Games Gazette Logo

The Romans: Kingdom - Republic - Empire!

A board game about the rise of the Roman Kingdom through Republican and Empire eras to its demise at the hands of Barbarian Hordes!

Now on Kickstarter

Ragnar Brothers

Epsom, UK

Ragnar Brothers consists of three old friends who ought to know better, but can’t resist the urge to design board games. That’s Steve and Phil Kendall and Gary Dicken. Their most notable games are 'History of ...' and 'Brief History of the World'; 'Canal Mania'; 'Viking Fury'; 'Promised Land', 'Steam Donkey', 'DRCongo', 'Nina & Pinta' 'Backpacks & Blisters' and most recently 'Darien Apocalypse'. But there are more... have a look at for the full range. Over the years we have tried to design games that stand out from the crowd because of their distinctive themes and innovative mechanics. [Gary Dicken] "It was easier to produce these games ourselves rather than trying to find publishers who would take a risk. We were kickstarting ourselves a long time before Kickstarter arrived, but it's great to have found this natural home now!"

The Romans

This is the third and final quantum game from Ragnar Brothers; the conceit being that what happens in parallel worlds will be different, but subtly inter-relate with each other.  In this game each player has their own map of the classical Mediterranean and beyond, and from an enlarged Italian peninsula the Romans expand from Kingdom to Republic to Empire. The game uses AI for the attacks of Enemy nations, so each player has the thrill of building a complete Roman Empire and then the trauma of its denouement at the hands of barbarian invaders. Two thousand years of history compressed into five Eras.

In the centre of the table is the City of Rome array which is a series of ten buildings; five originals and one new one each Era. Players begin with four Senators who can either be placed one per building or be flipped to become Generals leading an army of legions on the player's map. There are just six new buildings, half of which are where victory points can be scored and these also bring a new low ranking Senator into the game per player. The other buildings drive the game in terms of recruiting legions, raising revenue, promoting senators and building cities, fleets and fortifications.

One building needs further mention; The Temple of Jupiter. Here players may call upon a particular God and thereby either score victory points or have an effect on one of the other four game drives ... or both. The fates (Bob and Wendy - see 'God' by Woody Allen) are fickle and reliant on the roll of a dice, which in true Ragnar style brings about 'Yes!' or 'Oh no!' moments.

On the subject of 'luck' in the game, the map campaigns are carried out simultaneously on all player boards and with shared dice rolls. This doesn't mean there isn't luck, but it does mean it gets shared around better. Similarly those who fall behind in the game are given the better opportunities when it comes to selecting leaders for the Roman Era or the Enemy nation they will face at the end of the Era. This is a game different from many combat scenarios in that the winner doesn't necessarily take all and the game, to some extent self balances as it progresses. We want players to enjoy the game throughout and to always feel there is a possible way to victory no matter how desperate their situation may seem.

Finally, this is, we believe a game in the very best Ragnar Brothers tradition; giant theme, interesting mechanics, big fun. We hope it will be a fitting way to sign off after thirty years designing, publishing and attempting to market (!!) our games.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2015