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Pandemic Fall of Rome – A perfect storm!

Caesar’s double bed is warm

As an unimportant clerk

Writes “I do not like my work”

On a pink official form

The Fall of Rome has been blamed on many factors. Auden may have blamed creeping bureaucracy whilst others look to the  class struggle or Christianity to explain the demise. The latest release in the Pandemic series by Zee games allows you to assess whether you may have indeed been able to steer the Empire away from its eventual demise, in the West at least. We all may think that we could do a better job than the boss, or Prime Minister or President, but are we really that special person who can add to a massive organisation and not make it worse. I looked to James for advice……..

The game is of modest complexity but the production values are very high. The board and cards are a delight and look like they will stand the test of time. The rules are pretty straight forward but I left the ungentlemanly conduct of actually reading them to James! The Pandemic series is very popular with boardgames and one of its strengths is its aim to engender cooperative play in the aim to stop the spread of disease initially but now other topics and eras are in the game teams sights. Likening the migrations of the Barbarian hordes to the spread of disease might offend the Politically correct but the simulation does work. The cards drive the Barbarian tribes down various routes and it is the Empire’s job to stop them.

But this is the late Empire of course and you do not have the resources to fight off every incursion. Rather, one must ally with some tribes , and recruit them as federatii, while facing down others. The game is card driven and the mechanism is very effective. James chose to be a military hard man and proceded to battle through the Goths in the East. I was a Roman leader tasked with placating the hordes but the Saxons were oblivious to my overtures unfortunately. It does take a bit of getting use to, having to work cooperatively, but the game is a classic of state craft.

Our cities were rapidly sacked but our armies were victorious. Fortress building was our preferred strategy and the revolts were quashed but do tend to depress the resources available to the state. Our charm offensive won over all but one of our opponent tribes and victory all depended on a climatic battle against the Saxons in Mogontiacum in present day Belgium.

James won the massive battle but the Saxon invaders weren’t wiped out in time. The enclave at Gesoriacum on the coast meant that the Empire was lost as the cards literally run out( playing time in total about two hours). It is a classic boardgame and I whole heartedly recommend the game. The mechanism is slick and yet subtle. The game is fast paced and involves the players in the action from the start. The potential for conversion to a play aid for miniatures is obvious! Buy this game and banish those Winter blues. Stay close as the next post will be the runners and riders for the Epic Godendag wargaming weekend!


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