Published on March 9th, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich0
Play This Instead: Glory to Rome / Uchronia
An Alternate Rome with Dinosaurs
I was easily sold on playing Uchronia after a friend told me that this game would be like ‘Glory to Rome but with dinosaurs’. That line is an easy selling point for me. I loved Glory to Rome. Uchronia would be like that experience but better and filled with dinosaurs.
System of Actions
Playing Uchronia with two players did not start out very well. I recommend playing this game again with 3, preferably 4 players. Playing a game with actions and cards meant to target multiple, different players isn’t very fun or fair when I only have one opponent.
Essentially, Uchronia is a resource management game and city building game. Each player represents the head of a noble house in Uchronia. As a noble, each player has committed their resources, knowledge and wealth to improve the city through the construction of new buildings in hopes of winning the affection and support of the people. The first player to reach a certain victory point threshold (as the number differs depending on the number of players) wins the game and is the undisputed master of Uchronia.
Over the course of the game, players will be collecting resources to build buildings. The wood, clay, brick, stone and marble resources correspond to buildings with frames that match the respective resources color. Mable buildings have a blue frame, wood buildings have an orange one, etc. Uchronia’s cards features a mish-mash of textures that don’t correspond to the resource they are representing. The use of textures is sloppy and adds to the design woes of this game as Uchronia’s rule book and action formulas also are poorly formatted.
Each turn, a player will choose an action from their hand and play it as a Command. The different orders, Production, Exploration, Draconians, Construction and Trade allow players to move resources, begin a building or learn a trade. At the beginning of their next turn, that player discards their used Command cards from their domain and into the Forum: the public area where players get most of their resources from.
While the resources are readily available through most of the game in the forum, players can only construct buildings from their domain stockpile. Players rely on their organized system of production to ensure a constant flow of resources. Players are also constantly looking to capitalize on the current board state in order to take multiple actions of the same type or piggyback on a fellow player’s action without wasting cards to do so. Just like in Glory to Rome, cards has multiple uses. The resource cards serve as the action or the resource.
I did enjoy the option for Plot actions in Uchronia. Normally in Glory to Rome and trick taking games, it is best to wait to draw cards and fill up your hand until your turn. That way no other player can follow that action. Plotting in Uchronia allows players to draw on their turn and follow another player’s action from a previous turn so long as the prerequisites are met. Having this option adds even more options to a player’s turn and rewards those that are paying attention to the current board state.
The Draconian action is my least favorite as it is far more picky and requires a more detailed set up to steal resources from other players. Just like the aggressive Legionary action in Glory to Rome, this Draconian set up feels like a waste of time and a great way to paint a target on yourself. The potential pay off isn’t as rewarding as sticking with a safer strategy. Draconians also doesn’t fit well in a two player game.
Where are the Dinosaurs?
Without the box cover and a couple key cards, a player can lose out on the dinosaur theme completely. When I heard that Uchronia was an alternate Rome-like society where humans worked and lived with prehistoric creatures, I imagined a more Dinotopia setting. A place where dinosaurs are an integral part of everyday life and their presence is constant and awe-inspiring.
In Uchronia, dinosaurs are more of a set piece in the lives of humans. Some dinosaur are reflected in Uchronia’s art, statues and fountains but they are mostly represented as a force of labor. Uchronia’s building illustrations are bright and clean renderings of ancient buildings, very reminiscent to same painterly style in 7 Wonders. I’m not bothered by the art quality as much as I’m disappointed in the subject matter. Uchronia had an opportunity to really show some unique buildings full of dinosaurs but instead defaulted to the more common and safe illustrations of Roman architecture.
Despite the artistic issues, the are 40 unique buildings in the game. This leads to a ton of different building and action synergies. I enjoy building up a city where as the game progress it gets easier and faster to complete buildings. Uchronia definitely has a good ramp mechanic and players will be able to build and manage their city’s production in around 45-60 minutes.
An Alternative to Glory to Rome
Alas, Glory to Rome is still my favorite of these two games; however, it is out of print indefinitely and Uchronia is a colorful, new game stocked by a reliable publisher. If you really liked playing Glory to Rome but unfortunately never got a copy yourself, Uchronia is a great alternative. It is a game that captures the same building management experience with much better art than Glory to Rome but it does bring similar flaws and lack of thematic depth to the table.
Uchronia is designed by Carl Chudyk and published by iello.