Friday, October 05, 2007

A Short Rules Preview of History of the Roman Empire

In case you’ve been wondering why I’ve been doing so many rules previews lately (and I have no indication that anyone is interested in the slightest), it’s because scheduling conflicts have cut down on my gaming lately, and I can’t count on having Thursday nights free to write these blogs. It’s sometimes necessary to write these far in advance, and checking out some newly available rules is one way to stay in the blogging game.

This week’s rules are from History of the Roman Empire, an upcoming game from the Italian game company UGG (but which can be pre-ordered through the GMT website). History of the Roman Empire was designed by Marco Broglia, but I know nothing about this designer except his name.

The downloaded rules run only six pages, and that includes an index and moderately-lengthy bibliography. This not an overly-complicated game. Grognards looking for another Pax Romana should look elsewhere. The game system reminded me more of History of the World than anything else.

The board is a map of the Roman world divided into areas. The game doesn’t have real terrain other than resources, but forts, fortresses, and cities can be built. Roman factions can travel across seas to invade other areas.

Each player will control one Roman faction and one non-Roman group known as a People. Each turn, the player with the fewest victory points will draw a random counter to determine what People he may play for that turn. If he doesn’t like the counter (various Peoples have different reinforcements and locations), he may pass it to another player and draw another counter. In a similar fashion, players will draw counters to see what Roman Emperor they will play for that turn. The military abilities of the emperors vary greatly. It is this selection mechanism that reminds me the most of History of the World.

You can guess at the rest of the game mechanics, and you probably won’t be far wrong. Players use their Roman factions and their Peoples to capture new territories and amass victory points. In combat, the attacker rolls two die and the defender rolls one. Forts and fortresses add defensive bonuses in combat. A captured city may be looted to gain victory points, but a Roman faction may not loot a captured Roman city.

Each player starts the game with a hand of event cards (this also reminds me of History of the World), and may play up to two cards per turn. Cards can provide combat bonuses, create plagues or revolts, or give the player the ability to create an additional minor Kingdom for one turn (another steal from HotW).

There is also an area majority mechanism in the victory point scoring. The board is divided into colored zones, and controlling provinces in these zones can gain players lots of points. Having a presence in a zone gets a player the lowest point bonus. Controlling three areas in a zone doubles the bonus. And controlling all areas in a zone triples the bonus.

At the end of the game, players total up the points their Roman Factions and their Peoples have earned. Highest total wins.

History of the Roman Empire seems to be a light wargame inspired by History of the World. The rules seem to be slightly more complex than the earlier game, and gamers who are looking for something slightly meatier than HotW might consider watching out for History of the Roman Empire.


dgilligan said...


One blog suggestion would be to do a rules review of both GMT's Hellenas: Athens & Sparta vs. the Columbia release Athens & Sparta. I've breifly skimmed both sets of rules but didn't really go to indepth.

Apparently there were some disagreements between the designer and Columbia that caused him to pack his bags and take his game with him to GMT but development continued at Columbia.

Apparently the representative from Columbia Games who will be at CharCon (see for more information about the convention which is in Charleston, WV Oct. 20-21st) will have a copy of Athens & Sparta with him so it may be possible to play it.


Kris Hall said...

I guess you don't read me every week, Dave. Because I did a rules comparison of Hellenes and Athens vs. Sparta on September 7. Check the archive.

But I wouldn't mind trying the Columbia game at Charcon.

Anonymous said...

just looking for my Kris Hall. Gypsy.