Burn, Rome, Burn
This year's Republic of Rome tournament featured fewer
heats but no less action. Senators on one board were so pre-occupied
with burying each other's position that the Empire itself fell
-- in the Middle Republic! Images of the Mithidratic War causing
the gates of Rome to open haunted other senators for the tournament.
year's finals were unusual in that Rome's internal affairs were
substantially quiet. Almost no assassinations attempted, few
prosecutions, and not a whiff of revolt or consul-for-life conspiracy.
Frank McNally, Alan Witte, Tom Phillips, Nick Benedict, Rich
O'Brien, and Sean Finnerty not necessarily the six most
peaceful faction patrons available at the WBC instead were
focused for much of the game on keeping Late Republic Rome alive.
The problems started early, with four wars being drawn in
the second turn to add to a stalemated war remaining from the
first. With five wars, four of them active, and three of them
matching, Rome turned to its strongest general turn after turn.
Inactive wars were never fought voluntarily. And the three matching
wars were unfightable without entrusting one senator with all
of Rome's legions, effectively inviting him to revolt.
Every turn, every additional active war that was drawn had
to be defeated. And they were. Sometimes with modified rolls
of 14 (the lowest possible roll to achieve victory), sometimes
higher. But Rome squeaked by.
In case that wasn't nerve-wracking enough, halfway through
this adventure the Second Cataline Conspiracy was drawn, and
the HRAO rolled a 10. This gave us an unrest level close to double
digits, and an HRAO's popularity of negative 8. Because the card
is played in the forum phase (a rule that I suggest modifying
for next year's tournament) no one could do anything about it.
We needed a 15 on three dice to survive. And we got it. 15. About
a 1 in 12 chance, but Rome carried on.
After most of the wars in the deck had been defeated, and
the Cataline crisis was resolved, the focus shifted back in the
last two turns to jockeying for position.
Nick Benedict's faction was clearly the moneybags. Owning
the shipbuilding concession from the start, he profited greatly
from the Alexandrine war, and he also held at least one of the
grain concessions. And the office of the Pontifex. He had been
burning tribune cards, Pontifex vetos, favors, and bribes for
most of the end game to keep his position. A secret deal with
Alan Witte's faction (15T up front, a bunch of priesthoods, and
5T every time the deal was invoked) to vote against any prosecution
or recall of the Pontifex played a key role in sustaining him.
Going into the final turn, Nick spent 100T buying influence,
leapfrogging both Alan Witte and Tom Phillips. (Sean, Rich, and
Frank had suffered from luck so extraordinarily bad that someone
ought to have looked into it. Repeated death chits, bad battle
rolls, bad cards, bad dice. The omens were ugly). This placed
the bulls-eye squarely on his back, and Alan saw his opportunity
to leapfrog him into first place with a persuasion. Nick spent
no cash, seeing that Alan's resources were greater. Alan needed
a 2-9 to persuade. And came up with a 10.
Into the Senate phase. An immediate assassination attempt
on the Pontifex failed, making Nick immune. We moved to prosecutions.
Only one of Nick's senators was eligible for prosecution, and
the Pontifex duly used his veto. The only way to reduce Nick's
influence was with a recall of the Pontifex, requiring 2/3 majority.
The HRAO calling the votes (Rich's faction) pointed to Nick
first. With no other potential use of gold, he poured his entire
treasury into the vote. Other factions started to vote in favor
of the recall, adding talents here and there. And then it came
If he used almost all of his talents, Alan's vote would recall
the Pontifex and throw the game back open, but with a failed
persuasion attempt and no talents left, he would be very unlikely
to win. With the words "I stand behind my Pontifex"
his faction voted no on the recall, and the game was over.
Some players at the tournament devised an innovative way to
structure next year's tournament. Instead of one finals board,
there would be two. Playing simultaneously, and ideally in different
Timing: Both games end at the same time. When one board
ends according to the rules, the other board is declared immediately
over, regardless of the stage of the game.
Winning: The player with the most impressive victory
on his board would be the winner. Consul-for-Life or Successful
Revolt victories rank ahead of Highest Influence victories. Since
one game is declared immediately over when the other game ends,
it is impossible for two games to end in CFL or a revolt. If
both games end in a "highest influence" result, the
winner would be the one with the highest index score:
Index = Faction Influence * Percent of Total Influence
Example 1: Player A on Board 1 becomes CFL. The finals are
over, and he wins.
Example 2: Board 2 ends because the deck is exhausted. This
ends Board 1 immediately, and both boards end in "Highest
Influence". Player A on Board 1 has 60 influence, and all
other players on Board 1 have 240 combined. Therefore Player
A gets 60 * (60/240) points, or a fourth of 60, or 15. Player
X on Board 2 has 40 influence, and the other players on Board
2 have 100 combined. So Player X gets 40 * (40/100) or 40% of
40, or 16. So Player X would win.
This will have a number of implications on game play, most
good but some bad. All factions will strive to be winning the
game all through play, which is more historical than waiting
for an artificial "end". The middle of the game should
therefore be more intense. And the random end should eliminate
the "end of the world" assassinations and artificial
play - instead, these should occur throughout the game rather
than as a last resort onslaught. Also, an increased premium is
placed on CFL or revolts - moreover, to do so as quickly as possible.
The bad news? You're not fully in control of your destiny.
If someone CFL's at another table before you are in position
to win, that's bad luck. But CFLs are very rare, bad luck is
part of the game, and it's your own fault for not executing your
own CFL earlier.
That being said, this is a new proposed format and the new
GM is open to suggestions or changes. Send your comments or suggestions
to Nick Benedict at firstname.lastname@example.org.