Expansion is critical to winning a game of Imperialism:

  • Population
  • Transport capacity (freight cars)
  • Processing capacity (mills and factories, together with the provinces that may feed them more than may be immediately obvious) and the skills of workers
  • Merchant marine
  • Army and Navy


Population is expanded through the Capitol, by offering to start country people off in the city with canned food, clothing, and furniture, all of which need to be bought (needing merchant marine capacity) or manufactured.

As long as they remain residents (not having been sent into the army or retrained as specialist civilians), your people need raw food every turn (every four of them needing two grain, one fruit, and one meat); that cannot be bought but must be brought into the city in freight cars. An expensive alternative, if one class of food runs out, is canned food, but a foodpack (depicted as two cans) feeds only one worker though it is the result of putting together food that would have sustained two workers. When canned food runs out, workers can stay alive on an unbalanced diet but they go on sick leave from work.

Transport and buildingsEdit

To expand transport capacity, which is required for food but also used for bringing in raw resources from the countryside and materials from villages and goods from towns, or to expand one of the processing buildings, you need equal amounts of lumber and steel: one each per freight car, and a number equal to half the proposed capacity increase for a building.



Upskilling of workers requires paper and time off work and a little money. All worthwhile if there is work for them (with even the thousand dollars needed to create an expert worker being better value per productivity gain than getting an immigrant), but it has to be organized.

Factory expansionEdit

A byproduct of expanding factories is the contribution you may get from the provinces: see Town development (Imp1), particularly Town_development_(Imp1)#Worked_example. Materials and goods may be produced in the provinces at no cost but need freightcars.

If any province produces (whether linked or not) four or more of any millable resource (or two coal plus two iron), you should (shortly before connecting the province's hamlet to the rail network) expand the matching factory to size 4 (with an additional 4 for every additional 4 resources), irrespective of your ability to use the capacity for central processing of materials. Every 8 capacity has potential to produce a unit of goods in addition.


To buy or sell, which is crucial to eventual survival, you need merchant ships: one hold space for each item (with minor exceptions). Early merchant ships use lumber and fabric, but later models use other materials. Right at the start of the game, it is usually worthwhile to increase your capacity from 4 to 12. Then when the cheaper and faster clippers are available add a couple of them if you have been finding that you need to ration your purchases because of capacity.


Finally, to avoid being overrun by enemies, and to get the votes of great powers in a council meeting, you need to have the biggest military capacity, maybe not all the time but ideally the biggest when a vote is coming up and a reasonably competitive force at other times. That involves:

  • using citizens and arms and money and sometimes other items to create army units
  • using arms and various other items to create warships
  • doing enough profitable trading to pay the maintenance cost of your forces, generally $25 per turn for each unit of arms that went into the construction.

Population expansion detailEdit

To increase the population by two, you need some things instantly and some on an ongoing basis while those citizens remain as local workers.

Immediate requirementsEdit

  • Two packs of processed food, which could have been bought (usually very cheaply). If not bought, they have to have been manufactured in your food processing facility, requiring two labor units and four resource units (2 grain, 1 fruit, 1 meat)
  • Two clothing, which could have been bought (a most uneconomical procedure). If not bought, they have to have been manufactured in your clothing factory, requiring (if all of the prerequisites were locally sourced instead of being bought) twelve labor units and eight resource units (cotton or wool) and some use of freight cars
  • Two furniture, which could have been bought (a most uneconomical procedure). If not bought, they have to have been manufactured in your furniture factory, requiring (if all of the prerequisites were locally sourced instead of being bought) twelve labor units and eight resource units (timber) and some use of freight cars

To make the new untrained workers reasonably productive (worth two labor units each, instead of one), you then need to turn them into trained workers, which takes another turn, this time in the trade school, paying $200 and submitting two pieces of paper, which could have been bought) but otherwise required four labor units and four resource units (timber) and some use of freight cars.

Instead of training them in the trade school, you could turn them into some types of army unit, at the low end of the effectiveness scale (e.g.skirmishers and scouts).

Ongoing requirementsEdit

  • Two raw food units per turn, requiring the exclusive use of two freight cars, which cannot be bought and must be created in your railyard by using:
  • Ideally also jobs, requiring capacity in a railyard or other processing unit, plus four resources or materials per turn and (of course) some use of freight cars.


To increase your population by two trained workers per turn, you need to pay $200 (which is impossible if it would take your debt beyond your credit limit) and devote (in previous turns, possibly by buying but preferably self-sufficiently) 42 labor units (e.g. 21 trained workers) and 32 resource units. (!!) So with the right organization and resources you can grow by a little under 10% per turn for a while.

However, provision of the extra workplaces will need the occasional devotion of lumber and steel to the expansion of buildings, so you will probably end up below 9%.

On the bright side, though, once your villages and towns start producing independently, there will be more of some required materials and/or goods at no cost except freight cars.

Detailed totals per processing facility:

(Any actuaries who are familiar with the game are welcome to refine the above costings!)