Friday, September 04, 2009

It's for the good of Rome... (The Republic of Rome)

Ummm. Wow.

Kozure chose to play an old Avalon Hill game called "The Republic of Rome" this week. Although we all knew we likely wouldn't finish due to length, we gave it a try.

The Republic of Rome is a game that attempts to recreate the feeling of operating in the Roman senate during the time of the republic. A such, the core element of gameplay revolves around voting for various things... whether Rome should raise troops, go to war, and who should lead the armies. Who should the next leader be? Who should be sent out of Rome to be the governor of a faraway conquered land? Around this central concept, players attempt to increase their senator's influence, popularity, etc. Random events occur, such as the advent of war, labour strikes, plagues, etc. So many things are happening, it will make your head spin.

This is definitely an old style game. The rules are long and complex, play time is very long, luck is highly prevalent, it can take a long time between player turns, each turn has an enormous amount of steps to go through, etc, etc. I would normally really criticize this type of game, but in this case it seemed to work. Not for me, because I could never get this long of a game to the table, but at a different point in my life I can see myself enjoying the game.

The cool thing is that most games of this type graft a political system onto a war game. This means that the process of building units and moving pieces on a board usually dominate the experience. RoR dispenses with all this and leaves the players with a multi layered exercise in politics which seems to work quite well. The wars, the revolts, the natural disasters, etc, are all abstracted, but the experience of working in the senate is elaborate and flavourful. Deals need to made constantly because no player can advance his/ her own agenda without the help of another player.

The other thing I really liked is that all the players need to work together to prevent Rome from falling to wars, etc, but parallel to this each must try to fulfill conditions which will guarantee their victory should Rome survive to the end of the game. In our partial session, this worked very well to keep us all focused, to force us to arrive at solutions, but also to encourage players to keep an eye out for any/all opportunities to gain every small advantage for the possible win.

In this session, Kozure and Shemp quickly rose to the top ranks. Shemp became the field consul and promptly won a war. Upon his return, he threw some games for the people and he became quite popular. Kozure was the Consul of Rome and seemed to be skyrocketing in influence. A death in my faction on the first round was a blow, but Counsellor Furious offered himself up to lead troops to the next battle. Upon doing so, he failed myserably. Meanwhile, Senator Fluvius became governor of some God-forsaken place. He intended to steal from the coffers of the populace. My senators were all out of Rome, and I paid for that somewhat. When Furious did come back victorious, he tried to use his new-found popularity to become consul of Rome, which worked. However, it was too little, too late. I was very far behind and when we wrapped up I wasn't close enough to be a challenge. If I had to guess, I'd say that Kozure was winning.

Anyway, in theory I quite like the game. I think we only scratched the surface of the political intrigue that is possible in this game. It would be great if someone could somehow use this system in a game that would be half the length.

No comments:

Post a Comment