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Subject: Successors vs. Sword of Rome rss

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Joel Tamburo
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Successors is more detailed than Sword of Rome. Both are fun games to play.

Sword of Rome actually has a feel more like Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage than Successors.
 
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Randall Monk
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I like them both. Sword of Rome is probably bloodier, and there are more differences between powers in Sword of Rome. They both have fun combat systems, good diplomatic aspects, good themes. Sword of Rome combat is arguably more luck-based. You can't go wrong with either one.
 
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Kevin Duke
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I'd give SoR one other big thumbs up-- there is more interaction and diplomacy between the players.

One of the parts of Successors that always bothered me is that the "leader" is fair game for the others. There is a pretense (historical) that everyone is a good Macedonian and not going to fight each other and if someone attacks someone else, they lose "legitimacy" which can have impact on the game in certain situations.

Except this doesn't count if they attack the leader... and he can't attack them back, even AFTER someone has attacked him, without losing this legitimacy. That sets up some odd feelings, especially for first timers.

Players may talk to each other and try diplomacy on settling borders, but there is an inherent 3 on 1 to the game with little the 1 can do about it. (At least, that's how it was in our games. People tried to play a fine line of gaining power without turning into the leader.)

SoR has a more traditional set up with people who border each other maybe trying diplomacy to allow themselves to deal with some other threat, rather than 2 or more threats at once. While there does tend to be a 'gang up on Rome' eventually (with good reason), it's not a straightforward thing and Rome may actually talk someone into attacking someone else because of the value in it for them.

SoR also has a 5 player version, available from GMT. 5 makes a game involving diplomacy even more interesting, and making Carthage an active player adds a great deal of interest and tension.
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Joel Tamburo
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The reason that Successors has that "3 on 1" feel is because it is integral to the simulation. The players are not representing "nations" as they do in Sword of Rome or other CDGs, they are all part of the same empire (Macedon). They are (at the start) trying to become the next leader of that empire, and as such if a player becomes too powerful (measured in terms of territory) they are perceived as trying to usurp the empire.

The legitimacy mechanic is part of what sets Successors apart from the crowd in that it makes players act like contenders for the throne instead of empire builders. But, the game can and often does finally enter a stage of empire building. This happens when all the royal heirs are gone; at that point it is assumed that the empire will be partitioned and legitimacy no longer means much of anything.
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Doug Cooley
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Similarities:

SoR and Sux both encourage players to go after the leader, encouraging players to hang back *just* a little while everyone ignores them. Sux (an unfortunate shortening, but it works) adds in the Usurper factor, making it imperative that players not do *too* well in the first turn, when most people are placing control markers.

Differences:

Sux seems to have fewer armies and combat units on the board, so it's always felt more like a game of maneuver (or Manouevre ) than of straight out conquest. I think it requires *more* diplomacy from players than SoR. It also makes the game hard to teach because many wargamers start right in with the fighting without thinking about what it is they are trying to accomplish. Because there are so many ways to win, and they change as the game goes on, it takes a couple of plays before you understand that picking your battles is as important as fighting them.

Sux has the whole Legitimacy element, which is it's greatness. It's like Bang! - "No, *I'm* a deputy!", except you prove it through your actions. Like History of the World, you must stay back from the lead unless you can win the game, and because of Legitimacy concerns, you can be low in VP and still win.

Sux uses a single deck, which is appropriate as there is no large difference between factions, just between generals and board/heir position. SoR has a different deck for each player, requiring knowledge of four times as many cards. SoR also requires players to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each faction to play them effectively. Sux requires players to understand broad concepts but apply them to an ever changing situation. No two games of SoR play out the same.

SoR requires players to learn four sets of special rules (five if playing the Carthaginians). Sux requires all players to understand one set of special rules, albeit a larger set. In early games, SoR players may be surprised by the various capabilities of another side, while in Sux they may be surprised by their own capabilities (or limitations).

SoR takes a good 8-9 hours to play. Sux takes a good 5.

SoR has a paper map you can put plexi over. Sux doesn't. devil

Edit: SoR has a combat system that will produce a pretty wide range of results, but statistically predictable. Sux is less so. Sux also is more likely to kill your better battle generals because of the way they affect the die rolls. Losing a general in Sux is a much bigger deal than in SoR, as you tend to get more leaders in the latter as the game goes on (especially the Greeks, who have to pay through the nose to keep good people).

I love both of these games, but I loved Successors enough to GM tournaments on more than one occasion. It has it's drawbacks (I've put two variants in the forum for issues I felt needed addressing or that just didn't make sense to me), but the variable starting situations make this one fresh every time out of the box. Like most games that start this way, sometimes you'll end up with an untenable situation, but in general it tells a new and different (and fun) story every time. If you can handle that variability, it's well worth learning to play well.

Doug
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