Each turn represents 25 years, with the movement of forces and the shifting of power occurring at a proportionately very large scale. Combat takes place throughout the game, but they, too, represent ongoing conflict as much as individual battles. But even here, subtleties are built-in: force composition matters – armies overbalanced by cheap light infantry suffer penalties, while cavalry can single-handedly make the difference between winning and losing – and knowing when and where to make a stand and when to withdraw to safer places can literally decide the fate of a power for an entire generation.
And at this scale, of course, the best-laid plans frequently go awry. In one game, Rome was all ready to sail for Sicily when suddenly an army of Gallic barbarians appeared with the play of a card and swept across northern Italy and down towards Rome. In another, the two leaders for The East (representing the Seleucids and the Ptolemies) joined together for a knock-out blow against the Greeks in Asia Minor, when the play of a different card had the leaders turning on each other, destroying over half their forces, and putting The East on the defensive for the remainder of the turn. In still another, the Greek player drew a card that he was forced to play on himself, causing civil war in his homeland and giving his enemies not only a breather, but a surprisingly easy advance.
Most important for gamers, though, is the wide variety of scenarios PAX provides, from fast-playing, one-sitting two-player games to vivid recreations of the entire era with four players. The game works well with 2, 3 or 4 players, and is designed to be playable solitaire for those interested in the historical view it provides. Scenarios range from The Punic Wars, through the Eastern Med conflicts between the Greeks and the Seleucids, all the way up to the entire 10 turn game, covering 300 years of history. In addition, there are two versions of PAX: the Standard Game, designed for fast play, and the Advanced version, which adds in much tangential history and allows for a more introspective examination of the era.
Since the game's release, all four powers have seen victory in the full games, and while games among new players tend to favor Carthage and the East, Rome and Greece have won more than their share of games among experienced players. Also since the game's release, a strong play-by-email community has developed for Pax, with numerous games using the excellent Cyberboard and Vassal modules going on at any given time.
The Second Edition of Pax Romana both updates and upgrades the game. The map is now a fully MOUNTED map (as in Twilight Struggle Deluxe, Labyrinth, etc). Any errata from the original game has been corrected and included, with the Rulebook, Playbook, and Charts and Tables having undergone a thorough edit and revision to produce their second Living Rules versions. The counters and scenarios that appeared in C3i magazine #19 are part of the package as well, along with two additional new scenarios (including an additional 3-player scenario and a shorter 4-player campaign scenario), and a separate sheet of round money markers have replaced the square markers used for Talents in the original. Finally, the cards will be given new artwork to give them more visual appeal. Also included are new "named" counters for the most significant elite leaders of the period, including Hannibal, Scipio, and Seleucus.
The single most frequent request from players has been the addition of player "mats". Pax Second Edition has four of these, one for each power, each one customized to reflect the different needs and interests of that power. On these mats, players keep their Treasury and their large army stacks, track their Stability levels, Victory Points, Civilization Points, Geographical Objective Points, and Income level. In addition, special rules are noted on the mats to which those rules apply. All tracks have been removed from the map except for the Turn Record and the MP Remaining tracks, and a few additional much-used tables have been added to the map in their place.
Note: All 2nd Edition components have been fully updated to reflect any needed changes, corrections, or additions, as suggested by the game's many players.
For those who want to upgrade from the 1st Edition, spares willl be available for purchase of all the new components (set of five countersheets, new card deck, player mats, and the set of new rulebook, playbook, and player-aid cards). The 2nd Edition mounted map is available for P500 purchase now. We'll print enough of those to cover what goes in the 2nd Edition game, the P500 orders for the map alone, and a few spares, so please order yours now if you want one.