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Game #76: Emperor's Successor by DarkDream

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: 12/31/1969

Hey Guys,

With permission from jwarrend, I'm posting a game I'm working on. You can find the rules (I copied FastLearner's way of doing rules), board, player mat and sample cards and counters at this URL:

I live in the Seattle area, and coming May 20th, there is going to be a board game convention of sorts where players can demonstrate their board games. Some board game companies will be there. Hasbro is one and maybe Cheap Ass games will be there as well.

I am ramping up to get my game in to shape!

I used to post frequently in the past, but when I got laid off from work around a year and a half ago, I got in to horse racing and using AI to predict horses winning at the races. Spent tons of time, a lot of coding and so on to achieve not so stellar results.

Also the girl friend got rid of me, so I have a little more time on my hands.

Anyway, I'm back in to designing board games. This particular board game is set in ancient Rome at the beginning of the Empire. You play a family who is trying to get their son to succeed the Emperor when he dies.

The Emperor's wishes are represented by Command Counters that are drawn each round of the game. By taking advantage of the Emperor's patronage to conquer barbarians, build wonderful buildings, hold games and hold public magistrates, a family can endear one of their members to the Emperor and thus be the front runner to succeed him.

I've tried to make it as basic as I can for now. If you guys can think of any ways to stream-line it any more, please let me know.

Right now I think the game begs out for:

1) Some type of Event Cards (Riots in Rome, Barbarian Invasions) that could be used as a balancing mechanism (for example, rioters go to the family with the most political influence and kill the Family Head) or force certain counters (decisions on what the Emperor wants) to be placed on the board (for example, a massive Barbarian Invasion resulting in all Counters to be War Counters and each player must fight a War).

2) Some type of Negotiation Phase to the game. It seems to me that player's should be able to extort other players, for example, a player extorts another player for money to force the player to discard an assasain card. Also the fact that Families can be strong in one area of influence (political, military and public), families should be able to trade influence. An example would be a family with strong military influence would lend its influence in return for a family lending political influence.

3) Some type of hidden victory cards that are handed out at the beginning of the game. An example would be a card that allows a player to win if he has a family member of 7 status and a military influence of 7 which results him marching an army in Rome and taking over.

Any idea how to implement these areas would be great.

The idea of the game came from the mini-series, "I Claudius." This was done in the 70's, and told the story of the Julian-Claudian dynasty in Rome full of back-stabbing, poisoning and so on.

Any comments, ideas and suggestions would be great. I'm going to give a play test at a local game store this Friday.


Joined: 12/31/1969
Game #76: Emperor's Successor by DarkDream

Well, I had a look at the rules and have one request and one specific comment.

Firstly, I always find it really helpful when looking at new rules if there is a 'strategy' section the details the types of choices players will have to make and gives some example strategies and tactics for winning the game. This really helps one get a feel for how it will play (or is supposed to play), which can be tricky from just the rules alone. Perhaps you could post some details in this thread?

Secondly, what I did manage to pick up from the rules is the significant luck factor involved. I wasn't keen on the simple die roll mechanic to determine success of military expeditions and magistrates and so on. The normal rule of thumb for luck in games seems to be that the longer the game takes to play, the less luck should be involved. Maybe I missed it but the rules didn't seem to state expected playing time.

The luck outcome of a single dice roll can be mitigated by having lots of die rolls, but that factor does not seem to be present here, and players may have wagered alot of moolah on the outcome of a single roll, which means the difference between winning and loosing could rest on a single roll.

Am I reading this correctly?

Joined: 12/31/1969
Spirit of the Game and Luck of Dice Rolls


It can be difficult sometimes by just reading the rules to get a feel for the game.

A player controls a noble family in Rome that is related by blood to the Emperor. The Emperor wants a successor and will pick a family member that has done the best in view of his overall prestige or status. Each player starting off has a head of the family card which is a card that has higher than average in the military or political abilities. Each family starts with a different amount of starting influence in the three areas of political, public and military arenas. A family with influence in an area makes it easier for the members to achieve an action associated with that area; for example, if a player has high military family influence, a member of the family has an advantage of becoming a general to fight a war. When player's start out, they first must decide what strategy they want to pursue based on the Command Counters on the board and the starting cards they have. One strategy would be to try to gain as much status as possible with the family head by taking advantage of the family heads strength (political or military) in conjunction with the Family influence strengths. Another strategy would be to concentrate on creating a lot of children, and spreading the status gained among a group of family members. Another strategy is to go for simply trying to earn more and more money through land purchases (which should compensate against players with more status and influence) and go the route of simply holding a lot of circuses and building public works (which usually cost, relatively, a lot of money). Another strategy is to concentrate on purchasing a lot of Action Cards and get a lot of Information Cards so as to wreck havoc on other players (exposing scandals, creating divorces, assassination and so on) which will in turn push players down to make your own family members better.

Each of the routes of gaining status is different with strengths and weaknesses. Military conquests require significant risk (death) put pays off well in terms of influence, status and booty. The political avenue is much safer but can be costly and the risk of failing at doing well in the office is higher than a military conquest (costing valuable status and influence). The public route through games takes a lot of money, but can generate a lot of status instantly, while the building of public works requires a fair amount of cash, it does guarantee the acquisition of status but may take several rounds to complete.

Other choices players need to make is the important task of marriage where the fertility of the women (the ability to make a lot of babies) should be considered as well as the influence an alliance with the Suitor's family will bring.

I hope this gives you a better idea of the spirit of the game, and what the type of decisions players make.

As for the luck part of it, and the danger of spending money on an auction and getting nothing is not entirely correct. Gaining a magistrate, becoming a General or holding games, automatically gives you at least one Status Markers. Whether or not you earn *more* status markers is based on luck but the more you spend with the Games and the higher a Family Card's military or political skill is, the more chance of succeeding. You made a good point, however, and I will look for issues of this nature when play testing it.


Zzzzz's picture
Joined: 06/20/2008
Game #76: Emperor's Successor by DarkDream


I know it is after the 20th, sorry for the delay (had to move into a new house this weekend), but I worry that you did not finish your rules. You talk about setup, the components and the goal.

But WHAT do the players DO?

What happens each round?

You dont seem to have the basic section in the rules for talking about what players can do each round. You talk about combat in your post, fight the barbarians.... HOW does this happen? When can this happen? How does a player FIGHT?

You have an assasian, thief and other cards, how do I use them as a player?

I like the idea behind the game, I just think you need to work on the rules so that a player knows what can me done, is there even a concept of a round in the game? Actions? etc....

Again sorry I was late on the feedback,

Joined: 12/31/1969
Sorry About the Rules

Zzzzz and everyone,

Sorry about the rules. For what ever reason, the first page of the rules was out there and not the full rule book.

I have gone ahead and created the rule book again, and this time all the rules are there.

Zzzzz, with the *full* rule book there, I think your questions will be answered.


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