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Subject: Julius Caesar as first block game purchase rss

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Flavius Sabbatius
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A friend has purchased Sekigahara and we've played a few times and have really enjoyed the block game mechanic. I wanted to purchase a different game for variety. I'm thus strongly considering Julius Caesar as my first game block game purchase (the other games I was considering are Hellenes: Campaigns of the Pelloponesian, Strike of the Eagle, and Rommel in the Desert).

I'm curious about thoughts on Julius Caesar as a first block game purchase, and I have a couple of specific questions:
(1) Is the 120 minutes a realistic playtime? We've been able to reliably complete a game of Sekigahara in 2.5 hours after the first learning game.
(2) Is the production quality serviceable? From pictures, it does not seem as well-produced as Sekigahara but does it actually detract from gameplay? (I enjoy Terraforming Mars even though the component quality is not the best)
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Doug Adams
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I guess it depends on your experience. The other games you mention are a little heavier than Julius Caesar. Production is okay - card stock map (not mounted), you probably want to sleeve the small deck of cards, blocks are nice. Complexity is low. Good game though.
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Todd Carter
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Julius Caesar is a good game. I do have some experience with Sekigahara and I own and do want to play Strike on Eagle and Rommel. But, Julius Caesar hits the table a couple times a year and I think it's well worth the investment.

To answer your questions.
1. It may take a couple plays. But I think 2 hours is realistic.
2. Well, it's hard to beat GMT in terms of art and quality of pieces. I am really not bothered by the quality of Columbia games, though some people might have these two issues. 1) The board (like in almost all Columbia games) is a much thinner card board than GMT uses for its games. But, really, once you start playing on it, you really don't notice. 2) The spaces are little spots on the map and some people it easy to lose track of where their blocks are on the map. But, after a while you get used to these. Those are the only two production issues I can think of.

Hope that helps! Happy gaming.
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Flavius Sabbatius
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Thanks gents! Couple more questions:

(3) What about the rules? Sekigahara has one of the cleanest and clearest rulebooks I've ever seen.
(4) Is there any other ancient-themed block game worth looking into?
 
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Black Bart
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(1) If Sekigahara works for you in terms of playtime, Julius Caesar should too. I've played both a couple of times and don't think any play went over the two-hour mark (even when the decision fell in the last turn). In both games though a player can score an early knock-out win so if you play a second game your session could go longer than expected.

(2) I've only played with plexiglass over the board and sleeved cards, wouldn't mind playing without those.

I think JC would be an excellent choice, about as easy to play as Sekigahara and with a different feel (note that combat is resolved with dice as in most wargames). Hellenes and Rommel are quite a bit more involved than JC (you can download the rulebooks of these games from the publisher websites).
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Black Bart
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(3) JC also has one of the cleanest and clearest wargame rulebooks I've ever seen.

(4) Commands & Colors Ancients is the big one, but that doesn't use blocks for fog of war (they have the role of miniatures).
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Mark Raciborski
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Julius Caesar fine choice, take a look at Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815.

Maria is not a block game but uses cards and zones where they can be played for battles, if you can find 2 other players.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/31556/maria/review-maria...

Here you go, good overview of the game http://www.histogame.de/e_maria.html
Click on How to Play.

It's sold out, but reprint coming. This is the war game for board gamers, don't play it two players, find the updated rules, and the so called free pdf expansion.


Same guy gives a review of JC, https://boardgamegeek.com/video/8253/julius-caesar/castelli-...
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Roger Reisinger
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I own all these games and they are all excellent. I would buy the one that has the theme you are most interested in and with the complexity that you would like. My rating from least to most complex would be:

Juluis Caesar
Holdfast: Russia
Hammer of the Scots
Sekigahara
Strike of the Eagle
Campaigns
Rommel

Yes I know I added a few, they are all excellent games.


easternRoman wrote:
A friend has purchased Sekigahara and we've played a few times and have really enjoyed the block game mechanic. I wanted to purchase a different game for variety. I'm thus strongly considering Julius Caesar as my first game block game purchase (the other games I was considering are Hellenes: Campaigns of the Pelloponesian, Strike of the Eagle, and Rommel in the Desert).

I'm curious about thoughts on Julius Caesar as a first block game purchase, and I have a couple of specific questions:
(1) Is the 120 minutes a realistic playtime? We've been able to reliably complete a game of Sekigahara in 2.5 hours after the first learning game.
(2) Is the production quality serviceable? From pictures, it does not seem as well-produced as Sekigahara but does it actually detract from gameplay? (I enjoy Terraforming Mars even though the component quality is not the best)
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Doug Adams
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easternRoman wrote:
Thanks gents! Couple more questions:

(3) What about the rules? Sekigahara has one of the cleanest and clearest rulebooks I've ever seen.
(4) Is there any other ancient-themed block game worth looking into?


The JC rules are good - you can see them on the Columbia website.

Columbia and GMT have done block games on the Peloponnesian Wars. I don't think I've played either, but I think one was by Craig Besinque, and they are always worth a look.

While not a block/wargame, this one is also very good. Polis: Fight for the Hegemony
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Russ Williams
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I think that Julius Caesar is a great block game, and it has one of the best clearest rulebooks (almost no rule holes (and those which exist are obscure cases you'll probably not even encounter much at all), much better than most wargames). It also has good replay value (I've got 30 logged plays) with a very asymmetrical yet apparently well-balanced situation.

Playing time is unpredictable: the game goes up to 5 rounds, but after each round a victory check is made. One side starts close to the victory threshold, and the game can end very soon, shorter than 2 hours, if they win. If the other side wins, then the game probably went the full 5 rounds, which will probably last somewhat longer than 2 hours, perhaps up to 3 hours (in my experience, but my friend and I may be playing slower than some others in the thread).
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Steve
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Julius Caesar was my first block game and I now own three others by Columbia and one by GMT. It's the easiest to get into, the most balanced and with well written rules. The component quality is as others have described and I can play a full game in 90 minutes every time with my regular opponent.

The only downside for me was that when I went on to try the other Columbia block games (Hammer of the Scots, Richard III and Crusader Rex) I found them less refined and poorer quality in terms of mechanics and rules, but they are also older games.
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Todd Carter
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easternRoman wrote:
Thanks gents! Couple more questions:

(3) What about the rules? Sekigahara has one of the cleanest and clearest rulebooks I've ever seen.
(4) Is there any other ancient-themed block game worth looking into?


3. Ditto on what everyone else said. I find all of Columbia games's rules to be really clear and relatively easy. (And exactly 8 pages.) You can download the rules off their website if you want to see: http://www.columbiagames.com/cgi-bin/query/cfg/zoom.cfg?prod...

4. I really can't think of another good one that has the information hidden. But, as also said, Commands and Colors: Ancients is a lot of fun. But, it's a very different game than what you're probably expecting. It just happens to use blocks for the pieces.
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A Day
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over the years I have been a 50% wargamer. and the best Block wargames I have played with wargamers and non wargamers that people have enjoyed and that we have replayed many times are:

1) Sekigahara (a masterpiece in my mind)

2) Napoleon The waterloo campaign (4th edition is the best)

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/106939/napoleon-waterloo...


3) Julius Caesar

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1175007/perfect-introdu...

4) Command & Colors: Ancients

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/13598/commands-colors-an...


5) Holdfast Korea or Holdfast Russia

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/78420/holdfast-korea-195...

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/72071/holdfast-russia-19...
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Flavius Sabbatius
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@Mark, the Castelli review was very helpful. I don't think I'll go for a multi-player game like Maria though.

@Roger, thanks for the additional game suggestions, and the ranking by complexity.

@Doug, actually, I have played Polis with the same friend. Great game, and is partly why I was considering Hellenes (which is the other Craig Besinque game you were thinking about, but looks a bit longer and more complex than Julius Caesar).

@Russ, seems like the randomized starting blocks can change the initial setup in a similar way to Sekigahara which contributes to replayability.

@Steve, thanks for the production quality comparison with the other Columbia games. Very helpful.

@Todd, so I should probably mention that I do have Commands & Colors: Ancients. Right, I'm looking for more a strategic-level game rather than tactical-level like C&C.

@ADay, agreed, Sekigahara is amazing -- may have spoiled me! I'm pleased though that you included JC in your list of your best blockgames.

Thanks everyone for the input, I'm now set on getting Julius Caesar! But if you have other suggestions, would consider them for a future game.
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C Sandifer
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For what it's worth, JC rules clarifications can be found here. Enjoy the game!
 
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