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Imperium, Circus Maximus, Hannibal vs. Rome

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Ages Play Time Players
8+ 10-45 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): GMT Games

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Product Description

Experience the glory that was Rome, from its most desperate moment to the height of its power. This three-in-one package provides quick-playing gamettes on three different aspects of Roman history: the war with Hannibal, the chariot races of the Circus Maximus and the power politics of the empire. This introductory game package is loaded with fun.

In Hannibal vs. Rome, two players match wits across the Western Mediterranean for dominance. Each player maneuvers legions and fleets across the key paths toward each other's capital, using number cards to resolve battles. All rests upon putting forth your strongest effort at the right time and place.

In Circus Maximus, up to five players use their cards to propel their teams of three chariots to the finish line, while cleverly obstructing the path of their opponents.

In Imperium, up to five players vie for pro-consulships in eight provinces of the empire, using influence to acquire power. Each player must assess the value of short-term acquisitions versus developing a power base over the long-term in more valuable locations, while judging when best to bend the ear of Caesar to speed up the selection process.

All three of these gamettes have few pieces and rules; each can be taught and played very quickly. Relying upon mastery of card play from limited-size hands of equal value, they reward players for guessing their opponents' intentions and calculating the range of responses left in their hands.

Glory to the Vanquished!

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): GMT Games

  • Artist(s): Rodger B MacGowan, Mark Simonitch

  • Year: 2002

  • Players: 2 - 5

  • Time: 10 - 45 minutes

  • Ages: 8 and up

  • Weight: 1,140 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.


  • 1 Back-printed, mounted mapboard
  • 100 Playing Cards
  • 15 Chariots
  • 15 Legions
  • 6 Ships
  • 6 Pawns
  • 70 Markers
  • 1 Rulebook

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.5 in 2 reviews

A Nifty Collection of Knizia Games
October 08, 2002

New Games in Old Rome is a collection of 14 games with Roman themes, by Reiner Knizia. Several of them are excellent games. My favorite is Proconsul, a superb little negotiating game of 45 to 60 minutes duration. Other good games in the box include Tribunal, Imperium, Circus Maximus (much simpler than the Avalon Hill game of the same name), and Hannibal vs. Rome. Considering that you get an assortment of very good games by a gifted designer, this collection is a bargain, really underrated in my view! Just make sure you're getting the English rules, unless you read German.

(By the way, the English rules I have for Proconsul contain my all-time favorite sentence ever from a set of game rules: 'The other players must be silent even if it makes their tongues burn to sit still.' Now, who can resist THAT?!)

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Two good games and a mediocre one for the price of one!
April 25, 2005

Rome is an unusual “Euro game.” This is because the box of Rome contains three distinct games inside it: Imperium, Circus Maximus, and Hannibal vs. Rome. All three of the games share a common theme - that of ancient Rome; but other than that, there’s no pressing reason that all three of them needed to be included in the same box except that Imperium and Hannibal vs. Rome use the same game board. It’s a pretty clever idea, actually. I mean, the chance of a person liking one out of the three games is fairly good, and I’m surprised that more multiple-games-in-one-box aren’t produced. The box came chock full of wooden pieces and cards, and I figured I’d like one of the games.

And fact was, I enjoyed two of them. I had very mediocre to poor feelings about Hannibal vs. Rome, but I thought that Circus Maximus was a very good game, and that Imperium was a truly excellent little game. While I think that there are better chariot racing games than Circus Maximus (Ave Caesar), the fact that it came packaged with one of the fastest area control games I’ve ever played and a pseudo war game (even though I didn’t like it) makes the whole package worth picking up.

Since there are three games in the box, I’ll only briefly summarize each...

Hannibal vs. Rome is a two-player game covering the Second Punic War between the Romans and the Carthaginians. The Roman player gets eight Legion units in Rome and three fleets in the adjacent ocean. The Carthaginian player gets six Legion units in Carthage, led by a special Hannibal legion, and three fleets adjacent. Both players get a hand of cards numbered “1” to “5”. On each turn, players may move a unit, change a legion to a fleet, or pass. If a player moves onto a spot where an opponent has a unit, each player must play a card from their hand face down simultaneously. The player who reveals the lower number must remove one of their units from the board. The battle continues until only one player has units on the spot, and used cards are set aside until a player has gone through all five, at which point they get them all back. All units have the same power, except Hannibal’s legion adds one to the value on their cards. If a player captures the capitol of their enemy, they win, if they accomplish a certain territorial goal outlined in the rules, or if they eliminate the other player. Draws occur if both players pass consecutively.

Circus Maximus is an attempt to recreate the great chariot races of that stadium. Each player gets chariot cards numbered one to five, and three chariots of their color. A large track composed of scores of hexes is placed on the table, and in player order, the chariots are set up on the starting grid. Each player puts their cards in a row in front of them, and the race is ready to begin. On a turn, the chariot in the front goes first, with those behind following. A player slides forward one to three cards and moves one of their chariots that EXACT amount, then flips the cards over. Each chariot must have at least one card assigned to it - even if the chariot cannot move and the card is wasted. When the turn is over, all cards are flipped back over, and another turn begins. When a chariot lands in one of the finish spaces (after one lap), it is out of the race, and the first player to get all three of their chariots to the finish line is the winner!

Imperium uses a map of the Mediterranean area, split into eight provinces. Each player chooses a color and takes eleven cards of that color along with a pawn, which they place on a scoring track - and 14 influence markers. A large black pawn is placed in the first province (Africa), and the game is ready to begin. At the beginning of each turn, players choose three cards from their hand, placing them in a pile face down in front of them. Players then reveal the cards and follow the instructions on them. Most of the cards correspond to one of the provinces on the board - if a player shows one of these cards, they place one of their influence markers in that province. If a player plays a “Bread and Circuses” card, they add two influence markers to the province card directly above it. A couple other special cards (Oracle and Ear of the Emperor) also add a one-time per game effect for the player. After all markers are placed, the province containing the black marker is scored. The player with the most influence markers there gets the first number of points printed on the board, with the second highest getting the next number, etc. All influence markers are then removed, except for one influence marker of the player who has the most influence in the sector. This marker is considered the “Proconsul”, and is placed on the capital city of the sector. A player scores one bonus point for this capitol plus one bonus point for each adjacent capitol they control in adjacent territories (can be a chain.) The black pawn moves to the next province in a clockwise direction, and another turn occurs. The game continues until at least one player reaches forty points, at which points the player with the most points wins!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: I’m not normally a fan of the components of GMT games; I think that they are merely okay. But in this game, I’m extremely pleased. The double-sided board looks pretty good. While the Mediterranean map side is pretty standard fair, the chariot arena is extremely impressive, with nice shadows and artwork (the crowd is amazing), lending a very atmospheric touch to the game. Piles of wooden pieces come with the game - much more gratifying than counters. The pieces for Hannibal and Circus are both painted wooden rectangles with stickers pasted onto them. They’re very chunky to the feel and make the game very fun to play. The cards for all the games, while a little generic in their artwork, are of good quality; and the colors are easy to distinguish from each other. I did have to add some plastic bags to the game to help sort between the pieces, as all three games use red and blue pieces, causing some confusion. Still, for the amount of bits one receives, this is a good deal!

2.) Rules: The fifteen pages of rules cover all three games, and all are explained quite easily. I found that all three games were explained simply, and I actually wondered if anything had been left out. But rather, the games actually were that simplistic, and any true depth to them came from tactics. All of them were very easy for me to teach - Imperium and Circus especially were able to be taught in less then three minutes each.

3.) Hannibal vs. Carthage: I personally disliked this game. Knizia + a war game just didn’t really hit me in the right spot. It felt mechanical, solvable, and simply had very few options. The board felt small and constricted; I felt like I had only a few pieces, and all the pieces acted the same. It was almost like playing Chess with one hand tied behind my back. As you can tell, I didn’t like it; although I did play it with a person who was more enthusiastic than I.

4.) Circus Maximus: If I had never played Ave Caesar, I would have been very pleased to play this chariot racing game. Even still, Circus is an excellent racing game, where blocking your opponents is the only real way to get ahead. My only concern is that it seems like the best strategy is to run one of your chariots as fast as you can to the finish lines, then bring in the other two. So far, every game won has been by a person employing this strategy. Still, the game is intriguing enough to play regardless.

5.) Imperium: Imperium is my favorite game of the lot, by far. I like Web of Power, because it’s a fast, simple area-control game - a “filler” with a lot of tactics and strategy. Imperium is the same thing, but for some reason I enjoy it much more. It has much of the same feel as Web of Power, connecting capitols, but adds simultaneous selection to the mix - a feature I heartily enjoy. Every game I’ve played has been fast, fun, and many times down to the wire. I believe that Rome is worth buying on basis of this game alone.

6.) Time and Players: Rome is a nice selection of games, with a two-player game (Hannibal), and some two to five player games (Imperium and Circus). But what is truly nice is how quickly all three games play. Circus Maximus is the longest game of the three (a little over a half hour), while the other two games are extremely quick, lasting about fifteen minutes each. That means that Rome has the option to see a lot of play and is one of those games you can have sitting around to play when you want to fill some time between other games.

7.) Fun Factor: There may be some who find fun in Hannibal, although I found it a tedious math exercise - sort of a Lord of the Rings: Confrontation with all the fun taken out of it. The other two games are a blast to play, however. While Circus Maximus doesn’t have any “stand up on the table and scream Ave Caesar” moments, it’s still fun to play; and Imperium has a lot of “I can’t believe you put your tokens there!” moments when the cards are revealed.

As you can tell, I really liked Imperium, my favorite game of the three - one that I would have thought worth getting even if the game had been packaged alone. Coming with the other two games was an added bonus. Even though I didn’t like Hannibal, I didn’t feel cheated, as the other two games were certainly worth the price of the box. If you think that you’ll like any two of these games, why not get it? We sadly won’t often see three games packaged into one box. It does increase the chances of getting a game you like. Rome may not contain three great games; but it does have two good ones, and that’s better than most packages you buy these days...

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

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