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Review: Julius Caesar – Caesar, Pompey, and the Roman Civil War 49-45 BC

Posted by Denny Koch on August 19, 2010

Game: Julius Caesar – Caesar, Pompey, and the Roman Civil War 49-45 BC

Publisher: Columbia Games
Published in: 2010
Designers: Justin Thompson & Grant Dalgliesh
Era: Ancients; Roman Civil War 49-45 BC
Contents: 1 rulebook, 63 blocks, sticker sheet, 1 map (33 x 17 inches, printed on cardstock, not mounted), 27 strategy cards, 4 six-sided dice, Columbia Games Flyer
Average Playing Time: 2-3 hours

HFC Game-O-Meter: E

Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 8.5
Rules: 8.5
Replay Value:

Overall Rating: 9

PRO Block game with elegant Fog of War and step loss mechanics; Fast gameplay and setup; maps and blocks are very appealing; highly balanced; Pompey and Caesar play very differently and have several strategical options…
CONTRA …map could be somewhat larger; important cities get crowded, some Event Card effects are very strong (you like it or you don’t)


Gaming Table

Julius Caesar is the latest block game by Columbia Games, published in 2010. In contrast to its predecessor, Richard III – The Wars of the Roses, Julius Caesar utilizes a point-to-point movement via the ramified Roman road network. “All roads are leading to Rome” isn’t just a saying here…! 😉

The game map depicts the Mediterranean: Central and Southern Europe from (today’s) Spain to France to the Alps Region up to the Turkey and Israel, and Northern Africa (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco). The strategic level game takes place in the Roman Civil War where Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC and marched towards Rome while Pompey opposed him with his legions. Accordingly, one player plays Caesar and the other Pompey. The objective of the game is to gain control of the most important cities in the Roman Empire.

The game is played in 5 rounds (each representing one year from 49-45 BC)  consisting of 5 turns each. Between each round, there is a winter turn where players check for immediate victory. If neither player wins during a winter turn, the victor is determined at the end of round 5 (year 45 BC).

The game mechanics is a card driven impulse system with some “divine intervention” event cards which can have a strong impact on the game.

All in all, Julius Caesar is a classic Columbia Games block game, its core mechanics are very similar to Richard III, Crusader Rex, or Hammer of the Scots, and you will feel at home almost instantly when you know one of the other games.

The game isn’t very complex and can be completed within 2-3 hours, so it’s a light and fast wargame with almost no setup time – it can be played in one session on an afternoon.

What is a block game?

Only the owner can see the blocks

A block game doesn’t use counters to depict units but wooden colored square blocks. One side of the block is left blank; this is the side which the opponent sees on the board. The block’s owner sees the printed side which contains all information about the unit and the block’s strength.

Since only the owner can see the block, the Fog of War created by a block game is much higher than in a regular wargame using counters. The block is only revealed in battle by tipping it forward. Step losses are taken by rotating the block counter-clockwise. After a battle is finished, players stand their remaining blocks upright again which means the only chance for reconnaissance is to keep in mind which blocks move where after a battle.

Graphic Presentation

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