The city of Rome is in trouble and the Emperor needs you to help him bring Glory to Rome! The year is 64 AD, and Rome has been destroyed by a great fire. The Emperor Nero has sent out a call to all architects and craftsmen in the country to rebuild the mighty city. Wisely manage your building materials and lead your team of helpers. Utilize your laborers, architects, craftsmen, legionaries and merchants in your bid to bring glory to Rome in this exciting card game!
Glory to Rome is a strategy card game designed by Carl Chudyk, the designer of other strategy games such as Innovation. Glory to Rome was one of his first games, and due to being published by a small independent company, did not reach a wide audience. However, due to its great mechanics and fun gameplay, demand has been strong. A second printing introduced it to more people and it has since become one of the higher rated strategy games.
The setting of the game features the aftermath of the great fire that devastated Rome in 64 AD. Emperor Nero needs plenty of help in rebuilding the great city, and you want to prove that you are the most influential developer who can bring the greatest glory to Rome.
This is a card game that focuses on construction and trading. Similar card games such as San Juan and Race for the Galaxy already use cards as both the buildings (or planets) that need to be constructed, as well as the resource needed to construct those buildings. Glory to Rome takes it one step further, and each card can used as a building, a type of resource, and a role card. For example, a yellow card can be used to construct a Latrine (yup, you read that right), can be used as a Rubble resource, and can allow you to play the Laborer role.
To win the game, you need to acquire the most victory points by the end of the game, which happens when either the deck of cards runs out, when available construction sites in town run out, or when special game-ending buildings are constructed. These victory points come from the influence you gain by constructing buildings, and from the value of the materials you sell. There is also a victory point bonus for selling the most of each type of material.
Each turn, the lead player gets to play an action or “think”. “Thinking” means you don’t play any actions, and instead get to draw cards. Playing an action requires you to play a card from your hand. The color of the card determines what role or action you are taking. These roles include the Patron that gains you more clients, the Laborer that gains you more material, the Architect and Craftsman who both help you construct buildings, the Legionary who lets you steal material from neighboring players, and the Merchant who lets you sell materials.
Once the lead player plays an action, the other players can either follow and play the same action, or “think”. When everybody who is playing an action has taken their turn, or if the lead player chooses to “think”, the lead passes to the next player and the whole cycle happens again.
An interesting mechanic in the game is that role cards that have been used to play actions are discarded into a pool in the center of the table, and can be used for other purposes. For example, the Patron role lets you take a card from the pool to become a part of your clientele. These clients give you extra actions when the corresponding role is being played. Similarly, the Laborer role lets you take a card from the pool to become a material in your stockpile, ready to be used for construction or to be sold.
Another way of getting material into your stockpile is by using the Legionary to steal the material from neighboring players’ stockpiles. So what are these stockpiles used for? One use is by having the Merchant sell the stockpile’s material for victory points. Unfortunately, the amount of material you can sell (and the number of clients you can keep) depends on the amount of influence you have. And this in turn depends on one of the main parts of the game: buildings.
The buildings in Glory to Rome have funny names such as the Latrine and the Vomitorium! And all the buildings have powerful and game-altering effects. For example, there are buildings that circumvent rules, allowing you to Merchant cards from your hand or making you immune to other players’ Legionary. There are also buildings that immediately end the game when played! These over-the-top building effects make the game very unpredictable and fun.
Constructing buildings requires the Architect or Craftsman action, as well as an available construction site of the appropriate material. The Architect allows you to use material from your stockpile to construct, while the Craftsman allows you to use material from your hand. Each building also requires a certain type of material, and the amount of material required also varies. Buildings that cost more provide more powerful effects and more influence, which translates to more clients, more materials sold, and more victory points.
The game may sound complicating, but it is actually pretty easy to learn and suitable for most players. And once you get the hang of it, it is a surprisingly sleek game that is a ton of fun due to the over-the-top building effects and the unpredictable nature of the gameplay. One minor quibble is the quality of the artwork, which could really use some improvement. You will like Glory to Rome if you like strategy card games like Race for the Galaxy or construction board games like Puerto Rico.
Playing Time: ~ 1 hour
Number of Players: 2 to 5 players
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