Kickstart This! #168: Foundations of Rome

Designer:  Emerson Matsuuchi (Century: Eastern Wonders, Century: Golem Edition, Century: Spice Road, Reef, Specter Ops)

Artist:  Stephen Gibson (Air, Land & Sea; Folklore: The Affliction; GoodCritters)

Publisher:  Arcane Wonders (Mage Wars Arena, Onitama, Royals, Sheriff of Nottingham)

Genre/Mechanisms:  card selection, city-building, miniatures, tile placement

Funding Status:  At the time of this posting, Foundations of Rome is already fully-funded. In fact, pledges currently total more than 13x the initial funding goal, with 6 days left to go on the campaign!

Player Count:  2-5

Solo Mode:  no

Complexity:  medium-light

Risk:  HIGH

What It’s About:  “Over three rounds of play, you will compete to be the greatest builder in Rome by purchasing empty Lots in strategic patterns and using them to construct your buildings. More complex buildings are hard to construct, but they bring their builder even greater glory.”

How It Works: “During a round, the players take turns, starting with the first player and going clockwise. The round continues until the stack of Deed cards for that round (on the Deed board) runs out. At the end of the round, players will score Victory points, recorded on the Victory Point Tracker. After the third round scoring is complete, the game ends.”

On their turn, the active player takes one of the following actions: Taking Income, Buying a Deed, or Constructing a Building.

When Taking Income, the active player receives 5 coins from the bank, plus a number of coins equal to the listed amounts on all of their constructed commercial buildings on the City board.

To Buy a Deed (and this may only be done if the active player still has Ownership tokens, meaning they aren’t already all distributed out on the City board): “1) Pay the number of coins shown above the Deed you wish to purchase (to the bank); 2) Take the Deed card from the Deed board and add it to your Deed card pile; 3) Slide the other Deed cards to the left to fill the empty space, if needed; 4) Fill the last spot by turning over the top Deed card from the deck for the current round; 5) Place one of your Ownership tokens on the matching Lot of the City board.”

Players can only construct Buildings on Lots they own. This means that they’ll need to have already purchased/reserved enough lots in the proper shape and configuration to accommodate the Building they want to construct. To Construct a Building the player simply removes their Ownership Tokens from the Lots where they want to build, and places their Building there. Players are allowed to remove smaller Buildings and build over them with larger Buildings; but are never allowed to build smaller Buildings over larger Buildings (or build Buildings of the same size over each other). There is no cost associated with constructing Buildings, only with purchasing the Lots.

At the end of each round, the player with the most Citizens scores a bonus: 4 VP in Round 1, 7 VP in Round 2, and 10 VP in Round 3. After the third and final round ends, “players score Victory Points for the Citizens living in the Buildings they have constructed and the Municipal Buildings they have built, as well as Coins from their Buildings that provide Income.”

Comparisons:  Essentially, Foundations of Rome is a polyomino game, where players trying to slot differently shaped pieces into a grid. There have been a great many successful games of this sub-genre in the last few years: Barenpark, Cottage Garden, Indian Summer, The Isle of Cats, Patchwork, and Spring Meadow, to name but a few. What makes Foundations different is the additional mechanic of a Deed Market, as well as the use of miniatures instead of simple cardboard tiles… and the subsequent heavy price tag attached to the game. The current Kickstarter campaign even offers an option to have a wash applied to the building miniatures for an additional $50! Foundations is being featured here because the gameplay is so attractive and the theme is compelling, but buyer beware, the all-in for this Kickstarter could have you paying more than 10x (in the case of Patchwork) what you’ll pay for another very similar, very solid entry in the genre.

What Should I Pledge?:
$99 Senator (base game): includes the base game and access to the pledge manager.
$159 Emperor (Give me everything!): the Senator pledge, plus the Foundations of Rome: Monuments Expansion, Foundations of Rome: 5th Player Expansion, Metal Coins, and Unlocked Stretch Goals.

$5 First Player Metal Statue
$19 Metal Coins
$99 Foundations of Rome (base game, additional copy)
$29 5th Player Expansion: includes 1 Player Board & Storage Tray, 24 Buildings, 10 Ownership Markers, and 19 Deed Cards.
$39 Monuments Expansion: includes 10 Monument Buildings, 10 Monument Building Cards, 1 Storage Tray, and 25 Player Markers.
$5 Hidden Objectives Card Pack (free with Emperor pledge as a part of the Unlocked Stretch Goals)
$5 Trading & Stealing Module (free with Emperor pledge as a part of the Unlocked Stretch Goals)
$10 Gardens of Ceres Solo Module
$50 Full Game Wash on the miniatures (Emperor pledge only)
$79 Game Toppers 3′ x 5′ Neoprene Mat
… and likely more to come.

KS Exclusives:
None listed.

All-In Total: In the continental U.S., you’re currently looking at (at the time of this posting) $159 for the Emperor Pledge, $5 for the First Player Metal Statue, $10 for the Gardens of Ceres Solo Module, $50 for the Full Game Wash, $79 for the Game Toppers Neoprene mat, plus $25 in estimated shipping for a total of $328.

Foundations of Rome completes its Kickstarter on Thursday, February 6th and tentatively ships in January 2021.

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