republic of rome [Updated October 2006]  

2006 WBC Report  

   2007 Status: pending December Membership Vote

Tom Phillips, NJ

2006 Champion

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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
2002    Sean Larsen     27
2003    Nick Benedict     21
2004    Chase Bramwell     24
2005     Frank McNally     14
2006    Tom Phillips     16

PBeM Event History
2001    Rob Mull      16


Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Tom Phillips       NJ    06    120
  2.  Chase Bramwell     OH    04     96
  3.  Sean Larsen        NJ    06     85
  4.  Frank McNally      MA    06     48
  5.  Nick Benedict      CA    03     48
  6.  Rob Seulowitz      NY    05     44
  7.  Brian Ecton        VA    99     30
  8.  Bret Mingo         MD    02     24
  9.  Craig Moffitt      NJ    02     24
 10.  Alan Witte         NJ    03     18
 11.  Henry Rice         NM    01     18
 12.  Chris Bodkin       IN    00     16
 13.  David Yoon         NY    06     15
 14.  Kevin Barry        PA    06     12
 15.  Sean Finnerty      NY    03     12
 16.  Brad Anderson      OH    02     12
 17.  Kevin Barry        PA    01     12
 18.  Rob Mull           CO    01     10
 19.  Chris Greenfield   NJ    99      9
 20.  Matt Bacho         MD    04      6
 21.  Rich O'Brian       MD    03      6
 22.  Bill Dyer          IL    99      6
 23.  Jonathan Squibb    PA    06      3
 24.  Frank Cunliffe     PA    05      3
 25.  Charles Dunn       VA    04      3
 26.  Will Wible         VA    01      3
 27.  Rob Knowles        NC    99      3

2006 Laurelists

Sean Larsen, NJ

Kevin Barry, PA

Frank McNally, MA

David Yoon, NY

Jonathan Squibb, PA

Past Winners

Jim Doughan, PA

Robert Rudolph, PA

Sean Finnerty, NY

Chris Greenfield, NJ

Michael Ehlers, MD

Chris Bartiromo, NJ

Charles Dunn, VA

Brian Ecton, VA

Chase Bramwell, OH
2000, 2004

Tom Phillips, NJ
2001, 2006

Sean Larsen, NJ

Nick Benedict, CA

Frank McNally, MA

Burn, Rome, Burn

Well, another year, another exciting set of games.  Over the two night preliminariess there were six qualifying games, with one instance of the table falling to the game from excessive wars.  The previously instituted "stop" card was used once again in the Final 12 cards of the deck, to help provide some doubt as to the timing of the last turn.  Mortality chits proved decisive factors in three of the prelims, with various instances of epidemic, mob violence, and victorious commander death's factoring into the destruction of once mighty factions of Rome.
For the Final, the Late Republic scenario was once again used, and it proved to be one of the finer instances of group and individual play in the history of the tournament.  Five of the six players were previous laurelists, and three could claim past championships (Sean Larsen, Frank McNally, Tom Phillips).  In a game with this much tournament experience at the table, Rome quickly turned into a city that could be bought and sold at a moments notice.
In the first Senate phase, Censor-elect Kevin Barry quickly established paperwork "processing fees", extorting nine talents from the table for various "paper-work mishandling" instances involving profit from concessions.  A standard three talent exemption from prosecutions would become the norm for most of the game, making the censorship not only an important political position, but a profitable one as well.
The David Yoon's Pontifix Maximus' veto also became a profitable thing to have, as it was purchased on several occasions by players desperate for protection from over-zealous prosecutors.  Corruption was rampant at the Governor level, as many senators sought to supplement their faction's wealth by confiscating taxes from the unlucky populace of Rome's far-flung holdings.
Two factions quickly ascended to dominant status in the early turns through both Statesman cards and political offices.  Kevin Barry was able to grab the reigns of power through his voting block of senators, and Sean Larsen was able to augment his votes in Rome through several Statesmen cards.  The situation quickly arose where they could control the Senate by creating a voting block with one of any of the other four factions.
The third position in this would-be triumvirate was offered to Tom Phillips at first, the next largest faction.  In a surprise move however, Tom turned down the offer, and Frank McNally quickly came to an arrangement with Sean and Kevin as to his place in their new alliance.
The triumvirate wasted no time in seeing to business, voting themselves the offices of the Senate and providing favorable governorships to their Senators while ensuring that their voting block remained the largest.  In response to their spurned offer, Kevin and Sean proceeded with a prosecution of one of Tom's Senator's who held a Tax Farmer concession, stripping him of the concession, his prior consul experience, and most of his influence.  A mortality chit would kill another of Tom's senators the following turns, limiting him to just three Senators in the game.  When Tom asked why there was such vehemence against his poor faction, Kevin simply responded "You're still the greatest threat at this table."
Applying the theory of using power while one has it, the Triumvirate dominated the game for the next few turns, keeping hold of the offices of the Senate and utilizing the Censor to apply justice as they deemed fit to the other factions in Rome. But as any player of the game knows, fate is fickle, and changes would soon come to Rome.
In Turn 8, several random events would reshape the political landscape. Due to poor leadership on the field of battle, two proconsuls were left in the field, unable to defeat the enemy forces arrayed against them.  One of these belonged to Sean's faction, the Field Consul, another to Frank's faction, the Rome Consul.  This left Kevin's Censor as the HRAO in Rome.  The death of one of Kevin's Senators through the turn mortality chit further weakened the triumvirate's voting block, to the point where the three no longer had a dominant block of votes in Rome.  Tom discreetly pointed this out to Kevin, and a new block was formed, with Sean's, Kevin's, and Tom's factions striking a side deal. Tom would become the next Rome Consul while guaranteeing Kevin's Field Consul a favorable battle number and agreeing not to support any prosecutions against either Sean or Kevin's factions that turn.
Tom and Kevin were elected consuls, with Sean receiving the Censor's office.  No prosecutions took place as per the deal.  Then the game got interesting.
The presiding magistrate of Tom's faction decided to recall one of David's governors from Asia, one of the best provinces, and send one of Sean's Statesmen Licineus, to govern it. While David protested and voted against, the new Triumvirate had enough votes to carry, and Sean gladly sent his senator to reap the bounty of the governorship.  Next, Tom decided to recall one of Jonathan Squibb's Senators from Illyricum and send one of Kevin's Senators to govern abroad.
At this point Kevin and Sean realized what was occurring.  Sean sent his tribune to the Senate in an attempt to put a stop to it by proposing that Tom's Rome Consul go off to war.  This issue narrowly failed but it caused the senate to quickly close to avert any further 'shenanigans'.
By reallocating the Governorships, Tom had shifted the balance of votes in the Senate from Kevin and Sean to the rest of the table, restoring control of the table to the majority.  This would limit Sean's and Kevin's influence in voting matters in the Senate for the remainder of the game, but was it in time?
The next turn passed with business as usual, with the four other players trying to catch Sean and Kevin, who had commanding leads at this point due to their rule of Rome for so long.  Wars were prosecuted to their fullest extent, earning influence for proconsuls and Field consuls alike.  As the deck whittled away to nothing, the players could sense the game coming to an end, and began to act for one last turn.  Faction and personal treasuries were donated en masse to Rome, earning additional influence for Senators.  It still wasn't enough however, as Kevin's well-balanced faction had 20 influence more than any other, even after the play of a blackmail card by Tom the previous turn, luring Kevin's best Senator over to Tom's faction.  Then disaster struck, in a most unlikely way.
Both the Rome Consul and Field Consul were stuck in the field to begin the turn, so the HRAO position fell to Sean's Censor. This would be the last turn as there were only four cards left in the deck and one was the stop card.  With six initiatives, the game was almost guaranteed to end.
Of course, the Fates intervened to make things interesting.  Sean rolled a seven on his initiative roll.  His random event came up as the dreaded ten, "Evil Omens".  Anyone familiar with this event knows it is a sign of foreboding, as it is a negative one to most die rolls for the entire turn, making most moves that would effect the outcome of the game that much riskier.  Another effect of Evil Omens is that the Pontiff must pay 20 talents or lose his office.  David had the requisite money, so was able to keep his Pontifix Maximus office.
Next up, Tom's faction.  And, unbelievably, another seven!!!  Fortune was not smiling upon Rome.  The next random event came up as another drought, kicking the level to 2. The dice were passed to David. No random events this time. Next went Jonathan. Another seven!!!!!  What were the odds?  And then another ten, double Evil Omens, negative 2 to all die rolls.  The gods were determined to cripple Rome on this last turn.  Frank rolled and avoided the seven, and drew another card. Still no stop card. The dice were finally passed to Kevin for his initiative.  Only two cards left in the deck, if Kevin could avoid a seven he would have a 50-50 chance of ending the game and winning.  The roll was a 4 - and Kevin drew his card, which did NOT end the game.
At this point it's important to point out that the Late Republic, while limited to the Final, really is the most fun scenario of the game to play for several reasons. First, there is a much higher chance of a successful march on Rome by victorious commanders, a la Caesar historically.  Second, more people know about the history associated with the time, as you have such Statesmen as Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, Cicerro et al in the game.  Finally, and perhaps the best reason, is that there are multiple cards that can be drawn or played that lead to targeted mob violence. This tends to make everyone very wary of causing a stir in the Senate as several tribune plays or reaction to tribunes can lead the player of the card to a faction wide massacre at the hands of the mob.
I point this out, because as experienced players at the table, we all should have seen the card that Kevin drew coming from a mile away.  After all, what's the Late Republic without the infamous Cataline Conspiracy, a plot against the state that led to the unpopular execution of dozens of prominent Senators.  We all should have remembered this event, as it's taken out many a front-runner in the history of the tournament.  As the HRAO, Sean was responsible for deciding the faction that was the target of the conspiracy.  Of course he selected Kevin, as he was clearly in the lead.  As a result, Kevin would have to select a DR worth of mortality chits for his senators currently in Rome.  Sean rolled a 7, which due to the Evil Omens became a 9.  With a couple of "draw two's" coming out, Kevin drew 11 chits in total, losing two of his Senators in the violence, a crushing blow.
So, the turn would not end, as the final card left face down in the deck was the Stop card. One more turn of cutthroat politics in the Senate, where whoever was in charge would be able to decide the game. Everyone prepared for the assassinations that would shortly follow.  But before the Senate, Sean had to roll the HRAO speech number to the people, to see if they overthrew Rome and everyone lost the game.  No real worries, as the unrest was at zero going into the turn, and it would take something around a roll of a three on three dice to end the game.  That's where we were all terribly wrong.
The Censor had a popularity of 3 going into the turn, which would subtract from the dice roll. However, one of the effects of the Cataline Conspiracy is that the HRAO loses the number of popularity of the number rolled.  As Sean rolled a modified nine, he lost nine popularity, resulting in a negative six.  On top of that, with a double drought, the unrest moved up two, and the unprosecuted war moved up another one. This would add an additional negative 3 to the roll.  Factor in the double evil Omens and that was an additional negative two to the roll.  So in effect, there was a negative 11 to Sean's roll to the people.  So there was still a glimmer of hope for Rome to survive, a 14 or higher was needed.
Alas, a 9 was rolled, and Rome fell - making the game itself this year's owner of the wood.
Now we all have seen the game beat the players before, but this is perhaps the first time that there was next to nothing that could have been done to avoid this calamitous turn of events.
Tom ended the game with the highest total influence, in part due to the blackmail play on Kevin's Senator from previous turns, so he had the dubious honor of being in charge as Rome burned.
It was a very exciting game with a somewhat unfortunate ending as it is always preferred to have a clear-cut winner produced through game mechanics - but the game itself was so exceptional that it can be easily overlooked.
We look forward to next year and another exciting experience in the Roman senate.

 GM     Sean Larsen [2nd year]   56 Brooksie Ln, Berkeley Hgts, NJ 07022   NA

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