Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sword of Rome (GMT)

Game: Sword of Rome (GMT)
Participants: Jim D, Joe C, Bob H and Myself
Time: 11.00AM - 5.00PM

This was our first 4-player game of SoR in several years. HeavyD and I were playtesters and played it several times back when it was released. With the Release of the 2nd Printing, we decided to give it another go as we've been trying to get back into multiplayer games with more regularity.

The game is a 2-5 player game (best with 4-5 players, in my opinion) covering Rome's assent to power from 386BC to 272BC. It is a card driven game with many of the features of this genre; leader activation, political control of spaces and a very interesting combat mechanic.

In the past few weeks I've re-read the rules and played a 2-player and 3-player game, both were more or less trainer games, getting ready for this event. The 3-player game was ok, it was our first time back with the game and it was ok. The Guals are handled abstractly, by rolling on a chart once a turn, the players then play Rome, Etruscan/Samite and Greece. The Guals being abstracted really changes the dynamics and makes for an ok three player experiance, for my money, TNW is the better choice when you only have three players. The 2-player game is ok, but I'd rather play something else if there are only two of us, too much of the interesting bits are missing when each player is controlling two powers, however it was a good experience for learning the ins and outs of the games mechanics.

Today's four player version was hands down the best of the recent playings. We had three players that had experience with the game and one player with no background. In spite of this, today's game was one heck of a good time. I was Rome, with HeavyD taking the Gauls, YJ on the E/S and Bob with Greece. We played the 6 turn version and it came down to the last impulse of the last turn. Bob won with Greece, with my Romans a VP or two behind. HeavyD had Gual in third place with YJ a distant fourth with his Etruscans and Samnites.

I'm sure if you asked the players involved you'd get several different explanations of why the game turned out like it did. But in the end it was essentially the three of them trying to get Bob the win over my Romans. An early alliance (and some would say a poorly conceived one) gave Rome a very safe and strong position in turns 2-3 allowing me to boost my support in my cities while also creating several more walled cities, thus by the last couple of turns I was getting 7-8 CU's a turn as reinforcements while everyone else was struggling to keep an army in the field. All of the Etruscan starting lands were overrun in this period, knocking YJ out of the running for a victory. This also made it very hard for HeavyD to raid and thus get VP's...so both of them, around turn 4-5 started to play king maker, essentially doing what they could to assist Greece and trying to bring down the now very strong Romans.

Despite this (three against one) I had a fantastic time. The constant conflict (in spirit at least) between HeavyD and YJ on their differing takes on what should be done was an especially entertaining diversion. The next time have a multiplayer game day, I hope we have half as much fun as we did today...

I would move SoR up to nearly neck and neck in the 4 player game area after today's experience (after TNW of course). I shall try to set up another game of this in the coming weeks.

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