English language edition
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In Quo Vadis? each player becomes the head of a powerful Roman family striving to gain as much political power and glory as possible.
Senators of your faction occupy seats on the various committees. To advance, they must make deals and acquire votes from other factions to win Caesar's favor. As your members advance, they gain the laurels of high office and move closer to a seat in the Senate's Inner Sanctum. Your faction must advance at least one member into the Inner Sanctum and collect more laurels than any other faction to win the game.
How will you guide your family to glory in the Senate? Will you use a charismatic approach or just make sensible deals? How will you handle the faction that resists your advancement? Will you gloat over your accomplishments and anger your allies? Are you prudent enough to remain silent when others make mistakes? Will you honor your long term agreements or are others simply fools who trusted you?
Quo Vadis? is a Knizia game themed on Roman politics that revolves around pure negotiation and deal-making
It is easier to learn than most negotiation games, and features a very elegant game that combines simple rules with satisfying gameplay. It is also quicker to play than most negotiation games, and less vicious.
Since it is a negotiation game, the game-play and fun factor will largely depend on the personalities of the players. To be best enjoyed, a minimum of four players is needed, preferably five. The components are one of the game's weak points. Furthermore the extra chits and optional/advanced rules that come with the game likely do not improve it. But the real appeal of this game doesn't lie in production values, but the fun and entertainment of the negotiation, and the interaction that players bring to the table.
If you enjoy negotiation games and have a group of four or five players that enjoys them too, Quo Vadis is an excellent choice for quick and easy-to-learn game that offers pure negotiation without the long playing time or viciousness that accompanies most other negotiation games.
Quo Vadis? is a prime example of a game where tactical skill takes a backseat to the ability to fast-talk other people into accepting your deals. As such, it gets an undue amount of bad press from the wargamers. But if your group can get into the politicking and negotiating, it can be a great game.
The small amount of luck that comes from the laurels that get turned up is just about right, I think, and the fact that you can't win without having a man in the Sanctum strikes a nice balance between wanting to sit around and make deals with whoever comes by versus needing to keep moving.
All in all, a great game. I highly recommend it.
The current reviews trash this game, so it's time to step in. After playing it months ago, I just bought my own copy, and a friend just finished making his own set of men in his wooden lathe. That should serve as introduction to how my gaming group feels about it.
We don't play it with the fancy rule tiles (I think those complicate the game unnecessarily), but rather with the basic rules. This way we get a quick game, where a minimum of 3 players (ideally 4) get to go nuts. The negotiations are straightforward: 'If you don't play nice, I move the Caesar in front of my guy and advance next turn without your support. You have a problem with that? Then you must waste a turn moving the Caesar out of my path, letting player #3 or 4 (or both) get ahead of us.'
Basically you try to get one guy into the Senate and appeal to others' fear to score points. You get to learn or teach a thing or two about timing and real estate. Played with the basic rules, you can explain it unambiguously in 5 minutes or fewer. Can't go wrong here. Also note that, unlike Diplomacy, the tricks you can pull on people here will not ruin your friendships!
Quo Vadis? is another of the German Games from Reiner Knizia that Mayfair Games has imported and released here in the United States. Like most Knizia games, this one is fast, easy and fun. However, typical of Knizia, it does have some nice elements of strategy and is exceptionally heavy on the negotiation and deal-making side (which is not usual for Knizia).
In Quo Vadis?, players must progress their six senators through various committees and along the path to the Senate. The ultimate goal is to promote at least one of your senators to the Senate and collect the most laurels along the way. The game does not end until all five available Senate positions are filled.
Sounds easy? Well, it is. However, one must be skilled in the fine art of negotiation and deal-making in order to accomplish these goals. There are various committees that players must pass through along the way to the Senate. These committees have a capacity of either one, three or five senators. In order to be promoted out of a committee and onto the next higher committee, a player must have the majority vote of all of the existing committees' slots... even if they are vacant. Thus, in a five-slot committee, a player must accumulate three 'Yes' votes in order to promote his senator to the next committee. That means deals must be cut with other players. What kind of deals are we talking about?
Before answering that question, let's first look at some of the game's mechanics. Players have three options on each of their turns:
There are several different paths that players can take, all ultimately leading to the Senate. As they progress from one committee to the next, they usually pass over a space containing a 'laurel', which ranges in value from one to six. Once obtained, these laurels are kept face-down by the player and a new laurel from the 'deck' is placed on its spot, available for other players to collect when they pass through that space. It is these laurels that ultimately determine the victor, for he who has the most laurels and has at least one senator in the Senate will win the game. Moving the Caesar onto one of these laurel spaces allows a player to leave a committee without voting, but prevents that player from collecting the laurel Caesar covers.
As mentioned, in order to move out of one committee and on to a higher level committee, a player must secure a majority of the votes of the members of his current committee. Each player who votes 'yes' gets one free laurel. There is a limited supply of these 'one' laurel markers, so voting 'yes' early in the game will usually reward a player with a laurel, while later in the game the supply may be exhausted.
So, we ask the question again: What kind of deals can be made? Well, the usual deals involve some of the following tactics:
In the basic rules, deals are binding for one complete round. After that, 'Caveat Emptor'. A variant in the rules allow for any deals to be at the risk of the players and no deals are binding. I like that one!
As it should be obvious, negotiation is the key to this game. Players must keep an eye on the laurels that will be collected by moving along certain paths, as well as the committee slots which will open up via these promotions. Since accumulated laurels are kept secret, memory is also important. No sense to continue to reward those players who have already accumulated impressive amounts of laurels. Sometimes, however, this must be done to prevent being stuck in a low-level committee.
The game does not end until all five slots in the Senate are filled. At that point, laurels are totalled and the player with the highest total wins... provided he has at least one senator in the Senate. If not, that player cannot win no matter how many laurels he collected. Sometimes, good strategy dictates filling the Senate quickly if a player knows he has the most laurels, or blocking all promotions to the Senate if a player feels he is behind on the laurel count.
The game is fun and quick... very quick. Our matches took only 20-30 minutes to complete. Thus, you wouldn't want to center an evening's gaming around Quo Vadis?, but it does make an excellent 'filler' when the evening's premier game has finished early.
The gameboard looks like an org chart -- lots of spaces at the bottom, very few up at the top. The object of the game is to move your pawns up the hierarchy from bottom to top, earning points along the way.
The trouble is, you can't leave one organizational box until you have a majority approval of everyone else who's in the box.
As a result, you end up wheeling and dealing a lot. ('I'll vote you out of your box if you vote me out of mine.')
This is a game where strategy is secondary to your ability to negotiate. If you don't like interacting verbally and creatively with other players, you will not do well in this game.
Of the many negotiation games that our casual quartet plays, I'd put this one somewhere in the middle. There seems to be a limited number of strategies and approaches you can take in this game.
But if everyone truly gets into the spirit of politics and favors, it can be a lot of fun.
I'm a big proponent of games based in Ancient Rome. Rome offers much material for game developers: the empire's expansive and tumultuous history, the shady political intrigue, the numerous assassinations. But Quo Vadis has little to do with Rome.
The fluff is simply that: a fluffy skin on top of gameplay that can easily be skinned with any other historical era. There's nothing remarkably 'Roman' about the game. In my mind, I can peel off the game's Roman trappings like so many Colorforms.
Once the fluff has been removed, leaving only the bare game, it's not very much fun. I have never had the urge (nor have others in my gaming circle) to replay Quo Vadis.
The greatest games are those which integrate gameplay and fluff seamlessly. Although this is rare, decent games make an attempt to correlate their gameplay and their fluff on more than a superficial level. Quo Vadis just doesn't measure up.