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Playback: Republic of Rome

Turn 1: An Inauspicious Beginning
The setup complete, play proper begins with one of its scariest aspects: the Mortality Phase. A random chit is drawn and the number is 12. Amazingly this Senatorial family is not currently in play and so nobody is affected.

Darwin earns 3 for his faction leader, 1 for each other Senator and 2 more for his tax farmer. He places all 7 on Fabius the consul since he now has an influence of 10. All of the other players place 6-7 talents face down in their faction treasury just to prevent the consul from persuading away one of their Senators. But each saves at least 1 to place on the faction leader in order to try for a Knight. No one donates to the State.

The State earns 100 and deducts 8 talents to maintain the four legions it currently has. Added to the treasury's existing 100, the State treasury is now at 192.

Now Darwin as the highest ranking in Rome begins his Forum turn. He rolls two dice and gets a 7. This means an event so he now rolls three dice and gets a 10: the infamous Evil Omens. An "ominous" beginning to be sure. First the state pays out 20 talents. In addition, for the rest of the turn, all dice rolls are at –1 except for the initiative roll and persuasion attempts, the latter being +1 instead.

Because of all of the defensive money in faction treasuries, Darwin doesn't try to persuade any Senator. He spends 3 T attempting to try to attract a Knight. Rolling a 4, adding 3 and subtracting 1 for the Omens results in a 6 which is the minimum necessary so the consul now has a Knight. He does not appoint a new faction leader or sponsor games.

Edwin's initiative roll is not a 7 and so he draws a card. It turns out to be the Senator Acilius, who just missed dying. He goes into the forum. Edwin's faction leader has a combined oratory and influence of 6 plus 2 talents available. Against the new Senator's loyalty of 7 this is a differential of 8 - 7 = 1. With Evil Omens in effect, he actually needs to roll a 0 or less on two dice to persuade him to join his faction. As this doesn't seem likely at all without considerable spending from others which doesn't look to be forthcoming, he considers whether to spend 2 trying to get a Knight. With Evil Omens it's not a good time, but he reasons that if he needs money he has two more tax farmers to play later, so he takes the risk. Unfortunately for him, he rolls a 3, fails and ends his turn.

Now Arthur rolls the dice and draws the Senator Plautius. His Senator P. Cornelius Scipio has a combined oratory and influence of 11 against either the new Senator's loyalty of 6 or against Acilius at 7. Acilius is a little bit better, but not signficantly. Arthur decides that he would rather have the better odds. After all, he only succeeds on a 4 (taking into account Evil Omens). So he announces this attempt.

The other players may now interfere by spending out of their faction treasuries. Brian is not too interested in defending this Senator as there is little in it for him. On the other hand, Arthur already has more Senators than anyone else so his getting even more is not a happy prospect. In the end, noting that he has less money than any other player, Brian elects not to intervene while hinting that he hopes someone else will. All of the others reach similar conclusions, consoling themselves that even if he gets the Senator, there is still another one remaining. Arthur rolls a 6 which fails. He then spends 3 talents trying to attract a knight, but rolls a 1 which also fails.

The turn passes to Brian. He rolls a non-seven and draws the First Illyrian War. This war is inactive until attacked or matched and so is placed in the inactive column. The table doesn't mind this war as it's not too difficult and might be a good "tune up" war to get out of the way and create a veteran legion to boot. He spends 1 to attract a Knight and wonder of wonders, rolls a 6 – success!
Illyrian war card

Charles also draws a card. It is the leader Antiochus III. Fortunately his war is not yet present so he is inactive and if his war does not appear before the end of the turn, has a chance to die before even fighting. Charles spends 1 talent to attract a knight, but rolls a 1 which fails.

Now that each player has taken a turn, the sixth initiative is up for auction. Darwin bids 1 for this on behalf of Fabius. Without a lot of money on the table and with Evil Omens still looming over all, nobody else bids.

Darwin gets a card this time and amazingly it's another Senator, Claudius. With three Senators available, Darwin decides to go for Plautius who is still the easiest one. Without spending anything he needs a roll of 5 or less. As the others see him as one of the two leading players, they discuss whether they shouldn't agree to each spend 1 to counteract it, leaving the persuasion number at 1. Darwin has 3 talents he could spend to improve this to a 4, but seeing how things are, decides that that would be throwing good money after bad and gives up the attempt. He then spends the 3 trying to attract another Knight and finds that his investment in the extra initiative is not a complete waste as it works! And the Forum Phase comes to an end.

Players count their votes and totals are as follows:

Arthur: 13
Brian: 8
Charles: 7
Darwin: 8
Edwin: 7

A die roll of 1 fails to dispatch Antiochus who thus remains in play (with Evil Omens a 6 was needed).

Now it's time for Fabius to make the dice roll which constitutes the State of Rome speech. A 1 is being added to this roll due to the Illyrian War which even when inactive is affecting food supplies. However, Evil Omens subtracts 1 so the net modifier is zero. The three dice roll result is 11 which means there is no change in Rome's Unrest level which remains at 0, i.e. the happiest it can be.

Senate in Session

Now Fabius needs to propose two new consuls for the coming year. Before doing so, he requests some general discussion of what the Senate should do in this year so that he can make an appropriate proposal. Arthur points out that he has P. Cornelius Scipio in play and suggests they hit the First Punic War hard now before it can get any worse. After all, the Punic Wars are probably the most difficult to defeat of all the wars Rome faces.

Charles suggests that maybe it's too soon to do that. After all, there are Evil Omens. Instead they should send someone else to defeat the Illyrian War – which shouldn't be too difficult – and thus gain a veteran legion.

Edwin points out that the First Punic War is rated at 10/5/10@ which read right to left means first defeating 10 fleets, then, having at least 5 supporting fleets, 10 armies. At the moment Rome has only 4 armies or legions. Defeating this war will require a major outlay of funds, but the state treasury has only 172 talents in it, meaning it can only afford some combination of 17 fleets and legions.

The discussion rages back and forth. At length Darwin proposes to Brian and Edwin that they form a coalition. Together they have 23 votes which are (just barely) enough to pass anything they want. Brian and Edwin can have the consul positions and decide between themselves who gets which job. Darwin will content himself with the job of Censor.

Arthur strongly disagrees and as Charles isn't getting anything out of the proposed deal, thinks he can get his support. With his tribune he can even make his own proposal if he can only defeat the first one of Fabius. But they don't have the votes. Now Arthur is regretting having played his tax farmer as now he has nothing to trade to either Brian or Edwin to pull them over to his side. Arthur decides to eat his disagreement and plan better next time.

Darwin now proposes Brian's Flaminius and Edwin's Aurelius as the new consuls and asks for Arthur's vote first. He votes no, but does not employ his tribune card to veto. Next is Charles who also votes no. Brian, Edwin and finally Darwin all vote yes, however, so the motion passes, 23-20.

Flaminius and Aurelius receive prior consul markers. Both receive 5 more influence.

Now Brian and Edwin discuss which should be Field Consul, who will actually get to fight the war, and which Rome Consul who will get to go first during the next Forum phase, where unaligned Senators are still available. Brian points out that his Flaminius, with a military of 4 would be the better field command, but Edwin counters that as the war has only a 5 army requirement and only a 3 fleet support requirement without any naval battle needed, it's not so difficult that the difference in military ability is likely to make such a difference. Brian offers to roll dice to decide it, but after consideration Edwin decides that he prefers to be Rome Consul anyway so no roll is necessary. Edwin's Aurelius now presides over the Senate and People of Rome.

The Senate is not able to appoint a dictator since neither the 3 active wars requirement nor the active war with strength greater than 19 requirement are currently satisfied.

Now it is time elect a Censor and and Fabius, as the only prior consul holder not holding a consular office is automatically elected. He receives five more influence, maintaining his position as most influential man in Rome at 15.

Darwin looks about the table to see which Senators may be prosecuted. The players are using a variant rule which provides that current office holders may not be prosecuted, just as it was back in ancient Rome. Thus the possibilities are limited to players who took money from tax farming, which besides Fabius' himself includes Arthur's Quinctius. While tempting, Fabius decides not to try to prosecute this Senator because (1) Rome will probably need the statesman who goes with this Senator and if so it may be important that he not have the negative popularity that results from being prosecuted and (2) it appears that Arthur has little to offer as a bribe to prevent the prosecution.

Control of the Senate returns to Edwin who observes the following. The strength of the Illyrian War is 5 – at this point Arthur interrupts him. Even though his Senator would not be the one to do it, he strongly suggests that the war to hit is not the Illyrian but the Punic War. If at least the fleet portion can be defeated that will make finishing the war a great deal easier. The players discuss this, first from the perspective of odds of success. If the maximum number of fleets were purchased, this would add 17 to Flaminius' 4 vs. 10 for Carthage or a net +7, except that there are Evil Omens so it is +6. Added to an average roll of three dice would result in 6 + 10.5 or 16.5. Anything 14 or higher is a success except that on this war dice rolls of 11, 13 and 14 always fail. These three problem rolls are what Scipio Africanus would have nullified.

It's brought up that these odds are not that great. It's also pointed out that buying that number of fleets would normally have put 51 talents (3 per fleet) into the pockets of the holder of the fleet concession. That's good, say some, because this way nobody gets all that money. That's bad, say others, because there's no way to convince such a person to donate most of that money back to the state. Another issue is that while there is no Manpower Shortage this turn, that event could pop up on the next turn and then the cost to buy fleets will be doubled. Of course we can buy the fleets now says another; we don't have to actually use them. But then you have to pay to maintain them says a third.

The arguments fly back and forth. At length it seems only Arthur and Darwin really want to try the naval battle this year. The others are content to play it safe and hope for the best. As they have the votes, they are able to pass two important proposals. They buy 10 legions and 7 fleets. By the way this earns the holder of the Armaments concession 20 talents (2 per legion). This just happens to be the commander Flaminius, who is then deployed with 3 fleets and all 14 of the legions against the Illyrian War which thus becomes active. Following this, Aurelius declares the Senate adjourned.


Now it is time for Flaminius to make his three dice roll. He has 14 legions plus his 4 military ability giving him a starting total of 18. The war is worth 5 bringing it back to 13. He must avoid the numbers 5 and 17 which cause an automatic Disaster and Standoff respectively. His roll is also reduced by 1 due to the Evil Omens. And the result is... a 14, which means a clean victory without any losses.

The fleets are automatically returned to Rome. Flaminius receives five (+1 since it is an odd number) halved points of influence and popularity, thus becoming the most popular man in Rome, which may come in useful later if the unrest level grows. He can give a better speech than anyone else at the moment. The armies are moved to his card and he converts legion 1 to a veteran legion by turning it over. His card also carries a small veteran legion 1 marker to show that their true allegiance is to him. The slaves taken in this war net 10 talents for the treasury and the war card is discarded.

Now begins the Revolution Phase. Players who have statesman possibilities ask around to see if anyone is holding the statesman they need. Since nobody seems to respond in the affirmative, not much happens. Edwin plays a tax farmer on his Senator Valerius and this part of the phase is over.

In the second part Brian must decide if Flaminius will go into revolt by marching on Rome and attempt to win the game on the next turn. He does have 20 talents on the card and all of Rome's armies so it is something to consider. However, it seems his chances of keeping a large enough army are unlikely and so he returns home peaceably.

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Founding Fathers is a game in the same style set in early America
Thanks for the help of Phil Sauer