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The Downfall of Pompeii, 2nd Edition from Mayfair Games

By David Popp, Model Railroader Video Plus producer
Published: October 21, 2013
Mayfair Games The Downfall of Pompeii
The Downfall of Pompeii, 2nd Edition from Mayfair Games
Stock No.: 4125
MSRP: $35.00
Availability: Mayfair Games
Target consumer: Strategic board game enthusiasts

First Impression: Pompeii the board game? The destruction of the Roman city of Pompeii at the hands of the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. is the subject of Mayfair Game's latest offering, The Downfall of Pompeii. This game was first released in 2004, and it went on to win the award for Games Magazine's Best New Family game in 2006. Mayfair's 2013 version of The Downfall of Pompeii is a second edition with several new rules, making the game play even more frantic and fun that the original. The game includes a deck of 62 cards, game board, plastic volcano, 120 wood pieces and 48 tiles representing lava.

The game is designed for two to four players and lasts about 45 minutes to an hour. The Downfall of Pompeii is played in three distinct phases. In the first phase, players use cards in their hands to strategically place their wood game pieces on the board. The wood pieces represent the citizens of Pompeii, going about their daily lives without worry of what Mt. Vesuvius might do to them.

In phase two, players continue to use cards in their hands to place additional citizens in Pompeii, but now they can also invite "relatives" to the city (more game pieces), swelling the population. Through the use of omen cards, players can also remove competitors' pieces from play, feeding them to the volcano as a hint of things to come.

In phase three, Vesuvius erupts, changing the course of game play. Now players advance the flow of lava throughout the city and at the same time try to get as many of their citizens and relatives out alive. Of all the phases of the game, phase three requires the most strategy. There are seven gates to the city through which citizens may escape. Through careful placement of lava tiles on the game board, each player attempts to block or consume his opponents' citizens while keeping his own escape routes open. The game ends when there are no living citizens left in Pompeii. The winner is the player with the most escapees.

The game pieces are the high-quality cardboard and wood components one expects from a Mayfair game. The color artwork on the box, game tiles, board and cards is pleasing. The rules are well-written with good examples, making it easy to start playing within minutes of opening the box.

Why you should stock it: High-quality board games have been popular for years. Mayfair is one of the trusted brands in this area, and The Downfall of Pompeii fits the firm's image well.

In your store, you may wish to pitch the game to families, especially in light of its 2006 award. Children as young as age 8 or 10 can play the game with the help of older family members. And although the subject matter of The Downfall of Pompeii is more macabre than something like Ticket To Ride, the game focuses on the struggle to survive Pompeii rather than the horrors of the historic event. As a plus, volcanoes are much like dinosaurs when it comes to attracting kids, and the fact that the game includes a folding plastic volcano might just be the right hot sales button. That would have worked for me when I was 10, but I've enjoyed playing the game very much as an adult as well. The latest edition of The Downfall of Pompeii should have a broad appeal with your game-playing customers.