Early Review of Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome

From: Mark L.
Sent on: Friday, April 20, 2007 8:37 PM

Having played “Struggle for Rome” twice now (Vicky brought it in to the last Settlers, and then we played it again at the Boardgamer’s meetup), I wanted say a bit about it for the benefit of the group!

While probably not suitable for noobs (previous familiarity with resource production mechanics, dev cards types, 10 points wins the game, etc. allow you to focus on the just extra rules and twists), it does offer a nice level of complexity beyond Settlers but below Cities and Knights.

It’s also set in the historical period between those two.?? In essence, honest and hard-working pioneer Settlers like Toby, Joe, Stacey and Robin have built up Catan from a wilderness into a glorious empire of cities and paved roads.?? But, over the centuries, their descendants have become fat and lazy, and now the kingdom is ripe for invasion by Barbarians like Vicky, Eric, Tom and me (and of course Oliver, had he been there).? ?Each of us has two tribes, horsepeople and pedestrians, which spend the first half of the game running around the board to plunder the mostest cities the quickest.? There is a third unit, caravans – building extras of them allow you to haul off more gold with you.?? Besides greedily hording the exquisitely molded golden coins, it also is when you can stake your claim to special Victory Point cards like “The Scourge of Catan”.? (You can even get two of those if you are nasty enough.)

In the first half of the game there doesn’t seem to be a clear leader since only a couple of victory points get scored by anyone (openly, anyway). ?The second half of the game starts when you decide to settle one of your tribes down in a city for good, in the manner of a hermit crab choosing its snail shell.? Each city is worth a victory point.? From then on, that tribe can expand to another city each turn, as long as you have enough armies and caravans to do it.? So at that point it plays more like regular Settlers, except that people’s production of resources can expand quite rapidly, because they can potentially add TWO cities (and the surrounding hexes) on EVERY turn (not just their own).? You definitely don’t want to be the last tribe into its snail shell.?

In another key difference, when the first player hits 10 points, play continues until every player has finished out the round, leading to some nailbiting as to whether another player can build that one or two extra cities, which together with his victory point dev cards, beats or ties you.?? In the case of equal victory points, gold becomes the tiebreaker.

Our first game took 3 ? hours, the next 2 ?, and we hope when played by experienced players it’ll get down to 1 ? to 2 hours, so two games can gotten in at a Meetup. ?I feel like it like I used to about Settlers --- I didn’t have a good enough grasp of the game flow to have situational awareness about the best hope for victory at any particular moment.??

Whether to build extra caravans for loot, whether to specialize your tribes so one goes for the Plunder and one for the Conquer, or whether one settles in a nice open area while the other moves next door to your opponents to limit their expansion …what constitutes a “good deal” with trades … these are what we’ll be working out…? Also we want Stacey to try it as she seems to be able to figure out all the sneakiest strategies first!

We hope that other Settlers regulars will give it a try in future meetups, so that Toby can decide if it’s worthy of being part of the regular repertoire along with Settlers, Seafarers, and Cities and Knights.?


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