Gauls Gone Wild: Thoughts on Sword of Rome
My brain is still sizzling from last night's journey through the annals of ancient Rome, but I would offer the following observations. First, a little introduction. Brian (Rome), Rob (Greece), Jon (Gaul), and I (Etruscans, Samnites) played GMT's card-driven wargame, Sword of Rome. This was all of our first time playing and, being a weeknight, we limited ourselves to the 6-turn short campaign scenario. What followed was a game where everyone desperately fought for the lead, with the yellow jersey changing hands many times throughout the game. A highlight mid-game was when the Romans appeared to be taking a dominant lead. All three other players teamed up and knocked Rome practically back to the stone age of last place. The sneaky Greeks, idling away in their peaceful resort of Sicily, having soundly beaten Carthage, waded ashore late in the game with some hired elephants and stomped their way to final victory.
- While the political support mechanics are pretty fiddly, the game isn't as complex as I thought it would be after reading the rules. I think we had the game down pat by the end of our first play.
- Combat is brutal! Unless you are desperate, you want a solid 2-1 or better advantage before going in to battle. Losing is disastrous, especially for the slow breeding Etruscans and Samnites! I became overly agressive early in the game, lost 2-3 critical battles along with most of my military and spent the last two thirds of the game focusing on diplomacy and backstabbing rather than good honest killing.
- I do feel a bit bad for my part in orchestrating the three-way beat down of the Romans. I suppose it is historically accurate, though, since the Etruscans were the architects of a Latin alliance against the Rome.
- I should have thrown a few more nasty cards towards the Greeks. I wanted to keep Rob off the Samnites back, but I think he might have tolerated just a little more poking.
- Rob deserves his solid win. My last turn moves were a bit sub-optimal and my attrition roll cost me a VP, but even fixing these issues wouldn't have allowed me to catch Rob. I think the key is never to get too busy in Italy to forget what Greece is up to...
- Brian played the Romans probably as good as they could have been played. He garrisoned all his cities perfectly; had his colonies popping up; and at his zenith was cranking out legions like a Dark Lord breeding orcs from the pit. Only three people ganging up on him kept him from running away with it.
- The T-Gauls weren't as much of a factor as I would have hoped. This may have been due to Jon's excellent play of the Gauls, but they never did cause much of a distraction for him.
Okay, that's enough for now. We need to play again!