Preview: 44 BCE
The year is 44 BCE and Caesar has just been assassinated by members of his own senate. As the republic is crumbling there are five powerhouses of the Roman Republic that wish to take control Agrippa, Brutus, Cleopatra, Mark Antony, or Octavian all have their eyes set on ruling Rome. Who will you choose and who will help you and who will back stab you along the way? 44 BCE is Designed by Christian Forrest, Holt Gray, Kelly Forrest and published by Gray Forrest Games and coming soon to kickstarter.
Over 6 rounds you will either be seeking to overthrow the Imperium Maius (IM) while earning the most Imperium (VP). Each turn one of the players is the Imperium Maius and the other players are plotting to over throw them. Each time the IM is overthrown a new one is elected for the next turn. Each turn will consist of 9 phases.
54 phases in a game seems like a lot but these go quickly and most of the phases pass naturally by and you hardly notice it was a phase by the end of the game. The first phase is Build phase and this is one of the longer phases. Each player takes a turn building a building by paying the cost listed on the building token on the board. Each turn puts more buildings out on the board. Each player can build any building they can afford and they do this one at a time going in turn order. Most phases in this game have a section of buildings associated with the phase. If you have built a building in the current phase you can then activate it during your turn in the phase.
The third phase is the Enlist phase and this is what I like to call the dominion phase.
The second phase is production. There is a standard set of 1 political, 1 military, one social and 2 support influence that each player gets in this phase they also collect any extra influence from buildings they have built that produce this phase. The third phase is the Enlist phase and this is what I like to call the dominion phase. The left half of the board is 4x3 grid of supporters you can enlist to your hand by paying the cost in influence. The cards there are limited so once they are out they are out. Next up is the Discard phase each player has a limit of 7 cards and influence cubes. If you are over limit you may discard into you Collegium or put influence back in the common supply.
The next part is where the IM plans the defense of their ruling seat. This is where the IM puts cubes on cards to activate them and puts cubes on the Charisma below the cards to break ties. The IM also uses the allegiance tiles' bonuses to defend his positions in each of Political, Military and Social. Also the IM can store cards and cubes to be used in a latter turn.
This is where all the backstabbing can occur, however we found there is a lot of incentive not to usually.
The Suitor Negotiation phase is when all the other players (not you IM) plot to overthrow the IM by getting a higher Authority score in each of the three categories. Players use this time to decide who will support whom and how they might bolster their score higher than the IM. Once the players have agreed on an approach then they move to the commit phase where they place cards and cubes. This is where all the backstabbing can occur, however we found there is a lot of incentive not to usually. Each player supports other players with cubes. I am not going to get in to the gory detail of how it all adds up but basically you put a cube on another players symbol in one of the three categories and then that can activate a card on that players sheet in the same category. This all happens during the resolution phase. If there is a tie then the person with the most charisma wins. If the IM loses 2 of the three categories then if another player won 2 they become IM if not there is some math to figure out who is the IM now.
It sounds like a lot of math but its not too bad.
The final phase of the turn is the Recess phase. This is a cleanup phase where you can earn some money to spend and you prepare the board for the next turn by placing new buildings, giving the new IM their new tiles for the turn and any thing else that needs to get done. Then you repeat all that 5 more times and its over. I haven't talked about scoring yet but you probably guessed that those allegiance tile score you points, also any lictor or loyatly card you have in your collegium If you built statues you can get bonus points, the structures have have VP associated to them and there is an end of game senate bonus too. It sounds like a lot of math but its not too bad.
This game took one or tow turns for us to get into the swing of it. All the Latin words didn't help us who didn't speak Latin (Of course Rick knows Latin). But once we got over the rules hump it played quick. Playing it the first time it was hard to figure out a strategy as there were a lot of point variables at the end and we were all kind of playing without those in mind and focused in on the IM and taking away their power. This is a great game to play with some history buffs or a group of people who want a bigger more involved game. We enjoyed it a lot but we defiantly were looking for something a lot lighter afterwords.
Year Published: 2022
Recommended Ages: 14+
Time to Play: 30m per player
A copy of 44 BCE was provided to Bert's Tabletop Games by the Gray Forrest Games for review purposes.