Republic of Rome made its 4th year since returning to the WBC despite falling slightly short in the trial vote. On behalf of myself and the players I’d like to thank Jeff Burdett sponsoring the game. A gladiator gala perhaps?
This year we added a 3rd heat and 2nd demonstration and managed to increase our player count to 20 with 36 player starts. This included at least 5 players new to the game and others new to the tournament. I want to thank the experienced players who have helped these players gain their footing. The Monday heat was quite popular. I am interested in feedback on preferred heat times for 2019.
It has been very interesting to see a mix of players who learned the game at the time of release, during the pre-Valley Games edition living/house rule era and since the Valley Game edition. I still encounter subtle overlooked differences. This year I had discussions about persuasion rules in the raw Avalon Hill rules which had changed before I learned the game (~2000) and just caught a change in unprosecuted war conditions which crept into the Valley Games edition. Regardless of the exact rule set, the game continues to provide a fun experience enhanced by players with enthusiasm for and knowledge of the theme.
Rome survived all of its heat games despite half the heat games having to deal with the challenges of the early republic deck. All heat games were decided on influence with each consul for life attempt ending in death of the attempted tyrant or and each rebellion ending in defeat of the rebel general. A number of players had their first experiences with the Middle and Late Republic, which seems to be less commonly played elsewhere.
Below is an account of the Final by Bill Herbst
As usual, the game began with a death as Tom's Hand faction lost one of its five senators. Action proceeded relatively peacefully for the first turns with major offices being shared relatively equally. Mindy and James began the game with their senators as consuls. Guy was awarded the censorship and he set a precedent in which that office holder turned a blind eye to a good deal of graft and corruption for most of the game.
Military problems began to creep up in turn two and Tom's Rome consul put together a military package for Bill's general Manlius to fight a small Germanic war to ease some of the pressure on the state. Subsequent turns saw Guy's field consul Julius unable to defeat the Second Mithridatic War as he unfortunately rolled a stalemate. Things began to degenerate quickly and the senate was forced to elect Mindy's senator Marius as dictator and have Julius return to battle as Master of Horse to deal with the simultaneous Mithridatic and Gallic threats since there were 2 matching wars imminent. Both the dictator and the field consul Aemilius of James' faction were successful in their wars. As we were playing the late Republic scenario both generals rolled for the loyalty of their troops and seriously considered marching on Rome.
The inevitable treachery began to appear over the next few turns. Guy's senator Julius tried to persuade Bill's senator Licinius and offered an enormous bribe of about 100 talents from his treasury to aid his attempt. Bill countered with some bribes of his own and the round ended with him holding onto a pile of cash since he had been exploiting concessions and fruitful provinces throughout the game.
The statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero from Tom's faction became Rome consul. At this point, Tom, Mindy and Nick hatched a plan to protect their own senatorial governors from barbarian raids while not providing defensive forces for Guy, James and Bill's vulnerable senators. After pulling many death chits though, no faction actually lost any of its senators.
Near the end of the next forum phase, Bill used his financial advantage to persuade Calpurnius, an influential senator from Mindy's faction, to his side in order to get a slight edge in total influence count over James, who had been leading the pack. While it was possible that the game end card could have been drawn in that round, the game continued.
The next senate phase saw Bill and James share the consulship and nominate Guy's senator Sulpicius for censor. After the hijinks that had been performed on the previous turn, Guy opted to conduct a major prosecution of Cicero. Although Cicero's appeal to the people for support ended badly, he was able to nullify the prosecution by declaring his veto. As the two leading players, the consuls saw little to gain and some danger from a protracted senate phase so they declined to send forces to fight the three looming wars under the assumption that the game would soon end before they became a threat.
The End of Era card to wrap up the game seemed very likely to flip during the next forum phase so Bill used his cash to once again persuade away a rival senator. With many influential senators out of Rome on provincial assignments, it was difficult to find a suitable target that would put him out of the reach of James' faction which had the next highest influence count. Bill opted to have Licinius persuade Aelius from Tom's Hand faction and was successful. Other persuasions occurred but several event rolls slowed down the card deck and the game continued into the senate.
When the senate opened, Bill proposed senators from the trailing factions as consuls. Although there was initially some disagreement, Mindy decided to take the field consulship and fight a Gallic war while Guy opted for the Rome consulship. As these negotiations were going on, a member of Tom's hand faction drew his knife and assassinated Bill's influential senator Calpurnius. This put James in sole possession of first place. Bill quickly responded by assassinating one of James' few available senators which allowed him to maintain a one point advantage in total influence count. The Rome consul then proposed to restore the office of Pontifex Maximus to Nick's Laurel faction, which had been slowing accumulating influence throughout the game. The influence lead had changed once again.
At this point Tom used Cicero's tribune power to propose consul for life for Aemilius, an influential senator in James' faction. Although James poured a good deal of money into the vote, the rest of the table and cash contributed by Bill and Nick kept the measure from passing. Guy's Rome consul then proposed a meager force for Mindy' field consul Marius to take into battle against a Gallic War. As there were four wars threatening Rome, this was a risky move but sending her with a larger force almost certainly would have resulted in her marching on Rome immediately afterwards.
Sadly for the eternal city, Mindy rolled a defeat. Marius was killed in battle and Rome was left facing four active wars. Once again, Rome fell largely because of internal strife taking more of the leading families attention away from foreign threats. Nick's Laurel faction edged out Bill's Star faction and James' Shield faction in a very tight game.
Closing comments and looking forward-
So, for the first time in many years Rome fell in the final and the tournament winner was from among the fallen Senate leaders. It seemed that the leaders of Senate were a bit too willing to risk Rome’s collapse. Despite collapse, it was well fought final. For his win, Nick Benedict was awarded a copy of First Man in Rome, one of the books that always reminds me why I like to get Republic of Rome to the table.
Over the past few years I have collected email information from players for discussion of heat times and game options for future years. Topics for discussion include scenario preferences, methods used to force games to fit 6 hour constraint and opportunities to assist running the event. If you would like to be added to this discussion please contact me (also watch for discussion on booardgamegeek and consimworld). Finally, I’d like to thank Bill Herbst and Llew Bardecki for their essential work as assistant GMs.
|Deciding the Fate of Rome.
|Grognard Johnny Hasay tries to conquer Rome.
|Champion Nick Benedict trying to save the collapse of Rome.