About game: Last years of third Century AD – these are the dark times for Roman Empire. It is being torn apart by both internal and external struggles: Carausian Revolt, Danube Wars, Mauritanian War with Berbers and on top, the Great Persian War. In order to face them, Emperor Diocletian appoints  Maximian as co-August, but when this is not enough – additional two colleagues are being brought to the circle of power – Galerius and Constantius – creating the first ‘Tetrarchy’.

This beautiful game by Miguel Marqués is a simplified story of the Roman fight for survival under emperor Diocletian. This is cooperative game, with four co-emperors working in conjunction on internal rebellions as well as external incursions. Secure 6 borders to win the game – which is not an easy thing, taking into account that you would also work on enemy armies converging on Rome and ever present rebellions.

In your turn you have 6 action points you can spend on move, fight, quelling the rebellions or securing the borders. Sometimes you have to forgo particular regions to react in another part.

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
Number of players: 1-4 – most fun is with the “full house”.
Playing time: That is quick game. Initial sessions can span to 45-60 minutes, but later on you can easily fit this in 20-30 minutes.
Complexity: This is rather medium-low complexity game. There were some ambiguous rules, but FAQ and BoardGameGeek forums answers all questions.
What I like:
  • Many possible set-ups / difficulty levels of the base games – depending on four factors
  • Expansion with 3 additional modules, which can be used altogether / separately
  • Four historical scenarios
  • Beautifully produced components of units / unrest / enemy armies
  • The map – it is created on elastic map, easily folded
  • The package – small, material container which you can fit easily into your travelling bag
  • Easy game mechanics, but not trivial
What I do not like:
  • The luck factor – sometimes it can be annoying, but that is the core mechanic so has to stay:)
  • I would like to see special characteristics of all 4 emperors – so you really feel they are different (like one move on rebels without additional point, one removes rebels without additional point, etc.)
  • Cooperation – you know me, I would like to see competitive versions of this game 🙂
For whom? For all who travel and scratch their head what they can take with themselves for the journey 🙂 Also, for both seasoned wargames needing a filler between games, puzzle lovers, families who want to introduce their children to the games hobby, ancient times lovers, etc.

I really have problem to say Tetrarchia fits tastes of only one boardgame players group – it is pretty universal despite the seemingly obvious wargame topic plus significant luck factor.

More about the game:

On top of above review, a couple of the pictures from my session reports.

Initial set-up of the board:

Tetrarchia_2_1

Final moments of successful campaign:

Tetrarchia_3_6

VERDICT:

I really recommend this game. Long time I was looking for a small, quick and easy to transport game with wargame flavor – and Tetrarchia exactly fulfills that need. It is cooperative, which is kind of a small drawback, but still have so many variants / expansions and historical set-ups that you will never be bored with it (or at least, not quickly!). That is definitely a good game fit for its purpose!

See you in another game review!

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