Author: Stefan Feld

Publisher: QUEEN GAMES 2009

No. of Players:



Rome is still in turmoil!

Indeed, four years after the initial release of the two player dice and cardgame Revolte in Rom QUEEN GAMES once again has sent Stefan Feld on a field research of these dangerous times, and as a result the players now can witness that the fratricidal war between the different Roman factions has not subsided. Instead, the leaders of the factions now are resorting to new, helpful means in order to pursue their aims, and all this can be experienced in the new game Arena - Revolte in Rom II.

If you should not be familiar with the basic game of Revolte in Rom I would strongly recommend to you to check out MY REVIEW of the game, since the initial, easy to understand rules have not seen any major changes. The game mechanics still are based on activating cards through the use of dice, but with the special twist that it is the players who decide which card is aligned to which result when the card is played and placed in front of the players. So, in essence the new game does not change the gameplay, but instead it introduces a total of 15 new personalities and 16 new buildings, and each of these cards now introduces new special powers which the players might use to further their aims. A minor adjustment was made to the initial setup by giving the players an additional fifth card for their starting hand, but this adjustment is due to the - in comparison to the basic game - increased number of different cards so that the players retain a chance to get some matching cards for the early stages of the game.

The variety of cards included in Arena is even bigger than the total of 25 different cards which were included in Revolte in Rom, and during gameplay the new cards revealed a slightly more interactive and variable character than the cards which were available so far. Of course, some military cards are included which allow different kinds of attacks on cards lying in the other player's display, but quite a few other cards also take cards lying either in the player's or the opponent's display into account. Examples for interactive cards are the Magister who can use the power of the opposing card of the other player, the Philosopher or the Cavalry who temporarily downsize the other player's hand of action dice or force him to discard his Forums, or the Scout who allows a player to spy the opponent's hand of cards and steal one of these.

The players also can experience some additional freedom in the use of their dice, and this either happens through the use of cards like the Via Cassia which allows the activation of a card either left or right to the Via Cassia, or by placing a card adjacent to the new "bribery" action marker. This marker has been introduced as an addition to the eight action markers know from Revolte in Rom, and a card placed next to the marker can be activated through the use of any dice, but with the restriction that the card only can be used once per turn and that the player has to pay the amount indicated by the used dice to the bank for the activation.

The strongest point about the new game is that its components can be used in multiple ways while at the same time the complexity of the rules is not increased. Since both sets can be played separately, newcomers best can learn the game principles by playing either Revolte in Rom or Arena - Revolte in Rom II, but the challenge can be expanded considerably by using the components of both games together. This combination of both games not only enlarges the possibilities for good card combinations, but at the same time the cards of both games complement each other which results in a slightly more balanced play. A good example here is the Trader card which could have devastating effects in the basic game if a player with the Trader followed a strategy of a "hostile buyout", but now the new game contains cards like the Oxcart which guarantees a minimum level of victory points to a player at the beginning of each turn, and this makes the Trader-approach much more difficult.

Another interesting angle can be chosen by allowing each player to play with his own deck of cards, and this modus either can be enjoyed by giving one player the Revolte in Rom cards whilst the other player receives the Arena-deck, or the ultimate experience can be found if both players agree on playing with pre-constructed decks (which requires two sets of both games and preparation time for deckbuilding). All these variants are explained in just a few lines, and whereas other games need major rules adjustments and explanations for running such a multitude of variants, Arena - Revolte in Rom II offers a rather unpretentious, elegant way to enjoy the game from different angles. In fact, the stepwise increase of playing complexity and the deck construction strongly reminded me of some collectible card games, but to my mind the Revolte in Rom-duo is stronger because of the combination of cards and dice and the attractive price of both games. Why should anyone catch the collection fever when all you need is included in two small boxes?

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

[Gamebox Index]


Copyright © 2005 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany