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Infothread for THE GROGPUBLIC OF ROME

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JasonPratt:
The promised time approaches.

Friends! Grogs! Too long have our twin-citied mother-hills, who nursed us from our infancy, lain enchained by one despotic king after another! Are we not men? Are we not Romans?! Look at the massive strides across the world taken by those dogs of Achaia, who ruptured fair Troy (from which according to legend our ancestors received the ship of Aeneas)! They flourish with their democracies; we languish with our Superb Tyrant!

No more! -- today we stand to represent all the people of Rome, creating a Republic in defiance of the power of one, warring instead for the benefit of all!

I invite you, O senators appointed for the people, to establish: THE GROGPUBLIC OF ROME!


(click to embiggen)

JasonPratt:
This is the forum game of THE REPUBLIC OF ROME which I've been working on producing, for a few months now.

I anticipate fraternal questions. Should I attempt a FAQ, or collate a video demonstration of three players washing through a setup and first turn? Or just try to give some minimal information necessary to start the game, and explain things as we go once the game starts?

(To download the latest April 2018 copy of the living rules as a pdf, click here to jump downthread. Or go to BGG's Republic of Rome page and mouse around.  :coolsmiley: UPDATE: the link to the rules-post below, now features the Sabrerules doc which I created to run the forum game on.)

As a very quick overview: up to 8 forum members plus myself as the umpire (doing the scutwork and calcs behind the scenes), along with backups in case players have to drop out, would be assigned Factions at the Birth of the Republic; whereupon you'd manage the senators of your faction (including persuading more senators to join your Faction in various ways), and politically cooperate with each other to keep the Republic alive for, hopefully, longer than historically.

The game will be trying to beat everyone by destroying the Republic; and will also be tempting and prodding players into trying to win by yourself alone, by promoting one of your senators into being Consul for Life (i.e. the Emperor). But everyone will win if they can hold out against the various challenges long enough.

There isn't a combat map; this isn't a wargame (although there are a lot of wars to beat). But I'd report various things to the players publicly in this (or perhaps another proper game) thread, and also report a few bits of secret information privately to players using the p-mail system of the Grogheads forum.

Players would be encouraged to chat with each other publicly and privately (via p-mail) to work out deals with each other.

Despite the rules being infamously complicated, most of the _actual gameplay_ by the players doesn't take long to do. And it starts out with many of the game factors locked behind a play-wall, so to speak, being progressively unlocked as various goalposts are passed.


I would be tracking the game on the TTS module I've been working on, and posting relevant screenshots for players along the way, as well as giving reports of what their various choices have wrought (and what the game's system is throwing up at you all).

JasonPratt:
On consideration, perhaps a report of where my "demo" game has gotten to at the end of the first turn, would be helpful in giving ideas about the game.

This player drew the oldest senatorial families in the game, and they created the ARISTOCRAT Faction. (Factions are generated by your randomly drawn first senators; and you'll play the same Faction, but probably not the same senators, all game long.)



Tabletop Simulator hates using its own text labeling tool, so if you zoom in too close it cuts off part of the texts.  :P But anyway.

Fabius there, or his ancestor rather, also randomly drew the first Consulship, but he proceeded to die of old age before he could do anything. At the time, the Aristocrat Player had assigned faction leadership to Fabius, so when he died his family was able to get a new scion immediately elected (senatorial elections happen in the background of the game) -- so the senator respawned, in effect, immediately, with his stats set back to vanilla. The pawn (purple for this player's table color) shows he's still the faction leader, although this Player could have chosen otherwise once already.

With the original temporary-Consul dead, the highest ranking available senator was Cornelius, with 6 influence, but he has foolishly squandered that down to 1 in an attempt at being clever with his proposals in the Senate. (Actually he only dropped to 5, but a neuron in my head wasn't paying attention and I dragged a '1' marker over, because he lost 1 influence from 6 to 5. But the snapshot makes for a more amusing cautionary story!)

The Aristocrat Faction farms influence slowly but steadily along the game, and as long as they have more total influence than any other Faction each "knight" of their senators can cast 2 extra votes instead of a knight's usual 1 extra vote, on any topic pro or con. Senators are the minions of the players; and knights are the minions of the 'visible' senators: they're normally-invisible senators who have joined up to support the visible ones, sometimes bringing along more votes with them from their friends.

This player has drawn a couple of tribunes as faction cards so far: normally these would be hidden from other players, but I'm showing them for illustration. Tribunes can't be played this early in the game so he's holding onto them for later.

He also drew the Statesman Appius Claudius. Statesmen are unique historical senators, who usually have better stats than normal senators, and always have at least one special ability maybe more. But when they die, they discard permanently. The Aristocrat player can't really use Appius yet, because another player has the Claudian family in play.

The counter in the middle right shows the normal number of votes this faction can muster, which is a sum of all the senators' Oratory skill plus the number of knights. The Aristocrat faction was able to persuade a knight to join Claudius, so they do get that extra vote; but at the moment their influence isn't the best in the game so the special knight ability doesn't trigger.

Cornelius, as the highest ranking official at the time, gave an impressively sucky speech to the people about the state of the Republic to start the senate, and significantly raised the unrest level. If the players and their senators cannot manage the expectations of the people, the population will riot and murder the senate, losing the game for everyone!

After opening the senate, and nominating some other senators as the two Consuls this year, the Aristocrats didn't accomplish anything else this turn. They've had a bit of a bad run, but they're still in the game with 6 normal votes and 9 total influence. Also (in the very far upper right near "Faction Treasury") they're the only faction which still has 1 talenton in their treasury! -- but none of their senators have any personal cash.

JasonPratt:
This player's two random starting senators had the highest remaining military skills, and so made him the MILITARIST Faction.



The Militarists don't get more than the usual extra vote for each knight; but each knight does increase his patron senator's military skill! Military skill allows senators to make legions or fleets up to twice as effective -- it's a managerial, logistic skill really. I'll show an example later. The Militarists also gain a little extra popularity and influence from defeating wars. So they're set up to be very attractive choices for the senate to vote to send off in command of an army -- thus gaining more than usual influence and popularity that way!

That's what has happened here, in fact. The Militarist player drew two starting faction cards which he could play, one of which was the senator Cincinnatus. He isn't on the mat right now, because the players elected him as Field Consul and sent him off to fight against the final Roman king, Tarquinius Superbus. Which means he isn't in Rome now, and so cannot contribute to the Militarist's normal vote count or influence total.

The Militarist Player also randomly drew a special starting Statesman card which he played on Claudius (whom he chose as faction leader for now), buffing his lackluster 2 Military skill up to 4. They were able to persuade a knight to join Julius as his minion, too, which will effectively increase his military skill to 5 in a battle.

The Militarists are dead broke right now, with nothing in the factional treasury or the senators' personal treasury. But they do have 7 votes and 8 total influence, even without Cincinnatus in Rome.

The Militarists are also responsible for Cornelius of the Aristocrats losing a point of influence, when he proposed Cincinnatus and Fabius (the other Aristocrat senator) as Consuls. The Aristocrat though the Militarist would agree to the vote, but the Militarist surprised him by voting against it -- and naturally so did the 3rd player of the demo. Cornelius had to decide whether to take the hit in influence or cede his Presidency, which would have gone to Fabius (his faction compatriot) but for demonstration purposes I had him take the influence loss of a point.

We'll see how Cincinnatus of the Militarist faction did against Tarquinius soon. But first the final player of my demo.

JasonPratt:
This player's random starting senators had the largest remaining total of influence -- and he was also just the last remaining player -- so they created the Republic's third faction, THE PLUTOCRATS!



While you can see they have no cash remaining in their faction treasury, Valerius has 5 talentons of silver and Manilus has 1. He had another 5, but he used it to buy a knight as his minion, and it won't take long for that investment to pay off because all knights earn 1 extra talent for their patron and Plutocrat knights earn double! The Plutocrats also start the game with one knight, which this player assigned to Manilus (also the faction leadership), so he's the only senator with 2 minions yet. Moreover, the Plutocrats are the only faction in the game to start with 2 talents already in the faction treasury. So they get a nice starting boost, which a careful (and lucky) player can parlay into an ongoing income advantage. But his knights won't ever bring more than 1 extra vote per knight.

(Every Faction has special abilities that the players can use to hack the game.  >:D )

Valerius got elected the Roman Consul, so he's the current Highest Ranking Available Officer in Rome -- also he ended the Senate as the Presiding Magistrate (both of which I marked for convenience beneath his card, but I haven't gotten around to erasing the PM yet.) Unless he dies during the Mortality Phase of Turn 2 (which is unlikely) he'll be giving the next State of the Republic speech to open the Senate next turn, and he'll be responsible for nominating replacement consuls for himself and Cincinnatus: no Consul can serve two terms in a row.

The Plutocrat player was lucky to draw a Concession (most of which aren't playable yet) for Harbor Fees, which he assigned to Valerius, earning the Faction an extra 3 talents per turn. (Concessions can and eventually will be lost, whereupon the senate can vote who gets them next.) Earning cash from concessions opens a senator to charges of corruption, but this early in the game no one can prosecute for that yet. I've left his corruption marker on his concession by accident I MEAN FOR ILLUSTRATION but it ought to be gone now because he got through the Senate Phase without investigation.

This player also drew one of the Tax Farming Concessions, but he can't play it yet because the Republic's territory isn't large enough. So he's holding onto it for later -- or as a bargaining chip perhaps.

Lastly, the Plutocrat player drew a Marriage Intrigue, which will give him protection against counter-bribing if he tries to persuade an unattached Senator to join the Plutocrats.

The Plutocrat player is unarguably the strongest faction of the game right now, with no less than 12 total influence, and 6 normal votes (even though neither of those senators is all that great with Oratory), plus some personal cash still to burn which he's carrying over into Turn 2. Plus as the HRAO, he gets to go first around the table when players take rounds to make choices -- so if a new family Senator shows up in the Forum next turn, he'll get first crack at him! -- and will likely have the cash, and the marriage offer, to snap him up!

At which point he'll also be the chief likely targets of plots by the other players.  ::)

So, how's the War going meanwhile...?

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