se·ri·ous·ly – with earnest intent
snap·py – cleverly concise | ru·mi·na·tions – deep or considered thoughts

SENATORS
Wisely calculate risks to win the most Senate support in this Roman card collection and auction game of adversarial bidding.
Unusual auction/bidding mechanics prove both memorable and compelling.

SYNOPSIS
Players compete to buy support of the most Senators and become Caesar before the fourth of five possible war events occurs. Events that begin each player’s turn trigger the possibility of gaining/losing senate support, gaining/losing talents (game’s currency) or abruptly ending the game. Players then take one of three actions involving the game’s six types of resource cards numbered 1-9 and office cards which confer special abilities or benefits: begin an auction, extort opponents or cash in collected resources in order to buy Senators. Auctions consist of once-around bidding to establish prices for new resource and office cards which are then either sold to the highest bidder or bought by the active player, keeping money in the game and passed between players. Alternately, players may choose to claim cards from opponents through extortion by forcing opponents to sell a card or else pay to keep it. Finally, players may choose to cash in collected sets of resource cards by turning in three identically numbered cards or three cards of the same type (with a bonus for cards also in numerical order) to gain talents which then may be spent to buy Senators towards winning the game.

COMMENTS
The bidding, set collection and press your luck elements of this Roman themed game mesh together rather well in this competitive race to be king of the hill. A variety of auctions – all-pay blind, dutch, once-around shotgun offer – call for smart money management and good evaluation skills to take advantage of the differing game situations. The game’s pacing moves quickly between actions to keep things humming, and everyone is typically involved during auctions so interaction remains high throughout. Timing plays a delicious and crucial role of when to risk advancing in Senator support; do so too early and you may put an easy to reach target on your back, but wait too long and you may miss out on the opportunity completely.

I enjoy the quick pace of play as auctions and extortions force money to change hands back and forth until resources are cashed in and infuse the game with additional cash and/or Senators with which to contend in evaluating one’s positions relative to everyone else. Then the race is on in earnest to make one’s move at just the right moment in order to surge ahead in Senator support… if time allows.

PROS+, CONS- & NOTES*
+ Multiple bidding/auction mechanics diversify game play.
+ Events and auctions provide constant interaction.
+ Player aid included on back of player screens.
– Punishing events can quickly upend plans.
– Utilitarian line drawing card art lacks polish.
– Small player screens barely hide money.
+/- Strong press your luck element.
* Optional Support cards included for advanced play.

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Seriously Snappy Ruminations on Senators

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