Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sword of Rome

Our all-day gaming session was dominated by a 4-player game of Sword of Rome--GMT's card-driven wargame. I was anxious to play for many reasons--I've always wanted to play a card-driven wargame, I'm interested in the Ancients time period, and there are few multiplayer wargames. It's been marketed as an homage and multiplayer version of the classic Hannibal:Rome vs. Carthage. I've never played that one, so I can't comment on how it compares.
All I know is that I enjoyed myself. The rules and play took a full 7 hours, but I must say it went by rather quickly. As the Greeks, I was fairly isolated from the other three powers, and my only real conflict came in the form of the nonplayer power Carthage. They were activated by the other three players through card play, and then they just came and wreaked havoc on my plans.
As usual we underplayed some aspects, and got others flat out wrong. We made no alliances, we tried no interceptions, we didn't attempt to avoid battle, and we flubbed the rule that Carthage can never attack Italy. That always happens in wargames, though, so no big deal.
The "problem," though, is that this is the sort of game that only gets better the more you play it. Once everyone learns how to play each of the four powers, things will flow better and be even more tense. And then there's the fact that it would be interesting to play the other powers, because each power plays completely different. So where's the problem? Well, go back to the 7 hours of game time, and you get an idea of why I'm hesitant to buy this one. It would absolutely go more quickly the more familiar we were with the game, but you're still looking at 5 hours. And that just doesn't happen very often. So do I pass up this great game because I'll likely rarely play it? Or do I go ahead and get it, and live on dreams, like I do with so many other games? Whatever. In the meantime, I'll happily play this again; but this time I'm going to be tenacious in sending the Trans-alpine Gauls after Cory. Then, victory will be mine.