Shake….. Shake….. Loud crashing noises and the earth moving….. You look around trying to figure out what’s going on. Your home is shaking unbelievably, things are crashing to the ground shattering. You run outside to see every in a panic. Screaming, shouting and wailing coming from every direction. You start to panic trying to stop anyone to ask whats going on. They ignore you running in every direction, grabbing their children and old folk. Then you see it. You look up and see a huge plume of smoke rising from Mt. Vesuvius. Fire spitting out of the top of it. You stand frozen, you can’t believe what you are seeing. Your panic sets in deeper as you don’t know what to do.
You run back in the house, grab your family, shouting at them to drop everything and run. They are crying, they don’t understand, your daughter grabs her doll and you all fun for the door trying to keep your balance as the earth shudders and tosses you around. You grab your daughter into your arms as she fell and hurt her leg. As you exit the door, you look back at the volcano and see lava erupting and hurling large chunks of lava in to the city! One narrowly misses you as it crashes into your home. Lava pours down the sides of the volcano and towards the city. You and your family take off running as fast as you can away from the volcano. Where do your run to? How do you get away from this disaster?
Publisher: Mayfair Games
Game Designer: Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
Artwork: Oliver Freudenreich, Guido Hoffmann
Players: 2 – 4
Ages: 10 to adult
Playing Time: 45 – 90 Minutes
Game Mechanics: Hand Management, Grid Movement, Tile Placement
Contents: 120 wood pieces, 62 game cards, 45 lava tiles, 3 dual vent tiles, 1 volcano, 1 cloth bag, game board and rulebook.
Suggested Retail Price: $35.00
Parental Advisory: Safe for kids
In The Downfall of Pompeii, the players compete to place as many of their pieces on the board as possible and then race to get them out of the city before the lava takes them over and covers them or traps them essentially eliminating them from the game. The game is played in two phases the first of which is the players trying to populate as many of your own people as possible. The second phase when Mt. Vesuvius erupts is when the players try to vacate as many of their people as possible out of the city. If you people get caught, they get thrown into the volcano! The person with the most amount of escapees is the winner.
The Downfall of Pompeii is a short family oriented game that is easy to learn and provides enough challenge for any “serious” gamer to enjoy for the most part. Someone will always argue this point I am sure. This is a revised edition of this game originally published in 2004. The only new addition to the game is the “Dual Vent Variant” which is 3 double sided tiles giving the player a choice of which side to play.
The Downfall of Pompeii is more strategic than you might think. After the players play the initial eight cards and draw the first A.D. 79 card, then they get to place their “relatives” on the board allowing for additional pieces to get a chance to escape. Being that the initial placement of the pieces are dictated by the card being played, once the piece is played in a building, that player then gets to play “relatives” equal to the amount of pieces in the city square portion of that building, meaning you could play up to four additional pieces in one turn if that building is already full. You cannot chain this effect so once you get the first batch of relatives on your turn, that is all the relatives you will receive during that turn. The relatives must be placed in different empty building spaces after that.
This is one of the key component strategies of the game. The other is when the second phase kicks in, the players now get to move two of their pieces. Each equal to the amount of pieces currently in that building. So if you have three pieces in that building before moving, then you get to move three city squares to try and escape. Of course you move into spaces with lots of pieces in it, to try and get all those movement points the next turn. There is a nice level of depth here to provide a “game” and balance the randomness of the tiles being pulled out to place the lava.
Their are six lava starting points on the board represented by six different symbols all on the tiles. When players draw a tile, they must put the tiles in accordance to the symbol. The first tile of each symbol must be placed on the starting city square before placing anywhere else. From there on out, the tiles must be place directly next to a tile with the same symbol and never diagonally.
After the second A.D. 79 card comes into play, all the players discard their cards, put their remaining pieces back in the box and then pull one tile to place and move to of their pieces on the board to escape the lava flow.
The components of this game are decent. The artwork is good but standard. The tiles are thick and will last a long time. The cards are good weight and coated so as to not get all dirty and peel. The board was a tiny bit warped but not enought to effect anything. The volcano is just a piece that folds in a circle and two little tabs slide into their slots making a serviceable volcano. We are working a styrofoam one to add a little more theme to the game. The tile bag is practical but probably the cheapest element of the game. I am still pulling loose threads out after many plays.
All in all, The Downfall of Pompeii is a good, solid and fun family game that is easy to pull out, teach and fit into any gaming situation. Ideal for maybe gaming during lunch at work, the initial warm up game at a game night or teaching new gamers about the great hobby of gaming and of course family game night. Even thought the theme might seem a bit gruesome, it really doesn’t play at all in the game and is completely safe for kids. Mayfair Games even did a nice job of putting some actually history in the rule book to describe what happen when Mt. Vesuvius actually erupted. You’d be surprised at how many people didn’t know a thing about what happened with Pompeii and had no idea it was a real event. Some people complain about the set up with the cards, but I found that to be not a negative at all. It’s very simple, quick and shouldn’t bother anyone. It’s a very light set up game and packs a lot of fun into a short amount of time.
I am giving The Downfall of Pompeii 7 out of 10 stars as it provides a nice fit into so many situations and provides enough depth while being a light game.
This game is Club Fantasci Certified!
Note: A review copy of this game was provided to me.
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