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GLORIA MUNDI

Reviewed by Chris Kovac

(Ravensburger/Rio Grande Games, 2-6 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes; $44.95)

 

When the Goths started coming, the Romans starting fleeing to the safety of Africa. This is the basic theme for the game Gloria Mundi by James Ernest and Mike Selinker, essentially a racing game with lots of resource/card management. The goal of the game is to be the first to reach Africa or be furthest ahead when the Goth reaches Rome.

The board consists of a map of Italy and the surrounding area with two distinct game tracks both meeting in Rome in the center of the map. The Northern track (tribute track) is to keep track of the Visigoths movement and his tribute demands while the Southern track is used to keep track of the players’ movement towards Africa (‘flee’ track).
gloriamundi
At the start of the game, you place you player marker on Rome and the Visigoth marker at the start of the tribute track. Next you are given a set of resource cards (numbers differ depending on the number of players) showing farms, peace (people) and gold (cities). You play one set face up for each player and give them one set of resources (green squares – farms, white rectangles – peace and gold circles – gold) which you put behind your player screen since resources are kept secret during the course of the game. Your turn consists of a playing a resource card/buying building cards phase then a tribute phase.

In the playing/building phase you first turn over a new building card and put into the building track along the bottom of the board, moving any cards on the track down one space (or off if in the last place). Then you decide to play a resource card from your hand adding it to those you already have face up. All the cards of this resource type owned by any player will produce a resource token (starting with the start player) for them this turn. Furthermore if a building card is associated with a resource card you can either get the basic resource or use the buildings special abilities (more on this later). Now you can buy a building card if you have enough resources to meet those on the card plus any additional number of resource markers due to the cards position on the build track (from five down to 0 from left to right). The only catch about buying a card is that is must be pared with appropriate resource (green cards with green resources, etc.) unless it is an red engineer card which can be pared with any resource card. If you do not have the right resource card you cannot buy the card. Buying a building card allows you to advance a number of spaces on the flee track and will give you special abilities on future turns. These special abilities range from exchanging one type of resources for another, getting extra resources, getting glory tokens or even moving on the flee track. Sometimes you get more than one ability. The red engineer cards can either be walls which protect specific resources or give you discounts on building card costs. The symbols on the cards can be very confusing and even the rule book did not always explain them too well. After this phase you go onto the tribute phase.gloriamundiboard

In the tribute phase, the Goth figure moves forward unless you pay the resource(s) shown on the next empty tribute space. Initially this is one resource but some of the later spaces require up to three different resources. Tribute paid is placed on the appropriate space and the Goth stays where he is and play proceeds clockwise to the next player. If you cannot or refuse to pay the required tribute, the following happens.

First the Goth moves to the last place on the tribute track where tribute was paid. If no tribute was paid on the last turn, it moves forward one space. Starting with the player who did not pay the tribute, the appropriate resource cards have to be destroyed one at a time per player representing the Goths pillaging. So if people have paid tribute for a number of spaces a significant number of buildings can be wiped out. Any building associated with that resource is destroyed. Special engineering cards called walls may be discarded instead as a protection for certain resources. So once all the appropriate resource cards have been destroyed then again, starting with the player who did not pay the appropriate tribute. each player can pick up one of the now “free” resources from the paid tribute. Once all of the tribute has been picked up, the game resumes with the next player.

The game can end in one of three ways:

1. A player reaches Africa. This player wins automatically.
2. The Goth reaches Rome in which case whoever has moved furthest down the flee track wins.
3. A player runs out of resource cards in which case, again, whoever is furthest down the flee track wins.

The game ends up being a resource management game where you try and build up enough resources to buy the more powerful building cards so you can advance the most on the flee track. The main strategy is building up a good resource base in order to purchase the various building and people cards to advance on the flee track. The more expensive cards move you further. You have to manage which resource cards you play since you only have a limited number of each. The paying or not paying tribute option often means the lead player will be hit repeatedly by those players behind and this player will in turn will do the same to other players. This causes a lot of chaos in the game and can frustrate players which detracts from the overall gameplay. Furthermore I found the symbols on the cards sometimes difficult to understand and the resource pieces too small making them easy to lose. However I found the resource card mechanism and the overall connection to the theme quite good. I would rank this as a good game, maybe even very good if you enjoy a game with a lot chaos and “take that” opportunities. – – – – – – – – Chris Kovac


 

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