„Rome has grown since its humble beginnings that it is now overwhelmed by its own greatness.” Titus Livius (59 BC – 17 AD)
Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil 235-284 AD is one of the newest GMT games for 2-4 players. The action of the game takes place in the period of decline of the Roman Empire, characterized by civil wars, internal political struggles and barbarian tribes that were at the borders of the empire and which made incursions and invaded the Roman territories, taking advantage of the given situation. Each of the players will play the role of a Roman dynasty in search of glory, influence and power, no matter their price. The game combines several elements and it is designed not only for wargamers, since it is a strategy game with historical theme. The main mechanics are: hand management, deckbuilding (atypical), area control, diplomacy.
The quality of the components is a common characteristic for the american publisher and again rises to our expectations. Inside the box we find a map of thick cardboard, very nicely illustrated as shown in the images below, thick counters and detachable without leaving ugly corners, the player boards, 100+ cards, dice. The map represents the entire expanse of the empire and the adjacent territories; the territory of the empire is divided into historical provinces. Each such province has a capital, where troops can be stationed, and the political support track, very important in managing and controlling provinces. Each player has a number of counters , representing generals, governors and markers for the creation of a new empire. There are also barbarian counters: Germans, Nomads, Sassanids, Goths and Franks, counters representing civil riots (mobs), legions, militias and improvements (basilicas, limes and amphitheaters) . Cards are of two types: event cards and influential cards (which are of three spheres: military, political and civil / social).
Nicely illustrated with few pages, and a few game turns examples for a better understanding of the game. Certain things may seem unclear and may have needed to be better covered, but in the bgg forum there are answers to some questions that may arise. The difficulty of the game is 2.5 according to BGG and I agree with it. After a careful reading of the rules, the game can begin with no problems, and only one turn is enough to understand the game mechanics.
At the beginning of the game, starting with the first player, each will choose a province he/she will control (with the exception of Italy, which is initially controlled by a neutral governor), places a governor there and a general with a legion and a militia. Provinces that remain unoccupied will be controlled by neutral governors. The game ends when the event card "Diocletian" appears or when one of the players reaches 60 legacy points and is the current emperor. Each player starts with a 9-card deck (3 cards from the military, 3 from the political and 3 from the civilian sphere), of which chooses 5, the remaining 4 being placed in the "available deck" area.
Cards being the main mechanism of the game, I will begin by explaining them. As I said, we have three spheres of influence. Each of these spheres has 4 types of cards: the beginning ones, 1 point, and then 3 other types, 2, 3 and 4 points + an event on each of them, except for the 1p ones. Cards are bought at the end of a player s turn, depending on the provinces they own, so 3 or 4 point cards can not be bought until a player consolidates their political support and controls several provinces. The purchased cards go to the discard pile, and when there are no cards in the available pile, all the cards in the discard become available, the player choosing at each end of the turn which cards from the available pile will "fill" his hand. When playing a card, you can play both the event and use the points of it. On each player s turn, he or she may play as many cards as they want from the 5 available in their hand, recruting units, generals, governors, moving armies, placing governors, initiating battles or gaining civil support by various actions.
The events on the cards are the following:
The military cards: placing a castra (2p card), flanking manouvre - allows you a reroll (3p) and the Pretorian Guard - with the necessary military points and a little luck, you can assassinate the emperor and take his place (4p)
The civil/crowd cards: placing a quaestor(2p card), placing a mob in a province controlled by another player (3p card), the pretender - under certain conditions, allows a player to create his own empire (4p card)
The political cards: tribute - the barbarian tribes of a province become inactive (2p card), recruitment of a barbarian unit in their own army (3p card), damnatio memoriae - at the price of some riots that will run in the provinces controlled by the player who plays this event, the previous emperor will lose legacy points (4p card)
The board after 2 turns of play
Each turn has the following phases:
Upkeep: qaestor and castra of the current player are removed from the map.
Crisis : Dice are rolled, depending on the outcome, certain tribes can invade or event cards may come in play.
Player Actions: Using available cards, players activate events and use card points to recruit, conquer, place governors, etc.
Support check: provinces that contain barbarian units lose political support, the emperor loses support in Italy if a rival emperor or a pretender is on the map
Gain legacy: Depending on the provinces owned and the improvements controlled, legacy points are received. In addition, the emperor and / or the pretender will receive extra points.
Buy / Trash Cards: Depending on political support and controlled provinces, the player buys new influential cards from the desired sphere and can trash cards
End of turn: the mobs/riots that have not been dispersed grow in intensity, the inactive tribes in controlled provinces become active, the player draws cards from available pile to 5.
The yellow player, having +3 support in the controlled provinces, self-proclaimes pretender creating a new empire, which forced the current emperor (the red player) to start a war against him, every turn in which the pretender exists dropping the political support and popularity of the current emperor
A strategy / war game, with an ancient theme present in the game, diplomacy and decision-making according to the existing situation. In the first rounds of the game, things are simple: neutral provinces are enough, so each of the dynasties can expand their territory. Diplomacy plays an important role: at first, territories can be divided by the players upon agreements; once the game progresses, "alliances" can be created according to interests or action can be taken against the player who starts to become more powerful than the others. All sphere cards are important, each one having its role. Once you have consolidated your position and control some provinces, you can make the big step and try to become the emperor. This will make you the target of others, but it will bring you many legacy points and if you have a military force ready to maintain your strength, the situation is easier. The barbarian tribes, who will prepare their invasions, will be a thorn in the players' side, being a common enemy, but there will be situations when you will tolerate the presence of the barbarians in the provinces of the other players or the presence of a rival emperor who, as long as he is not eliminated, will make the current emperor to lose legacy points and support. The cards you choose will play a major role in the strategy you are adopting, and it is probably a good thing to have a balance in your actions and not go in only one direction: no matter the number of your armies, if you do not have political or civil support , you cannot do much; and vice versa.
The first game lasted for about 3+ hours, we played in 4 (the number I consider the best for this game) and everyone liked the game and is waiting for the next one to play. The game is a challenge and the situations that may occur are diverse. I gave it 9 and it's likely to reach 10.
Photo credit: BGG.
- Last edited Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:49 am (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Tue Jul 11, 2017 4:21 pm
Viktor Karlsson Mantel
Im so courius about this game.
A. B. West
Why aren't you PLAYING a game?
Wow - I would so play this game. Thanks for the review!
Love the game!
My only complaint is that the game box is too small. This GMT chit tray that you have in the picture is perfect for storing this game. But if you use it, it is impossible to fit cards back into the game box