Recommend
42 
 Thumb up
 Hide
16 Posts

Sword of Rome» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A review of Sword of Rome rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Joe Kuehler
United States
Roanoke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I recently moved to a new area and found a group of gamers that meet routinely to play a number of games. About a month ago, one member got a copy of Sword of Rome, and we have had the opportunity to play a number of times. I am a fan of the CDG's, and find Sword of Rome to be easy to learn and relatively fast to play. We can always finish (or come to a reasonable conclusion on who will win), by the end of the evening. I do enjoy the game, but wanted to put together my thoughts on how each side plays and who has it the easiest.

First of all, the scope is such that there is little "Grand Strategy" in play. Expansion of one's faction will range somewhere between very slow and rapid destruction. There are so many response cards that help one's faction or hurt another, that it is difficult to put together a strategy over multiple (or even just one) turns in advance. One gets his cards, and can generally fashion something to get him through that turn. It can easily turn into a "big stacks" game, but with multiple frontiers to defend, the one big attack stack may have a hard time reacting to everyone else's maneuvers into his territory. My thoughts on how to play each faction (ranked in order from most difficult to easiest to win with) follow.

Etruscan/Samnite: Very difficult to win. Both factions alone are weak, with the Etruscans being the weakest. These poor bastards are crushed between the Gauls and the Romans, with the Gauls sweeping in at will to loot and pillage. Any attempt to expand with the Etruscans is suicide. If, for instance, this player decides to pursue a weak Gaul force and possibly change some VP areas in Gaul to their control, they will become hopelessly overextended and quite probably flame out with any reaction from Gaul or Rome. The Samnite side has it a little easier. Since their VP sites are tribal, a loss of support is not as much of a concern. Their position on the board makes them almost inconspicuous on turn one, and they can rapidly build an army that makes them somewhat dangerous by turn 2 and definitely dangerous by turn 3. The terrain is favorable to them, and the leadership they can draw is solid. Unfortunatly, the Etruscans lose enough early to make the Samnite side work hard just to keep even with regard to VP's. The best thing for the E/S player is to use his responses and events to hinder other players as best he can. Winning with these guys is almost out of the question, but can be a good spoiler for other players that appear either to be jumping ahead or becoming vulnerable.

Rome: Rome's special advantage to build cities and their ability to gain CU's quickly from all cities can give one the impression of invincibility, but this is simply not the case. Right in the middle of the mapboard, faced with threats from all directions, and one VP space (Capua) out on a limb to the south, makes this a tough road for the Romans. Everyone has cards that can hurt Rome, and early play of Plebian Revolts can really hinder their outlook. Although they start the game with one decent leader, their necessity to remove and randomly draw new ones every turn can act as a real setback to Roman expansion. The Volcii can be a thorn and should be handled quickly. The best bet for Rome is a slow and steady increase in army size. Playing a card early for support can also beef up city loyalty if one does not wish to extend forces to cover all frontiers. Building a city or two (or three) over the first few turns is the way to go. If Rome keeps to itself the first thrid of the game, fending off attacks and events geared to hurt it, it may have a significant force to start expanding outward forcefully by turn 4. Look to the south (reclaim Capua and take Neopolis) and the north (Etruscan VP spaces) for VP growth. A northern move may also act as a stop to any raiding from Gaul. A defense against the Samnites to the east with occasional forays, possibly, to keep their army size in check is also recommended.

Greeks: Greece has some really good leaders, and, with some payments in support, have the potential to keep them the entire game. Greece's main concern early is getting Carthage under control. With Carthage getting 3 CU every turn, and the fact that someone draws a "Neutral Power Activates" card almost every turn, Carthage can get strong fast, and give Greece hell in Sicily the entire game. Take control of the island early, and keep a decent force with a good leader down there the whole game. Coming up from the south to take Capua from Rome is entirely possible on turn one. With a really good draw, Greece has the best possibility for a turn one automatic victory by taking Siciliy, Caralis in Sardinia and either Capua or a naval move north to take an undefended Etruscan VP space (whose name escapres me at the moment). Support may need to be bought with Greece moreso than other factions simply to offset leader requirements at the end of each turn. If losses in Sicily can be kept under control, the Greeks can use their maximum of 5 CU per turn reinforcements to build up a strong threat in the southern half of Italy. Even if 40% of these reinforcements are used to maintain Sicily, 3 CU's per turn to start expanding northward on the peninsula is pretty good given the leadership they have.

Gaul: Gaul has the best shot to win this game. VP gains based on raiding, no need to gain and defend towns once captured, a single frontier (with the exception of the Transalpine Gauls who are easy to manage), and head-to-head on turn one with the weakest group on the board (the Etruscans), Gaul should be played by the least experienced person in the group. Some of their cards are absolute hell on earth for the opposition. Keep a force to the north to handle the Transaplines. Once they are taken care of, their replacement rate is low enough not to have to worry about them again for probably two turns. Turn south and start burning Etruscan land. Captured cities can turn into a VP immediatly, assuming no Transalpine raiding. It is not too difficult for the Gauls to have 8 VP by the end of turn one. Once the Etruscan land is burnt out (which should happen quickly, unless the E/S player is foolish enough to keep reclaiming the spaces so Gaul can continue to accumulate plunder), Gaul has to turn against Rome. Essentially, though, Gaul can sit back and watch the game to see if incursions against stronger forces are necessary. If he can manage 8 VP, for example, and see everyone else struggle just to maintain what they have, they don't really need to risk a larger war with Rome. With a maximum of 6 CU each turn as reinforcements, Gaul can also build up a huge army which will be very mobile due to their special movement allowances. Raids into outer Samnite spaces is also possible if their army is distracted elsewhere.

All in all a good game. Not a period I have ever really been interested in, but the game plays very smoothly, the rules are easy and well written, it can be played in one session, and there seems to be a good amount of replayability due to how reactions to various cards must be handled.

21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Bachman
United States
Colonie
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Joek wrote:
Etruscan/Samnite: Very difficult to win....Winning with these guys is almost out of the question, but can be a good spoiler for other players that appear either to be jumping ahead or becoming vulnerable.

Nice review, but I completely disagree with the premise of "hardest to easiest to win". This is one of the most balanced assymetrical 4-player games I've ever played.

And winning with the E/S is far from impossible. I've done it and I know plenty of others have as well. If you apply the same tactics and strategy to each faction, you will consider them imbalanced. However, if you capitalize on your faction's strengths, as well as your opponents' weaknesses, and protect your weaknesses from exploitation by the enemies, you will find it quite balanced and enjoyable.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tom Grant
United States
Washington
DC
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ward wrote:
And winning with the E/S is far from impossible. I've done it and I know plenty of others have as well. If you apply the same tactics and strategy to each faction, you will consider them imbalanced. However, if you capitalize on your faction's strengths, as well as your opponents' weaknesses, and protect your weaknesses from exploitation by the enemies, you will find it quite balanced and enjoyable.


A lot depends on how effectively the Etruscan/Samnite player can disrupt Rome's efforts to build colonies. From that perspective, playing the Etruscan/Samnite faction takes patience, but bottling up the Romans pays off in the long run. The real spoiler in this equation is the Gaul player, who can make everyone's life miserable by attacking the Etruscans too much. (The Samnites are more safe in their mountain stronghold from a parallel threat from the Greeks.)
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tom Volpe
United States
Evanston
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ward wrote:
This is one of the most balanced assymetrical 4-player games I've ever played.


I agree, the game is well balanced.

How easy or hard it is for any one power is dependent on the play of the the other three.

I've played the game at least 5 times and have seen all 4 powers win at least once.

SoR is my favorite of the multiplayer CDG.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Owsen
United States
Redmond
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I do think some powers are easier to lose with for beginners, though. WIth players of equal or similar experience, I think anyone can win.

I'd take the Etruscan-Samnites any day.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Young
Canada
Victoria
BC
flag msg tools
Old Ways Are Best!
badge
Check Six!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The game can be frustrating for new players as strange things can happen until your group has had a chance to play each faction at least once or played enough games to see the sorts of things that can happen.

Example, in our first game everyone picked on Rome because every other game we had played where there were such folk, they were the most powerful on the board. Long night for Rome. Easy night for Greece

It will take a game or two before people realize that about every minor nation card must be used to throw the Carthaginians against the Greeks or they will steamroll the game.

So, the game is one of waxing and waning alliances and keeping a very close eye on small VP point swings because of the cumulative way VP calculation works.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Randolph
United States
Denver
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
WOW!...I've played several times on WGR and the Gauls have usually had it the worst! I love this game and think it is actually pretty balanced, but it tilts really quickly toward one power if that power is successful early, and the others do not respond in unison, due to the scoring system.

I've also seen the Greeks lose horribly, and the Romans win quite convincingly.

Thanks for the write-up!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Owsen
United States
Redmond
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Gauls can win, but I think they need to have a plan on how they want to do it ahead of time. Nibble around on the periphery, looting for VPs at first. Desperate times to get Brennus if you don't draw him on the first couple turns. Then go for the jugular, hopefully with cards to support the offensive against your chosen enemy.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Randolph
United States
Denver
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mummykitty wrote:
I do think some powers are easier to lose with for beginners, though. WIth players of equal or similar experience, I think anyone can win.

I'd take the Etruscan-Samnites any day.



Hey Dan - The Etrsucan/Samnite Coalition can definitely win, that "bribe" capability is really frustrating to other players when the timing is right.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Owsen
United States
Redmond
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SFRR wrote:
mummykitty wrote:
I do think some powers are easier to lose with for beginners, though. WIth players of equal or similar experience, I think anyone can win.

I'd take the Etruscan-Samnites any day.



Hey Dan - The Etrsucan/Samnite Coalition can definitely win, that "bribe" capability is really frustrating to other players when the timing is right.


Oh yeah, that's why I said I'd take them any day.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Rogers
United States
Hoboken
New Jersey
flag msg tools
designer
badge
They're Young, They're in Love... They eat LARD
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with the responses to the review and the reviewer as his review is based on an early opinion of the strategies for each nation. I have been playing this regularly for several years and never pass up a session. Being a fan of Here I Stand as well I really like the challenge of switching nations and trying to win with them all.

In both games, victory depends on the level of paranoia and mistrust between players. In SoR, if people cannot ally from turn to turn and keep changing alliances, somebody, typically the Greeks will win in a 4-player free for all.

The Gauls do have the easist path to victory early in the game, but it usually requires the Brennus in the 1st turn to score VP's fast enough. Note to All: Never forget about the Roman tribal space up North!

The Romans tend to win in a long protracted game as they only get stronger with each Event (and City). The weakest link in Rome is a bad draw of crappy generals, otherwise they are very much a slow and steady power (TESTUDO!!!).

The E/S do best when they ally with one player at a time and play Neutral Powers and Events to prune opponents without directly engaging them. It is best to win with them mid-game as the Greeks or Romans will eventually need to wipe both of them out to win. If you lose the Samnite mountain strongholds you are finished!

The Greeks have the easiest path (IMO) to victory with no immediate enemy except for Carthage - Never let them get to Sardina or Africa!

All in all even if players disagree on strategies, whose best, or if the game is balanced, it plays smoothly and makes for a great multiplayer session.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Young
Canada
Victoria
BC
flag msg tools
Old Ways Are Best!
badge
Check Six!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I just noticed that this review is based on the original four-player version of SoR. Have to check to see if a separate review is up on the five-player version. Personally, I'm not sure about the five-player option.
At first I was excited about the addition of Carthage as a player faction as our group more often consists of five rather than four players. However, after a couple of plays we found the careful balance found in the four-player game is confused (not prepared to say "lost" just yet) with the addition of the fifth.

We've concluded that when Carthage is a player faction, the possibility of a Carthage alliance with Greece virtually breaks the game. We are proposing a house rule that prevents such an alliance - much as an alliance between Britain and France is not allowed in The Napoleonic Wars.

I think the game is best with four...

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Owsen
United States
Redmond
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
When I played with the five player expansion, it just didn't seem like much fun to play as Carthage. But, I've not tried as Carthage so I don't know. I also need to play 5 player some more to judge for sure. One thing is certain-- I don't like this game with 3. The random Gauls are just not fun.

Not sure how I feel about outlawing alliances. I mean you may as well outlaw a few others while you're at it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joe Kuehler
United States
Roanoke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
As a follow up, we played again last night and I won with the E/S. I still think it is very difficult to win them, but I got an incredibly powerful draw on turn two and the dice were hot when they needed to be.
We played the five man version, and Carthage came in a very close 2nd.
Still like the replayability. Very fun game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
haqattaqq .
Canada
flag msg tools
mbmb
How is this game with 2 or 3 players? Does it work at all?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wray Ferrell
United States
Cary
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
> How is this game with 2 or 3 players? Does it work at all?

Honestly, I don't recommend it. The rules are there for those people who can't get four players, but the game was designed from the ground up as a four player game.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.