Tetrarchia is a cooperative game for 1-4 players, with the same setup regardless of player count: with fewer than four, players just take on additional roles. The title means 'rule of four' in Latin, which sums up the game succinctly: the players represent the four power-sharing Roman rulers at the end of the third century, fighting to uphold the Empire against its enemies on all sides.
The theme of Tetrarchia is very similar to Pandemic: Fall of Rome (Z-Man Games), but the mechanics are more like Flash Point: Fire Rescue (Indie Boards & Cards), with dice rather than cards determining where small problems will randomly pop up each turn: problems that can only be ignored for so long before they cause widespread rebellion. Additionally, there are barbarian armies that will march towards Rome along a predictable path, and stopping them requires a team effort.
One feature that sets this game apart from others is the fine-tuning of difficulty and rules offered: rather than just two or three modes, there are 81 possible combinations of the four starting variables, as well as six variant rules that can be added in as desired (including a role for a 5th player), plus an expansion with four optional modules plus four historical scenarios! Designer Miguel Marqués certainly hasn't skimped on options. This is the kind of content that would normally require multiple expansions and separate purchases but Draco Ideas have combined it all in one very compact package. Weighing in at just 376g, if the box were any thinner, it could be posted as a Large Letter.
Tetrarchia feels like an evolving puzzle, with each turn simply requiring the player(s) to find the best solution for what they can do with the six action points available to them. It thus works very well as a solo game, but players will need to enjoy collaborative puzzle solving in order to really appreciate it as a multiplayer game. Particularly for gamers seeking a solo challenge that can be tweaked and customised endlessly, and that won't take up much space, Tetrarchia could be an ideal choice.
(Review by Matt Young)