Saturday, 27 April 2019

Rome: Pathway to Power - The Political Machine

Written by TBD

Hector’s Journal #3: "I've been a Senator for 15 minutes and I've already been given the opportunity to become a Consul, a position of power second only to the Emperor himself. So how do I get the populace to vote for me? Sensible and affordable policies? Tax breaks for low income families? Screw all that. I figure the most effective way of getting this promotion is by bribing as many citizens as I can! It's times like these I'm wondering if I should have spent more time earlier in the game stealing money..."

I hate Rome! Each chapter of the game has involved me restarting it over and over again until I get it right. And these sections have gotten progressively harder. To top it all off, while each section is a self-contained level, the amount of gold I have is carried over, so when I've only just passed an earlier section with minimal extra funds, I make each subsequent section harder. Can I make it too hard to finish? I certainly hope not. I actually enjoy the repetition the first few times I have to restart, as I see different things, but after a few goes I see nothing new and just have to plod through hoping the luck of the dice turn my way. I thought the reloading of saved games was tedious in the previous chapter, but this chapter leaves Britain for dead in the 'you failed - start again' stakes. Sigh. Oh well, Let's continue playing and see how I go.

When last we looked in on Hector the slave owner, invader and pillager, he'd just been made a Senator by leading an army into killing a lot of Britons. Being a responsible slave owner, I enquire about Barbarus' health.

Good, because I'll probably be having you fight until you die at the arena later today.

Soon after my welcome parade disperses, the trumpeteer announces that the Emperor has something else to say.

The rules to the election are as follows:
  1. Nominations for Consul need to be made at the Senate within the hour
  2. Candidates will have to canvass the people for support
  3. As soon as one of the candidates says he is ready, the election takes place

I go straight to the Senate to nominate myself for Consul.

No. I don't support him. I support me!

It seems I can't nominate myself so I talk to people about how to be nominated. I'm told that I just need to convince a citizen that I'm generous in order to get them to nominate me.

Before I get around to deciding how to proceed, a slave auction is announced. I have some cash, so decide to gather another slave in order to make more cash. I buy Ignominius, but then hear some bad news.


I go back to the senate, and the Emperor confirms that I'm too late to be nominated. Ignoring the news, I go to the arena, where a new contest has just been announced. I pit Ignominius against the chamption and make 40 sesterces. I await my next challenger, knowing that Ignominius won all the fights last time I was in Rome.

But... Billius is MY slave. And he died before I left for Britain.

When the soldiers take away the dead losers do they cast a resurrection spell on them? It it just a different guy with the same name and skills? Oh well, it took me a lot of tries and reloading for Billius to beat Ignominius last time so I'm sure it won't be a prob...

Zombie Billius is much more powerful than human Billius.

I put Barbarus up against Billius and he lost too - combining that with my failure to be nominated to Consul, I restarted the chapter.

This time when I went to the Senate, I gave 10 sesterces to the first citizen I found.

I'd say giving someone money with the expectation they'll do you a favour is much closer to bribery than generosity.

Asking for a nomination while standing in the Senate has some unexpected results. I don't think the game thought I'd do that here.

Um... why are you walking away. The Emperor was right next to you.

Claudia leaves the Senate and nominates me from the doorway, then comes straight to me and tells me that the Emperor has accepted my nomination.

Claudia's already ahead of you, Emperor. She just told me you'd accepted. Maybe she sees the future!

While I'm there three more citizens nominate Laborius Domesticus (the slave trader). It seems he has a lot of support. Because I want to see how this plays out, I immediately call an election, hoping that my military success will be enough to get me a few votes.

The herald calls an election, and I wait for the people to arrive. I offer Laborius 5 sesterces to vote for me, but he unsurprisingly calls me out for being ridiculous.

I offer some money to a slave, but he tells me only citizens can vote.

With all the citizens gathering around, I try to do a quick bribery session. The first person I bribe takes my cash, but it doesn't help.

Well, give me my 5 bucks back, then!

I have time to bribe two more people before the election begins.

So how does the voting go...
  • Laborius gets 6 votes
  • Unscrupulus (the money-lender) gets 0 votes
  • and I get...
I'd like to thank the two people I'd successfully bribed, for supporting me. I'd like to thank my mum and dad...

Having lost the election, I get a cutscene telling me that I'd taken a real blow to my self-esteem and therefore lost the game.

Retiring in the countryside sounds pretty bloody good to me. Did Hector forget that he was a slave in a city being consumed by lava not so long ago? Do you think zombie Billius would prefer retiring to the countryside to being brutally killed in the arena?

So the chapter restarts, and this time I notice that pressing the SYSTEM button gives me a SKIP INTRODUCTION option.

Nice fourth-wall break, Hector.

Much like I did when I had Claudia nominate me while already in the Senate, I confused the game's logic by getting a citizen to nominate me before the Emperor had even showed up to announce the election.

Um... he's just arrived right behind me, why are you wandering off towards the Senate?

The Emperor announces the election, then makes his way to the Senate. I follow him and find my new friend waiting here - she nominates me as soon as the Emperor arrives.

Now that I know a little about how elections work, I start bribing every citizen I find.

With luck, one of the men I find is a satirist. I give him 10 sesterces to say bad things about my opponent.

… and what's the deal with airline food?

I also find a priest who for the right price is willing to put in a good word to the man upstairs on my behalf.

I thought Zeus was Greek. Shouldn't you be praying to Jupiter?

And I find a poet who's willing to perform a play in my honour for 15 sesterces.

I think I'm starting to see the fruits of my bribery of the satirist, priest and poet, as I may have people willing to vote for me without having to bribe them individually.

A gladiatorial game is announced, so I take my slaves to the arena. Ignominius makes me 80 sesterces, and just in time too.

I have problems paying him. Using the PAY button seems to have me wanting to bribe him with 5 sesterces to vote for me. Or perhaps I'm clicking in the wrong place because the stupid moneylender decided to talk to me from behind a large wall and perhaps behind another citizen.

But I tried to pay, I just couldn't click on you correctly! Shut up and take my money!

I had saved the game after winning the fight, so had quite a few goes at trying to pay the moneylender. But I kept failing.

With Unscrupulus promising to spread word of my deadbeat qualities, I rush to the Senate to call an election before the word spreads. But the Emperor isn't there so I can't call an election now. Day quickly turns to evening and a play was announced. I went to watch the play and bribe the audience.

Unscrupulus was there, and once again whinged about me owing him money. Now, I had reloaded so much that I'm not sure what happened here. Perhaps last time I reloaded I just left the arena before Unscrupulus got to talk to me. Either way, this time I successfully paid him because he was only half hidden behind a statue.

When night falls, I go to the hostel and buy a bed for the night, hoping to start the election as soon as morning falls. I wake up and go straight to the Senate. Once again, I don't find the Emperor there yet, so I explore, looking to bribe a few more people. Unfortunately I found that one of my previously bribed friends has been counter-bribed.

But... I bribed you yesterday to say bad things about MY competition...

The election is called, and this time Laborius gets 7 votes, Unscrupulus 0 votes again and I get 5 votes. I'm getting better, but still not good enough.

I had QUIT AND SAVEd at the theatre last evening, so I went back to that game, and bribed another person. If that person was going to vote for Laborius, that would make it even. And if I could get an election called before Laborius bribed anyone else, that could swing the vote.

I went to bed again. An assassin works just outside the hostel, but I ignored him last time and went to sleep. I did the same this time, but due to the pathfinding it took me slightly longer to enter the hostel door.

Aw man, that sucks.

But that made me think. Perhaps I could hire the assassin to kill Laborius. Unscrupulus is no contest to me as he always gets 0 votes...

I'll give you 17 now, plus 183 when we reach Alderaan.

Gee. This guy kills me if I ignore him, kills me if I tell him I'm not interested and kills me if I tell him yes but can't afford it. I'm starting to think this assassin is not a moral person!

This time I run, hoping he's more of an assassin than an athlete. I actually make it a few blocks before he catches me.

Tag! You're it!

But wait. I'm a victorious Roman Centurion and General. I'll accept that he killed me in my sleep last time but shoudn't I be able to easily beat an assassin in a straight up street fight when I know he's coming?

I kept restarting and/or reloading, trying different things. Somewhere amongst the repetitive boredom, I found a few more things I didn't find in my first few attempts.
  • I tried my luck at the dice game. I lose a lot more than I win, and as the payoff is not that great, didn't bother with this more than once.
  • I could meet the satirist after he's been bribed by someone else and instead of asking for 10 seseterces, he asks for 20 to change allegiances. If he keeps this up he could run for Consul himself!
  • I buy a slave girl at one point but I can't put her in the arena
By the end of the game, I think I might be!
  • If I give coins to priests too many times I actually make the gods angry.
Greedy? By giving my money to HIS worshippers?
  • I actually end up getting worse at campaigning as I go on. At one point Laborius got 11 votes while I only got 2.
Having tried quite a bit, and been through the same day a LOT of times, I actually wrote down a plan on how to proceed.
  1. Wait for the Emperor's announcement.
  2. Immediately bribe a citizen to nominate me.
  3. Bribe every citizen I find that doesn't already like me, but make sure I keep at least 65 sesterces in order to pay back the moneylender and purchase a fighting slave
  4. Find and bribe the satirist
  5. Be nice to Ned Ryerson
  6. Find and bribe the poet to perform a play in my honour
  7. Find a bribe a priest or priestess for Zeus' favour
  8. When the herald announces the slave auction, buy two male slaves if I can afford them both.
  9. Pour a milkshake over my mean sorority sister
  10. When the herald announces the gladiatorial fights, sacrifice my slaves in order to make money at the arena
  11. Call an election.
  12. Use my arena winnings to bribe everyone who's near the election who doesn't already love me.
  13. Get upset that I still lost
  14. Tell Dormammu I've come to bargain.
  15. Wonder if I should restart the entire game in order to make more money in early chapters
  16. Sigh, then restart the chapter, going back to step 1.
At this point, I stopped playing for a while. I'd really gotten sick of the game and didn't play for over a week. I felt I needed at least an hour of free time, preferably more and even when I had free time I just didn't feel up to spending it in this game doing the same thing over and over. 

Eventually I got back into the game and won in 18 minutes. I didn't even follow my plan. I'd made a mistake in saving the game and ended up reverting to a save game from over a week earlier, and which I'd failed at last time I played it. That save gave me little time before the election started so I decided to just lose that game and then let the game restar...

I won 6 votes to 5! Random number generators, ladies and gentlemen!

Rather than congratulate me or allow me to start my new job, the Emperor immediately sees me as a threat and does his best to get rid of me.

But you're the one responsible for my rapid rise. You've just given me my third promotion in as many chapters!

The Emperor sends me to Egypt with a small group of soldiers, hoping I'll die over there and not be his problem. I have to wonder why he let me get promoted to Senator and Consul if he wasn't going to allow me to do the job of a politician in Rome and immediately send me off as a Centurion and General instead.

But, Cleopatra, I already helped you with this problem when I played an Assassin's Creed game last year!

I can see by the interface on the left that I'm about to start another Real Time Strategy chapter. And I had so much fun with that last time! Well, we'll see how I go with that in a week or so if I can keep my sanity. See you then.

Just a thought I had about the Final Rating. I'm not sure how much my dislike of the game will affect the rating. The game is barely an adventure game as it is. The best way I can describe its adventure qualities is that each Chapter is a single puzzle, and each puzzle must be solved by getting close to the optimum route, which is largely only doable by restarting multiple times until you get it right.

Session time: 2 hours 35 minutes (gee, I'm impatient. I could have sworn it'd be closer to 6 hours!)
Total time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Amount of times I failed before finding the one scenario I won: 14,000,604


  1. I enjoy reading about this game so much more than even the thought of playing it. Just remember, your struggles are for the Glory of Rome! (and The Adventure Gamer!)

    I'm pretty sure you're nearing the end, at least.

  2. Despite all the RNG and insanity, I loved the time loop references in your master plan. I'll be honest, I can't recall where 9 comes from though?

    1. 9 is from Happy Death Day, a movie that surprised me with how much I enjoyed it.

    2. Ah! It's been on my list to watch at some point, since I have heard good things. Glad to hear you recommend it too!

  3. Rome only has eleven or twelve voting citizens?!?

    1. Good point - which makes it weird that the city really feels busy to me - good job on giving me the illusion of a bustling city, game!

    2. The rest of the citizen's are probably all dead by the hands of the swarms of assassins that seem to be plaguing the city.

  4. Heh - Be nice to Ned Ryerson - good one!


    Hi all. I think I've hit a dead-end near the end and, though I doubt many have played the game, perhaps someone can access a walkthrough and tell me if I'm stuck or give me a hint if I'm not.

    Here's my situation:

    At the start of the last chapter I have 102 sesterces and a slave. I haven't found any way to make any more money in this chapter and I feel like I need 200 sesterces to win.



    1. I have found a walkthrough here.

      "Last" chapter as in "final", right? The level after Egypt? If so, from what I read and I guess you're trying to do,

      HINT1: Lbh'er nggrzcgvat gb nffnffvangr gur rzcrebe ol cnlvat 100 frfgreprf gb gjb frcnengr nffnffvaf rnpu. Gurer frrzf gb or n purncre jnl gb qb guvf.

      HINT2: Qb lbh unir n jrncba?

      SPOILER: According to the walkthrough: "Lbh pna xvyy gur Rzcrebe lbhefrys, hfvat gur qnttre lbh obhtug va yriry bar, be lbh pna rzcybl na nffnffva gb qb vg sbe lbh."

    2. Thanks Laukku. It looks like you've confirmed my suspicion that I'm screwed.

      HINT 1: Lbh'er cerggl zhpu evtug. V'z pbasvqrag V arrq gb xvyy gjb crbcyr gb jva. Ohg V pna bayl nssbeq bar nffnffva.

      HINT 2: V qba'g unir n jrncba.

      SPOILER: Bu, lbh zrna gur qnttre V QVQA'G ohl va Puncgre 1 orpnhfr V sryg rfpncvat gur ynin fubhyq or zl cevbevgl. Naq V gubhtug V ungrq Ebzr ynfg gvzr!

      So it seems I can't win without restarting the entire game. I think our conclusion will be a LOST rather than a WON Post!

    3. As a last resort, you could try if these cheats (for the Amiga version apparently) work:

    4. Double thanks.

      They don't work for the PC version but perhaps I'll see if I can cheat my way to the last level of the Amiga version to experience the good ending.

    5. There's also this list of cheat codes that seem to be for the PC (of note are the "End the Level" cheats):

    6. though looking at that list vs. the Amiga list they appear to be the same, so...maybe not?