Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 25 December 2018

Romanes Eunt Domus:- Pandemic Fall of Rome

Game: Pandemic Fall of Rome

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer:  Matt Leacock & Paolo Mori

Year: 2018

Pandemic Fall of Rome is a 1-5 player cooperative game where you take control of Roman leaders and attempt to rally your armies to defend against the raging barbarians before Rome can be overrun. While you could, in theory, kill all the barbarians, life can become a lot easier if you manage to form an alliance with at lease some of them, allowing you to recruit their troops into your legions, even if it doesn't stop them trying to sack Rome...

Pandemic Fall of Rome follows the common Pandemic playstyle: There are 5 colours of cubes, and should you collect enough player cards in their colour then you can ally with that colour, which lowers, though doesn't remove, their threat. However while the grand picture may be similar, the details are all very different. Instead of being able to simply remove cubes, you'll need to bring legions with you. When trying to defeat barbarians you roll 1 die per legion with you (up to 3), each die can vary from 2 dead barbarians to a dead legion with no barbarians killed. Should you ever run out of legions then you'll need to return to/construct a fort to recruit new soldiers from. Legions also serve as a defence mechanism, preventing barbarian cubes being placed in their city, though legions die when then do this, so you have to keep your defensive line well maintained.

The game board, armies of barbarians advance on Rome via different routes. Though there are some crossovers where you might consider placing  fort and some troops...

Each player has a unique leader who provides a special player power, these are all extremely potent forcing players to diversify their playstyles in order to best match their powers. Even in combat one of the die rolls triggers a special ability, some characters gain strong bonuses when this happens, but others lose their own troops as much as they defeat barbarians. These unique player powers help keep the game fresh as each one plays differently, but also each combination will have different capabilities too. Events have received a shake up, with all event cards now giving a choice: you can play it normally for a weak version of the event, or you can cause a point of decline (Fall of Rome's equivalent to outbreaks) in order to gain a stronger variant. Of course too much decline and you lose the game, so how much you want that more powerful event is up to you!

The player powers feel very significant this time, and the events now pack a real punch, if you want to pay the cost.

Pandemic Fall of Rome definitely feels like a Pandemic game. The basic formula shines through even with the new twists added. There is certainly a bigger emphasis on pushing your luck this time round with the dice rolling and hazardous events. This, combined with cross-board travel being harder, makes you weigh each decision that bit more carefully. I really enjoy the unique player powers, each difference is major, while everyone can do everything to some extent there are some characters who really shouldn't be fighting if there is another choice etc. The addition of eradication as an end game trigger is also welcome, no-longer can you reach a point where there aren't enough cards to cure the last disease. If they won't join you, beat em' as the saying goes...

Overall, Pandemic Fall of Rome is a great version of Pandemic, but it does simply feel like just another Pandemic. Sure this one has dice rolling and a military theme, but if you don't like Pandemic then Pandemic Fall of Rome won't change your mind. Some of the new mechanics could feel a touch clunky (such as where barbarians could invade), but in general I approved of the changes. In particular the new events and the option to win by killing all the barbarians you aren't allied with create a more dramatic game with desperate last gambits to push barbarians back where they came from. Would I recommend this or the original? Certainly Fall of Rome shows the advantages of the 10 years between the two, the art design and game design have both improved in that time. It is a little more complicated, but for the gamer in your life Pandemic Fall of Rome is the superior version of the game. As to whether it is better to Iberia... well that's a different story...


Pandemic Fall of Rome was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £46.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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