Donning the Purple

Donning the Purple

From Tompet Games

A preview by Mawihtec

2-3 Players

update 20th February 2018: Donning the Purple is now live on Kickstarter.


193AD The might of Caesar is long gone. The madness of Caligula has subsided. The Roman empire is no longer the mighty force it once was. Well past its heyday. The cut and thrust of politics is more often discussed at the pointy end of a knife. You find a power vacuum, the previous Emperor has been assassinated by his own praetorian guard. You and two other families have decided to take this chance to seize the day and the power while your at it. Do you have what it takes to not only grab the throne but also hold onto it? All the while opposing forces are attacking the empire, famine is widespread and you associates are helping you while holding a knife at your back.

Carpe noctem.

Component quality in Donning the Purple is looking promising. The art currently on show in the preview prototype is looking attractive and thematic, especially the game board. The quality of the final game components will all depend on what the final funding achieved is and which Stretch goals are reached.

You will encounter Forum cards, Event Cards, Hidden agenda cards, plot cards, a game board, Enemy troops, Roman Troops, Buildings, Aqueducts and Dice of different types. With possibly more to come.

Carpe diem.

OK so you fancy Donning the Purple of the Emperor. What is involved? A game is played over 4 years (rounds) each year is split into 8 phases. Your goal is a simple one. Get as many VP as you can. The other players will be doing their best to ruin your chances. All the while you will be forced to work together. Because if the invading forces ever gain control of your regional capitals or manage to place all their forces. It is game over you all lose.

Ad portas.

8 Phases! I hear you exclaim. While this might initially sound daunting. It is nowhere near as bad as you might think and all of the phases follow a natural progression.

1: Enemies appear and move. Each turn two enemy forces appear in each region. A die is used to determine which province (area). Once placed all enemies move following a set pattern. If they encounter a weaker Roman force they destroy it.

2: Harvest. Each round a region is allocated as a famine spot so produces no food. All the other regions grain goes to the Emperor to allow him to feed the people. Enemy forces stop production.

3: Card Draw. Event cards are drawn and resolved in order. Usually 5 but certain cards can change this. This is followed by a Forum card. This is essentially a new action space for the next round.

4: Action round. This involves players spending precious stamina to build monuments, estates, move on the map or even assassinate the Emperor.

Imperium in imperio.

Half way through the year. Onwards to phase,

5: Place buildings. Where you place buildings (you did not see that coming) this is dependent on their location on a build track.

6: Feed Rome. It is time for the Emperor to feed the people. If he manages to feed all the provinces everyone is happy and all is well. If not happiness drops. Let it drop too far and it is curtains for the Emperor.

7: Tax. Money money money. You collect money from your estates. While the Emperor will collect extra for each province without any enemies.

8: End of year. This is essentially the clean up section of the year.

Felix culpa.

So how does it all feel. Given the number of phases in a round it is surprisingly fluid. Once you have played 1 round you will be pretty much au-fait with the rules. The mix of co-op and Vs mode seems to blend in well with the theme of this game. You will constantly be thinking, “hmm If I do this it will help me but it helps the Emperor as well?”. “OK I wont do it I will try to kill the Emperor instead”. While as the Emperor you really are walking a knife edge. You can do more each turn and you can earn more. But the players your relying on can’t be trusted as they plot against you. In my plays I found the balance seemed to flow nicely with some good decision making. The use of hidden agenda and plot cards to throw spanners into the works is a nice addition. While enemy movement is predictable and can be planned for (but not always managed due to back stabbing plotting senators).

Cui bono?

In short. A very interesting game with lots of potential. Only being 2-3 player might hurt it. A fourth player as the enemy option might have been a nice addition but logistically a more difficult proposition. I will be interested to see this on Kickstarter and suggest it as a definite one to watch at the start of 2018.

For those who’s Latin might be a little rusty.

  • Et-tu – And you
  • Carpe noctem – Seize the night.
  • Carpe diem.– Seize the day.
  • Ad portas – At the gates..
  • Imperium in imperio – Empire within the empire..
  • Felix culpa – Happy fault.
  • Cui bono? – Who benefits?

I received a preview copy of “Donning the Purple” through BGE to preview. This game will now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

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