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Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
I have problems with the rules of The Republic of Rome. There are basic procedures that I get confused by. As a result, the finer strategy of the game is something I really haven't grasped yet. Most of this comes, of course, from the simple fact that I don't play the game enough. Finding five players who are all up for the challenge of the game is difficult and so I tend to end up playing other games.
However, when I mentioned the possibility of playing The Republic of Rome, Sarah was extremely eager to play, and I was able to convince Dave, Rich and Brian to join us. The other four boardgamers present that night decided to enjoy a game of Relic (a Talisman variant). Who would finish first? Neither game is all that short!
If I'd paid a little more attention before the game, I would have printed out a copy of the living rules to refer to. Instead, I had my lightly annotated set of the Valley Game rules, and I was reminded how difficult it could be to look up rulings on the fly. The first rules I had trouble was an important one: "what happens when a senator dies?".
I should have known the answer, but it's been a couple of years, and my reading skills are getting worse with the years, it seems. The more specific question we immediately needed was this: "what happens when the senator who is chosen to start as Temporary Consul ends up being the one who dies in the first mortality phase?"
Our solution was to ignore the death and just keep going. (The AH game's living rules suggest redrawing who is Consul). Either works, but we still managed to completely muck up the results of the epidemic that Brian triggered - we cleared the markers off the senators that were affected, but we didn't discard the senators to the Curia.
The people of Rome muttered something about how we weren't following the rules, but they weren't that unhappy. Sarah's senators were spending money/throwing games for them.
Sarah, Dave and I formed a voting block that Brian and Rich were unable to counter, and one of Sarah's senators became Rome Consul whilst my senator from the Julian family became Field Consul. He wasn't much of a leader, but with only the First Punic War available - and it inactive - we needed a lot more money before we could take it on.
By the beginning of the second turn's mortality phase, Sarah and I had finally read through the death rules enough to understand them. So, Dave was the unfortunate individual who lost his first senator to the death. The family went to the Curia to try and train up someone else who'd be worthy of a senatorship. Sarah, as Rome Consul, made a speech to all of us about how good everything was: a potential leader had died, and there were no wars currently annoying us.
A new family brought up a senator, and Dave tried to bribe that senator during the Forum phase. He spent heavily: 10 talents worth of gold. The senator gratefully accepted the gold, and then refused to join Dave's faction. The rest of us looked at the senator, considered bribing him, and decided not to: he was out of our range!
With no new wars being drawn, we considered going after the First Punic War, but a Manpower Shortage in Rome quashed that idea: we couldn't afford the fleets or the men. I took the Censorship, whilst Sarah and Rich took on the consulships, Sarah retaining her grasp on power. It was getting more towards the time where prosecutions would be necessary to reign in Sarah's power.
No-one died in the third turn's mortality phase, and the Syrian War came up during the Forum phase. An easy war to fight! With no Manpower Shortage this turn, and the treasury in rude health, we were finally in a position that would see the Republic seizing its destiny. Poor State of the Union Address rolls has seen the unrest of the people reach 4, but Sarah - who had a popular Rome Consul due to holding games - would easily be able to deal with that. There were Evil Omens about, but even with them we were looking good.
And so Sarah made her State of the Union speech. And rolled a triple-one on the dice. 3, +1 for her popularity, -4 for unrest and -1 for Evil Omens. That was a total of negative one, and the Roman People revolted and killed all the senators. The Republic had fallen - and Dave, Rich, Brian and I were falling over laughing. Sarah wasn't so amused: she still hasn't played a game where the Republic has survived. (I have!)
Honestly, given the number of errors we'd made when playing the game, I was happy enough to have it end there. In a fortnight, I hope to play it again with a much better grasp of what we're doing.
As to the group playing Relic, they were still going. They were still going after we finished a game of Liberte. And they only stopped because they ran out of time and the store closed!
Despite the unfortunate ending to the game, I still enjoyed myself. Just seeing the game in action again has made me appreciate how the elements work together and what things we need to pay attention to. I hope our next game is more successful!
Good report. Don't worry grasping the game if you didn't played it in a long time is difficult, like trying to explain the game to someone who never played and having played the game only once with an expert group before (I did that). Now, at my 6th match I'm quite comfortable with the rules, tho!
If I recall correctly, in case that the Temporary Rome Consul dies, the Temporary Rome Consul task should be done by the senator with highest ORA. In case of tie look at INF.
If it's any consolation...
The Roman Senate is fraught with senators guilty of rules violations, too. You could say that you are just adding to the thematic experience.
I ran a game of this (one does not simply "play" RoR; one player with experience "runs" it and everyone else wonders what the hell is going on for the first couple of turns) a few weeks ago for the first time in years. I ran into the same problems as you: though fundamentally not that complicated a game (in that it runs through a very set series of stages), it's difficult to remember all the little rules.
We ran into the same end as you: around turn three or four, with our unrest riding at a rather high 9 or so, a failed speech by our most popular senator (popularity of, um, 1) led to a revolt and the collapse of Rome. I enjoyed the game--though I'm not sure everyone else did--but it was an exhausting experience!
It's a pity: I still think Rome is one of the best games out there, but I think the full potential for the game can only emerge with players who are fully aware of all the rules and have a couple of games beneath their belt. Finding a group like that hasn't ever happened for me....