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Subject: First Impressions and varied Ramblings rss

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Nick Fisk
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Stoke on Trent
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Come on you Seagulls! Sami Hyppia's Blue & White army!
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That's weird. This bit used to mention Shire Games, and tell you all how wonderful we are. But it seems to have got deleted. Let's see what happens this time ....
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This is a review based on half a 2-player game, followed by a complete 3-player game.


What's in the Box?

The box is a bit too big. It's the same size as Tikal and Java, and really only needed to be the size of Power Grid, or possibly even Hansa/China.

Amongst the empty space on the inside, you will find:

1 x Board: Showing a map of Italy, with a track of spaces running twistedly from North to South. A larger space for Rome is about half way down, with the final space being in Africa.

6 x Romans and 1 x Goth: These are the player pieces, and they are made of semi-transparent plastic. Wooden pawns would have been nice, but these work perfectly well.

100 x Wooden "cubes": These are pretty small and actually in a variety of shapes. Green cubes (food), Gold discs (gold), white rectangles (peace) and purple rods (glory) shaped like Power Grid garbage, only a touch smaller.

70 x Production Cards: These are of three types. Farms (green), Cities (yellow), Peace (white), all showing one of their respective resources at the bottom of the card.

57 x Building cards: These are not all buildings, but are called building cards because they are built on top of your production cards. They are also (mainly) green, white or gold, with a few red ones thrown in.

6 x Player Screens: These are very nice. The picture from the front of the box, with the Roman guy holding a slightly different coloured goblet, representing the player's colour.


Idea of the Game:

Each player is a rich Roman patrician trying to escape from Rome, as the Goth slowly makes his way towards the capital, destroying everything in his path. The first player to reach Africa is the winner. If the game ends in one of its other ways, then the player that got the farthest is the winner.


Overview of the Game:

Each player starts the game with a hand of the resource cards (5 farms, 3 cities, 3 peace for a five player game, up to 12 farms, 9 cities, 9 peace for a two-player game). One of each of these cards is placed face-up in front of the player’s screen, and each player also receives one of each resource (food, peace, gold), which are kept behind the screen, along with remaining production cards.
The purple counters (Glory) are basically a “joker” resource and can be used instead of any other resource at any time, although occasionally Glory will be a requirement for something.

Players take turns being the active player. On their turn they must do the following things:

1. Add a new building card to the forum
2. Play a production card
3. All players activate their cards

And then they may do the following:

4. Buy a building card
5. Pay tribute to the Goth.

Then it becomes the next player’s turn.


Game in Detail:

1. Add a new building card to the forum
There are 6 forum spaces on the side of the board, marked from +5, +4, … down to 0. When you add a building card, it goes on the +5 spot and all other cards are moved down the scale by one place. If the forum was full, the card on 0 is placed onto the discard pile.
The building cards can be bought by the players and placed on their respective production cards. Each production card can only have one building on it.

2. Play a production card
You choose a production card from your hand and play it face-up in front of your screen. This determines what kind of turn this is (either a farm, city or peace turn). Bear in mind you have a limited number of each card.

3. All players activate their cards
Every player now activates all of their production cards for this kind of turn (farms, cities or peace cards). When activating a card, you either take a resource of that type or – if the card has a building card on it – use the building’s special power instead.

4. Buy a building card
The active player now has the option of buying a building card.
The cost is shown on the card and the costs vary from a few resources to 9 or 10 resources, in different mixes. The occasional card requires Glory to be used as well. On top of this cost, you also have to pay the “forum cost” (+5, +4, etc) in any cubes you like.
So … the longer a building card is in the forum, the cheaper it becomes, until it drops out of the game.
At the moment of buying a building card, you receive a number of “steps”, from 1 to 4, although there is one card that shows 0 steps. You move your little Roman guy this many steps along the path to Africa.
The card you buy must go on an empty matching production card. The red ones can go on any production card.
In future, when the right kind of turn is called, you can choose to activate the powers on these cards instead of the production cards underneath them

The Powers
The powers on the cards vary wildly, from allowing you to earn an extra resource from the card, to giving you the chance to take extra steps towards Africa.
It’s impossible to explain them all, but there are basically a few different types:
a. Give this to get that: You can spend 1 or 2 resources to get more resources, glory, or sometimes steps towards Africa. An example of this would be a card that lets you exchange a Glory for three other resources, or exchange one of each resource for three steps towards Africa.
b. Have this to get that: In this case, it is enough to have something in front of you to get something else. An example of this would be a peace card that lets you collect a food for every farm that you have.
c. Satisfy this to get that: These need certain conditions to be filled for you to use the benefit.
You get the idea …

5. Pay tribute to the Goth
This is also optional, and is the other “major” part of the game.
This is also where all the “screwage” in the game takes place.
On every space between the Goth’s starting space and Rome, there are icons representing farms, cities and peace.
Most spaces have one icon, some have 2, and the last space before Rome has all three icons.
At the end of every player’s turn, the Goth will take a step towards Rome unless you pay a tribute to him. The tribute is one resource of the type shown on the next free space in front of him.
If you pay the tribute, that is the end of your turn and the next player becomes active.
However, if you choose not to pay the Goth, he will move either one space (if there were no resources in his path) or he will advance to the last space with resources on it, which could be any number of steps.
Two things happen when the Goth moves: Firstly he destroys cards, and secondly, the players get to scavenge the resources that were in his path.
Destroying Cards: The Goth will destroy 1 card for each icon he has passed on his move, including the space he stopped at. Starting with the active player, each player must lose a production card (including the building card sitting on it if there is one). It is the player’s choice which card of which colour is lost. For example, if the Goth has passed 2 city icons and 1 farm icon, the active player decides to lose a city card, the next player chooses to lose a farm card, and the third player must lose a city card if he has one.
If you don’t have the necessary card, you get away with it and the destruction passes to the player on your left!. This continues until all cards are lost, if possible.
Recovering resources: Again starting with the active player, each player now chooses one of the resources on the board, in turn, until they are all taken. It doesn’t matter who ended up losing the buildings, the order is always active player, then clockwise.

And that is the end of a turn.


Ending the Game

The winner of the game is the first one to Africa.
The game also ends if the Goth gets to Rome, or the players all run out of production cards (limiting a five player game to 11 rounds, and a 2 player game to 30 rounds), or the building card deck runs out (57 turns). In any of these cases, the player who has traveled the farthest wins the game



First Impressions, Early Opinions & Random Thoughts

I have very much enjoyed our plays of this one.

There’s a lot more to think about than the rules would suggest, and there are a few chances to completely ruin the other players’ plans.

For the first few turns, things go pretty quickly. Unless a cheap building card come up early, it’s going to be several turns until players can afford one, especially with the extra “forum” costs. Therefore, for four or five turns, players earn what they can and pay their tributes to the Goth.

The game starts in ernest (pun intended) when the Goth is moved for the first time. From this point on, players are trying to manage their few cards without losing them all to the big guy, all the while trying to take those extra steps towards safety.

Until you start losing cards, it is never advisable to let the Goth move one step, as you are the only one hit. However, if you happen to have no farm cards in front of you and the next step for the Goth shows a farm icon, let him go! The player on your left will lose a farm card (and if you’re really lucky, it’ll have an expensive building attached to it!).

A magical moment came up in our game yesterday: I became the active player and had two city cards in front of me. There were four resources/icons in front of the Goth: two food and two peace. Therefore, I played another city card and made it a city turn. I earned three gold. I then chose to let the Goth move, and he destroyed a farm and peace card from each of my two opponents while I watched, and then I got to take two of the resources on the board, while they got one each! It’s moments like that that make this game a lot of fun.

One or two of the icons are a bit puzzling, especially the “satisfy this to get that” ones, but after a while we all got used to them.

The rules suggest that you think about letting the Goth move once there are as many icons in front of him as there are players. In this case, you will all lose something, but you will at least get to choose what goes before the others!

This probably isn’t a game for the AP crowd. When your turn comes round, you need to look what other people have in front of them, what is likely to happen if you do/do not move the Goth, and what the next guy is likely to do after you.

If you are likely to buy a building card, it seems to be a pretty good idea to have some backup. In other words, if you are buying a city building card, it’s worth having two empty city cards, so that you can build on one and still afford to lose the other. There’s nothing worse than paying a bunch of resources for your brand new building, only to lose it before you’ve had the chance to use it!


In Summary…

I liked this one a lot, as did Sue, who is not always a fan of games with conflict or games where you have to pick on people.

The fact that it seems to play well with two helps it a lot.

The three player game last night was well over the stated hour, but we were still learning the ins and outs of the game.

I imagine there will be a little bit of downtime with five or six players, although you are taking income/activating buildings on every player’s turn, and occasionally having to make decisions about which cards the Goth destroys and which resources you scavenge.

Since we finished the game, I’ve thought about some elements of it quite a bit, which is always a sign of a game that has captured my imagination.

I don’t want to rate the game just yet, but I can see it being a solid 8, if not a 9.

I apologise for the rambling order of this review, but I was trying to get everything down before I forgot bits and pieces!


N.
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Jim Cote
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Excellent review, and very informative. You were robbed by the modders. Tipped!
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Ubergeek
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Be Happy in your Game!
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I spent 100 Geek Gold and all I got was this lousy overtext message!
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Quote:
When your turn comes round, you need to look what other people have in front of them, what is likely to happen if you do/do not move the Goth, and what the next guy is likely to do after you.


I got to play this game with the designer at the last Gamestorm. Your comment above could have been a direct quote from what he told us to watch for when playing. Very good review and a good assessment of what needs to be considered. If you play this game in a bubble without consideration of what other players are doing, you probably won't do very well.

meeple
 
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Jim Cote
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What do you do when there are lots of resources to deal with when the Goth moves? Seems like it could get difficult to track. My thought is to remove all the resources the Goth consumes, place them in a pile, and slide then to another pile as players choose a card to remove. This way you can see what's left.

How often do you think the Goth will eat, say, 3 or more spaces of resources in a turn?
 
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Nick Fisk
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Come on you Seagulls! Sami Hyppia's Blue & White army!
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That's weird. This bit used to mention Shire Games, and tell you all how wonderful we are. But it seems to have got deleted. Let's see what happens this time ....
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ekted wrote:
What do you do when there are lots of resources to deal with when the Goth moves? Seems like it could get difficult to track. My thought is to remove all the resources the Goth consumes, place them in a pile, and slide then to another pile as players choose a card to remove. This way you can see what's left.

How often do you think the Goth will eat, say, 3 or more spaces of resources in a turn?


Yes ... because you can lose buildings in any order, it would be easy to get lost.

We gathered the resources together, then slid them from one pile to another when they were lost.

Then we picked them one by one from the new pile.

In the two games so far, the first move was quite big both times (8 or 9 resources), but after that one they have been anything from 1 to 5 resources.

It'll be interesting to see how future games go, but the first one seems to get delayed because people are trying to build up some cards at the start.

 
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Nick Fisk
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Come on you Seagulls! Sami Hyppia's Blue & White army!
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That's weird. This bit used to mention Shire Games, and tell you all how wonderful we are. But it seems to have got deleted. Let's see what happens this time ....
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Moviebuffs wrote:
ekted wrote:
What do you do when there are lots of resources to deal with when the Goth moves? Seems like it could get difficult to track. My thought is to remove all the resources the Goth consumes, place them in a pile, and slide then to another pile as players choose a card to remove. This way you can see what's left.

How often do you think the Goth will eat, say, 3 or more spaces of resources in a turn?


Yes ... because you can lose buildings in any order, it would be easy to get lost.

We gathered the resources together, then slid them from one pile to another when they were lost.

Then we picked them one by one from the new pile.

In the two games so far, the first move was quite big both times (8 or 9 resources), but after that one they have been anything from 1 to 5 resources.

It'll be interesting to see how future games go, but the first one seems to get delayed because people are trying to build up some cards at the start.



Of course, this method falls down slightly when there are one or more Glory counters that have been used for payment of the tribute.

In that case, you need to keep the markers where they were, so you can remember which icons were passed.


 
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Dean
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Quote:
The box is a bit too big.


Just picked up my copy and cracked it open. Wow. You weren't kidding. If anything, you understated just how much dead space there is in this box. Easily could have been half the size and still hold everything.

Components look nice, but the box is far, far too large for what's in the game. Maybe it's meant as a storage place for some Cheapass games?
 
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Great review. One thing I found upon an initial reading of the instructions is that they seemed to be confusing to me. Your review breaks the game down better for me than the actual instructions did.

My gaming group had this set up and ready to go but the instructions were confusing us so we opted to play something we knew better. Admittedly this was partially just laziness on our parts. I hope to give it a go this weekend, it does look fun.

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John Paul Sodusta
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What size is the box? Is it the size of China/Santiago/El Grande Decennial?
 
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Akke Monasso
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Barkam wrote:
What size is the box? Is it the size of China/Santiago/El Grande Decennial?


the box is the size of Tikal (bigger than Santiago), the folded map is smaller than the size of Santiago. There is nothing to hold the map in place. Weird, it's like they had a metric conversion issue when ordering the box.
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Brad Miller
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Way bigger than Tikal. Flatter too I believe.
 
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Akke Monasso
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Windopaene wrote:
Way bigger than Tikal. Flatter too I believe.


No, it's the same size, maybe a few mm bigger, but no more.
The thickness is also the same.

 
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