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Downfall of Pompeii offers an explosively good game

POSTED: May 15, 2014 2:00 p.m.
Provided by Mayfair Games/

The Downfall of Pompeii is one of the most popular games of 2013.

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Imagine it's the year 79 A.D. and you are watching over the ancient city of Pompeii, Italy, sitting at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. People are moving into the city from all over the country, but in 10 short years a volcano will wipe out the city. Can you survive the eruption of Vesuvius?
The Downfall of Pompeii is a reproduction of a popular board game from 2006 that went out of print.
The two- to four-player game is played in two phases with a board resembling a map of Pompeii filled with buildings. In phase one, each player receives a hand of cards and a set of colored tokens representing people from their family. The cards indicate where a player can place a "people" token on the map. The goal is to get as many people on the board as close to the city gates as possible so they can escape.
When a special card is drawn, Vesuvius erupts and phase two of the game begins. During phase two, players draw a lava tile on their turn from a cloth bag. A symbol on the tile shows where the tile is placed on the map. If a player's "people" token is on a space where a lava tile is placed, that "people" token is out of the game and is thrown into a cool-looking plastic volcano on the game board.
Next, players move their "people" tokens on the map out of the nearest exit in the city. If a token exits the city, it scores a point. If all of the lava tiles get placed or all of the people escape, the game is over. The person who saved the most people wins.
The charm behind this game is the interesting "survival" theme based on a real historical event. It is also easy to learn and play. Playing time is about 30 to 45 minutes.
Multiple game strategies exist based on where to place your "people" tokens as well as where to place lava tiles and how to move your "people" tokens out of the city. You can help yourself or hinder your opponent.
The 2013 version offers the same fun game play as the 2006 version. However, new to this version are three double-sided "dual vent" lava tiles that give players a choice of locations to play during the lava tile placement phase and dual vent variant rules.
The Downfall of Pompeii has a lot going for it. It is reasonably priced, offers plenty of variety, doesn't take long to play and it's fun. The old edition has fetched up to $100 on eBay. rmorgenegg@desnews.com

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