When Sam and I sat down for games with Karl Bunyan from The Royal Society of Gamers I didn’t know what to expect. We had been hoping to get in a game of Battlestar Galactica with the Rob Harris from Playtest, Brett Gilbert from Brettspiel and Mark Collins from Grim Tree Games, but a lack of space and the quickly advancing clock had forced us to abandon our plans.
Karl is a new member of the Uk Gaming Media Network so we had not met before today but he had proved friendly enough so far, so we sat down and asked that age old question… “What shall we play?”
Many game titles were batted around and I quickly realised I didn’t know any of them, despite blogging about games for over three years but Karl finally sold us on The Downfall of Pompeii with the line “You get to throw people in a volcano”
Karl went on to explain that the game was designed by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, designer of Carcassonne, but Karl, really, you had me at Volcano.
So the game is played in two stages. The first stage involves you trying to place all your cubes (followers, minions… erm… loyal subjects?) onto the board in strategic locations. Strategic locations being away from the volcano and close to the exits as it turned out.
The placement of cubes is done by cards. You play a card and place a cube in a building that matches the card’s colour. At a later stage you are allowed to place more cubes by playing in more populated areas.
At certain points during the game players will draw Omen cards, this allows you to “fling” another players cube into the volcano. Don't worry if you don't draw an omen card, you’ll get to fling more cubes later!
When the A.D. 79 card is drawn for the second time this triggers the end game. Players now take it in turns to draw a lava tile from a bag. This tile has a symbol on it that tells the player where to place it. All other tiles with that symbol must touch a matching tile on at least one side when placed.
Any cubes under a lava tile are immediately flung into the volcano. Any cubes that are unable to reach an exit due to the placement of the lava tile are also dumped into the volcano. The player may now move up to two of his cubes towards the exits. A cube can move 1 space for each cube in it’s starting space, including itself, usual between 1 and 4 spaces.
The player with the most surviving cubes at the end of the game wins!
This is a fun game, nowhere near as strategic as Carcassonne but also, despite the throwing people into a volcano part, nowhere near as cutthroat as Carc either. The Downfall of Pompeii was a light-hearted and fun game. The rules for placement are a little quirky but easy enough to get your head around in one game. It’s fun, it’s light, it’s a game I’d probably add to my collection for gateway gamers and I think it’s one that everyone should try at least once.