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If you've played the original Imperial you should be able to pick this up almost immediately. The only significant difference seemed to be in the way taxation is handled. Like the original I'd rate this higher if it was quicker, but my attention will waver during the mid-game.
Imperial 2030 is a stock/conquest strategy game. Players invest in international powers and the main shareholder gets to control each power. During the game, powers will progress on the victory point track and the game will end when one of them gets to 25. Combat is very simplified, as is the management of the different powers, with a very limited range of possible options. The game is very interesting and there are many paths to success. We've seen players win without controlling any power during most of the game, and players win by controlling two or three powers for several turns. There are only two things I dislike: powers can't lose victory points even if they lose most of their territories and players can't sell shares and transfer control of a country to another player. I understand that those two things would change the game greatly. But while playing I can't help but wish that Imperial 2030 had those features.
Five stars is really an unfair rating as this game is in no sense of the word mediocre. However, the description of "take it or leave it" fits how I feel about I2030. The problem for me is that I2030's decision spaces create a certain type of game stress that I don't find enjoyable. Now, this does not prevent me in seeing how this is an interesting push and pull of a game that others would find extremely enjoyable. However, it is just not for me. Having played Gerdts' Navegador a couple months ago, I found I liked the decisions of Navegador more interesting on a personal level, yet I liked the (somewhat) less fiddly nature of taxation and investing in I2030 compared to Navegador's constantly fluctuating market and subsequent payouts.