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The Downfall of Pompeii
 
 
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Store:  Family Games
Edition:  Untergang von Pompeji
Theme:  Ancient Rome
Format:  Board Games
Other:  Essen 2006 releases

The Downfall of Pompeii


List Price: $35.00
Your Price: $31.50
(10% savings!)
(Worth 3,150 Funagain Points!)

This item is In Stock []
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Ages Play Time Players
10+ 45 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Klaus-Jurgen Wrede

Manufacturer(s): Mayfair Games, Amigo

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Product Description

In the year 79 A.D., the beautiful city of Pompeii sits at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. For years, the lovely town has attracted the best of Rome's citizens, and it is famous for both its businesses and luxuries. But a terrible secret lies deep beneath the slopes of the mighty mountain. A secret that will unleash unspeakable horrors on the fateful afternoon of August 24th...

Come to beautiful Pompeii with this exciting game! You will use cards to attract your Roman friends and relatives to the town. But hidden in the deck is the dreaded Vesuvius card! Once this card is drawn, the volcano will erupt, raining fire onto the unsuspecting city! Now you must struggle to escape the doomed city, rushing to avoid the constant streams of lave that threaten to engulf your people! Will you be able to save them all? The player with the most survivors will be the winner!

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Klaus-Jurgen Wrede

  • Manufacturer(s): Mayfair Games, Amigo

  • Year: 2006

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 45 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 758 grams

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

Contents:

  • 120 wood pieces
  • 62 game cards
  • 45 lava tiles
  • 3 dual vent tiles
  • 1 volcano
  • 1 cloth bag
  • Game board
  • Simple rules

Product Reviews

 
 
 
 
 

Average Rating: 4 in 7 reviews

Sort reviews by:

 
 
 
 
 
Watch 'em fry!!
May 21, 2007

Okay, maybe my family is a little twisted but for us to really enjoy a game there's got to be some good old fashioned meanness going on. This game delivers but in a not-too-nasty way.

At first you race against each other to get the best locations in the city and once the volcano erupts (when it's your turn) you have the option of benignly placing a lava tile in an unpopulated part of the city or just plonking (yes, that is a word) it down right on top of your opponents. Ahh, the angry words, the pleas for mercy, the sleeping on the couch after the game...

Well, just make sure you have a group of people who don't mind a little mischievous fun. It's easy to learn, and quick to play so you'll have plenty of time for the revenge matches your fellow players will be demanding. And most of all you'll have lots of fun!! And isn't why you're playing board games with your friends and family to start with?

 
 
 
 
 
A blast!
July 14, 2005

The clever Pompeii theme carries this game -- and the volcano is a nice touch!

The game starts sedately -- players draw cards to populate the city with their own citizens, and their "relatives." Then, the first volcano card pops up, and the fun begins. Now, whenever an "Omen" card is drawn, a player can throw another player's citizens into the volcano. When the "A.D. 79 card" is drawn, things start to get really interesting. In this stage of the game, players take turns drawing lava tiles and placing them in various parts of the city, and moving as many of their citizens as possible through the city gates to safety. Place a lava tile on a space with citizens on it, and throw them into the volcano! The player with the most surviving citizens wins.

This is a quick game to learn, since the theme makes things intuitively obvious -- first, get people into the city, then get them out.

While it will not tax your brain, there is some strategy involved in deciding where to place citizens in the first part of the game, and how to move them out in the second part. (For instance, the number of spaces a piece can move is equal to the number of pieces sharing its current space. Also, it can pay to move your piece to a space occupied by opposing players, to minimize the chances of having your piece flattened by a lava tile.)

This is a great game for kids. It plays quickly (generally, within 30 minutes), and they seem to enjoy tossing citizens into the volcano!

Finally, the game looks great. The board is sturdy and attractive, and the lava tiles (which have different themes to indicate which part of the city they can be placed in) are colorful. And we do love that volcano!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
 
 
 
 
 
Fast and Fun - Great for Families
January 31, 2007

To make a game on a recent disaster would be unthinkable – in fact, I’ve refused to review one such game that made light of recent world events. The main reason for that is that these events are fresh in our minds, and to make light of them with a game seems cruel and uncaring. Oddly, events almost two thousand years old aren’t quite as offensive – thus the game The Downfall of Pompeii (Mayfair Games, 2006 - Klaus Jurgen Wrede). Based on the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and consequent destruction of the city of Pompeii in 79 AD, it takes an ancient tragedy and turns it into a fun, humorous game.

Putting aside the question of whether or not the theme is offensive (the vast majority seem to not care), Pompeii is an extremely fun game. Yes, there is certainly luck laced throughout the game and certainly a high interaction factor, but it’s fast and fun; and everyone I’ve played with gets a big kick out of throwing their opponents pieces into the volcano. There may be some odd logical problems with the theme, but the looming volcano on the board helps bring the game to life; and it is well suited as an enjoyable “filler” game, one that will most likely attract many people – even those not normally known as “gamers.”

A board representing the town of Pompeii is placed on the board, divided into a grid of squares, having seven gates around the city where players can escape. There are eleven numbered buildings in four different colors and several other “neutral” buildings scattered around the city, each with circular spaces for one to seven people in them. Each player takes a number of pieces that represent people (number determined by the amount of players) in their color, and a plastic volcano piece is placed on one side of the city. A deck of cards is prepared for the first phase of the game according to specifications in the rulebook, with each player given four cards as their starting hand. The player next to the dealer takes the first turn, and then play passes clockwise around the table.

On a player’s turn, they simply play one of the cards in their hand, which matches the color and number of one of the buildings on the board. The player then places one of their people into one of the open circles in the building. They then draw a card, and the next player takes their turn. This continues until one player draws the A.D 79 card. At this point, two new rules take effect. If a player draws an “Omen” card, they must immediately discard it and take any other players’ person from the board and throw them into the volcano, drawing a replacement card. The other new rule is known as “relatives”. When a player places a person in a building, they may place extra people onto the board equal to the number of people already in that building. These extra people may be placed in the same building, in a numbered building of the same color, or any of the neutral buildings. If players play a card that matches a building that is already full, then the card acts as a “wild” card but does not trigger any relatives. Again, play continues until the second A.D. 79 card is drawn, at which point the volcano erupts!

At this point, all players discard their cards and get rid of any extra people they still have in front of them. To represent the lava, a bag of tiles is brought out – filled with square tiles of lava – each with one of six different symbols on it (scroll, vase, helmet, mask, coin, and column). The player to the left of the triggering player draws a tile and places it on the square on the board that matches that symbol, and then passes the bag to the player on their left. This continues until six tiles are placed on the board. If a player draws a tile that has already been placed, then the new tile is placed adjacent to one of the tiles with the same symbol. Any people who happen to be in the square where lava tiles are placed are thrown into the volcano. After six tiles are placed, the player to the left of the last person to place begins the second phase of the game.

In this phase, a player must first draw a lava tile and place it according to the rules above then move two of their game pieces. When placing the lava tile, if it surrounds game pieces so that they can no longer make it to any of the seven gates, they are removed and thrown into the volcano. When moving, the player moves two different pieces. Each piece may move one square for each of the total pieces that are in the same square as it begins in. Players can move through any square, attempting to get their pieces to one of the gates. If a player gets a person out of the city gates, they place the piece in front of them. If a player only has one piece or has a piece alone in a spot, they may move it twice instead of two different pieces.

The game continues until the last lava tile is drawn from the bag or if there are no people alive in the city. At this point, the player with the most pieces in front of them wins – ties being broken by the player with the fewest pieces in the volcano.

Some comments on the game…

1.) Components: I have the original Amigo version of the game and was pleased to see that they replaced the thin paper-stock volcano with a plastic one that really fits well into a large hole in the board (it does feel odd to punch out a large circle from the board and throw it away). The volcano is certainly the centerpiece of the game – and looks good on the board – which has some very nice artwork that gives an arial view of the city. As the lava tiles are pulled from the red cloth bag, it really does look like lava is crazily running all throughout the city. The cards are very high quality, and the cards for different building match in color, number, and picture, helping to easily differentiate them. The player pieces are small octagonal cylinders - which I suppose is better than cubes - that make a satisfying noise when thrown into the tower. Everything fits inside a nice plastic insert in a medium sized box – with good artwork helping evoke the time period.

2.) Rules: I remember when I first got the original game and downloaded the translation off the internet how confusing the setup of the deck was – especially since there was only one A.D. 79 card which had to be reshuffled in at one point. The new rules, which are on eight full color pages with lots of examples and pictures, are much easier to understand – and are actually quite clear. The game itself is extremely easy to teach, which is why I rate it highly as a “gateway” game - a game that allows people who have played very few games to get involved quickly and easily. Teenagers and even younger children should have no problem – making this an excellent family game.

3.) Strategy: At first, it seems a bit haphazard as to where one places their people – you are somewhat constricted by the cards in your hand, and who really knows where the lava is going to come from. It’s good to be in populated areas of the city, because everyone is going to work together to rescue their people. In the second half of the first phase, it seems like the obvious choice would be to place people in such a way that would allow you to place the most relatives. After all, the person with the most people in the city has the most people who might escape, right? This sounds accurate, but usually doesn’t work for two reasons. One - the player with the most people in the city is often targeted by others when placing the lava tiles, and two – the fact that ties are broken by the player with the fewest people in the volcano. So perhaps the best place to put people is in buildings that are situated near the gates. Doing so gives you only a few people, so is that worth it, though?

4.) Family: Okay, the above paragraph really doesn’t talk up the massive strategy in the game, because there really isn’t any. It’s all about the laughing, the pleading to put the lava tile on someone else’s people, and the general having a good time. This is one of the few games that I’m actually surprised at the limit of only four players, as it seems as if it would be a wonderful game for six people. The game has two distinct halves, and the first is merely a setup for the hilarious and enjoyable second half.

5.) Fun Factor: The game isn’t meant to be taken seriously, and the theme is far enough removed to feel abstract and silly. I’ve seen negative comments on the internet, in which players criticized the randomness of the game. I will certainly grant the random factor, but the game is at its best as simply a fun, enjoyable game played for laughs and the fellowship. It’s a game in which a lot of talking occurs, as players attempt to convince people where to place the lava tiles and outrun them. There certainly is a sense of urgency as you attempt to get your little wooden cylinders out of the city before they are thrown screaming into the volcano.

Pompeii isn’t going to achieve the stardom of Wrede’s best-known game, Carcassonne; but it is one that families in particular should check out. I’m constantly surprised at the good reception the game receives, and it is one of my most requested games. Perhaps it is the act of throwing pieces into a fake volcano – perhaps it is the simplicity and quickness of gameplay. I prefer to think it’s because the game is fun.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

 
 
 
 
 
by A Gamer
Explosive!
May 07, 2005

Die Untergang von Pompeji is a light weight strategy game that is easy to learn and fun to play. The game plays fast with 4 people. The game is somewhat divided into two parts.

During the first half of the game, players take turns using cards to populate the city and then drawing. If you place a citizen in a building already occupied you get to place bonus citizens on the board. After a few rounds of play, the volcano card comes up signaling the omens of a volcanic eruption. Now when a player draws an omen card he/she gets to sacrifice a citizen to Mt Vesuvius in an attempt to appease the volcano. It doesn't work of course and When the volcano card comes up a second time, Vesuvius erupts!

The second half of the game now begins where players attempt to get as many citizens out of Pompeji as quickly as possible. Cries of "Run away, run away" are frequently chanted. The player with the most survivors wins the game.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
 
 
 
 
 
by Greg J. Schloesser
Run for your lives! Escape Pompeii before it is destroyed.
November 17, 2010

Designer: Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
Publisher: Mayfair
2 – 4 Players, 45 minutes
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser

NOTE: This review was first published in Knucklebones magazine

Few volcanic disasters have captured the fascination of the world as the 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. The resulting conflagration completely buried several Italian cities, the most famous of which was Pompeii. Over the centuries that followed, the city was re-built, but the original city remained buried and virtually forgotten under dozens of feet of volcanic ash. It wasn’t until the ancient city was excavated in the 1800s that Pompeii was truly reborn, and the full scope of the disaster began to be understood.

The study of the eruption and the ensuing fate of Pompeii is truly fascinating, and has been the subject of numerous books, documentaries and even motion pictures. But, is it an appropriate subject for a game? Is it acceptable to play a game that involves the destruction of a city and hundreds of lives? That is certainly a debatable topic, but it appears that the passage of nearly two millennia has dimmed the trauma and scars sufficiently to allow the event to become the subject of a board game.

I’ll steer clear of this debate, and instead concentrate on the game itself. Designed by Spiel des Jahre designer Klaus Jurgen Wrede of Carcassonne fame, The Downfall of Pompeii recreates in a very loose fashion two distinct phases of the final years of the doomed city. The first half of the game is dedicated to the re- population of the city, which was largely vacated following a major earthquake in 63 A.D. The second half of the game is set 16 years later, and is a frantic race for safety, as players rush to lead their citizens out of the city walls and away from the swiftly approaching lava.

The board provides an aerial view of Pompeii, with an assortment of buildings and monuments enclosed by the ancient city walls and gates. Buildings are numbered and color-coded, with most providing spaces for citizens to be placed. In addition to the buildings, there are six spaces, each with a unique symbol, where lava will eventually surface and begin spreading. While this isn’t how the lava actually entered the city, it does make for a more interesting and surprising game. Looming just to the north of the city is a 3D representation of Mt. Vesuvius, which is destined to erupt. Sadly, the volcano is inert, and won’t actually erupt like those neat volcano projects in grammar school science classes. Instead, players must content themselves with tossing screaming citizens into the volcano’s mouth.

Each player is dealt an initial hand of four cards. Each card depicts a color and number, which corresponds to a specific building on the board. Players alternate playing a card and placing one of their citizens into the matching building, provided there is space available. If a building is completely occupied, the citizen may be placed in any building. Normally, the play of a card only allows the placement of one citizen. However, if other citizens are already present in the building, the player may then place “bonus” relatives, one for each other citizen located in the building. These additional citizens may be placed in another building of the same color, or a neutral gray building. Taking advantage of this “relative” rule is very important, as it allows a player to place multiple citizens with the play of a single card. This is generally a good thing. The only potential drawback is that players with the most citizens present in the city tend to be the victims of the dreaded “omen” cards. More on this in a bit.

Players continue placing citizens and drawing cards until the “AD 79” card appears. This is a harbinger of impending doom, and ushers in the “omen” cards. The AD card is shuffled into the bottom portion of the deck, and play continues. Whenever an “omen” card is drawn, the player removes an opponent’s citizen from the city and tosses it into the volcano. Again, this bears no relation to the actual events surrounding Pompeii’s demise, as there is no evidence the Roman citizens ever sacrificed their fellow citizens to a volcano god. But, it does make for great drama, and some questionable role-playing humor! The mechanism also serves to rein- in the player with an abundance of citizens in the city.

When the AD 79 card surfaces a second time, things really turn ugly. Players discard their cards and any unplaced citizens, and the game enters the “run for your life” phase. First, six lava tiles are drawn from the bag. These tiles each depict a symbol matching one of those pre-printed on the board. The first tile of each type drawn is placed directly onto the matching symbol. Subsequent tiles must be placed adjacent to matching tiles, the exact location being left to the discretion of the player drawing the tile. If a space is covered that contains one or more citizens, those citizens are engulfed by the lava and tossed into the volcano, the receptacle of death.

Player turns are now radically different. The first action a player takes is to draw and place a lava tile. Then, he may move two of his citizens, with the objective being to get them through one of the city gates and to the safety of the countryside. A player generally must move two different game pieces. A piece may move a number of spaces equal to the number of citizens occupying the space where it begins the turn. So, if citizen “Adidas” is in a space occupied by two other citizens, he may move a total of three spaces. While there isn’t exactly “safety in numbers”, apparently there is speed!

The exception to being forced to move two separate citizens is that if a citizen begins its turn alone in a space, it may be moved twice. Thus, it is possible to use the first move to move the citizen into a space occupied by other citizens, then use the second move to allow that citizen to sprint towards safety.

This procedure continues, with players taking turns placing a new lava tile and moving their citizens towards safety. The lava flows grow rapidly, and citizens are frequently engulfed or surrounded. If a citizen is completely cut-off from any possible exit, it succumbs to the toxic fumes and is removed, being tossed into the volcano. Play continues until the last lava tile is placed, or until all citizens have either fled the city or perished. At this point, the player who successfully guided the most of his citizens to safety is victorious. If there is a tie, the player with the fewest citizens in the volcano is declared the “savior of Pompeii”, and wins the game.

The Downfall of Pompeii is one of those rare games wherein my opinion has improved dramatically over time. The first time I played, I was expecting a deeper game, filled with drama and strategic options. I was disappointed, and found the lengthy placement portion of the game to be quite dull. The race for the exits was better, and more fun, but it didn’t salvage the game. Fortunately, I did give the game another chance, and found that I enjoyed the experience considerably more. I believe it was a matter of accepting the game for what it is: a light, fun romp. While there are some decisions to be made, the game isn’t a deep strategic affair. Rather, it is seems meant to be little more than a fun pastime. In that light, it succeeds brilliantly.

While still not terribly titillating, the placement phase does have its purpose. Decisions must be made where to place citizens. Do you place them in buildings near the gates, so they can make quick exits when the volcano erupts? Do you try to take advantage of the “relative” rule to place numerous citizens with as many placements as possible, knowing that this will likely cause you to bear the brunt of the omen cards? Do you place into the somewhat safer central part of the city, hoping to make fast sprints to the exits and outrun the lava flows? These are important decisions, but none of them seem to be that critical, as there are pros and cons to each approach, and ultimately they all seem to be of fairly equal value.

Choosing which citizens to move on a turn seems even less important, as the lava appears in a very random fashion. A safe spot can suddenly become dangerous and untenable, while a building located adjacent to a lava flow may go turn-after-turn without being engulfed. Generally, the idea is to save who you can, and abandon the rest. Cruel, but effective.

I’m happy to see Mayfair bringing this game to a wider audience. It is virtually identical to the original Amigo version, with the only real change being an improved, plastic volcano to replace the fragile paper original. I’m not sure just how much appeal the game will have with the general public, as the deadly theme is certainly to cause some consternation and objections in some circles. For those willing to look past such things, however, The Downfall of Pompeii offers a fun gaming experience and stands in stark contrast to the grim tragedy of the actual event.

 
 
 
 
 
by Greg J. Schloesser
A fun look at a tragic event
March 15, 2007

Designer: Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
Publisher: Mayfair
2 – 4 Players, 45 minutes
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser

Few volcanic disasters have captured the fascination of the world as the 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. The resulting conflagration completely buried several Italian cities, the most famous of which was Pompeii. Over the centuries that followed, the city was re-built, but the original city remained buried and virtually forgotten under dozens of feet of volcanic ash. It wasn’t until the ancient city was excavated in the 1800s that Pompeii was truly reborn, and the full scope of the disaster began to be understood.

The study of the eruption and the ensuing fate of Pompeii is truly fascinating, and has been the subject of numerous books, documentaries and even motion pictures. But, is it an appropriate subject for a game? Is it acceptable to play a game that involves the destruction of a city and hundreds of lives? That is certainly a debatable topic, but it appears that the passage of nearly two millennia has dimmed the trauma and scars sufficiently to allow the event to become the subject of a board game.

I’ll steer clear of this debate, and instead concentrate on the game itself. Designed by Spiel des Jahre designer Klaus Jurgen Wrede of Carcassonne fame, The Downfall of Pompeii recreates in a very loose fashion two distinct phases of the final years of the doomed city. The first half of the game is dedicated to the re- population of the city, which was largely vacated following a major earthquake in 63 A.D. The second half of the game is set 16 years later, and is a frantic race for safety, as players rush to lead their citizens out of the city walls and away from the swiftly approaching lava.

The board provides an aerial view of Pompeii, with an assortment of buildings and monuments enclosed by the ancient city walls and gates. Buildings are numbered and color-coded, with most providing spaces for citizens to be placed. In addition to the buildings, there are six spaces, each with a unique symbol, where lava will eventually surface and begin spreading. While this isn’t how the lava actually entered the city, it does make for a more interesting and surprising game. Looming just to the north of the city is a 3D representation of Mt. Vesuvius, which is destined to erupt. Sadly, the volcano is inert, and won’t actually erupt like those neat volcano projects in grammar school science classes. Instead, players must content themselves with tossing screaming citizens into the volcano’s mouth.

Each player is dealt an initial hand of four cards. Each card depicts a color and number, which corresponds to a specific building on the board. Players alternate playing a card and placing one of their citizens into the matching building, provided there is space available. If a building is completely occupied, the citizen may be placed in any building. Normally, the play of a card only allows the placement of one citizen. However, if other citizens are already present in the building, the player may then place “bonus” relatives, one for each other citizen located in the building. These additional citizens may be placed in another building of the same color, or a neutral gray building. Taking advantage of this “relative” rule is very important, as it allows a player to place multiple citizens with the play of a single card. This is generally a good thing. The only potential drawback is that players with the most citizens present in the city tend to be the victims of the dreaded “omen” cards. More on this in a bit.

Players continue placing citizens and drawing cards until the “AD 79” card appears. This is a harbinger of impending doom, and ushers in the “omen” cards. The AD card is shuffled into the bottom portion of the deck, and play continues. Whenever an “omen” card is drawn, the player removes an opponent’s citizen from the city and tosses it into the volcano. Again, this bears no relation to the actual events surrounding Pompeii’s demise, as there is no evidence the Roman citizens ever sacrificed their fellow citizens to a volcano god. But, it does make for great drama, and some questionable role-playing humor! The mechanism also serves to rein-in the player with an abundance of citizens in the city.

When the AD 79 card surfaces a second time, things really turn ugly. Players discard their cards and any unplaced citizens, and the game enters the “run for your life” phase. First, six lava tiles are drawn from the bag. These tiles each depict a symbol matching one of those pre-printed on the board. The first tile of each type drawn is placed directly onto the matching symbol. Subsequent tiles must be placed adjacent to matching tiles, the exact location being left to the discretion of the player drawing the tile. If a space is covered that contains one or more citizens, those citizens are engulfed by the lava and tossed into the volcano, the receptacle of death.

Player turns are now radically different. The first action a player takes is to draw and place a lava tile. Then, he may move two of his citizens, with the objective being to get them through one of the city gates and to the safety of the countryside. A player generally must move two different game pieces. A piece may move a number of spaces equal to the number of citizens occupying the space where it begins the turn. So, if citizen “Adidas” is in a space occupied by two other citizens, he may move a total of three spaces. While there isn’t exactly “safety in numbers”, apparently there is speed!

The exception to being forced to move two separate citizens is that if a citizen begins its turn alone in a space, it may be moved twice. Thus, it is possible to use the first move to move the citizen into a space occupied by other citizens, then use the second move to allow that citizen to sprint towards safety.

This procedure continues, with players taking turns placing a new lava tile and moving their citizens towards safety. The lava flows grow rapidly, and citizens are frequently engulfed or surrounded. If a citizen is completely cut-off from any possible exit, it succumbs to the toxic fumes and is removed, being tossed into the volcano. Play continues until the last lava tile is placed, or until all citizens have either fled the city or perished. At this point, the player who successfully guided the most of his citizens to safety is victorious. If there is a tie, the player with the fewest citizens in the volcano is declared the “savior of Pompeii”, and wins the game.

The Downfall of Pompeii is one of those rare games wherein my opinion has improved dramatically over time. The first time I played, I was expecting a deeper game, filled with drama and strategic options. I was disappointed, and found the lengthy placement portion of the game to be quite dull. The race for the exits was better, and more fun, but it didn’t salvage the game. Fortunately, I did give the game another chance, and found that I enjoyed the experience considerably more. I believe it was a matter of accepting the game for what it is: a light, fun romp. While there are some decisions to be made, the game isn’t a deep strategic affair. Rather, it is seems meant to be little more than a fun pastime. In that light, it succeeds brilliantly.

While still not terribly titillating, the placement phase does have its purpose. Decisions must be made where to place citizens. Do you place them in buildings near the gates, so they can make quick exits when the volcano erupts? Do you try to take advantage of the “relative” rule to place numerous citizens with as many placements as possible, knowing that this will likely cause you to bear the brunt of the omen cards? Do you place into the somewhat safer central part of the city, hoping to make fast sprints to the exits and outrun the lava flows? These are important decisions, but none of them seem to be that critical, as there are pros and cons to each approach, and ultimately they all seem to be of fairly equal value.

Choosing which citizens to move on a turn seems even less important, as the lava appears in a very random fashion. A safe spot can suddenly become dangerous and untenable, while a building located adjacent to a lava flow may go turn-after-turn without being engulfed. Generally, the idea is to save who you can, and abandon the rest. Cruel, but effective.

I’m happy to see Mayfair bringing this game to a wider audience. It is virtually identical to the original Amigo version, with the only real change being an improved, plastic volcano to replace the fragile paper original. I’m not sure just how much appeal the game will have with the general public, as the deadly theme is certainly to cause some consternation and objections in some circles. For those willing to look past such things, however, The Downfall of Pompeii offers a fun gaming experience and stands in stark contrast to the grim tragedy of the actual event.

 
 
 
 
 
Not as exciting as you'd think
May 23, 2005

I love the big volcano that comes with this game (or should I say 2 games). The first game is a boring set up and the second is a mildly amusing flee from danger.

The game is very light, but there are more rules than you'd want to learn for how random the game is. I like the theme! Unfortunately, the game is just not that good.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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