Author: Stefan Feld

Publisher: QUEEN GAMES 2005

No. of Players:



Revolte in Rom is the second game from QUEEN GAMES' new series of small games which I was able to playtest. The game is a two-player game which leads the players back to the age of Ancient Rome, to a time were different factions of Roman citizens were warring for dominance over the capitol.

The game is essentially a cardgame where the players build up their forces by placing cards in front of them. Two kinds of playing cards exist in the game - personalities and buildings - and at the beginning of the game all cards are mixed into one deck from which each player receives four random cards. Both players now may keep two of these cards, whereas the other two cards are handed over to their opponents so that both players still have a starting hand of four cards. On the table between the players a row of eight action-markers is placed. Six of these markers show a dice displaying numbers from "1" to "6", the seventh marker shows a hand with cards and the eighth some coins. These markers are arranged in a row between the players, with the marker showing the hand with cards on one end and the marker showing the coins on the other. Each player now places his four starting cards face down on his side of the row of action-markers next to some action-markers showing the dices. Here the rule must be observed that no player may place more than one card next to any action-marker on his side of the row. Once both players have placed their cards, all cards are revealed and the players each receive a total of 10 victory points to start the game with.


The game then starts with both players alternately taking turns. In essence, each player's turn is subdivided into three phases which must be played in the following order:

The first phase is the evaluation of unoccupied action-markers. This simply means that the player must return one victory point to the common stockpile for each action-marker which has not been assigned a card on his side of the row of action-markers.

Next comes the rolling of dice. The player receives three standard dice which - once they have been rolled - form his action potential for this round of play. If the player has rolled the same result with all three dice he may opt to re-roll, but he may also decide to keep the result.

The third phase is the most essential phase of the game - the action phase. In this phase the player has the possibility to play cards and to use his action-dice.

  • The playing of cards is an action which does not cost the player any action-dice. However, each card has a price printed on it, and this price the player needs to pay in order to play the card. The played card must be aligned to one of the action-markers on his side of the row, but - as always - the player needs to remember that he may only align ONE card to each of the action-markers. However, a player may opt to replace a card on his side of the row, discarding one card to make space for the new one.
  • One of the options for which a player needs an action-dice is the collection of taxes. For this, the player simply puts one or more of his action-dice on the action-marker with the coins and collects as much money as shown on these dice.
  • The drawing of new cards functions similar. The player just puts one or more of his dice onto the action-marker with the hand of cards and draws a corresponding number of cards. He then may look at these cards, but he may only keep ONE of these cards for each action-dice he has used to draw cards.
  • Finally a player may chose to activate his cards. He does this by placing one or more of his action-dice onto the action-marker(s) with the corresponding number. By doing so, he actives the card which has been aligned to the marker and he may use the card's special powers.

As might be guessed, the activation of the various special powers of the cards is the central element of a player's strategy. A total of 17 different personalities and 8 different building cards exist in the game, but while one card - the Forum - exists six times, most other cards exist just two times. The powers of the cards are various: the Master Builder allows the placement of buildings without having to pay their costs, the Counsellor the re-arrangement of cards, the Consul the changing of a dice-roll etc. Two types of cards which need especial mentioning are the Forum and the military cards. The Forum is a central meeting place in Rome, and for gaming purposes it was made most essential for the collection of victory points. Thus, whenever a player spends an action-dice to activate the Forum, he may place an additional dice on the Forum and turn the value of this dice into victory points. The effect of the Forum even can be strengthened by additional buildings like a Basilica or a Temple which allow the collection of additional victory points on a neighbouring Forum, and so the building of a Forum might become quite important for a player's strategy.

As indicated, there also exist military cards like a Legionnaire, a Centurion or an Onager (catapult) the activation of which allows a player to attack cards of the other player. These cards vary in so far as each of these cards has a restricted choice of opponents, so that a Legionnaire only may attack a card which has been placed at the same action-marker whereas an Onager only may be used against buildings. Combat itself is resolved by a rather simple procedure: the attacking player rolls a dice and compares the result of his roll with the defence-rating of the attacked card. If the roll is equal or higher than the defence-rating, the attacked card is considered to be destroyed and must be discarded.

The game ends in one of two possible ways. One option is that all victory point markers from the common stockpile have been used up. In this case the player who has caused the game to end still will receive the full amount of victory points for his last action and then the game will be won by the player with most victory points. However, since there also exist possibilities which allow a player to take victory points from his opponent there also is the chance to win by taking ALL victory points from the other player. Thus, a player ho has lost all victory points automatically will be considered to have lost the game.

Revolte in Rom actually served to strengthen the rather good impression which I got from the new QUEEN GAMES small games series after testing Turbo Taxi. Although the game sometimes reminded me a bit of the Settlers of Catan Cardgame, these similarities do not stand a closer scrutiny. The playing techniques and tactics applied by the players are rather different in Revolte in Rom because of the much faster replacement of cards in a player's display, and I especially liked the use of the action-markers in combination with dice for the activation of cards. This way the players not only will have to decide whether to play a card at all, but they also will be obliged to determine to which action-marker they should align the newly placed card. Here several factors will need to be taken into consideration: the value of the action-marker, the possibility of an opposing military card, the replacement of an older card etc.

Due to the variety of cards available the players will need one or two games to grasp the full strategic possibilities of the game, but once they are familiar with all the rules they will discover that Revolte in Rom is a well-constructed, rather balanced an entertaining cardgame which offers much playing fun for just two players. Luck certainly plays a certain role in the game, but it is not outweighing strategy since - beginning with the drawing of the starting hand of cards and the exchange of cards - the players are able to keep a good degree of control over their own fate. Last but not least, much effort has been put into an atmospheric design of the cards, so that the outer appearance as well as the playing mechanisms themselves stand for the high quality of the game. I really can recommend this game as being a real alternative to the titles in KOSMOS' quite successful series of two player games.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2005 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Trier, Germany