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Subject: BKE: Solitaire rss

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I'm attaching this separately from the main review as the solitaire game is really its own thing.

Summary:

The solitaire scenario of BKE posits a growing Roman Republic, circa 400 B.C. or so, surrounded by unknown lands to subjugate. The task is simple--conquer every city within the Hadrianic borders of the Roman Empire within 30 turns. For a harder game, throw in the Persian Empire as well.

Gameplay:

Rome starts out in the Kingdom stage and encompasses the Italian peninsula. Taxation and Administration is handled per the normal rules, but an addition die roll during that phase can bring random scourge or fortune with more money allocated for administration tipping things towards the latter. This roll may also result in the acquisition of a second leader--tremendously helpful.

At the beginning of every turn, for each unexplored province that has a Roman force bordering it or within one sea space of a boat, a die is rolled. If Rome is lucky, there is no resistance at all--only a local populace to be bought for a nominal fee. At the hard luck end of that chart is a tough, independent kingdom. The other results generate neutral garrisons of varying strengths or barbarian hordes.

Garrisons just sit and wait to be destroyed, of course, but barbarian hordes and independent kingdoms have their own set of rules, and those pesky hordes can prove to be really annoying, tying up lots of your troops as you try to keep them from breaking out into your lush heartland to pillage your tax base.

The Roman player gets one free "revival" which is generally enough to keep his/her nation in play through to the end. In the last game I played, money ceased to be a problem after about turn six so it never was necessary. Leaders are retained when the Roman Republic becomes an Empire.

This game thus requires a bit of luck and very careful gameplay to finish in time. A marginal victory can be accomplished by generating 50 in tax income on any turn, but the decisive victory is tough to get. My last game ended with my forces in Judea and Cyraenica facing a stubborn Cleopatra armed to the teeth. Ah well.

Summary:

I was very impressed with this game. It's quite different from the multi-player game in scope and play which is why I feel it deserves a second review. The game measures up quite well to computer games of the same genre (i.e. Civilization). Clocking in at about four hours from set-up to clean-up, I'd recommend BKE Solitaire for a nice quiet evening of fun.

8 out of 10
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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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I also think BK&E is great solitaire, but would put play time closer to 3 hours. Nice review!
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