Burning Rome

Publisher: SunTsuGames

Designer:  Emil Larsen

Players: 2-4

Time: 15-30 Minutes

  • Please be aware that the components in this preview are all subject to change for the final retail copy of the game depending on the final decisions of the publisher and designer

Burning Rome is a card game for 2 to 4 players that plays at a lighting fast time of 15-20 minutes.  In Burning Rome, you take the role of an aspiring empire battling another on the battlefield.  Choose your empire and prepare for battle with a point system.  Choose the right general, unit and tactic cards to rise above the rest.

The goal of Burning Rome is to deplete your opponent of either their Command Points or Army Strength.  Command Points are action points that allow you to muster units and play cards.  Army Strength is your life points….lose those and you are dead.

To begin Burning Rome, each player chooses their empire and gets the corresponding deck of cards.  Each with their own unique cards consisting of units, generals and tactics.  You will get 45 points to gather your troops.  These can be spent on the cards in your deck, but be aware you will need some for your Command Points and Army Strength, those will also come from your beginning 45 points.

The battlefield should be set in the middle of the table.  The battlefield is made up of three different sections, a middle and a left and right flank.

Play is quite simple.  The first thing you do each turn is either draw one card from your deck or take 2 Command Points.  Then you use your Command Points to play cards from your hand to either the battlefield or to your discard pile if it is a tactic.  When you are done playing all the cards you wish, you will then attack on each section of the battlefield.  Starting with the left and moving to the right.  Add your attack value and compare it to the defender….you either damage their Army Strength or nothing happens.  You can’t attack on an area where you introduce your first unit that turn.

The next player will then take their turn.  Play continues until one person destroys their opponent by depleting either their Command Points or Army Strength.

Positives:

  • This is a pretty simple game to pick up.  I can teach this game in 2 minutes and we are off and running.  Turns, move quick and smooth.
  • Just because this is a simple game to understand that doesn’t mean that it struggles with strategy.  There is a lot of depth in this game, from choosing your units and cards for your deck to deciding which cards to play when and where.  Every turn you will be wracking your brain on how to best utilize the cards in your hand.
  • My favorite mechanism in this game is the unit cards and how the battle system works.  Each card will have values for attack and defense.  Each attack and defense will have two values, one for close quarters and one for ranged.  You can imagine that sword units will have good close quarters attack but weak ranged in both attack and defense.  Each area of the battle field can hold up to 3 cards on each side.  When you play a card to an area that already has a unit, you cover up the ability and the ranged attack and defense value of the existing unit.  When you attack, you add up all the values in each section of the battlefield.  So if the left side has 3 cards in it, the first card, closest to the battlefield and the second card will add their close quarters value while the last card, on top, you will add the ranged value.  Same for the defense side.  I absolutely love this mechanism.  There is so much strategy that is involved with this.  The decisions that need to be made not only during the battle but before the battle even begins are critical.  You don’t want to have all up front guys with no ranged, or vice verse.  It is a really intelligent battle design that I would love to see in larger games!

  • Tons of replayability with tons of options between the different empires and how they play differently.  I could see someone playing this game 10 times with just one empire then moving on to the next, just to try and find those unique combinations.  And since the game plays so quickly, it makes it more likable.

Neutrals:

  • Even though there is a lot of strategy in this game, that doesn’t mean there is no randomness.  This is still a game where you draw cards from your deck and a lot depends on what cards you draw and when.  Normally, this would be a huge negative for me but in this game where your deck is only going to be from 10-15 cards, you can get to those cards a lot easier than a deck of 40 cards.

Negatives:

  • There is a huge learning curve here with all the different empires and knowing their strengths and weaknesses.  If you go up against a veteran player that knows this game in and out, you will get crushed.  There are pre-made beginner decks that you could play for beginners but the game really shines in the deck building aspect as you get an opportunity to customize your empire to suit your play style.

Final Thoughts:

As a person who runs away from strategy card games due to concerns over randomness and being time consuming, I gravitate towards Burning Rome.  The battle system in Burning Rome that Emil Larsen has integrated is so unique and satisfying.  There are tons of things to think about when playing this super speedy game, including your deck, when and what cards to play, how many Command Points you want to spend and you still have to think about what your opponent is trying to do.  I love the way that Burning Rome gives me the tension and tough decision making of a 3 plus hour game that is shrunk down into a quick, smooth 15-30 minute game, all with an extremely unique battle system that hurts my brain….in a good way!  Anyone who likes skirmish war games with a quick play time will love this game.

Burning Rome is on Kickstarter now if this seems like a game that would interest you, check it out at……

– Tim