Review by Bob Rossney.
Quo Vadis is a clever game of political manipulations. It's can be played by 3 to 5 players, and a game of it takes about an hour.
The board is a stylized org chart consisting of a hierarchy of committees. Each committee has one, three, five, or seven spaces in it, and is below one or two other committees. At the top of the hierarchy is the Roman Senate, which has space for five pieces.
Every player starts with eight senators. On your turn, you may add a new senator to one of the bottom-level committees (if there's space). Or you may attempt to advance a senator out of its committee.
Advancing out of committees (other than single-seat committees) earns you "laurels," which are the game's victory points.
You can only advance if you control the majority of spaces in the committee. If you don't -- if, say, you have only two seats in a five-seat committee -- you must make a deal with another player in the committee in order to advance. You can pay for the deal, or promise support when it's your opponent's turn. (The player who makes a deal receives a small laurel from the bank just for being agreeable.)
The game is designed with the express purpose of forcing players to have to cut deals with one another in order to advance. On almost every turn, you have to cut a deal, or get set up so that someone's going to have to cut a deal with you.
This game is very nicely balanced. It's very fast-moving despite the fact that it's continually presenting players with tough decisions. It's a nightmare for people who don't know how to compromise. Because the game ends when the Senate is fully occupied, the game proceeds inexorably to a conclusion. (It can end shockingly quickly, too; since you can't win unless you have a senator in the Senate, you can easily get shut out if you aren't paying attention.) It quite often tempts you with short-term gains that force you to defer long-term gains.
It's a very subtle and rich game considering how straightforward and simple it is. Like Modern Art (also by Knizia), it gets much of its energy from the psychology of competition. The winner of a game of Quo Vadis is the one who knows how to make his opponents think they're coming out ahead by dealing with him.
Copyright 1994, Bob Rossney.
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