- Die Brutier Erweiterung -


Karl-Heinz Schmiel


No. of Players:
5 - 6



The Roman Name "Brutus" is commonly associated with one of the most prominent murders of Gaius Julius Caesar, but it is actually not so well-known that his lineage was a rather influential plebeian family called the "Brutians" (Brutier). However, due to Caesar's popularity, the Brutians quickly lost their standing amongst the people after the murder, and so the Brutians dropped out of history with the end of the Roman Republic. Now the Brutians are back as a brand-new expansion for Karl-Heinz Schmiel's strategic top-hit Tribun, and just like the Brutians in old Rome one player in the game now may take the role of the Brutier-family and try to lead them to glory by cunning means which are not available to the other players.

The rules for this expansion actually can be split into two parts, with one half being concerned with the new options available on the extension gameboard, whereas the other part describes the necessary rules and playing material of the Brutians player. Like the basic game, the expansion board can be used by two to five players, but if the Brutians are present their special rules require either five or six players to be present.


Three new bidding spaces are available on the extension board, and as might be guessed new rules and victory conditions apply to these spaces so that new overview cards for victory conditions are included with the expansion as well. Apart from placing all playing materials for the expansion at hand, the game setup now also requires a number of Slaves and Assassin cards to be shuffled into the deck of faction cards. As these cards are shuffled into the main deck, the players have the possibility to take them following the normal rules on the main gameboard. However, this means at the same time that, instead of offering new possibilities to gain faction cards, the new bidding spaces on the extension board offer different kinds of actions which are not concerned with gaining new cards.

In the turn sequence, the players have the possibility to send their playing figures to spaces on the old or new gameboard, but the extension board only will be evaluated after the spaces on the main gameboard and all factions have been dealt with. Thus, the spaces on the extension board have no influence on current takeovers of a faction, but on the other hand the new Assassin cards may be used in this phase. An Assassin removes the highest card of a faction of the player's choice, and even multiple Assassins may be used at once so that more than one card can be removed. However, as a restriction an Assassin cannot remove the two last cards of a faction, and in addition Assassins may only be used if their player will make a takeover of that faction.

Continuing with the new extension board, the Refugium and the Basilica offer the players a possibility to gain new tokens which are needed to win the game. At the Refugium a player may use Slave cards he has acquired. He now has the possibility to discard two Greek slaves to gain three Laurel tokens or to discard two Germanic slaves to gain one Legion. However, with the Patron token a third kind of tokens exists which may be gained here as well, but for this token either two or three slaves must be discarded (depending whether one of the cards is a Nubian slavegirl), and the player who wants to become Patron by setting these slaves free will also have to pay the value of each of these slave cards.

Another token which has become a victory condition is the "Favor of the Emperor", and the players who send a playing figure to the Basilica may apply to gain the current Favor token there. Every turn a new Favor token is revealed, and each of these tokens lists two conditions which must be met by the player who wants to take the token. However, only one Favor token is available each turn, and since only two players can send playing figures to the Basilica it is the player who has placed his figure on the first space who has a prior right to take the Favor if he meets the requirements. Apart from paying a high sum of Sesterces, such requirements may be the possession of a "Grace of Gods" token or a Patron token, or the current possession of most faction markers, Laurels, Legions or Sesterces. If the player fulfils the two requirements listed on the Favor token, he may take the token and keep it.

The third new space is the Capitoleum, but instead of gaining new markers to fulfil victory conditions the players arriving here have the possibility to gain an office which will stay with them usually for one turn. Five different offices are available, and each of them gives their owner a special power. So, the Princeps always places two playing figures in a row, the Matrona has two Favor markers in her hand which may only be fulfilled by her, the Quaestor gains some money from the other players, the Augur gains additional faction cards, and the Tribunis Plebis can acquire a Tribune token with two discretionary factions. All players who have placed a figure at the Capitoleum may take an office, but players are not required to hand their office back if no player wants to take it. So, an office may stay with a lucky player for more than one turn.

So far, the rules have been concerned with the new elements available to all players, but let us now have a look at the Brutians player which may be added in a five or six players game. The Brutians are different from the other families (players) in the game because they will resort to different means in order to try to win. Thus, instead of placing playing figures onto the different spaces on the boards during the placement phase, the Brutians player always has to chose a playing card from a special, 12 cards Brutians deck.

At the beginning of a round the Brutians player shuffles a facedown set of six Brutians markers, and whenever it would be his turn as a player to place a playing figure the Brutians player instead reveals one of these markers. The result on the other side usually means for the Brutians player that he can play one of the 12 cards from his special deck, but there is also the possibility that the player must pass and refrain from revealing a card this turn.

A good portion of the Brutians cards are concerned with the different spaces on the main gameboard, but instead of simply interaction with the different spaces as the other players the Brutians player will have somewhat different options. In a way, the Brutians player now acts like a vulture, taking cards which were left over by other players or receiving money depending on placements made by the others. This use of the action cards add a whole new dimension to Tribun, since the other players now will not just occupy themselves with positioning their figures at advantageous spaces, but they also need to keep in mind that too much competition among themselves will further the ends of the Brutians player.

The Brutians player also has cards which allow him to interact with the spaces of the extension board when they are evaluated, but here the follow-up positioning of the Brutians is a bit of a disadvantage. Thus, the Brutians player only can acquire a "Favor of the Emperor" or an office if it was left over by another player, so that the Brutians player cannot really count on getting the desired token.

Finally, the deck of Brutians cards also contains four special action cards. With these cards the Brutians player can acquire Legions and slave cards, and quite powerful is the "Veto" card which forces all other players to take back one of their figures and place it into the coins cup (without getting any money). However, even more devastating is the "Mass Assassin" which removes either the highest card from every faction or all but two cards from one faction. Especially the use of this special Assassin makes the game more unpredictable, but it also opens up chances to gain on control of a faction which otherwise would have been strongly held by just one player. And to keep the game interesting for the Brutians player: he gets his full choice of cards again by the beginning of the following round, so that these action cards may be used more than once!

In terms of playability, all new elements co-operate smoothly with the rules of the basic game, and although the powers of the Brutians player seem a bit strong at first the other players quickly will discover that there is a good balance in the game. Overall, the Brutians as the name-giver of the expansion also are the major innovation, since the new spaces on the extension board are more or less necessary attachments to make Tribun playable with six players. An exception here are the offices which can be gained at the Capitoleum, since these specific advantages put the players up to nice conflicts of interest: Is it worth to place a figure to take a specific office? Which office should be taken - a stronger one or an office which might last with the player for another round?

The specific role of the Brutians player reminds a bit of the role of the Sauron player in the Sauron Expansion of Reiner Knizia's hit game The Lord of the Rings. The Brutians player stands apart from the others and follows his own ends by employing his own nasty means, but to enjoy this variant at full flavour all players need to be well familiar with the intricate rules and mechanisms which can be triggered to have a chance for victory. It must be kept in mind that this is an expansion for a game made by Karl-Heinz Schmiel, and the author's name alone stands for high quality coupled with high complexity. However, this makes the variant game rather difficult to access for newcomers, and so it seems advisable to teach the players the standard game of Tribun before advancing to the Brutians. Thus, the expansion is played best with a group of Tribun-fans, but it is totally unsuitable for a group of gaming newcomers looking for a strategic game which can be played with up to six players.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany