For some time me and my boardgames companion Marcin were looking for a game, which will be small, easily transportable – so can be taken for vacations or short travels, rather quick and of course – to be a wargame. There were some titles which we considered but finally Marcin decided on Tetrarchia – very elegant, nicely designed and beautifully produced game depicting last years of 3rd century in Rome.
It was time of turmoil and to such extent that Diocletian decided to share his power with Maximian – first taking responsibility for Eastern part and the latter for Western But even this was not enough – both Augustus then nominated their direct subordinate co-rulers, Caesars – Constantine in West and Galerius in the East. Only such 4-headed government of empire (tetrarchia) was able to repulse external threats as well as internal rebellions.
The game can be played form 1 to 4 players and there are 4 different parameters allowing for gradual increase of the game difficulty:
- Number of control tokens (like garrisons or armies) each of the 4 emperors can place (more tokens makes it easier for you). Value: 3, 4 or 5
- Number of fleets allowing emperors move across water (more fleets makes it easier for you). Value: 1, 2 or 3
- Number of extra rebellions placed during setup (fewer rebellions makes it easier for you). Value: 0, 1 or 2
- Number of barbarian invading armies during setup (fewer makes it easier for you). Value: 0, 1 or 2
After reading the instruction as well as FAQ document we were ready (or at least thought we are) to face the enemies of Rome! Our goal was to secure all 6 borders from enemy incursions – let us see how it went!
GAME 1 (difficulty 4200)
For initial game, we set-up pretty easy difficulty – normal number of emperor tokens (4), normal number of fleets (2), easy number of additional rebellions (0) and easy level of external armies attacking (0). So in short 4200.
The set-up looked like this:
And below some action points from our first game:
(1) Thanks to good rolls at the beginning, province of Asia Minor was quickly free of revolts and the bordering neighbor – Persia – mitigated
(2) However, exactly in first round we were hit by uprising in Gaul which took a lot of effort to contain
(3) This resulted in us neglecting enemy army appearing in Africa which went up to the Rome – fortunately its rebel support line was timely cut by Constantine
(4) Another province secured – Germans should not be a problem anymore
(5) However, problems started to arise in Graetia – on army was luckily repulsed but another appeared
(6) Well, another uprising and enemy army attacking from Africa…
(7) While we were cleaning up Graetia…
(8) …neglecting Britain where two additional armies invaded. At this moment in time – after defeating Maximian Barbarians finally prevailed
Not surprising, we were defeated badly in our first game. We also noticed some rules errors, which were quickly corrected in our second game.
GAME 2 (difficulty 4200)
As or our second game, we left the difficulty setting and the management of the parts of empire. The initial rebellions were slightly differently placed:
And below some info how we managed to finally save the Rome!
(1) Rebellions started in Greece
(2) But again Diocletian managed to quickly secure Persia; good start!
(3) Three quick actions to secure provinces of Britain, Egypt and Africa resulted in much better situation for Rome…
(4) … as well as huge rebellion spreading across Danube. You simply cannot be in every place in that game!
(5) However, then we focused all our forces on Danube front…
(6) …which resulted in final victory of Rome!
(7) PS. Of course, focus on one part, resulted in another spreading rebellion in Spain and Gaul…
These were two interesting games. Tetrarchia is that kind of game where you want “just play one more game”. Sounds familiar? That is exactly it. What makes it even interesting, is many difficulty levels, expansion plus historical scenarios. But about those aspects I will write later.