54 AD – Rome stands at the height of its power with majestic buildings, robust infrastructure, and the world’s mightiest army. Rome’s Legions have vanquished her foes, and the Empire stands secure…or does it? Agrippina the Younger’s deadly intrigues ensured Nero’s rise to power, but can Nero hold the Empire together? Oppressed people all over the Empire yearn for their freedom. In particular, the Jews hunger for their independence and the chance to cleanse their homeland. Outside the Empire, a Coalition of Germanic Tribes, Goths, and Parthians will suffer no more Roman expansion. Sensing an opportunity, they begin to push back against Rome. Meanwhile, small groups of Christians are challenging all kinds of religious and cultural norms.
This is the setting of the latest game being published by Chara Games, Soul of the Empire, and is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. This game is going to be the heaviest game in their library and promises a deep strategic experience as you take on the role of one of four factions during the pinnacle of the Roman empire. Each faction is different from the other, with different player powers, different strengths and weaknesses, and each with their own special way to win the game beyond the standard. The standard way to win the game is to claim seven objectives, and even these objectives are different depending on which faction you are playing, and are usually pushing you towards your own special victory condition.
Play itself is interesting in that you will roll dice Yahtzee style and from those dice form sets or runs in order to activate your abilities. This abilities include spawning units, moving units, purchasing power cards, claiming objectives, and fighting other players on the board. Fighting in this game is deterministic with the number of units on the battlefield being your strength, augmented by cards you can play from your hand. Using this system means that you don’ know 100% what you will be facing, but also allows players who are looking at a certain defeat to get some benefit out of the battle through card play. The final piece that sets all the factions apart are their unique power cards, these are cards that they can purchase each round and give you distinct advantages to completing your objectives. So plan well, pick your battles wisely, and accomplish your goal to claim the soul of the empire.
If you are a fan of Chara Games or these types of strategy games, check out the Kickstarter for more information. A base pledge of $50 plus shipping will get you the game, and additional levels allow you to get full size art prints of the factions, or get multiple copies of the game at a discount.