Burn, Rome, Burn
As Others See Us: There are several events
where the gamemaster is so devoted to his event he provides awards
above and beyond the plaques provided by WBC, and this was the
first such event I have played in. Here the director provided
six mugs and three glasses, each specially imprinted with a design
indicating it came from the 2005 WBC Republic of Rome tournament.
The director also had several copies of the living rules, which
is interesting as the game has been out-of-print since Avalon
Hill's demise seven years ago, yet there are fanatics who keep
the rules up-to-date. I did have one complaint, though: because
this is such a lengthy game, (seven hours), it should not be
scheduled in the middle of the day. The final round began 2 PM
Saturday afternoon. It conflicted with three other Saturday afternoon
events I wanted to participate in. Extremely annoying, but schedule
conflicts are a part of life. No matter when something is scheduled
it will conflict with other events for some of the participants.
What is bad about the afternoon round is that it also conflicted
with my morning event, which I had to drop out of, and it conflicted
with my preferred evening event which I had to miss. ... Frank
Cunliffe in EPGS' HEROICS Newsletter
This year saw the debut of the Living Rules (as found on http://22.214.171.124/ror/)
-- the changes were minimal and generally well received. The
notable changes were popularity loss based on legions killed
in combat as well as starting set up with all players receiving
one concession. While the popularity loss item was almost unanimously
embraced, there were two camps of thought on the concession guarantee
The first view on this was that it would help get the game
going, as there would be a more or less steady source of income
for all players from the get go. The opposing view was that game
balance suffered. Concessions are normally viewed as important
cards, and usually cause an "unbalancing" effect, establishing
clear camps of haves and have nots. By placing everyone on a
perceived "equal" footing this change seemed to limit
the use of the Censorial prosecution in the Senate to go after
corruption in Rome, as all factions were of course "guilty"
of profiteering. It also placed an inordinate amount of cash
into play and made it more difficult for players to gauge cash
reserves of other players. People seemed evenly divided on this
rule change, and can in fact generally be placed into two groups
of vastly differing play styles which will be examined here.
It seems that players are increasingly being divided into
two schools of thought on game strategy: the "Balancers"
and the "Opportunists". The "Balancers" generally
tend to want to spread things out at the table, making sure that
all factions are included equally in every Senate phase, making
sure that all players remain within a reachable influence level
for the entire game. They seek consensus, and their play follows
that line. They know that if everyone is equal, then all have
a chance at victory in the end. They try to "play nice"
and keep everyone at the table included in every deal struck.
This is all in an attempt to position every faction in striking
distance for the end game, so that all have an equal chance of
winning in the final turns, and so that they will have a guaranteed
shot at being one of those factions.
The "Opportunists" on the other hand try to exercise
power when available. They form majority voting blocks as they
can, trying to keep the power in their corner, attempting to
set the table into a camp of the "haves" and "have
nots". These players know that Lady Luck is a volatile thing,
and that all are just one mortality chit away from losing their
advantage. They try to exercise this advantage when they have
it, and will constantly shift their alliances at the table to
maximize the growing disparity between factions. This strategy
will often divide the table, but will set up a group of front-runners
apart from the pack. The "Opportunists" are generally
more focused on placing themselves in the best position to win
at the end. While this tends to alienate players and it often
backfires on the "Opportunist", they would rather take
a shot at a big win than eke out a marginal and uncertain victory.
While luck can have devastating effects to factions in the
form of mortality chits and random events, two distinct situations
occur when a table is played by these vastly differing strategies.
In a "Balanced" game, often the final turns become
dragged out, as every action has a direct impact on the final
victor. It's anyone's game. In the "Opportunist" games,
very often there is a swift conclusion as the two or three frontrunners
will have to try to take each other down to become the "First
Man in Rome." As in historical Rome, the Senate did not
generally turn into a massive knife-fight of assassinations,
and this bloodbath is far more likely to occur in a "Balanced"
game than in an "Opportunist" game.
Regardless, both strategies have provided past champions,
and it is up to the player to gravitate to the unique play style
that works for them. Games this year featured both scenarios,
and game lengths varied despite the drop-dead cards being in
relatively similar positions. No game was won outright by "Consul
for Life" or a march on Rome, nor did the game win this
year, and they ran anywhere from five hours (possibly a record
for the quickest full game ever) to seven.
An alternate Middle Republic setup also provided greater odds
that "Blackmail" and "Seduction" would appear,
creating more intense end-games at several tables. We used the
"Hannibal" card from the Early Republic as a drop-dead
card to ensure timely conclusions, and we are pleased to report
that Rome did not fall at any table!
Winners at each qualifying table received a handsome binder
containing a full copy of the Living Rules (along with a variety
of charts, tables and other material). In addition, one other
player at each qualifying table was awarded a trophy (at the
discretion of the GMs) for notable play: Frank McNally was awarded
a prize for Treachery: After failing to persuade a senator away
from a faction - leaving a large amount of cash on him - Frank
assassinated the now-wealthy senator at the opening of the Senate
Len Omelecky was awarded a prize for Perseverance: After losing
four Senators to Epidemic, he ended his heat with 7 influence
for his entire faction. Phil Rodrigues was awarded a prize for
Valor: He sent three Consuls off to war in one game, all of whom
died in achieving victory. (He later failed to assassinate a
Consul for Life candidate despite playing TWO "Assassination"
cards on the attempt!) And Chase Bramwell was awarded a prize
for Fate: His last heat ended when he himself drew the Hannibal
card with both "Blackmail" and "Seduction"
unplayed in his hand!
The final round was a closely managed game in the Late Republic.
Rob Seulowitz was poised for a Consul for Life vote late in the
game, however an extraordinary amount of money from all factions
in the Senate as well as massive voting blocks by Tom Phillps
and Sean Larsen (close to 50% of the total 105 votes in Rome
at the time) disrupted Rob's plans, as he was unable to control
the voting order after the failed assassination attempt on his
candidate. The would-be ruler of Rome was quickly exiled to a
governorship in the furthest reaches of Gaul.
The end game was not favorable to Rome either, as four wars
were drawn from the last remnants of the deck in the final few
turns. Needing to ensure that Rome survived, multiple armies
were dispatched allowing David Yoon to mount a last ditch Rebellion
after a successful routing of the Germans, however the dreaded
Hannibal card appeared before he could march on Rome. Frank McNally
and Sean Larsen tied on total Faction Influence after Frank persuaded
a Senator from the Forum on the final initiative of the game,
but Frank won the tie-breaker to take the First Place Trophy.
Everyone in the Final received an engraved glass or mug bearing
an appropriate slogan in Latin, including Chase Bramwell(Previous
Champion) who served as the official GM Designate since both
the GM and Assistant GM played in the final. Sean achieved the
singular distinction of taking a Senator (who had been ruthlessly
exploiting a drought) from -9 Popularity to +2 by the end of
In an additional note, we hope to move one of the qualifying
heats next year to an earlier time slot, as there was a sizable
group of RoR veterans that were unable to play due to prior commitments
to other events in the same time slots as the qualifiers.