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Burning Rome Kickstarter Preview


Quick Look:

Info:
Designer: Emil Larsen
Artists: Lukas Banas, Caner Inciucu, Angelita Ramos, Gabriel Barbabianca, Carlos Cara Álvarez
Publisher: SunTzuGames
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 15-30 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
WARNING: This is a preview of Burning Rome. I was sent a prototype version of the game. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.

In Burning Rome, you take on the role of a general of an ancient army and are tasked with fighting the great battles of history. Once you've sated your lust for reenactment, you can build your own custom army and compete for glory!

Review:

Rules and Setup:
Regardless of which sort of game you choose to play (an Ancient Battle or a custom game), your goal is the same: to eliminate your opponent. This can be done by reducing their army strength to zero, by forcing their command points to drop below zero, or by meeting specific Ancient Battle win conditions.

Each turn starts with a player resolving any start-of-turn effects; then, they can either draw a card from their army deck or gain two extra command points (CP). After that, players can play as many cards as they wish from their hand, provided that they have the CP to spend. Any card abilities that activate when the card is played must be resolved at that time. Cards can be stacked in columns of no more than three (four with a general), and while attack and defense values stack, only the top card's abilities and other values are usable. Once you've finished playing your cards, any end-of-turn card effects are resolved and damage is dealt to the other player's line (the exception being that a column cannot attack in the same turn it was created). Play continues like this until one side meets their win conditions.

Each faction has 54 cards to pull from when making your own army.

The first step of preparing for the game is to make an army deck. There are a few example decks in the rule book, as well as instructions on how to make your own. Once you've got a deck made, each player gets an army sheet that shows their army strength and CP. Exactly how much army strength and CP you start with depends on your deck build. The battlefield is then set in the center of the table, with enough space between it and the army sheets to play cards. Tokens are placed on the battlefield and army sheets to keep track of CP, army strength, and whose turn it is. (Should you decide to play a two-on-two game, the setup remains the same - the other battlefield and army sheets are simply set right next to their teammates'.) The round markers are set to the side for in-game use.

To determine turn order, each player shuffles their decks and draws the top card; whoever draws a higher attack value (redraw on a tie) gets to decide who is "attacking" and who is "defending." The attacker gets to go first, but loses one CP at the start of the game. Players then reshuffle their decks and draw their first hand (4 cards for attackers, 5 for defenders).

Carthage and Rome collide in this recreation of the Battle of Lake Trasimene - albeit on a slightly smaller scale.

Theme and Mechanics:
Burning Rome is heavily set in its time period and theme. The four factions (Rome, Carthage, Celtiberia, and Gaetuli) all hail from the same era and interacted with one another, and being able to reenact their greatest battles is a fun and interesting concept. The types of cards available are similar between factions, but each faction has unique names for each type of soldier to better draw the players into the historical setting, including individually named generals (Gaius Julius Caesar in Rome, for instance).

More reminiscent of bookmarks than a game board, but the army sheets and battlefield nevertheless do their jobs well.

For anyone familiar with Command and Colors, the mechanics of this game will be very recognizable. There are three lanes (columns) to place your army on, and each type of unit has its own unique abilities. Placing a card on top of another blocks the lower card's ability. Generals can be very powerful here as they float on top of the stack instead of being played on, meaning that potentially negative card effects can be ignored by playing them under a general. Tactic cards, unlike the rest of the deck, don't have any attack or defense values and are played off to the side.

Artwork, bonuses, CP cost, and abilities differ between factions.

Artwork and Components:
Each faction's artwork was designed by a different artist, adding for a bit of variety between them, but they all do a fine job of capturing the feel of the game. And despite the differences between the artwork, the overall look of the cards (including the fonts and placement of information) is consistent throughout, making them feel like a single product. I personally would prefer a board instead of the army sheets and battlefield, but they still work well and their design matches the rest of the game's feel.

One extra thing worth mentioning is that both the cards and army sheets have information on them that pertains to future planned expansions. While it does indicate that the designer plans to support the game over time, it also makes me wonder why they chose not to include said content with the original game if they already had it in mind.

The generals stay on top of their columns, while tactics sit off to the side of the game.

The cards are the real stars of the show - with a staggering 216 in total, and an average in-game deck consisting of ten to fifteen cards, the amount of variety possible within a given deck is staggering. Outside of the cards, battlefields, and army sheets, the game comes with ten soldier-shaped tokens and six round markers. They're very good quality, despite them not being used extensively throughout the game.

Markers help to remind you when a unit's ability has been used already.

The Good:
Burning Rome takes easy-to-learn mechanics and puts them together with an exciting, cinematic theme. Its wealth of cards and different game types allow for endless replayability, and it plays fast enough that you could fit several games into an afternoon.

The Bad:
Choosing to forego a game board in exchange for small components might be a turn-off for some, and including content in the base game that only works with the expansion could cause trepidation among players wanting to make sure they get their money's worth.

Final Thoughts:
If you're looking for a game to scratch your competitive deck-construction itch, Burning Rome will do it effortlessly.

Players Who Like:
Fans of Command and Colors' thematic battles and Magic: The Gathering's deck construction will find this game to be a wonderful blending of the two.

I am giving Burning Rome 7 out of 10 super meeples.

710

Check out Burning Rome on:

      

On KICKSTARTER between now and August 15, 2017.

About the Author:
David Jensen has tried his hand at everything from warehouse work and washing dishes to delivering pizza. Now, he's writing reviews and working as an editor for a start-up literary magazine. When he's not busy procrastinating, he's playing tabletop games with friends and writing fiction.
Burning Rome Kickstarter Preview Burning Rome Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by Dane Trimble on July 18, 2017 Rating: 5

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