First off, don't panic. This game has a lot of pieces and complicated rules and understanding it in detail takes a long time. But you need not understand it in detail to play it; this summary is here to get you started and you can learn the details during play. Please understand, however, that you will make a lot of mistakes and will probably lose the first few times.
There are real rules to this game but they are horrible. The problem with them is that they are organized around the sequence of play but the game itself has a structure that's completely independent of the sequence. The way the game works is all mixed up with the phases of the turn. This summary tries to separate sequence from structure; at the very least, it's shorter than the rules.
This game is about becoming the ruler of
You are a faction, which controls senators. In general, you make the decisions for the senators, vote their votes and spend their money. It is possible for other players to steal your senators, and for them to die so don't get too attached. We hate it when players cry. :)
You win by controlling the senator who becomes the
undisputed leader of
While you are playing against the other players, the game is playing against all of you; sometimes it's much better to give stuff to your opponents "For the Good of Rome" than keep it from them and risk Rome's destruction. Keep this in mind when the Barbarians are at the gates.
The goal here is to give you an idea of what's going on, not teach you the game. Ask the experienced players or look in the rules as specific questions come up.
The rules manual has an index/glossary in the beginning but a few words will get you started.
HRAO is the "Highest Ranking Available Officer" -- this is
the biggest bigwig currently in
DR means two six sided dice rolled together.
TRD means three six sided dice rolled together.
You have a card that has the turn sequence laid out in detail; refer to it often.
Put your faith in an experienced player who knows the rules, especially in the beginning. You are going to lose anyway; at least this way you will be able to influence the game.
Each player is a faction. Your faction has loyal senators. It is possible to lose your senators so don't get too attached. Winning means having the winning senator.
The Sequence of Play has a space for the faction treasury. This can be used for certain actions (listed on the card). Each senator in the faction also has a personal treasury that is used for everything else. Most actions are performed by a specific senator and paid for from his personal treasury.
On your turn you may have an opportunity to draw a card from the card deck. There are a lot of different kinds of cards and some of the more interesting types will be discussed subsequently but there are two main types of cards. Cards with red text you can keep in your hand, to be traded or played to your own advantage. Cards with black text must be played face up.
The black-text cards with a bust on the left side are senator family cards. These represent the leading member of a family. Each has a military value (which represents the value of this senator as a military leader), an oratory value (the ability of the senator to persuade), a loyalty value (representing his loyalty to your faction) and influence (which will be increased over time). In the top middle there is a number which represents the number of the family. If the number is in brackets there is a statesman associated with the family.
Red-text cards with a bust on the right side are statesmen. They are typically better than the family senators. The statesmen are played at the beginning of the game and during the Revolution Phase. The statesman is placed on the family card if you have it.
Cards that say "war" on them represent conflicts between
When wars are first drawn they are generally placed in the inactive space on the board.
When the Roman senate sends troops to a war (and in a few other cases) it becomes active and is moved to the Active space on the board.
An active war that doesn't have Roman Legions committed to it is moved to the unprosecuted space on the board.
Wars have strengths associated with them. Typically, they have an army strength and a fleet support value. Sometimes they have a third number associated with them; this is a fleet strength.
To fight a war, one takes the number of Roman units (fleets or legions) committed to the war, adds the commander's military value and subtracts the war value, adds this to a TDR and applies the results from the table on the board.
On two value wars (wars whose cards have 2 strength values), the senate must send at least as many fleets as specified on war card for fleet support. Then the senate can apply as many legions as it wishes and resolve the battle by combat.
If the war has 3 numbers associated with it the senate must fight a fleet battle. Once the battle is won, the card can be treated as a 2 number war card.
During the mortality phase a chit is drawn and the senator with a matching number dies.
Dead cards go into curia until they are revived.
Cards waiting to be assigned by the senate go into the forum.
The amount of money that
Empire would be much easier without people. This is reflected in the game by the population table and the Unrest Level track. The higher the unrest the worse the world is. And the harder it is to make it better.
Your senators can improve the unrest level (and their own popularity) by sponsoring games and land bills.
At the start of your turn you roll two dice. If the result is a 7 then you roll a TDR and apply it to the random events table. This event will stay in effect until the next turn. Otherwise you get to draw a card. Don't roll a seven if you can help it, that's my advice.
Provinces are created from time to time. Each province needs a governor which is assigned by the senate.
Concessions provide income to a particular senator. They are assigned by the senate.
Some of the wars have leaders associated with them. Having a war AND a leader makes the war much harder to prosecute.
Some people like to know the goal right up front. It's a bit complicated so I'm sorry if it isn't clear.
All victory conditions assume
There are four ways for
The turn sequence is on the Sequence of Play card that each player has. The turn sequence is your friend. Read it. Know it. Live it.