About game:

SPQR (Deluxe Edition) is an updated release of the classic GMT game of warfare in the age of the Roman Republic, designed by Richard H. Berg and Mark Herman. The deluxe edition contains the five scenarios, maps and counters from the original SPQR, plus nine additional scenarios with the needed maps and counters, taken from various expansion modules.

SPQR – the acronym for Senatus Populusque Romanus, the Senate and the Roman People, the power behind the state – portrays the development of the art of war from the end of the Macedonian era through the heyday of the Republic of Rome, prior to the changes in the army wrought by Marius and the collapse of the republic. The main modules and battles covered are: SPQR (Cannae, Zama, Cynocephalae), Pyrrhic Victory (Heraclea & Ausculum), Consul for Rome (Trebbia, The Metaurus) as well as many more.

It is important to remember that SPQR is the second volume in the Great Battles of History Series. As such, it uses the same “basic” system as the preceding and further titles in the series, i.e.: troops activation & sequence based on Generals ratings and initiative system; battle resolution based on units types, direction of attack, size of units, etc.; Cohesion and Troops Quality as decisive metrics of troops experience and value; Rout and Rally actions and many more mechanics making this system pretty detailed simulation. You will find also many historical notes within the materials, so that you can see what questions of military history arose from the individual battles.

Would you stand-up to the task and manage to prevail against odds, leading your forces to the victory in the field?

Number of players:

This is a great 2-player operational level game – I will go that far that can even call it a simulation. At the same time, it plays very well solo and can be used also in that mode.

Playing time:

Many Great Battles of History (GHoH) volumes featured battles huge in size and complexity. The situation is similar with SPQR – although maybe not to the extent Alexander the Great Battles are depicted. That means that one scenario easily could take the whole afternoon. A few smaller engagements (there are such too!) can be played in more reasonable, 2-3 hours slot.


As I played various wargame titles – including many GBoH positions – I would rate this as a medium-complexity title. I agree, that the rulebook is long and there are some specific situation you need to take into account when playing (legion rules for example). Still, just organize a session with an experienced player and he will quickly introduce you to all nuances of the game.

What I like:
  • Game theme – I am fan of antiquity and Rome especially. While for the most of the players the first association would be imperial period, the republican times, with Punic Wars especially, gives a lot of interesting insight into the Roman tactics & strategies.
  • Simulation value – I truly appreciate the depth and breath of the design. Authors went to great lengths to on one side give as much accuracy and realism to the game as possible, while on the other to make this title still playable.
  • Components & additional materials – it is great too see not only beautiful counters as well as nicely prepared maps but also compilation of all additional modules which significantly extends the number of battles we can play. 
  • Rulebook – I am fan of Mak Herman’s design and historical notes so I always read his rulebooks with great pleasure. Of course, the material itself might seem very long and daunting; but look how much space the examples take and how logically all the sections are grouped. Also, once you read it once and then play, further GBoH rulebooks will be pretty straightforward for you.

What I do not like or would like to see in the game:
  • The clutter on the map – sometimes the map can be very crowded with all those additional tokens like Cohesion Hits, No Missiles, Rout, TQ-Check, Leader Wounded, etc. Especially when you have many counters one to another, a tweezer can be very helpful.

  • The length of some of the scenarios – I mentioned it through the review couple of times but will add once again – some of the scenarios are hardly playable due to enormous size and time investment needed to bring them to the table. I would also appreciate many more smaller set-ups which can be used as a training scenarios.
For whom?

With all my sympathy, this is definitely not a game for an entry level wargamer. At the same time, if you already played some hex & counter games, that one would be a great continuation – especially starting with the smaller engagements.  

More about the game:

And now let us have a look at the components – all pictures / videos taken during my plays:

Set-up of Bagradas Plains (255 BC) scenario.
Legio III formed in Triplex Acies. On the left Roman Units, on the right Allied Units.
In the heat of battle Legions are trying to repeal the Elephants attack.
Game Turn track with losses on both sides.
My storage solution based on great RailsOnBoards trays! Check it out: https://cube4me.com/product/spqr/!


I acquired SPQR after buying Alexander and before Cataphract. I position the game on my preference list somewhere in the middle. While I appreciate the Roman Republican army system and its depiction in the game, I find some of the battle too large to play in the reasonable time. The smaller ones are really nice and you can bring them to conclusion within an evening.

If you have heard about Great Battles of History and was thinking if this is not too overwhelming for you, you should definitely try. The question is whether SPQR should be the first title to bring to the table. Personally, I would suggest smaller designs like Hoplite or Cataphract. Also, if you are a solo wargamer, you should find the system really well suited for that type of play.

See you in another game review!