Glory to Rome, designed by Carl Chudyk and published by Cambridge Games Factory, is a card game about the rebuilding of Rome after Nero burns it down, as players seek to be the ones who earn the most fame during the rebuilding. Like San Juan, each card has multiple functions: It can be a "Role" (Labourer, Craftsman, Legionary, Architect, Merchant, or Patron), a Material (that matches one of the six sites: Marble, Stone, Wood, Rubble, Brick, and Concrete), or one of forty different buildings.
On a player's turn, they may either play one of their cards in front of them as one of the roles, or "think". Each other player, in order, may either play the same card and take the same action, or "think". Thinking allows a player to either take a Jack (wild card) into their hand, restock their hand up to five cards, or draw one card (if they already have at least five cards). The roles allow players to take different actions:
- The Patron allows a player to add a card to their Clientele, which adds to the number of actions a role card can take.
- The Laborer allows a player to add cards to their Stockpile as a material.
- The Merchant allows a player to take a card from their Stockpile and store it face down in their vault for VPs at the end of the game.
- The Legionary allows a player to steal cards from neighbouring players and stick them in their Stockpile.
- The Craftsman and Architect cards allow the player to start work on or add materials to a building, the former role using cards from hand and the latter cards from the stockpile.
Play continues until either the draw deck runs out, all the Building Site cards have been used, one player builds the Catacomb building, or a player has won by building the Forum (alternate victory conditions). Unless the Forum's victory conditions have been met, all players total their victory points from buildings, the vault and bonuses from having the most cards of each type in the vault. The player with the most victory points is the winner!
In our game, Nige concentrated on building up his clientele initially and then drew the Forum so he was looking to end the game early by building the forum and have clientele of all six types. At times, this looked most likely to be the outcome but Nige seemed to struggle to get the right cards to allow him to finish. I went for building lots of cheap buildings but as a result missed out a couple of times on adding cards to the vault. Mark K did, however, succeed in getting a decent number of vault cards squirreled away - just as well as his stockpile was extensive. Both he and Guy were concentrating on some of the larger more valuable buildings so although they built fewer, they converted to similar VPs. At the end though, Mark K did just enough from vault points and bonuses to take the win.
Glory To Rome is another nice addition to the San Juan / Race for the Galaxy family of card games and looks to have quite a bit of replay value. Like RftG, it takes a while to work out what you are doing and which card combinations work well together. This is one to try again soon.