In Action Point 1, we examined the Raid Command available to the Scotti and Saxon factions and in Action Point 2 , we looked at the Foederati and how they can affect the game for the good, and also to the detriment, of the Romano factions the Dux and Civitates. In this Action Point, we will look at some of the very well done events on the Epoch Cards that add to the thematic and historical flavor of the time period.
What are Epoch Cards? Epoch Cards are used to mark the end of a round where a series of Event Cards have been played. This round is referred to as an Epoch, and is a very fancy word used to simply denote a period of time, usually with some notable events or particular characteristics. There are both Early and Late Epoch Cards that are determined randomly based on what scenario is being played.
Typically, there are a predetermined amount of cards that will appear in each Epoch, ranging from 6-9 cards as during set up, you typically mix in an Epoch Card with the last 2 Event Cards in any given Epoch and place those three shuffled cards on the bottom of the deck. Each COIN Series game uses some form of this type of round ending card. In Fire in the Lake, it was Coup! cards, in Liberty or Death, it was Winter Quarters cards, etc. These cards though in Pendragon, serve a slightly different purpose. Sure they mark the end of a round (Epoch) and start the players on the path of going through the very structured Epoch Round, where players gain resources, can lose Foederati and can see infighting where one faction can steal resources from their “partner” faction, but they also have a special Event that must now be taken. I really like these events and enjoy their addition to the game as it adds to the already deep and immersive historical experience of playing this game. I want to take a look at one of the cards and show you what is so interesting about them.
We will take a look at Epoch Card #82 titled Rhiotamus. This card is one that benefits the Dux and is based upon the British military leader Riothamus, who was active circa AD 470. He fought against the Goths in alliance with the declining Roman Empire. He is called “King of the Britons” by the 6th-century historian Jordanes, but the extent of his realm is unclear. Riothamus is a Latinization of the Brythonic personal name *Rigotamos, meaning ‘king-most’, ‘supreme king’ or ‘highest king’. Though it is still a matter of debate, several scholars consider his life to have been one of the possible sources for the King Arthur legend.
In our first play, this was the next to last Epoch Card that we drew in the deck and boy was it a great one for my Dux faction. It was a risk at this point of the game, but one that I knew that I had to take to have any chance at a victory as gaining Prestige with the Dux, which is one of their victory conditions, can be very difficult to accomplish, and the allure of +5 Prestige was just too tempting to pass up.
The Rhiotamus Epoch Card reads as follows:
Contintental Adventure: Dux may select up to 4 Cavalry and up to the same number of Dux (red) Foederati Warbands on the map. If Dux selected any, roll 1d6 and multiply by 2: if result < number of units selected, +5 Prestige; if not, -5 Prestige and Dux removes half (round up) of selected Troops (Cavalry to Casualties). If failed and at Military Dominance, shift to Civilian Dominance.
As you can see, there is some risk involved in this choice. I decided that with only one turn left that I would take the chance as my Dux Prestige was fairly low and if I could only get +5, it would make me have a better chance of winning the game.
So, I surveyed the map and found that I had 3 Cavalry units that were not necessarily helping me all that much as well as 2 Red Foederati that were not that useful at the time. Don’t get me wrong! If I would lose those units, it would be very bad for me so this was a risk. But one that I felt was worth it. So with that and having selected 5 units, I rolled and came up with a very lucky roll of 2. When multiplied by 2, my total result was 4, which was < to the number of selected units which was 5. This allowed me to increase my Prestige by 5, bringing my total Prestige plus Population under Dux control to 15, which made me only 3 shy of reaching my victory condition.
We then played out the final Epoch and came to a Victory Check. No player had both of their factions eclipse their victory minimum so we had to look at what factions had the highest combined victory margins. I came out on top after having a -4 Victory Margin compared to Alexander’s -8. As you can see, the playing the of the Epoch Event Rhiotamus led to my ultimate victory.
I hope that you have enjoyed this series of Action Points taking a look at this fantastic entry into the COIN Series Volume VIII Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain. I could write at least a dozen more of these posts as this game is really that deep and has a lot of neat historical elements that make it stand out from the crowd. Marc Gouyon-Rety has worked very hard on this design and frankly, it shows. Look for a written review from Alexander in the near future (after we get this back to the table soon), but in the mean time, you can check out our initial thoughts after our first play here: Video Review Pendragon