One Kickstarter game that has brought forth some very strong opinions is Glory to Rome: Black Box Edition.
In Glory to Rome, each player is attempting to help rebuild Rome after the great fire of 64 AD. To do this, you will need the assistance of clientele. Each turn, you will select a role from your hand to play (the roles are Patron, Merchant, Craftsman, Architect, Laborer, and Legionary). After you select your role, each other player has the option to follow you or to "think" (draw cards). When performing the action associated with the role, you may boost the action if you have any more "clients" in your clientele. In order to initially gain these clients, you must perform a Patron action. However, you are limited to your number of clients based on your influence. You gain influence by building buildings - with the Craftsman and Architect roles. Briefly, the Legionary helps steal from your neighbors, the Laborer prepares you for other actions (by putting cards in your stockpile), and the Merchant helps you earn victory points. The game is played until one of the end game conditions is met - either the deck of cards is exhausted, all of the "in town" building sites have been used, or one of the end of game buildings is built (Forum or Catacombs). At that point, whoever has the most victory points wins - unless the game ended because of a Forum, in which case, the person who has the Forum wins!
Glory to Rome is designed by Carly Chudyk. He is also the designer of Innovation. I like to classify his games as "balanced by being broken." Essentially, what I mean by this is that there are cards in Glory to Rome (similarly to Innovation) that are ridiculously powerful. For example, there is a building that doubles the number of clients that you may have, and also lets you add an extra client from your hand during every Patron action. This card is amazing, as it quickly lets you get exorbitant numbers of clients, which then lets you have large bonuses every time any player performs an action. However, there are other ridiculous cards that can come back and stop it. Such as the Colosseum, which allows you to use the Legionary to steal clients from your opponents (instead of cards in their hand) and put them in your vault (this is where you get victory points, and normally putting cards here is a much longer process that requires the Merchant action). So, you are now hurting your opponents and gaining victory points! There are other cards that suddenly allow all of your clients to count twice. Others allow you to take all Jacks (wild cards that you normally get in the "think" action) that your opponents play into your hand. So, there are amazing combinations in the game. But, building one certain building generally doesn't guarantee anyone the victory. Especially (and this is the final one I'll mention) because there is a card that allows you to steal any of your opponent's constructed buildings!
|Typical player board with clients, stockpile and vault|
The next thing that I like about Glory to Rome is that there are meaningful (and tough) choices to make. Every card that you play can be used as an action, as a building, or as material for a building. But, it is very important to decide which way you are going to use any given card. Is it more important to start building a building that gives you an amazing bonus, but that you know you won't complete this turn, or is it more valuable to follow the action being performed by the active player? Would you be better off using that incredibly powerful building to complete the "under construction" structure that you have, or should you keep it so that you can build it next? What makes some of these choices even harder is that keeping a card for later clutters up your hand. When performing a "think" action, you are allowed to draw cards back up to your hand size (generally five), draw a jack, or draw a single card. If you are keeping a card in your hand, then that is one less card that you will be drawing whenever drawing back up to your hand size.
|Very bland artwork|
My only real con for Glory to Rome is that I dislike the artwork. Really, I've played (and owned) both this version of Glory to Rome and the previous IV version, and my complaint has been related to production both times. In the old version, I disliked the box - it was a plastic clamshell container. The art was very cartoonish, and many people disliked it. I really had no problems with it. However, in the Black Box, I felt like the art was all very cheap Clip Art styled images. This con obviously doesn't affect gameplay, but it makes the overall experience of Glory to Rome a bit worse.
Overall, I give Glory to Rome a 9.0/10 (in either edition). I think that the gameplay is wonderful, and I look forward to playing it more and more!
If you want another opinion, check out this Glory to Rome Review on I Slay the Dragon. Some other games somewhat like Glory to Rome, also include Eminent Domain, Puerto Rico, and Race for the Galaxy.
I would like to thank Cambridge Games Factory for providing me with a review copy of Glory to Rome: Black Box Edition.