republic of rome [Updated August 2001]

ROR  3 prizes Experienced Mult Ent Sing Elim Scheduled 
 Rnd1 Heat1  19
 Rnd1 Heat2 19      
 Round 2  18  Final    

   Rnd1 Heat1 Maryland 4 Rnd1 Heat2 Round 2 Valley

Tom Phillips, NJ

2001 Champion

2nd: Henry Rice, NM

3rd: Kevin Barry, PA

4th: Sean Finnerty, NY

5th: Nick Benedict, ONT

6th: Will Wible, VA
Event History
1991    Jim Doughan      20
1992    Robert Rudolph      23
1993    Sean Finnerty      23
1994    Chris Greenfield      25
1995    Michael Ehlers      37
1996    Michael Ehlers      41
1997    Chris Bartiromo      27
1998    Charles Dunn      32
1999    Brian Ecton     27
2000    Chase Bramwell     31
2001    Tom Phillips     32

AREA Ratings:

GM: Will Wible

Best GM Award 1997

One Top-Six GM Nomination

Et tu Brutus? ...

Republic of Rome enjoyed another good turnout in 2001. The numbers aren't growing significantly, but continue to hover in the 30's. That's one of the points I'd like to discuss here: how to increase participation. Other things I'd like to hit are the continued debates over When The Knives Come Out, over what to do if Rome falls (especially in the final), scheduling, and choice of scenarios.

PARTICIPATION

One player and I had an extended discussion about how the tournament makes a new player feel. This is interesting because one of my main concerns has always been making the tournament attractive to new players. However, this person (who was a new player this year) was rightfully concerned with the bottom line experience for him. In my mind that translates to whether or not he will come back in 2002, which is not necessarily the same thing as what made the tournament attractive to him in 2001.

I do a lot of things for brand new players. Heats stand on their own feet... you can join the tournament during any heat and if you win you advance. No continuous rounds, no overall tournament scoring (other than as a tie-breaker for final alternate players). I offer individual tutoring, either with myself or with another knowledgeable player (though I feel that the structure of the game is such that a player can easily pick up the rules on the fly and have an enjoyable experience).

I can't physically watch every minute of every game, and thus inevitably at some point new players are in the hands of the others.

This is where we had an issue this year. Two specific instances. The first was when one player threw a game to another. Apparently the other players in the game took exception to that, which I can certainly understand, and had a NPE (negative play experience). On the other hand, Republic of Rome is a game of negotiation. If the other players allowed a situation to arise where one player felt necessary to do this for another player, then they have no basis for complaint. Either they (1) alienated that person, (2) that person knew the recipient outside of the game, or (3) that person was in a position of kingmaker for somebody and it was a coin flip.

There are some other possibilities (such as insanity) but I believe we can eliminate those as extremely unlikely. <smile> Furthermore, in this particular case, I know that (2) and (3) were not true. Therefore this person felt alienated by everyone else and threw the game to the one person who was friendly to him. My feelings to this conclusion are mixed. On the one hand, the people who were rousted deserve the loss. In fact, I'm a little upset with them for fostering negative feelings. I don't care who wins and how, but when someone else doesn't enjoy the game I have issues. I have further issues that apparently the entire table had a NPE. Even the winner had mixed feelings about it!

On the other hand, it's a multiplayer game. Inevitably, cabals arise. That's the nature of the beast. The saving grace of RoR is that there is a glass ceiling on such cabals. You can only pump each other up so much before you are forced to look outside for "safe" candidates for office. If a player sits through the first two hours with little interaction, I can see how that player might feel left out. I can also see how that player might voice that opinion in such a way that the cabal members take umbrage. Thus, they might (despite that it is not a good idea) continue the cabal beyond that point.

Moral of the story #1: if you find yourself doing well in the early game, be friendly to those less fortunate. At some point the tables will turn and you'll find yourself in their power, and it's much to your benefit for them to remember you in a good way. In fact, cabal members should be vying amongst themselves to see who can be the kindest to the rest of the board. It's a game of negotiation, people. The skills you hone in the Senate will do you in good stead in real life, too.

Moral of the story #2: if you find yourself on the outs in the early part of the game, take it in good graces. You'll enjoy the game much more, and you'll find that when the tables turn you're much more likely to leap ahead. That's the thing about multiplayer games: you don't want to be ahead in the early game because then you're seen as a threat. You want to sneak up and leap into the lead at the end. But you can't do that if you're seen as a sore thumb.

Back to the point at hand ­ Participation. I'd like to see everyone make an attempt to improve their approach to other players, especially new players. I'd also like to see everyone try to recruit someone. I'd be happy to volunteer to sit with them and give them the basics. Not all the subtle things that make a tournament winner like some of you (because I'd be the first to admit that some of the players know a lot more about this game than I do), but the things that will allow them to have fun.

ASSASSINATIONS

The new houserule this year (of variable time limits) seemed to work. Only one game had a lot of assassinations (I was playing in that one myself) and that was primarily because I (as GM) had randomly determined that this game was to run close to the end of the variable time limit. So the players pretty much knew when the last turn was coming up, and The Knives Came Out. As games of olde, it was fast and furious!

Previously, I had seen this as a negative: when people knew the last turn was coming, everybody pressed all their knights for money, everybody bought influence, and everybody stabbed everybody else. It was too unnatural and came down to blind luck. While some luck is a part of the game, this was just too much in the face.

However, in this particular game, I believe all the players enjoyed themselves tremendously (I know I did!) It was the best game I've played in years. So that might color my opinion, but I'm feeling that the variable time limit is good enough.

My fear is that I'll have to resort to calling all games on "time" early in the variable window, otherwise we'll still have too many "predictable" games. However, if I do this, then all it will do is move the stabbing earlier.

Perhaps the solution is to have most games time out early in the window, with perhaps a third going into the latter half of the window. Then, people who jump the gun have a significant chance of regretting it, and we still have a good number of games without the artificiality of the Final Turn. And the few times when we do have such a game, that might be refreshing (as in my game).

Feedback would be very welcome.

WHEN ROME FALLS

Well. In previous years, in the final it was in the best interest of the person in the lead to allow Rome to fall. If Rome falls in the final, then that person wins the tournament!

In the heats, it's not an issue because I have a rule that no-one advances (and this has happened in the past). I'm mixed on this because frequently there is some chance of a catastrophic roll (triple ones or the like) which will end the game, especially in the Early Republic scenario. I hate knocking an entire table down because of such blind bad luck.

Back to the final, that was an issue at WBC 2000. To try and prevent this, I instituted a rule this year that if Rome fell, then the Senate members would vote to see who won. The theory was that this is a game of negotiation. Players would take this into account. They also would vote for who they thought played the best game (not necessariliy who was in the lead of the Influence race during the final turn). Also, remember: there are multiple victory conditions. Doing well in the Influence race does not necessarily mean you played the best game.

At the final this year, it was shown that the new rule allowed a person not in the lead to allow Rome to fall, and thus throw the game back into the arena of negotiation.

As I have previously stated my opinion on negotiations, again, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I think this was fine. On the other hand, it bothers me that this might result in a NPE for the person who at the time was in the lead.

At this point, I'm at a loss. I'd welcome any and all advice for how to improve this situation for WBC 2002. My only criteria is that any proposed solutions have to deal with all the situations. I don't want an incentive for Rome to fall - no matter what. I also want a solution which will not result in a NPE for one or more of the players.

SCHEDULING

I've noticed a phenomenon over the past few years. Wednesday night is always well attended. More than 20 players, consistently! Often more than 30. Thursday night is consistently about half of Wed night.

Part of this is because the 4-5 winners from Wed have no more reason to play. Part is probably because there are an increased number of other fun tournaments on Thursday night.

Regardless, I'd like to ask for suggestions as to other acceptable options. Do we want Heat 2 on Friday morning? Do we want three heats? And, is Saturday night for the final a good time?

SCENARIOS

I'm mixed. I'm about ready to totally eliminate the Early Republic from consideration for the indefinite future, because of the requirement for everyone to work together to fight the many barbarians. This decreases the option for wheeling and dealing, and also decreases the possibility of a successful revolt (which I'd like to increase).

I like the Late Republic because it allows the most flexibility in negotiations. However, it's somewhat more complex than the Middle because of the increased number of woogy Laws that come into play.

Therefore, I'm considering standardizing on the Middle Republic for all future tournament games. Feedback would be welcome.

Thank you for listening this far, and for braving through my soapbox orations. Genuine advice, honestly offered. I hope it was taken in the spirit in which it was intended.

Hope to see you at the Republic of Rome tournament at WBC 2002!

Will "Sandy" Wible
GM

 Finalists  Influence Total  Influence %
 Sean Finnerty  41  18%
 Nicholas Benedict  41  18%
 Will Wible  25  11%
 Kevin Barry  38  17%
 Tom Phillips *  17   7%
 Henry Rice III 68  30%

* Voted Consul for Life through Tournament House Rule

 GM      Will Wible  [5th Year]   1200 Norwood Court, Virgnia Beach, VA 23454
    sandyw@decipher.com   757-664-1139

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