The story of TRIUMPH began with a game about another country, one closer to my heart. I always want my new designs to be better than the games I’ve already published; thus, we at PHALANX have spent a lot of time discussing how we can improve the ideas introduced in The Magnates. I think we did quite a good job at representing the democratic mechanisms of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a state literally called Rzeczpospolita (Res Publica). So why not design a game about the Roman Republic?
We knew that the concepts of elected magistrates (consuls, praetors, etc.) and introducing new laws wouldn’t be difficult to represent in a game. The real challenge was to seamlessly combine that with mechanics emulating the enormous growth of the Roman Republic – from a single city to one of the largest empires in history. The map looked more or less like this:
I divided Italia into four provinces and then added all historical Roman provinces to the board, arranging them into four directions, from which the various enemies would try to invade Rome. If players combine their forces, they should be able to win and gain new territories for Rome. Otherwise, the enemies – such as the famous Hannibal – will be at the gates, and the Republic will be in danger.
And thus the playtesting phase began. Overall, we were quite happy with the game, but we felt something was missing. We added various buildings, like a circus or forum, allowing the player with the majority of cubes there to use a special action. Then we changed the board concept from the simple geographic representation of the Mediterranean into an actual Roman-style map, more user-friendly and offering deeper immersion.
Still, there was a problem of how to conduct wars. It’s one of the critical concepts of the game – by winning wars, Rome is gaining new provinces, giving players new opportunities to score victory points.
Originally, only the two consuls were running the wars, with the rest of the players sitting them out i.e. not actually involved in them.
Fortunately, after several playtests and multiple discussions, our development team led by Mariusz ‘Rasta’ Rosik solved this problem. We added a variable number of legates (historically, high-ranking Roman commanders) and even allowed the player without any military office to take part in a chosen campaign. Gaius Marius reformed the Roman military tactics and organization, and after over two millennia our Mariusz reformed the military part of our game.
Bartek ‘Bart’ Jędrzejewski, our art designer, spend untold hours drawing illustrations for TRIUMPH. In fact, we originally hired him about 8 years ago as a freelancer to illustrate this project, and since then he has become an invaluable member of our them. All our crazy visions, like the mosaic map, have now become a stunning reality thanks to him. But that’s not all; Bart is always involved in our discussions about the game, not only relating to the artistic sphere but also the core mechanics of the Triumph.