$30.00
Recommend
163 
 Thumb up
 Hide
28 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

The Republic of Rome» Forums » Reviews

Subject: 0.0.0: The Republic of Rome, a Review (part 1) rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: rules [+] creative [+] ah [+] [View All]
Michael Noakes
United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
0.0.0: The Republic of Rome, a Review

1. Introduction
1.1 Game Summary
1.2 Red Herring Reviews
1.3 Personal History
1.4 The Long Wait

2. Components
2.1 The box
2.2: Chits
2.3: Game board
2.4: Faction Treasury
2.5: Other stuff
2.6: Final Opinion

3. Rulebook
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Length
3.3 Complexity
3.4 Organization
3.5 Errors and ambiguity

4. Gameplay
4.1 Setup
4.2 Phases
4.3 Winning the Game
4.4 Losing the Game


5. Review
5.1 Overview
5.2 Learning the Game
5.3 Game Flow
5.4 Involvement
5.5 Strategy and Tactics
5.6 Randomness
5.7 Runaway Leader
5.8 The Forum
5.9 The Senate
5.10 Chrome
5.11 Cruelty and Conflict
5.12 Solitaire
5.13 Final Verdict

6. Brief Session Report (Detailed First Round of Play)

1.0.0 Introduction
This is a review of the game The Republic of Rome. To best capture the feeling of first approaching this behemoth of a game, this review is written in the style of the rulebook that a prospective player must first defeat--as surely as the fledgling Republic must defeat the first Punic War--before playing. This means that this review is probably longer than most people are willing to read. It also makes it easy to skip ahead: jump to part two (5.0) to read the actual review of the game.

1.1 Game Summary
The Republic of Rome simulates roughly 250 years of Roman history, from about 264 BC (the first Punic War) through to 44 BC (et tu, Brute?). Players guide factions made up of leading Senatorial families and seek to become the dominant political power of the Republic. This is achieved through alliances with other players, betrayals, military success and deft political manipulation. Meanwhile, the Republic itself must weather many storms: wars pressing the borders, a restless population, and bankruptcy threaten; but ultimately, the greatest danger to Rome lies within as Senators vie for influence, threatening to tear the Republic apart in their constant battle for personal political power.

1.2 Red Herring Reviews
In the centre of London, at the heart of the City, where the financial blood of a nation pulses and throbs, there lies a pub. On the ground floor patrons drink real ale and drown the sorrows of another London day. But beneath them--down the stairs and past the toilets--strange men and women congregate to feed their secret passion. There, mighty empires are raised and dashed; fierce warriors battle the forces of darkness; and coloured cubes are farmed and fed to disc-shaped medieval children. Men and women battle for power political and economical; for prestige; and for variably-shaped victory point chits. This is the Red Herring; these are the Red Herring Reviews.

1.3 Personal History
I played board games as a teen, though mostly only Axis and Allies and Blood Bowl; role-playing games hit the table far more often. A few tentative efforts at classics like The Siege of Jerusalem and Fire in the East never really went anywhere; and then I went to university--dabbled in Magic: The Gathering for a bit--and forgot about things like board games. Until (like many others, I’m sure) I stumbled across Carcassonne. And then The Settlers of Catan. But a fledgling passion died an early death due to never being able to find players. Fast-forward many years. I move to England. Meet new friends--friends who like games. We played Puerto Rico, Agricola, Arkham Horror and others. And then. . . the Red Herring. Discovered through Meetup.com, finally a place where like-minded people meet every week to play, and conquer (or in my case, lose), and drink.

1.4 The Long Wait
Early in my new-found hobby, I wanted a game that would appeal to my new collection of gaming friends. They were all terribly clever people who studied History at Oxford and earned firsts and the like, so I wanted something steeped in theme and age. One of them had done Classics--his bookcase was littered with stirring works such as ‘The Corn Supply of Ancient Rome’--and I’d always found Rome a fascinating subject as well. However, since we met infrequently as a group, I also wanted something that could be played solo. Punch ‘4-6 players’, ‘Rome’, and ‘can be played solitaire’ into the Geek and guess what pops out? The Republic of Rome. I read the write-up and the few reviews available and did a bit of research on-line. It sounded complicated but nearly perfect. Fantastic!

Imagine, then, the disappointment when I discovered that the game was out of print. This disappointment grew when I turned to Ebay and discovered copies were selling for about 100 quid. (No thanks; and I hope those people who left it in shrink wrap for twenty years waiting for price inflation choke on their outdated Avalon Hill mortality chits. I wish a similar fate on all those jerks hoarding copies of Space Hulk, breaking them up and selling them off at ridiculous prices; may they inadvertently swallow a Genestealer.)

And then the joyous news of a reprint by Valley Games! And the discovery of it having being in the works for ages already, with no real deadline in sight. And then solid news of a release date! And then delays. And a new release date! And then more delays. Pictures! Delays. Custom inspections. And then, finally, in the month of February, 2010, The Republic of Rome reached the emerald shores of Britannia.

Had it been worth the wait?

1.4.1 Live Long and Prosper
I don’t actually wish for anyone to choke on little bits of cardboard or horribly beclawed plastic miniatures.

1.4.2 And did those feet in ancient times?
Sadly, there is no province of Britannia in The Republic of Rome.

2. Components
2.1 The Box
Months before the release of the game, Valley Games released early pictures of some of the cards, and of the map and box art. Inexplicably, many people denounced the art work. It’s too CG, their cries went; the font sucks, they continued; down with Valley Game! What you do get is a very stern-looking, strong-jawed man on the box, wearing a fine toga and golden laurels; his visionary gaze ignores the weaker senators slinking away behind him. Presumably he’s just been elected Consul for Life and won the game. Appropriately, there’s a bit of combat violence in the bottom right but, just like combat in the real game, it’s secondary to the Senate and Forum.

Personally, I couldn’t really care what the box art looks like, so long as the stuff inside of it is quality. I also like a strong, sturdy box that won’t collapse when stacked beneath other heavy games.

So, by the minimal standards I set, the box is good. It’s square and sturdy and holds everything, though it takes a bit of fiddling to get all the bits stored away. What I hadn’t expected, once I tore the shrink wrap off, was a box actually bulging with its contents. Seriously--when you receive the box the lid sticks up about a half-centimetre on account of all the stuff inside.

2.1.1 Opening the Box
Inside the box are several sheets of chits, counters and tokens that need punching out; a very large and hefty board, several decks of cards and a pair of dice; province cards with built-in dials, flattened trays that can be assembled into faction treasuries and faction play sheets for the solitaire and two-player game; and finally a summary of game play riddled with errors, several metal coins, and one of the most difficult rulebooks I’ve ever had the joy of reading.



2.1.2 Metal Coins
No, actually, there aren’t any metal coins. I lied. Apparently this was something offered with the pre-order years ago. I don’t really see the point of metal coins, but some people were quite upset about it, and cried betrayal. On the other hand, this is The Republic of Rome: lies and betrayal are part of the game.

2.2 Chits
This game comes with, like, a zillion chits. You’ve got chits for recording influence and popularity. You’ve got tokens to represent the Legions and Fleets of the Republic. There’re Faction markers, Major Office tokens, priesthood tokens and coins in several denominations. You’ve also got Corruption markers, Manpower Shortage and Drought markers, rebel chits, and loyalty markers. I’ve left out a few. The amazing thing is that you’ll probably end up using most of the little bits in the box while playing the game; there’s simply that much going on and to keep track of. These chits aren’t like that ghost token in Descent that never sees the light of day, or the little ferret that nobody actually wants.

2.2.1 Poking Out
I’ll make an admission here: I like board games, but I don’t particularly enjoy poking all the little bits out of their sheets. I’ve read that some people really get a fetishistic thrill out of such things; sounds weird to me. But the chits for this game were easily the simplest to poke free that I’ve ever poked. They popped out without fuss or tearing.



The quality is high as well. They’re nice and thick, probably a bit thicker than those in the new deluxe version of Twilight Struggle and comparable with the stuff in Conflict of Heroes.

2.2.2 Zero
What you won’t find in the box is a sheet of ‘zero’ tokens. Apparently there was a printing mistake and the ‘9’ chit ended up with a 9 on both sides, instead of a 9 on one and a zero on the other. This is mildly annoying when keeping track of influence, but isn’t a big deal. I use a gold coin instead. It’s not like I’ll ever see that much money in my treasury.

2.3 Game board
Central to the game is a large board. The largest part of the board is a map of the furthest reaches of the Roman Empire. This is the Forum and it holds cards in play. Beneath it are several spaces for War: Active Wars currently threatening Rome; Unprosecuted Wars that the Senate chose to ignore; Imminent Wars that are about to match up with an already active war; and Inactive Wars that are merely lurking, waiting for the perfect time to strike--and maybe causing droughts and the like in the meantime.

Clustered around that are: The Curia, where dead cards and anxious enemy Leaders bide their time; a plethora of charts for everything from Combat Rolls to the effects of passing Land Bills; and a space for a draw and discard pile.

The artwork is, in my opinion, colourful, attractive and appropriate.

The whole thing is both impressive and initially quite overwhelming.

2.3.1 Quality
This is a high quality board. It’s hefty and well cut, and I don’t imagine it’ll warp easily beneath the tears of a Faction in decline. I’ve already had a little bit of beer sweat dribble onto the board without damage.

2.3.2 Unnecessary
The funny thing about a high-quality component like this is that I’ve never played a game before where the board is, arguable, the least necessary component in the box. All the charts could easily be reproduced on separate play sheets, and the holding spaces set up on the gaming table. The board merely facilitates the playing of the game.

2.3.3 Typos
Unfortunately, the board shipped with a few typos on it. Only one of them really affects game play. The minor errors in chart footnotes and the like aren’t likely to confuse anyone even mildly familiar with the game. The misprint for the cost of throwing a Bloodfest is the easiest to get wrong. Apparently it should read ‘13’ instead of ‘11’. Though a minor difference, an extra 2 coins can make a huge difference when bidding on initiatives or trying to sway a vote.

2.4 Faction Treasury
The game comes with several flattened bits of cardboard that can be assembled into a little box for holding your faction’s treasury. It’s cute enough, and also includes dials that can be adjusted to show your faction’s current tally of votes, readable from both sides.

2.4.1 Assembling
Doubtlessly I’m just an idiot, but I really struggled to assemble the damn thing. Considering the rulebook is already 40 pages long (3.2), surely a quarter-page spent on assembly instructions could’ve been included.

2.4.2 Dials
The problem with the dials is that, though an interesting idea, they’re simply not that practical. They’re fiddly to adjust and, since the sides of the box don’t really assemble flatly, the numbers often don’t line up properly on both sides. I may see ‘11’ votes on my side, but my opponents may not be able to clearly read the numbers--if they can even make out the numbers from their position around the table.

I don’t bother with the dials, really. It’s easier to just use a bit of paper and a pen.

2.4.3 Pen and Paper
A pen and paper is also useful for tallying votes, I found. Hopefully the person doing so is good at basic math and unlikely to ‘accidentally’ add in an extra vote at crucial moments.

2.4.3 Lids
I couldn’t see any practical use for the lids that come with the treasury box when I first played. It lists the different uses of personal and faction treasuries, but that information’s not particularly hard to remember. My opponents found an immediate use for the lids, though: they’re very effective at keeping people from peeking into your treasury to assess how much money you’re hoarding.

This never occurred to me because I’ve never actually had any money in my treasury. I’m not very good at fiscal management.

2.5 Other stuff
On top of all the other stuff listed above, there are a number of other crucial components included.

2.5.1 Cards
The game ships with a large number of cards. These are essential to the game and drive the action forward. Typically, the players will draw about five cards a game turn, assuming someone ends up rolling an event (4.2.3). These cards come with either black text or red text.

2.5.2 Black Text
Cards with black text are always played publically. These include Senatorial families played to the Forum, new Wars and Leaders.

2.5.3 Red Text, also known as Happy Cards
Cards with red text are kept in the players’ hand. It’s good to draw a red card. These include special Statesmen from history who are more useful than typical family Senators; economic concessions, that can be played to earn extra cash, though they leave the Senator open to corruption charges; and Senate cards, that influence the flow of senatorial proceeding, whether subtly by vetoing a proposal by playing a Tribune, or as bluntly as silencing an opponent through an assassination attempt. Some cards make it easier to persuade Senators to join your faction, and in the Middle and Late Republic deck there are Law Cards that can fundamentally change the play of the game.

They can also be traded to other players for favours, votes, proposals, money or different cards, though this can only occur in the Revolution phase (4.2.6).

2.5.4 Province Cards
There are also fifteen province cards. These represent Provinces created by victory over enemy wars. The First Punic War, for example, creates Gallia Cisalpina. These provinces must be governed by a Senator and represent both a way to establish a power base in safety--or an opportunity to send away a rival for several turns. In the right situation, a Province Governorship can also be a death sentence--sending a Senator to govern a province that is about to be overrun by a Germanic Migration is a particularly nasty thing to do.

2.5.5 Blue Cards
Finally, there are blue Event cards that describe the effect of random events that may strike (or benefit) Rome during play. This can be anything from the all-too-common and dreaded Evil Omens, to Barbarian Raids or Storms at Sea; or if you’re lucky, Allied Enthusiasm and a few others positive benefits.

2.5.6 Dice
The game ships with three small 6-sided dice, two white and one black. They’re otherwise unspectacular, except that instead of pips they’re numbered in Roman Numerals. While I like the thematic flair, I find that the numerals more annoying than fun. Maybe I’m just terrible with numerals, but I find it difficult to read the difference between IV and VI from across the table.

2.5.7 Baggies
The game ships with a large number of plastic baggies with which to pack away all the different bits and bobs. It’s a small thing but a nice touch. I appreciate a game publisher that recognizes my neurotic need to put every little chit away safely in its own little bag. It still shocks me--I’m looking at you, Dungeon Lords--when a game ships without those little bags.

2.5.8 Spoiled Hobbyists
All this leads me to state: we are spoiled. This is a response to a recent discussion on the Geek. Yes, there are typos that should not have happened. The rulebook (3.5) is messy and riddled with spelling mistakes and the game shipped without any zero counters. The treasury box is fiddly. But the overall quality of the components is spectacular and the production values are fantastic--especially for a game that has languished out-of-print for many, many years. Games like this, and the new Twilight Struggle Deluxe edition, and pretty much everything from Academy Games has me wondering whether we’re entering a ‘Golden Age’ of game production.

2.5.9 More Money than Sense
Or maybe we’re just entering an age of thirty-something gamers with lots of disposable income and more money than sense, willing to pay more for better bits. To which I say: woo hoo.

2.5.10 Future
Hopefully, future readers of this review will scratch their head in bewilderment, thinking "but I’ve got loads of zero counters and my rulebook and cards and board and summary sheet are blissfully free of errors!"

2.6: Final Opinion
These components are fantastic. Other than the errors and missing bits--none of which really get in the way of actually playing the game--it is genuinely much more than I expected. I’ve never played the original Avalon Hill edition of the game, but I’ve seen the pictures. It totally looked 1980s hardcore. And ugly. This version’s no less hardcore, but it certainly is more inviting. People walking past in the pub are likely to stop, look and possibly even consider joining, rather than run whimpering for the bar.



3. Rulebook
3.1 Introduction
Normally the rulebook wouldn’t deserve its own mention, or would sit somewhere in the Components (2.5.8, maybe) section. But this Rulebook is so intimidating it could send Hannibal straight to the Curia to await an imminent mortality roll. I gave up the first few times I tried to read it, or failed to make any sense of it. This was despite having read as many session reports and explanations online as I could find.

The Valley Games re-write of the rules does a little to soften the edges of the original, but it’s a bit like fuzzy mould growing on a heavy rock; bashing your head against it is still going to hurt.

3.2 Length
The rulebook is forty pages long, cover to cover. That’s 38 pages of content, all densely written. Of that, you’ve got seven pages of liner notes: 2nd edition changes, a strategy guide, historical notes, designer notes and finally "The Making of The Republic of Rome". It’s a bit like buying the Special Edition DVD of a film, though in my opinion far more useful than any directorial voiceover. (The Historical Notes gave an unlearned plebeian like me some necessary thematic context, and the strategy notes are genuinely useful, I thought, for a newbie player.)

There’re also three pages of Glossary, leaving a whopping 28 pages of rules.

Though to fair, another four pages are spent on Advanced Rules, another two on different Scenarios and Setup, and a final four on the Solitaire and Two-player game.

So really, that’s only 18 pages of rules that a new player needs to absorb before playing the basic game.

3.3 Complexity
Eighteen pages don’t seem so bad, now does it? The rules for Twilight Struggle are about that long, Steam isn’t so far off, and War of the Ring--a fairly complex game in its own right--is roughly the same, especially with the expansion included. So why has The Republic of Rome developed a bit of a reputation as a heavy and dense game with an impenetrable set of rules?

3.3.1 This Rulebook Isn’t Your Friend
The rulebook for the deluxe edition of Twilight Struggle is, for me, a sterling example of the pinnacle of board game rulebook writing. It is clearly laid out, flows well and every rule is supported by a helpful example. Best of all, several pages are dedicated to an extended example of play, complete with the player strategy underlying each move. The historical context of each card is a wonderful bit of gravy as well.

The rulebook for The Republic of Rome, unfortunately, comes with very few examples. Most grievously, no extended example of play--even a single turn would have been nice!--is provided, and it’s very difficult to see how everything hangs together. This is a very big game. Players will do more in a single turn than many games provide from beginning to end. Wrapping your head around it all can be very difficult.

3.3.2 Numbers followed by numbers followed by....Like this review--written, as mentioned at the beginning, in honour of the Republic’s rulebook--the rules are presented in an unending sequence of numbered layers. Unless you take a particularly sadistic thrill in reading legalistic papers, it’s only natural if your attention begins to wander by the time you reach 1.09.62 (Land Bills) or 2.03.81 (Attacking a Rebel Province) or even, for the particularly weak (or sensible) as early as 1.07.412 (Bribes).

There is no pretention amidst the cabbalistic march of numbers of training the reader as he or she progresses. This isn’t Conflict of Heroes with its step-by-step, programmed introduction of new rules whereby a new player is trained up to the full complexity of the game. And it doesn’t try to be cute, entertaining the reader the way Galaxy Trucker does.

3.3.3 Nan desu ka?
The Japanese word for teacher is ‘sensei’. Written in kanji, the characters essentially mean: before + live; "someone who has lived before." Some people also believe that "life is suffering". Therefore, a teacher is someone who has suffered before you.

The best alternative to struggling through the rules, really, is to find someone who has suffered through the rulebook before you and get them to teach it to you.

3.4 Organization
The problems with the rulebook are compounded by some particularly ornery bits of organization. An obvious one concerns Senator Death. You would think that 1.05.3 (Death Consequences) would, quite sensibly, fully explain the consequences of dying. It does not. In fact, you have to look at 1.07.311 (Family Senators) to really understand what to do with your Senator when he dies (and believe me, he will die).

This seems a result of stubbornly following the numbering system of the rulebook. Yes, once you’re familiar with it, the organization makes sense, in a slavish kind of way. But it’s certainly not intuitive, and makes it difficult on the first (and second, and third) read-through.

Organizing some key information together, it seems to me, might’ve made understanding the game a bit easier. Grouping all needed details about Provinces in one place, for example, would have been nice. (As it is, the information on provinces is scatted across 1.06.4 to 1.06.6, 1.09.5 to 1.09.54, and 1.09.646 to 1.09.6461... not counting the additional two pages of Advanced Rules concerning Provincial Wars and Rebel Governors.)

3.5 Errors and ambiguity
Finally, some unnecessarily wordy or awkward expressions confuse meaning in a few places. (I found 1.07.332: "When counting Active Wars (four and Rome is defeated), each Matching War is considered a single War" ambiguous, though I suspect that was just me. Each War card in play, I have been corrected, counts against the four-card limit. But surely it could have been expressed in a clearer style?)

And even though typos are a minor nuisance, and perhaps inevitable in a rulebook of this length and complexity, they’re still a pain, especially when they show up on game components. Besides, is it really that difficult to catch ‘navel’ versus ‘naval’? “Rome’s navel forces" doesn’t bring an inspiring and frightning image to mind.

3.6 Rules
For all my complaints, however, the rules are one thing: they are thorough. There aren’t many questions that you can’t find the answer to somewhere in the book. In that light, it’s actually quite a decent rulebook. When you consider that the Errata and FAQ s for some Fantasy Flight Games releases are actually longer than the The Republic of Rome rulebook, well, it suddenly doesn’t seem so bad. It’s just getting over that initial hump that is difficult.

4 Game play
Who cares about Box Art, dodgy rulebooks and a few typos? It’s the game play that counts. How does The Republic of Rome actually play, and what do the players do?

4.1 Setup
Players can choose to play the Early, Middle or Late Republic or, if they have lots and lots of time on their hands, any combination of the three (Early to Middle, for example, or all three sequentially). Playing the entire history of the Republic would be akin to watching all three The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition films back-to-back; no matter how rabid a fan you may be, it’s still not an activity to be undertaken lightly.

Each player is dealt three Senators (representing Senatorial Families, really, and a leading individual within that family who has joined your faction) and a hand of three cards with red print. Each player can choose to play the cards in hand at the very beginning, if possible; a Statesman, for example, cannot be played if another player already has the Family card in front of them. Concessions are assigned if wished, and then each player chooses a Faction Leader.

The State treasury is given 100 Talents, and the Unrest level is set at 0.

If playing the Early Republic scenario, the Punic War is placed in the Inactive slot; each scenario has its own setup. Finally, six cards from the next scenario are shuffled together with six cards from the current scenario, along with an ‘End of Era’ game-ending card, and placed at the bottom of the deck. This bring an interesting blending of the Eras at the end of the game, and indicates that the end is nigh.

4.1.2 Setup Time
Setup time can be a concern. Nobody wants to spend most of their precious gaming time setting up and taking down a game. This is especially true for solitaire games. I probably play Pandemic and Race for the Galaxy solo more than others in my collection, not because I necessarily prefer them but because they can be up and running in about five minutes. I love Arkham Horror, but it’s a real pain to get going.

Setting up the board for an Early Republic Game of The Republic of Rome theoretically should only take a few seconds: slap down the Punic War, set your Unrest and Treasury levels, and shuffle your deck and away you go. Realistically though, it takes longer: by the time you’ve debagged all those chits and set them up in little piles around the board, and dealt out the faction senators and assigned leaders and played your initial red cards, you’re probably looking at 10 to 15 minutes. I’m sure that with a group that all know the game, however, this could easily be cut down to less than ten.

4.1.3 Footprint
The game, incidentally, has a largish footprint and needs a table of a decent size. Unlike any other game I’ve played, it also really needs a table of the right shape. This game’s all about dialogue and debate; every player needs to be able to interact with the others. Political lines and coalitions should not be based on who you can actually hear, but my first game the loudness of the pub and the length of the table definitely led to a ‘that side of the table’ vs ‘ this side of the table’

4.2 Phases
The game progresses through several phases. There are seven phases to each turn. This isn’t as much as it seems, however, as many of those phases amount to a single die roll or a simple decision. In fact, only two of the phases take any time at all, and these two make up most of the game.

4.2.1 Mortality
Each Senator has an ID Number on their card. There are 30 black ‘mortality chits’, each corresponding to a senator, and a few others such as ‘none’ or ‘draw 2’. One chit is drawn to see if someone dies. There is no defence against this. Deficit omne quod nasciture, right?

4.2.2 Revenue
Each Senator draws income, as does the State. There’s some fiddly stuff with provincial income and development, but mostly it’s about collecting cash, redistributing it around and making sure that the State doesn’t go broke. Paying for Wars, active troops and Land Bills quickly becomes expensive, especially as the State only draws in 100 talents per turn. Often, it’s up to individual Senators to save the State and donate cash to the treasury. Fortunately, this is rewarded by a small boost in Influence.

4.2.3 Forum
This is the first real phase of the game. This phase is split into six ‘Initiatives’, one for each player. If playing with fewer than six players, the leftovers are auctioned to the highest bidder. In each Initiative, players will either draw a card or roll on a Random Even Table. Black cards are played immediately to the Forum (if a Senator), to a War space (if a War) or to the Curia (if a Leader). Red text cards are kept in hand.

Each player then has an opportunity to persuade a Senator to their faction. Those in the Forum are open game, but other players can counter-bribe your efforts to get a new member. Players can also try and lure away Senators in opposing factions, but this can be difficult as they are already loyal to their leader. Money, of course, can draw away even the most noble of Senators.

There’s a final opportunity to attract a knight--a member of the merchant class--who represent extra income and a vote. Senators can also Sponsor gladiator games to earn popularity and to appease the populace, if necessary.

Otherwise, it’s again some fiddly stuff (like seeing if things in the Curia die or come back to life) and on to the next phase.

4.2.4 Population
This phase is nothing more than a single roll. The Highest Ranking Available Officer in Rome--the person with the most power, in other words, who hasn’t been sent out of Rome or recently killed--gives a State of the Republic speech to the people. Popular speakers do better than unpopular ones. Roll well--the people are happy. Roll poorly--the people may storm the Senate or, worst case scenario, revolt and overthrow Rome.

4.2.5 The Senate Phase
This is the heart of the game. Alliances are forged and broken, promises made, threats issued, decision proposed and votes tallied.

In an initially very sequential order, the Major Offices of Rome are assigned to various Senators. These are the key decisions of the phase, as each Senator earns Influence for taking on an Office--and Influence can win you the game. Consuls are chosen, and they then propose a Censor, the man who will prosecute the criminal and corrupt within the Senate. In times of crisis a Dictator may be named, and with the Advanced Rules a Pontifex Maximus--a religious leader--is appointed.

Once all the posts are assigned, it becomes an open game: the needs of the State and of the individual senators are looked at. Governorships are assigned. Land Bills are passed. Troops are raised and commanders chosen and dispatched to War.

It’s all very exciting stuff, especially as every proposal--and only the Presiding Magistrate, typically the Highest Ranking Officer can put forward new proposals, unless someone plays a Tribune card--has to be voted upon. Want your player to be the next Censor, so you can finally exact revenge on that jerk who sent your militarily incompetent leader to war to be killed? Have you got the necessary voting support? What did you have to promise to get the other faction to support your vote? How many talents are you willing to pay in bribes? Will someone veto your proposal--just after you’ve blown your fortune on those bribes?

Sometimes the voting goes quickly and proposals agreed upon easily. This is especially true in times of crisis, when the course of action is clear. But even then, are you willing to compromise your own pursuit of victory for the needs of the State?

In other words, a lot happens in this phase.

4.2.6 Combat and Revolution
After the excitement of the earlier phase, these two pass quickly. The Combat Phase, however, makes all the difference to the State. Determined by a single 3d6 roll, each commander leads his army into battle. Senators can die or be captured in combat, and legions and navies lost. But the rewards are great: not just spoils for the State and a possible new Province; far more important is the giant boost in popularity and influence that a victorious commander can earn.

There’s nothing more dangerous than a returning hero from a rival faction.

This is emphasized in the final phase. War heroes can decide to not return to Rome. Instead, they can choose to rebel against the Republic. Earning the loyalty of the army and supporting their costs isn’t easy, but it’s the most glorious route to victory in the game.

Compared to the decision as to whether to rebel against Rome or not, the rest of the Revolution phase seems quite tame. This is the only time that players can play Statesmen or Concessions from their hand, and swap cards (usually to fulfil an agreement made during the Senate phase) with other Factions.

4.3 Winning the Game
There are several ways of winning the game. One route is through Influence; the other is Military.

4.3.1 Influence
Influence in The Republic of Rome is like victory points with benefits. Influence helps you attract new Senators and helps protect them from criminal prosecutions. Far more importantly, they also determine the winner. Once a single Senator earns 21 Influence, the Senate can vote him Consul for Life, and he wins the game. Earn a whopping 35 Influence, and he automatically wins the game.

The difficulty, of course, is in accruing that much influence. No matter how much the State might need its war hero the Senate is unlikely to pass a proposal to send him to war if it means he’ll return the winner of the game. And with only 21 Influence, what Highest Ranking Officer is going to propose him the winner? Unless you’ve got both control of the Senate--and enough votes to pass a proposal--or enough cash saved up to bribe the vote--and no one vetoes the proposal; in other words, it’s not an easy victory. And even then, assassins lurk behind every friendly smile....

4.3.2 Revolt
Alternatively, you can try marching on Rome with a loyal army. Unlikely to happen in the Early Republic, this is a far greater threat in the Middle and Late games. It’s always a risky gamble, though: lose, and not only is your Senator obviously put to death, but your remaining faction is unlikely to earn many friends through his betrayal. Rebelling also wins you the game if the State collapses while you are out of Rome.

4.4 Losing the Game
If the Republic crumbles, the players lose the game. The Republic collapses if there are 4 Active Wars at the end of a turn, or if it has to pay out money and the coffers are empty. Finally, a revolting populace (aren’t they, though?) can also end the game.
  • [+] Dice rolls
Piero
Italy
Florence
flag msg tools
Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
badge
What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.
mbmbmbmbmb
WHOA! That was a read. Very fun too! laugh

Good job!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brett Porter
United States
Winder
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the review 先生. I myself have been teetering on the decision to purchase this game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Davide Grandini
Italy
Rubiera
Reggio Emilia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Very good stuff, can't wait to read the second part. If you are looking for a latin phrase about death, I think "Mors tua, vita mea" suits this game perfectly!
Well donethumbsup
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam D.
United States
Suquamish
Washington
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice (partial) review and a fun read. I agree with a lot of your points except this one:

Quote:
All this leads me to state: we are spoiled.


Well, actually I kind of agree with that too... however, in this context, when you are spending this much money for a board game that was all probably made in China to keep the costs down the least the manufacturer could do is fix typos and spelling errors with a little extra proof reading. Would it kill anyone to go over the board "one last time" to make sure it's accurate? Especially after YEARS of development?

It's not the end of the world, but it is annoying after this long of a wait and for the amount of money spent.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andre
United States
Connecticut
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
OK, call me boneheaded, but where is Section 5?? Am I missing something? Other than that, excellent review!!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Davide Grandini
Italy
Rubiera
Reggio Emilia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Section 5 and all the rest will be in part 2, yet to be published.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Bankler
United States
San Antonio
Texas
flag msg tools
"Keep Summer Safe!"
mbmbmbmbmb
Weloi Avala wrote:

2.2.2 Zero
What you won’t find in the box is a sheet of ‘zero’ tokens.

Roman numerals didn't have zero. You paid for authenticity! If you wanted Arabic numbers, you came to the wrong age.
31 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fritz Mulnar
Germany
Berlin
not Bavaria
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Bankler wrote:
Weloi Avala wrote:

2.2.2 Zero
What you won’t find in the box is a sheet of ‘zero’ tokens.

Roman numerals didn't have zero. You paid for authenticity! If you wanted Arabic numbers, you came to the wrong age.


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan
United States
San Francisco
California
flag msg tools
I must think over my position and how I may improve it.
mbmbmb
Great review! I am looking forward to more reviews from you.

Emerson wrote:
I find incomparable things said incomparably well, as they must be...I greet you at the beginning of a great career, which yet must have had a long foreground somewhere, for such a start. I rubbed my eyes a little, to see if this sunbeam were no illusion; but the solid sense of [this review] is a sober certainty. It has the best merits.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dick Leban
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmb
oeolycus wrote:
Great review! I am looking forward to more reviews from you.

Walt Whitman wrote:
I find incomparable things said incomparably well, as they must be...I greet you at the beginning of a great career, which yet must have had a long foreground somewhere, for such a start. I rubbed my eyes a little, to see if this sunbeam were no illusion; but the solid sense of [this review] is a sober certainty. It has the best merits.
Save a few people a few keystrokes and dummy up the quote next time (see above)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan
United States
San Francisco
California
flag msg tools
I must think over my position and how I may improve it.
mbmbmb
It's actually Emerson
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Asher D.
United States
Lexington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Bankler wrote:
Weloi Avala wrote:

2.2.2 Zero
What you won’t find in the box is a sheet of ‘zero’ tokens.

Roman numerals didn't have zero. You paid for authenticity! If you wanted Arabic numbers, you came to the wrong age.


I think there should have been an extra counter sheet with the package, with the zeroes. We found that problem in a playtest in BGG.con and the Valley Games were on the phone within 5 minutes to get it resolved. I heard from a friend who ordered it that he did get that, but almost missed it in the packaging. So if you still have your packaging make sure to go through it carefully and look for the extra counter sheet. If not, VG might still have some spares.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tomas Syrovatka
Czech Republic
Beroun
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
What a great review! I have been considering to buy this game for some time and your review helped to push me over the edge! Thanks and I am eagerly looking forward to see the second part!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dick Leban
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmb
oeolycus wrote:
It's actually Emerson
See, , there ya go, dummy up the quotes.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Seitz
United States
Glen Allen
VA
flag msg tools
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
mbmbmbmbmb
Fricking loooooooong. But funny. My favorite quotations:

Quote:
To best capture the feeling of first approaching this behemoth of a game, this review is written in the style of the rulebook that a prospective player must first defeat--as surely as the fledgling Republic must defeat the first Punic War--before playing.


Quote:
I hope those people who left it in shrink wrap for twenty years waiting for price inflation choke on their outdated Avalon Hill mortality chits. I wish a similar fate on all those jerks hoarding copies of Space Hulk, breaking them up and selling them off at ridiculous prices; may they inadvertently swallow a Genestealer.


Quote:
I don’t actually wish for anyone to choke on little bits of cardboard or horribly beclawed plastic miniatures.


Quote:
No, actually, there aren’t any metal coins. I lied. Apparently this was something offered with the pre-order years ago. I don’t really see the point of metal coins, but some people were quite upset about it, and cried betrayal. On the other hand, this is The Republic of Rome: lies and betrayal are part of the game.


Quote:
These chits aren’t like that little ghost token in Descent that never sees the light of day, or the little ferret that nobody actually wants.


Quote:
This is a high quality board. It’s hefty and well cut, and I don’t imagine it’ll warp easily beneath the tears of a Faction in decline.


Quote:
This never occurred to me because I’ve never actually had any money in my treasury. I’m not very good at fiscal management.


Quote:
Or maybe we’re just entering an age of thirty-something gamers with lots of disposable income and more money than sense, willing to pay more for better bits. To which I say: woo hoo.


Quote:
Normally the rulebook wouldn’t deserve its own mention, or would sit somewhere in the Components (2.5.8, maybe) section. But this Rulebook is so intimidating it could send Hannibal straight to the Curia to await an imminent mortality roll.


Quote:
Unless you take a particularly sadistic thrill in reading legalistic papers, it’s only natural if your attention begins to wander by the time you reach 1.09.62 (Land Bills) or 2.03.81 (Attacking a Rebel Province) or even, for the particularly weak (or sensible) as early as 1.07.412 (Bribes).


Quote:
“Rome’s navel forces" doesn’t bring an inspiring and fearful image to mind.



7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Er heisst
Germany
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Weloi Avala wrote:

4.2.1 Mortality
Each Senator has an ID Number on their card. There are 30 black ‘mortality chits’, each corresponding to a senator, and a few others such as ‘none’ or ‘draw 2’. One chit is drawn to see if someone dies. There is no defence against this. Death can strike anyone. [Insert Latin quote about death.]


mors est quies viatoris
finis est omnis laboris


Provisionally consider it done. When can we expect the errata to your review?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hugh Grotius
United States
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for this thorough and entertaining review. It encouraged me to resume my reading of the rules. I had been stalled on page 5 or so. Once I got to the Senate Phase, I found the rules more interesting and accessible, I read more quickly, and my desire to play increased dramatically. Was this your experience? I.e., did you find that the dreariest part of the rules is the start, and that they get better as they go along?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Noakes
United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you for all the positive responses! It's been edited for formatting, typos, content and latin quotes, so on to part two, which I hope to post over the weekend.

-M.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Varga
Hungary
Budapest
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Senators! The people are at unrest! They demand Part 2! laugh
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Owasso
Oklahoma
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Sounds like this game is riddled with errors and typos. Does anyone know if a 2nd printing is underway without those problems.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
brian
United States
Cedar Lake
Indiana
flag msg tools
mb
oklahomageek wrote:
Sounds like this game is riddled with errors and typos. Does anyone know if a 2nd printing is underway without those problems.

A Living Rules is being updated. As to a 2nd printing, Valley would have to address that directly.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Bachman
United States
Colonie
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
oklahomageek wrote:
Sounds like this game is riddled with errors and typos. Does anyone know if a 2nd printing is underway without those problems.

Yes, it most certainly is.

From everything VG has stated, a 2nd printing is not "underway". Whether it is in future plans would have to be answered by VG.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Conor Sipe
United States
Troy
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
This is quite possibly the best review I've ever read on BGG. Thanks so much!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Noakes
United Kingdom
Redhill
Surrey
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Hey! Just picked up a "best of 2010" review thing. Thanks for the thumbs!

-M.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.