Publisher: Cambridge Factory
Glory to Rome is a really good card game with a fairly high degree of complexity due to card variety. I admire Chudyk’s ingenuity in designing an interactive and relatively meaty game from just a deck of cards and nothing else. I have enjoyed his more recent designs such as Red7 and not surprisingly, Glory to Rome hits all the right spots.
Players use cards in their hands either as buildings, raw materials or as characters. It is a tough decision most of the time trying to decide what to use and when to use. It is not immediately obvious to me how to allocate the resources in the most efficient manner but a specific plan is required to win based on your opening hand since the game is not all that long and can end abruptly with a few building cards. This means maximizing card play is important and not starting too many buildings which cannot be completed. This is a good thing since it increases variability and also playability. If each game mapped out in the same way, the game would start to bore.
The authors clearly were inspired by Puerto Rico and San Juan as the action selection and multi-use cards can be traced back to the two games. Because everyone is involved each turn with action selection, the turns are brisk and everyone is constantly engaged. This is such a huge selling point since you are always eagerly awaiting your turn but must remain attentive to others.
There are a few annoyances which more reflect the general nature of card games. Like a lot of complex card games, draw of the luck can determine your fate. If you are building blue buildings but cannot draw or take in blue cards, it really hampers your ability to complete a building. Since Jacks can’t be raw materials, you are stuck with the building you started until you are able to collect the necessary raw materials. Because the overall range of scores in the end is quite low (in the 20s’), any misstep or luck of the draw can swing the game. In general, the game has several ways that you can compensate for card draw, but because the game is relatively short and the points scored are low, the issue of luck becomes slightly more prominent. Next, like most build-your-tableu card games, it is important to know what your opponents have built or started building. This particularly true for game ending buildings or defensive structures. It is too hard to constantly pay attention to other tableus and so I think announcing the structures when you build them is necessary. All of this is open information anyways, so there is absolutely no reason to score a cheap victory that way.
There has been a lot of hoopla on the design and packaging. Yes, the packaging could be better, but the first few print runs were truly self published and weren’t mass produced in a way. Plus the price point matched production. You can’t fault the designer for not going all in on first few print runs. Given the controversy, I understand the expectations to be higher on subsequent prints. As for the art, I think it could be better but it barely influenced my opinion of the game. It is adequate and the cartoon nature is actually a good counterpoint to the complexity of the game. In fact, I love the cartoon design over the black box abstract art KS edition. So yes, count me neutral on this issue. I am perfectly happy with the first edition cartoon. The print copies published in Europe comes with more fanciful art but I think the first edition still has the vibrant and popping primary colors that I like.
Glory to Rome deserves the accolades and rave reviews. Luck of the draw not withstanding, the game is short, interactive, engaging and fun! I know Glory to Rome is now impossible to buy without burning a hole in your wallet but playing Glory has made me want to try more of Chudyk’s designs. It makes me regret selling Innovation before getting to play it and makes me want to play Mottainai and get Impulse.
Initial impression: Good / Great (02/2020)
Game remains fun and with lots of crazy synergies. Even if you fall behind in influence, a come back is always possible with the sudden death cards. For players who aren’t experts or who don’t play this often enough, a house rule should be made about announcing a sudden death card when it is being built. Otherwise, you might sneak an unannounced victory which may seem undeserved. However, once everyone is familiar with the cards, a sneaky victory might actually be half the fun!
Home made copy of Glory to Rome