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The Downfall of Pompeii - Board Game Box Shot

The Downfall of Pompeii

| Published: 2004
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The year is 79 A.D. Pompeii, sitting at the foot of Vesuvius, is at the high point in its development. People come to the city from far and wide to try to make their luck in the city. So far nobody has dreamed of the danger that will bury all of their dreams under mountains of ash just ten years later. Who will survive the eruption of Vesuvius unscathed?

The simple rules make it easy to get started with The Downfall of Pompeii, a game in which a lot of tactical know-how is required – along with a little luck – in order to bring your pieces out of the city at the right time.

The game falls into two halves: before and after the eruption of Vesuvius. Before the eruption, players play cards to place their pieces in buildings. After the first eruption, they can also place as many relatives as the number of pieces already in the building they placed their piece in. When Omen cards are drawn, the player can take any opponent's piece and throw it into the erupting volcano. In this manner, players try to get as many pieces onto the board as close to the exits from the city as possible.

After the second eruption, the game changes. Now each player places a lava tile, which kills any pieces on that square and may block exits from the city. Then they move two pieces toward the exits, moving them a number of squares equal to the pieces on the square from which they started. The player who gets the most pieces out of the city wins.

User Reviews (4)

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I play blue
El Dorado
Guardian Angel
118 of 126 gamers found this helpful
“Buried in Fun!”

Around 79 AD the Roman city of Pompeii was buried by the volcano Vesuvius. The Downfall of Pompeii is about this cataclysmic event. Each player will place his citizens in Pompeii and once Vesuvius erupts, will attempt to move them out of the city to escape the on rushing lava. The player who has saved the most citizens is the winner. The game mechanics do the theme justice. The Downfall of Pompeii is for 2 to 4 players ages 10 and up and plays in about 60 minutes. This game plays best with 4 players.

The component quality is above average. The board is mounted on thin cardboard and colorful. There are thick cardboard tokens and wood playing pieces. The cards are marginally durable and have above average artwork which sets the theme nicely. The English version of the rulebook was not translated well and makes some aspects of the game unclear.

Set-up for the Downfall of Pompeii is quick but can be slightly tricky. Each player takes a number of citizen tokens in his color depending on the number of players. The more players, the fewer citizen tokens the players receive. Setting up the draw pile can be tricky because the rules are not clear. Certain cards are removed from the deck and then seven piles of four cards are dealt. Each player takes a pile to form his starting hand. One pile is removed from the game and then the remaining cards are shuffled together with the cards initially removed to form the draw pile.

The Downfall of Pompeii is played in two phases with each phase consisting of two parts as follows:

PHASE I: Positioning the People
Part 1: Placement of Citizens
Part 2: Further Placement of Citizens

PHASE II: Escape from Mount Vesuvius
Part 1: The Lava Arrives
Part 2: Escape

Each player plays a card to place a citizen in the building corresponding to the number on the card. Once the citizen is placed, the player draws a card from the draw pile.

Once the 79 AD card is drawn, Part 2 begins. The79 AD card is shuffled back into the draw pile and play resumes. Players continue to place citizens as in Part 1 but with additional effects. Players can place additional citizens according to the number of ‘relatives’ in a building. For example, if the player places a citizen in a building with two other citizens, that player may place an additional 2 citizens in neutral buildings. Omen Cards can now be drawn. The player who draws an Omen Card can remove an opponent’s citizen from play.

Phase II begins once the 79 AD card is drawn again, or when a player declares a volcanic eruption. A player can declare a volcanic eruption if his hand consists of all Wild Cards. Players draw lava tiles and place them on the board.

Once six lava tiles have been placed, Part 2 begins. Each player in turn order first draws a lava tile and places it on the board. Players try to place lava tiles on grid spaces with opponents’ citizens. Then the player may move two citizens. Citizens move a number of grid spaces equal to the number of citizens in its starting grid. Players try to move their citizens out of the city through several city gates.

The game ends when there are no lava tiles to draw, there are no citizens on the board, or all the city gates are blocked by lava. The winner is the player who has saved the most citizens.

The Downfall of Pompeii is an easy game to learn and play. There is enough strategy to keep avid gamers interested and at the same time this game is just light enough for casual gamers too. There is a bit of luck involved due to the draw of the cards and lava tiles. This may appeal to your more casual gamer.

The Downfall of Pompeii has a different feel than most Euros and features above average player interaction. This game does not use a typical worker placement mechanic to collect resources and turn them into something else. As a matter of fact, players aren’t building anything at all. Player interaction occurs when players use Omen Cards to remove other player’s citizens and place lava tiles to block or remove other players’ citizens. Players also jostle for position when initially placing citizens and also must take into consideration their opponents’ citizens when moving their own citizens.

The heart and major strategy part of the game is in moving citizens during the Escape part of Phase II. There are a few possible strategies in moving your citizens. Some even involve possibly helping your opponent.

The Downfall of Pompeii has a macabre theme, and if you can get by its gruesome nature, it is a fun game. It is a Euro with a different feel and would be a fine addition to your collection.

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Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
121 of 130 gamers found this helpful
“Survive's Little Brother”

I’m really surprised there aren’t more reviews for this game. It was really popular for awhile there. It even fetched quite a pretty penny right before the news of the re-print came.

The Downfall of Pompeii is not quite but pretty much a clone of Survive. Survive had been Out of Print for twenty years though, so I don’t blame Klaus-Jurgen Wrede for wanting to revive that unique game.

There are two separate phases that make up the game.

Phase 1 – Earthquake
Everyone was displaced from there homes, so all the residents need to find new homes in the existing homes of Pompeii (makes total sense, right?) Players draw dudes from a stack and place them in the houses, the prime real estate being nearer the walls since everyone knows there’s going to be a mass exodus in phase two. But there are omen cards that let you eliminate other player’s dudes.

Phase 2 – Eruption
To everyone’s amazement the volcano starts erupting, so the Pompeiiites decide that now is the time to get the **** outta there. Now you only get so many moves per turn, but you get extra moves the more people that are on the space that your meeple starts on (again, makes total sense) But you also control, somewhat, where the lava flows (ok, my suspension of disbelief is starting to wane here)

> Similar to Survive!
> The look on your opponent’s face when you throw their meeple in the volcano

> Thematically, the game doesn’t make a lot of sense sometimes
> Seems more like a puzzle to solve than a game
> Not very fun

2 games in 1.
Neither is that much fun.

Player Avatar
Book Lover
I play blue
119 of 133 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“In the year 79 AD”

We all know what happened at Pompeii. Now we get to experience it for ourselves.

The game is comprised of two different phases, first a kind of population phase, then a phase where you save as many of your people as you can.
Everyone have their own color cubes. They recieve four cards at the start of the game. The stack of the rest of the cards will contain Omen signs, before the card of the volcano eruption comes.
In phase one you need to populate the city. You do that by playing a card. Each card has a number and a color house. That relates to a house shown on the board. So you play the card and set out one of your cubes. If other cubes are already in the house, no matter which color, you get to set out relatives, in other houses of the same color or in one of the neutral ones. So, if there is one other in the house, you get to set out one extra cube, with two, you get two. And so on. But some houses are split in two, so you need to check out where to put your people.

When the vulcano eruption card shows itself for the second time, phase two starts. Cards are removed from the game, and you take the bag with lava tiles in them. First player draws a tile from the bag and looks at the small symbol in the corner. It corresponds with a symbol on the board of where the lava comes from. He sets it on the board and gets to move two of his men. Now you need to look at the squares at the board. You get to move as many squares as the number of people that are on the beginning square. So if there are three, you get to move your man three squares. Then you find another man to move. You can not go diagonally. The goal is to get as many of your men out the various gates on the board. The only time you get to move the same man twice is when he is the only one you have on the board.

So the lava spreads from there the first tile with a symbol is laid. That means that the lava spreads from several places on the board. Here too, the tiles can not be laid down diagonally. Any men finding themselves on a square when a tile is placed, gets thrown into the vulcano attached on the board. The game ends when there are no moves left, or when the last tile is laid down. Either way, the remaining men on the board gets thrown into the vulcano. The winner is the one who has saved the most of his people. With a tie, you need to check the vulcano. The one with the fewest men in the vulcano will then be the winner. Run fast!!

Player Avatar
I Am What I Am
94 of 131 gamers found this helpful
“Place people, then try to save them from the lava”

As explained above, The Downfall of Pompeii has two phases. In the first, you place people in buildings using numbered cards. After you draw the first volcano card, a “relatives” rule kicks in that lets you place extra people if you place in a building with people already there (e.g. if you place in a building with 2 people already there, you place 2 extra people). You place either in a building of the same color or a neutral building (this is the only way to place in neutral buildings). You can plan your card use to take advantage of this rule, by stocking up on the same number and/or color, which will let you (or your opponent) place extra people. If you draw an Omen card, you also get to throw other people into the volcano.

After the second volcano card, you start placing lava tiles and moving your people out of the city. Once 6 lava tiles are down, you get two moves per turn. However, if your person starts on a square with other people, you can move it further. For example, if you start in a square with a total of four people, you can move your guy four squares (and the direction can change).

I’ve enjoyed playing this, although I may be biased because I’ve won both times, by narrow margins. Setup is a little tricky, though. The number of people you get and numbers of cards vary with the number of players (2-4), and you need a bunch of piles. It’s not too bad, but whoever does it needs to read carefully. I’ve enjoyed it enough to put it on a wish list for potential future purchase.


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