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Gangs of Rome

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Gangs of Rome

Postby DC1346 » Thursday July 26th, 2018 6:07pm

I recently bought some Gangs of Rome figures to populate a Minoan inspired palace for a customized Hero Quest module. I had so much fun painting these pieces that I wound up ordering a basic Gangs of Rome introductory kit which will come with additional figurines and a rule book.

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Gangs of Rome is a skirmishing game in which each player plays the role of a Patrician during the waning days of the Republic. With Caesar battling Pompey for control of the Republic, aspiring Senators rallied street gangs to intimidate or even kill rivals.

One interesting thing about this game is the use of "mobs" or crowds of non-combatants. Since battling in the streets of Rome didn't occur in a vacuum, the game designers included civilians in the game design. Gang members can approach and "disappear" into a crowd, blending with them as a "non-combatant" until the opportunity to strike emerges.

As the fight unfolds, each crowd will behave randomly. They could freeze in place, petrified with fear. They could run away from the combatants. They could also lose their tempers and attack one side or the other.

Each gang member comes with a stats card that is randomly generated by the producers. There are presently some 10,000 variations available ... so if you liked the look of a particular piece and you were to buy an identical figurine, the accompanying stats card would be completely different.

Stats include stamina, agility, combat skills etc.

Instead of being player turn based, each side has a colored marker that's put into a bag. Markers are drawn one at a time and if your color is chosen, you get to choose a character to move. Game play continues until all the markers are gone and all characters have moved. The markets are then put back in the bag for the start of the next round.

There are no hexes in this game. Each player character is allowed to move up to a certain distance based upon that character's stat card.

Fighting is very similar to Hero Quest. The attacker has a certain number of attack dice. The defender has defense dice. As with Hero Quest if a player character takes more hits than he/she is able to roll a defense, that person takes hits. Unlike Hero Quest, wounds affect a player character's ability to move or fight.

Since battle is supposed to occur within Rome, Gangs of Rome has all sorts of buildings you may buy if you're willing to fork over a bucket full of money.

Since I've always been more interested in building models and painting figures than playing games, I decided to build my own Roman town. Pat of the fun for me is I really like doing historical research. Here is a picture of two Roman businesses.

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With only 10% of the population being literate, Roman merchants painted pictures of their wares on the walls of their businesses. Pictured above left is an olive oil merchant. From pictures of the ruins of Pompey, I found a sign that featured a container of olive oil surmounted by a wreath of olive tree leaves. I hand painted this on the wall.

The business on the right is a butcher. I dangled some turkey carcasses on a rack and added a table with a slab of meat. The wall features a ham by way of advertising.

I made this building using heavy cardboard that I got from a package. The portion I used to make the building pictured above is outlined in red.

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Here is a picture of a Roman apartment known as an insula. As a whimsical note, I put a clothes line on the top floor. In reality, Roman streets would have been festooned with overhanging clothing lines. If you've ever watched the HBO TV series, Rome, there are some street scenes that really show this to good effect. Sadly this would not be practical for gaming models since players have to have the ability to easily move their player characters.

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Since the Romans did not have windows on the ground floor, presumably for reasons of personal security, most Roman apartments had some sort of business on the first floor. Here's a picture of the opposite side. The ground floor business for this insula is a thermopolium, a fast food restaurant where patrons could literally walk up to a counter to order ready made food.

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Here is a picture of a cloth store. The cloth is hanging on racks outside the business. Most merchants preferred to do their business in the street under awnings for shade. Without windows on the ground floor or any type of ventilation, the ground floors must have been dark and stuffy.
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I even made a fountain. Fountains were both decorative and utilitarian since they provided the public with sources of clean water while reminding the public of the glory and magnificence of Rome.
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I am presently working on holding pens for animals to put in a market square. I have scaled animals arriving later this week ... chicken, goats, sheep, and pigs. Large households would have purchased live animals for fresh meat. Some people would also have bought animals to use in ritual sacrifices at temples.

I also have an order out for a silicon mold that I'll use to make columns. Once I have the ability to make columns, I'll craft a temple.

Although Gangs of Rome sells a nice assortment of civilians, I've also ordered Greeks, Gauls, and other groups from other manufacturers. Since Rome was one of the most cosmopolitan cities of its time, it stands to reason that the city streets wouldn't have had everyone running around in togas. Not only did Rome attract foreign dignitaries and merchants but with state sanctioned slavery, some 30-40% of the entire population would have been slaves. Slaves would have included Gauls, Germanic people, Celts, Nubians, and Syrians to name a few.

To make my crowds more interesting, I plan to have one that features an overweight Roman surrounded by attractive young slave girls. For another, I will have a Roman noble woman reclining in a litter being carried by slaves.

In looking at the game system for Gangs of Rome, I don't see why this couldn't be turned into a fantasy game. As with Hero Quest, gamers could create their own monster stat cards.

Although it would be fun to pit a Roman cohort against a frenzied crowd of monsters, the game mechanics were not designed for large scale wargaming action. This is a skirmishing game ... so gladiators could work along with gang members in running battles with minotaurs, fauns, and a chimera.

I wonder if I could talk the makers of Gangs of Rome into adding a fantasy element. Doing so would certainly expand their target market.

Orcs in Rome? This would have given the Romans a new understanding of the term "barbarian." (GRIN)
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Last edited by DC1346 on Friday July 27th, 2018 4:02pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gangs of Rome

Postby Daedalus » Friday July 27th, 2018 1:09am

Minoan palaces and Roman towns . . . I like your ancients leanings. Your students will gain a lot if you play with these.
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Re: Gangs of Rome

Postby Anderas » Friday July 27th, 2018 3:16am

I like what I see there. You always do the research when you build something? I like the look of the civilians and the pictures on the stores.


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Re: Gangs of Rome

Postby j_dean80 » Friday July 27th, 2018 4:13am

Orcs blending in with the crowd may be hard to do. Or perhaps a Zombie. "Excuse me sir, I think you dropped your eye. Is this your hand also?"

The enemy blending in sounds like a fun and tough concept for the Heroes, maybe a cousin of the Emperor would-be assassin could be a Quest idea for it.
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Re: Gangs of Rome

Postby DC1346 » Friday July 27th, 2018 3:23pm

Anderas wrote:I like what I see there. You always do the research when you build something? I like the look of the civilians and the pictures on the stores.


Thanks. Gangs of Rome currently produces three sets of civilians. Each package comes with five figurines and unless you buy duplicate packs, each pose will be completely different.

Figures may be ordered through Amazon which passes the order on to the manufacturer which then ships them from the U.K. You may also buy them directly through the Gangs of Rome website in the U.K. For slightly faster delivery but higher cost, you could buy them through a third party vendor on eBay. Most of the figurines and model buildings currently being sold on eBay are all through a third party vendor.

Regarding research this is where historical war gaming differs from fantasy gaming.

When I first looked at the Gangs of Rome model buildings and saw the prices, I decided that I'd be better off making my own.

One of my first questions involved basing. Did the ancient Romans have sidewalks? It turns out that the nicer neighborhoods did, so when I cut my base, I added enough room for a sidewalk.

What did the buildings look like? I looked at what Gangs of Rome did and noticed that none of the ground floors had windows. When I googled this, I found a lot of architectural information from the ruins of Pompey. I decided to build my models without ground floor windows.

How did the Romans advertise their businesses? Did they have signage? Further research told me that since only 10% of the population was literate (and a lot of those people were probably educated Greek slaves), many businesses used painted images on the walls outside their doors. The illustration I used of a container of olive oil surmounted by a wreath of olive leaves was actually based on an illustration found in the ruins of Pompey. The illustration of the fish and shrimp used to advertise the restaurant came from a mural that was also found in Pompey.

Were Roman stores brightly lit like our stores today? This didn't seem likely given the lack of windows on the ground floor and burning lots of candles and lamps would have been costly. Basic research taught me that Roman merchants plied their trade outside their shops. Their shops were primarily used for storage and they doubled as living quarters.

With slavery comprising 35-40% of Rome's entire population, a reasonably prosperous merchant would have had some slaves to put samples of his wares outside the store prior to opening. The slaves would also have put everything away at the end of the business day.

Part of the reason I wanted to build these buildings was that I wanted to give the game more of a historical flavor. Since I have some obsessive compulsive tendencies, I also get a lot of pleasure out of crafting buildings and furnishings.
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Re: Gangs of Rome

Postby DC1346 » Friday July 27th, 2018 4:32pm

j_dean80 wrote:Orcs blending in with the crowd may be hard to do. Or perhaps a Zombie. "Excuse me sir, I think you dropped your eye. Is this your hand also?"


Hmmm ... if Rome had fantasy creatures, wouldn't it stand to reason that there would also be monster civilians ... orc traders, goblin lenders etc.

I also forgot to mention that I wrote to Gangs of Rome to ask if they will eventually include fantasy creatures with stat cards. One of the designers wrote back to say that yes they will ... but not any time soon. Since Gangs of Rome is a new release, they're focused on historical gaming with new figurines and possibly new buildings on the way.

Once Gangs of Rome is firmly established, they'll expand into the fantasy market.

I would imagine that if they stay true to their theme, they'll introduce Greek and Roman mythological creatures like centaurs and minotaurs. There probably won't be any orcs since orcs were Tolkien based. There might even be some Egyptian creatures such as jackal headed people. That would be awesome!
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