Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday afternoon Triumvirate

Joe C. (l.) and Frank H.
My friends Joe C. and Frank H. joined me this afternoon for my favorite three-player game of all time, The End of the Triumvirate (designers Johannes Ackva and Max Gabrian, artist Andrea Boekhoff, publisher Z-Man Games).  Frank had played twice before, but it was Joe's first time.  We went over the rules, and he picked it right up.  Joe drew Caesar, Frank was Crassus, and I played Pompeius.  Joe keyed on the significance of the political competence and pushed himself immediately down that track, although Frank kept up with him and bought votes early.  I tried to bolster my military position and thought I'd left my civil servant adequately defended.  Joe proved me wrong and took it from me on, I think, the fourth turn, and I was never able to recover another one.  Frank maintained his political lead and won the first election.

I got into an odd cycle where I was getting almost all my supplies on every other turn and almost none on the turns in between.  We had all taken up fairly defensive positions on the map, with the result that the supply of legions ran out and no one attacked each other for several turns in a row.  That meant that the game was going to be won with money.  I got greedy and made a big push for the competence victory, ignoring the political situation.  Joe was actually within striking distance of six votes in the senate, and Frank was only able to bribe one senator away from him.  Joe was able to come up with enough money on the next turn to make the final push to six votes and get the instant political victory.
Final position.  Legions everywhere, but Caesar controls the Senate.

I am a victim of my own inattentiveness, and more and more I've come to appreciate the importance of keeping your eye on all aspects of this game.  More than once I've neglected the political situation and allowed an opponent to sneak in and buy up the votes they've needed.

Another aspect of the game that I still need to learn is the geography of the map.  As Joe pointed out, every province touches water, which means everything is reachable - but some things are more accessible than others.  For example, Gallia Cisalpina is adjacent to both seas plus three provinces - Italia, Gallia Narbonensis, and Illyricum.  Likewise Africa borders both seas plus Sicilia, Africa Nova, and Cyrenaica.  I think that makes them the two most central and accessible provinces on the map.  Hispania Ulterior, on the other hand, accumulates legions but is difficult to get to and retrieve them.  Africa Nova is the same way about money.  So the bottom line is that I feel I need to figure out how to take best advantage of the geography.


  1. Good game, and one I'd like to play more often. I still think a military victory is darn near impossible, though. I look at that game board and think some nice painted miniatures might spruce it up a bit.

  2. I agree with you about the military victory. I keep meaning to research whether anyone has written about that.

    Miniatures. Hmmm.....

  3. Always a fun game. I remember there are a max of 4 elections (and thus a max game length). How many turns are there per election?

  4. There are seven turns prior to each election. The turn counter increments after each player, so that Caesar has the first, fourth, and seventh turns, Pompeius the second and fifth, and Crassus the third and sixth. Then after the first election, Pompeius gets the first, fourth, and seventh turns, Crassus the second and fifth, and Caesar the third and sixth. So it rotates for each election with one player getting three turns (and losing the election tie-breaker) and the others getting two.