Republic of Rome forum game

Salvete senatores!

Near 500 long years have passed since the founding of our glorious city. Some 240 since the tyrant Tarquinius the Proud was overthrown and our ancestors founded this great Republic. Senators, the future of Rome is perfect! Soon we will have gained sway over almost the entire peninsula of Italia; our traditional foes are defeated, their lands our own.

And yet our erstwhile allies of Carthage and the sleeping giant of Greece eye our growing power with concern. The years ahead still hold perils for Rome. Our great republic has seen off all threats so far; it will continue to do so under the wise and benevolent leadership of your noble selves, with Gnaeus Tullius Iucundus as consul to guide you. Vote Tullius!

The Republic of Rome is a political board game charting the rise and probably the eventual fall of the Roman Republic, starting around the time of the first Punic war. Players represent factions in the senate, growing the popularity and influence of their senators and working with their rivals for the benefit of Rome, and of course for their mutual enrichment.

No holds are barred in these ancient politics. Bribery, assassination, seduction, rebellion. All may play their part.

But there are many threats to the Republic. Players must work together to keep the people happy and to raise legions and fleets to defeat Rome’s enemies. If they cannot put aside their rivalries for this task, the game will end quickly in defeat for all. But the risk of a popular conquering general returning in triumph and raising arms against the senate is a real concern. And at the same time a chance for victory for the faction he supports.


These are rules in the old wargaming style, full of Rule 1.07.311 and the like. In short: complicated, not particularly well laid out and replete with special cases. The game itself actually plays pretty simply once you’ve understood the gist of it.

There are two main phases in which players make decisions.

During the Forum Phase, players attempt to grow their faction by persuading senators and equites to join them and may sponsor games to grow their popularity while placating the people.

But the meat of the game is the Senate Phase where players vote for the senators to lead the session, then vote on the motions they put forward. These will disburse Rome’s resources, to deal with problems or, as ever, to boost the standing of individual senators.

There are a couple of adaptations necessary to make this playable as a forum game, both relating to timing in the Senate Phase.

  • Tribune cards allow players to propose a motion, otherwise restricted to just the presiding magistrate. In the board game, this is done on a first to shout basis. Here it’s best done by letting the moderator know you want to play a tribune at any point during the previous motion. Then the moderator selects one of these players.
    The exception to this is tribunes played to interrupt a vote that will end the senate phase, which should be played on the player’s turn to vote.
  • Assassination attempts can interrupt the flow of voting, removing some of a player’s votes before they can be cast - but not after. We can’t hang around waiting to see if anyone wants to conduct an assassination before each player votes, that would quickly grind to a halt. Instead, I feel it’s best to allow players to assassinate after a vote is cast but not after the end of the entire motion. This should not be abused to only attempt an assassination if you’re losing the vote; ideally players will register an intent to assassinate with the moderator before it gets as far as the vote of the senator they wish to kill. Handily assassinations aren’t that common a tactic, even in ancient Rome: they come with no certainty and a very significant penalty.

Our players for this game are @Navaronegun, @Juan_Raigada, @scottagibson, @Panzeh, @CraigM, @Kolbex, which makes up the full 6. A warning that this will be a significant commitment of time. Not on any particular day, but the game may last a while. Hopefully we can keep it moving along at a fair rate though.

For advanced rules, I’m open to suggestions. My proposal would be to play with 2.05 Advocates and 2.06 Passing Laws, both of which add flavour but only very limited complexity.

For scenario, my preference is to play it by ear a bit. To start in the early republic, when Rome is under most threat, and see how quickly we progress. If players want to be done with the game, we’ll decide in plenty of time before the end of an age and stop then (assuming the game doesn’t end before that point, anyway). If not, we can play until there’s a winner or until all three decks are exhausted.

I’ll open up the floor now for questions and discussion about the rules and their implementation. Of particular interest is how much secret communication we’re expecting there to be. Playing face-to-face, you’d always know who was talking to whom, if not the content of their discussion. And there would be plenty of pressure not to continue negotiations for days on end. I don’t want to prevent all secret discussions: that would rather defeat the point of the game. But I also don’t want them to dominate communication as that would be a dull game for the spectators. It would also be bad if one very active layer had a big advantage over those with less time on their hands.

I’ll read the rules and comment. In general, for forum games, I like using most advance de rules.

Regarding secret negotiations: I think prodding a player to commit his action will make them not take too long. There’s social pressure in the forum, or at least there could be.

I’ve played a few games of Empires in Arms, and others that require back-room negotiations before PBEM, and I recommend let it ride. Someone who gets burned will vent publicly and have ‘documentation” and go public. Which will be fun, and hilarious. As well, the constant speculation in-thread will be hilarious.

Having sid all that, 2 games of EIA I played had a moderator who was cc’ed on all Diplomtic communications. That might allow you to share some atmospheric “color” and shadings with “Rumors in the forum and on the streets of Rome”. iDK, though, you’d have to be quite judicious.

@CraigM, do you want in? Or is it not a good time?

Definitely interested. I’ll be traveling in a few weeks, but if I’m not administering it should be doable.

I see the auspices are aligned.

I will play the 100% historical role of Chief Peanut Gallerist. I have an MA in history, how dare you say I am making this up?!?

I’m just happy we’ve gone 15 minutes without somebody picking holes in my Roman history. :)

The dark ages were not as backwards as people pretend, and the loss of the Roman Republic did not cause civilizations collapse. Merely the loss of large scale public infrastructure projects.

Ha, take that Imperial daydreamers!

Actually, most of what passes as roman history was made up as a response to the rise of the contemporary tragedies in 15th century Italy. However, due to the large investments in the IP, they kept adding to it. Too big to fail, indeed.

It’s also worth commenting that the presiding magistrate calls in what order the players vote and, in particular, when they must vote. While this can’t work directly in a forum game - the player isn’t always around to vote when called - it can be used to a certain extent to force a player to vote without completing further extensive negotiations.

Yeah, one of the things that’s gonna be tough to do in a forum game is showing off the power of the HRAO during voting by manipulating the order of people voting.

2.01 seems a no brainer, since it adds little complexity.

The other 3 I really feel will add a lot of flavor (mostly rebel governors, but they come with provincial wars attached), but not having played the game, I defer to you on the appropriateness of their inclusion.

I was a History Grad School dropout who ran to International Studies (where, at the time, you could do some actual political and military history as the Social Historians and “Blank” Studies movements were purging us for grant money….ahh…the good old days…).

Fair warning, I’ll be taking the “Liberty Valence” approach to Roman History. It’s more fun anyway.

I agree. i like them all, including Rebel Governors, but my woryy with that one in particular is the added complexity/time? Thoughts? I also posit that the only other real complex ones are Advocates and Provincial Wars. I like the first, and think it adds some color for minimal extra complexity/time? Thoughts?

I think we should decide Provincial Wars nd Governors as a set. Keep both, or do away with both.

I’ll be lurking here. Found the original version on my shelf for games. Looks like it survived the Great Game Purge from a long time ago at my house. Tried to play it once solo many moons ago but never finished the game. Looking forward to seeing how it goes with you guys.

Well, governors can only be used with provincial wars, and provincial wars without rebel governors might not be worth the hassle.

But let’s let the veterans weight in.

Yeah, I have played this a few times, but not in the last 15 years. I think the Provincial Wars/Governors May significantly add to the bookeeping for limited gain. I really like the chrome though.

I’m not hugely fond of provincial wars/governors myself. It’s not too bad in a forum game but I don’t think they add a ton, IMO.

Uh, is there still room for one more? I own this game but have never convinced anyone to play it.