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Pax Romana» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Dice, chits and 4 euroguys - Our first wargame rss

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Tomas Syrovatka
Czech Republic
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This is not meant to be a classic rewiew with the rules explained and the mechanics analyzed, my goal was to introduce Pax to players, which are new to the wargaming scene, but still want to try some WG. Me and my friends who I play with are also wargame-noobs (although I used to play Gondor and Battletech when I was 12) and so I thought it can be helpful for someone if I share my impressions of this great game. Please excuse my english, it’s not my first language.

As I said, we are bunch of people who play mostly euros like Settlers, Tikal, Vikings and Puerto rico. During the last year we thought about purchasing some kind of civilization game suitable for 4 players. We rejected Civilization (too expansive) and Sid Meier’s Civ (I don’t like the plastic minis and the rewiews stated that it’s not a very good game) so I went to BGG to find a game that would match our needs. While browsing the geeklists and game forums, my eyes catched this image:



Nothing can get me into the game like a beuatiful board! When I showed this to my friends, they were all like: Holy *?!@! I want this game now! I read all the rewiews, downloaded the rules and knew that this was the game for us.

I won’t explain the mechanics here, many ppl have done so in their rewiews much better than I would so just in short. Pax Romana is a game where each player participates in an epic conflict between 4 civilizations: the Romans, the Greeks, the Cartaghians and the forces of the East. You have to expand your empire, build cities and deal with other players on the way. There are also many unexpected challanges that can thwart your progress: pirates, barbarians, slave revolts, civil unrest etc. This is no Settlers, there is a LOT of things going on and the game is really epic, so if you don’t like long games, stay away. The playing time ranges between 2 to 12 hours, depending on the scenario you play and the numbers of players presented.

1) Now what does a poor eurogamer have to expect and what does he have to prepare for? First of all, I recommend to download and read the rules first, it will help you decide, whether you like this game or not. Many people here on BGG have complained about the length of the rules and described them as „fiddly“. However, I didn’t find this was a problem. There are 2 mods of the game available – standard game and advanced game (which grants more historically acurrate playing experience and also increases the play time). Even in our first standard game (scenario 7), there were many rules we forgot about and most of the play time was spend by searching through the rules and player mats, but I’m sure the next game will go smoothly, because now we know what to do when certain situation takes place. So the rulebook is long and there are many things to pay attention to but it’s very clearly written and there was no confusion about any particular rule.

2) The luck factor.
Yes, this game uses dice and random events but I found it no problem since it just presents you more choices about what to do. Shall I invade next province with a majority of my legions or should I better leave more forces at home in case of a civil unrest? Should I try to attack the stronger Greek army to thin their numbers or should I withdraw and give them a province for free? I assure you your brain will be overheating with the possibilities you have and the desperation that you can’t realize all of them, but that is exactly what I love about this game. The dice roll also determines combat results, but the combat system is very clever and there is just a healthy dose of luck in it, so your carefully planned strategies will often have the desired effect.

3) The gameplay
I really enjoy playing this game. I feel like a general standing up on a hill and overlooking his troops while making decisions that shatter empires. The map is crawling with counters, the armies clash in heroic battles, territories and provinces change owners, leaders rise an fall, alliances are made, bribes are used, no trick is dirty enough. I can't wait to play more and discover all the strategies and opportunities this game has to offer.

So, to buy or not to buy? If you are looking for a civ-lite game with a lot of player interaction, great combat system and you don’t mind long games, look no more! This game is fun to play, the map is real eye-catcher and I guess that after playing a single session, you will rush to your local library for some history books, because this game really sucks you in. The rules are no problem and after the sure-to-come chaos in the first few games you should be able to play a smooth session. This game is very different from all other games I played so far and I like it a lot!
Now if you excuse me, I have empires to conquer...

P.S. I would like to thank all the rewiewers here on BGG for helping me with the decision to buy Pax, Neil Randall for his support of this great game, LordJesse from whom I purchased Pax along with the C3i bonus and the whole Boardgamegeek for running this amazing site.

P.P.S. I just realized that Gondor is also a RHB game oh, those times. I played the Czech version under the name Bitva na polích Pellenoru, the counters were made from paper so when anyone sneezed, the game was over, but the nostalgy...
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Andrew Young
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And if you never have, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.
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sydo wrote:
So, to buy or not to buy? If you are looking for a civ-lite game with a lot of player interaction, great combat system and you don’t mind long games, look no more! This game is fun to play, the map is real eye-catcher and I guess that after playing a single session, you will rush to your local library for some history books, because this game really sucks you in. The rules are no problem and after the sure-to-come chaos in the first few games you should be able to play a smooth session. This game is very different from all other games I played so far and I like it a lot!



Great thoughts. The game is great, IMO.
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Neil Randall
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Thanks for this, Tomas. It made my day.

Neil
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Michael @mgouker
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You guys are fearless, Tomas, and I'm so glad you had fun!!! Be careful or you will soon be labeled a grognard.
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Richard Berg
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Thanx for the comments . . .and glad you enjoyed the game. Playing PAX is a major challenge in terms of winning . . .

"2) The luck factor."

Dierolls are NOT luck in games like this . . . they are a method of resolving the spread of possibilities that may occur in any confrontation. The better your plan, the lesser your chances are of coming up with some of those "bad" possibilities. And any good player not opnly has a good plan, but the ability to react to the viscitudes of Chaos . . .and Bad Luck.

RHB
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Rob Rob
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Nice review...but play time: 600 minutes?!?! gulp
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Michael @mgouker
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For a ten turn game of Scenario V or VI, that is about right (an hour a turn), but these fellows played Scenario VII, which can be played in a little more than an hour (perhaps 2-3 if it's the first game).

I played a variation on Scenario VII (two turns of 6 activations instead of one) at a game store in Miami a couple weeks ago in a little more than two hours. I was teaching three new players.
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Andrew Young
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And if you never have, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.
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BROG wrote:
Thanx for the comments . . .and glad you enjoyed the game. Playing PAX is a major challenge in terms of winning . . .

"2) The luck factor."

Dierolls are NOT luck in games like this . . . they are a method of resolving the spread of possibilities that may occur in any confrontation. The better your plan, the lesser your chances are of coming up with some of those "bad" possibilities. And any good player not opnly has a good plan, but the ability to react to the viscitudes of Chaos . . .and Bad Luck.

RHB


I agree with RHB. And, over the course of the game the die rolls average out. They always do. The point in wargames is to roll the die of fate as few times as you need and NO more. When you do roll the die (dice) you need to have put yourself in a good position to mitigate bad outcomes. That takes planning and logic.

Andy
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Michael @mgouker
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Especially in this game, you want to avoid any unnecessary conflict, though you must fight.... well, if you must. I'm subdued today because Bob Kalinowski just marched Loudon into Berlin in our Clash of Monarchs game.
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Nick Avtges
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sydo wrote:
...I guess that after playing a single session, you will rush to your local library for some history books, because this game really sucks you in.


This sells it for me. Any game that drives me to read up on the subject gets high marks.
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Neil Randall
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mgringo wrote:
Especially in this game, you want to avoid any unnecessary conflict, though you must fight.... well, if you must.


This is funny, given the playtest games Michael and I played. We charged into every possible conflict, necessary or not. Our motto was: If you can reach it, attack it. If not, get closer so you can attack it next time.
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Tomas Syrovatka
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BROG wrote:
Thanx for the comments . . .and glad you enjoyed the game. Playing PAX is a major challenge in terms of winning . . .

"2) The luck factor."

Dierolls are NOT luck in games like this . . . they are a method of resolving the spread of possibilities that may occur in any confrontation. The better your plan, the lesser your chances are of coming up with some of those "bad" possibilities. And any good player not opnly has a good plan, but the ability to react to the viscitudes of Chaos . . .and Bad Luck.

RHB


I agree, I just wanted to describe the role the dice and cards have in this game. By no means is this game a big luckfest and the battles are not determined by fortunate or unfortunate dierolls, which I stated in the rewiew. You have to plan your every move carefully, this game is about strategy and deciding between multiple choices which all seem great but you can't do them all at once devil. I had the cards or events on my mind when mentioning the luck factor, cause they are drawn randomly. But as I said, it's not a problem, it just adds a great twist to the game, because you can never be sure what happens in the next activation and you have to be prepared for everything, just like in real life.

Thanks for kind comments
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