When you start a new game there are several national imperatives that you have to accomplish to stay ahead in the race to become a major power. These are explained in the following sections.


Everything you build in Imperialism II requires resources and labor. Increase your work force every turn if you can. To add one basic worker (peasant) requires two fabric units. One fabric unit costs two sheep or two cotton and two labor units to produce. You must have the fabric available on the turn before the additional work force arrives. Your work force, military units, and ships consume food each turn (one grain unit or one meat unit for each unit each turn, divided evenly). If this requirement is not met, then the affected workers will suffer illness and not be able to work in the industry panel. If they don't eventually get food, you will lose workers each turn until there is sufficient food to feed everyone. Advanced units (apprentice, journeyman, and master) supply more labor for the same food intake.

Resources are somewhat easier to acquire. The depot is now obsolete and you only need a road on or adjacent to the land resource to collect it. You don't need to build up your transport network either; all land-based resources connected to your capital city are collected for free each turn. You need to discover and develop each resource you want to collect. This requires civilian units – explorers, engineers, and builders. Some resources are visible on the main game screen and you don't need an explorer to locate them, but all minerals have to be discovered by an explorer before you can collect them. The resources you see on the main screen only require a road connection and development by a builder for you to collect them for free each turn.
Resources oversea are harder to collect. They require roads, development, connection to a port, and sufficient cargo space via shipping to transport them. Also, you must own the province or be allowed to build via a treaty to exploit the resource. This means you have to use your engineer to build a port and connect all the resources that you want from overseas AND build enough ships to transport the cargo each turn. This can be a logistical challenge! The Carrack, which supplies three cargo space units, requires one peasant, four lumber, two cast iron, and two fabric units to build. Other ships have different build costs and cargo space.

Civilian units are the heart of your industrial power. The builder unit develops resources from level 0 to 4, and each successive level is more expensive in lumber and cast iron. This means that in order to develop a timber resource to supply wood for your lumber industry, you need lumber! Likewise cast iron is required to develop iron ore resources. Be very careful with these two resources in the beginning of the game! Running out of your starting resources before you develop enough timber and iron ore can make you lag far behind in the race to power! You will have to buy all of your resources in the trade screen if you run out, and you don't have much money to spend! The engineer unit builds roads, ports, and forts. Roads cost one cast iron and one lumber unit for each section of road. Forts cost five cast iron and five lumber units. You can see that it is easy to back yourself into a corner with iron ore and lumber!

The explorer unit is used to locate iron ore. Iron ore is found in barren hills and mountains. You can tell the type of any tile by holding your mouse over the tile and reading the description at the top of the main game screen. You need three paper units to create a civilian unit. Two timber + two labor units = one paper unit.

Military units are required to attack other provinces to make them part of your empire. If you are planning a game of conquest rather than a game of diplomacy, you need to have an army and a navy. If you are attacking a minor nation or a province that is owned by a major power, you have to declare war via the diplomacy screen the turn before. In the early stages of the game the Knight (spear cavalry) is good enough that three or four units can successfully attack nearly any new world province. To build a Knight requires one peasant, one fabric, two bronze, and two horse units. In the later stages of the game you'll need many, many horses! Be sure to have a supply of horses trickling in each turn, so that you don't run out just when OgreHead the Power Mad decides you are an offense to nature and must be recycled! Later, you will be dealing with level 1 - 3 forts. While it is possible to successfully attack a fort with cavalry, it is very expensive – destroyed units are hard to replace! Try waiting until you discover horse artillery before you attack provinces with forts.