Spotlight on Games > War Games > Print and Play > Republic of Carthage
Republic of Carthage: Designer's Notes
Version 1.6 of June 22, 1998
Copyright (C) 1994-1995 Richard M. Heli
Anyone who has played Republic of Rome quickly appreciates its superior design. Not simply for its depth of research and detail and its uncompromising point-of-view, which are already leagues ahead of many designs, but also it offers play opportunities and machinations unique to gaming while still retaining an incredibly real "feel" of the late Roman Republic. As a veteran of many games and especially Internet-adjudicated Republic of Rome games, I dug deeper and deeper into background reading to find out more about the realities behind the wars, statesmen, laws and provinces depicted in the game. I was particularly seized with the discovery that Rome's arch-enemy also possessed a Senate, possibly with similar goings-on. It became clear that there were possibilities to graft this game system into a Carthaginian sphere and from there, the chief goal was to create a reflection of the unique aspects of Phoenician-Carthaginian culture.

As a result, players will find introduced new concepts utterly foreign to Republic of Rome. The importance of trade and the person of the trader are reflected in a new Trade Phase. In addition, Carthage may explore and discover new trade opportunities. A de-emphasis on war is reflected by lowered military ratings on most senators, apart from their star, Hannibal, truly a world-class commander of all time. The other way this de-emphasis appears is in the use of occasionally unreliable mercenary legions and mercenary card intrigue cards. Not much about the day-to-day proceedings of the Carthaginian Senate is known -- it may have been more of a rubber stamp than the Roman one -- but the Committee of Five and their activities are documented. With wealth more derived more from trade than from agriculture, Carthage does not seem to have had the same need for "bread and circuses"; thus there are no land bills or games. Consequentially, popularity is harder to come by. Both games share however a basic tension between the good of the faction or senator and the good of the state and now in addition to deciding how much to contribute to the state treasury, players must consider the appropriate tax rate. Refusal to return trade goods represents an interesting additional method for disruption of the regime. All the Laws included reflect actual laws enacted at some point in the history of the Republic while the various intrigues which affect trade prices are more or less invented simply to throw a little uncertainty into the trade process.

The Combined Game represents a larger time commitment than either game individually, but is recommended for those who want to widen even further the scope for power politics and chicanery. Players may choose to "bet on" one Republic or the other, working against one regime from within, but may find themselves scrambling if a reversal occurs or if someone else manages to take the lead within the winning side. Another interesting way to play this one is using 6-12 players playing one faction only, that is, Roman and Carthaginian groups competing for control of the Mediterranean world. This setup should provide the most realistic simulation of all.

Last update: 22-Jun-98