 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       Eagle Games said they would take the industry by storms and, by the High Monkey, they have. Forget the smart assed remarks and witticisms- you need this game. It's fun to play, fast to learn, and gives an incredible value for the money.

      The Good: Everything.

      The Bad: Um…It costs 50 bucks? I don't know…I got nothing.

      The Overall Ugly: One of the best and brightest I've ever seen.

      What it's Worth: Market, plus 10 bucks, plus your first born.

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