I need to admit something. When my editor at DGaming.com tasked me with reviewing CryptoRome, I thought it would be a CryptoKitties copy. After all, there are several DGames that are titled “CryptoSomething”, i.e. blockchain games where you have to collect what comes after the first half of the game’s title. In CryptoKitties, you collect Kitties, in CryptoAlpaca, you collect Alpacas, in CryptoTwittos, you collect Twitter accounts.

So I thought CryptoRome would be a digital collectible game where you’d collect parts of Rome. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. CryptoRome is a complex game of economic, political, and military strategy. It’s easy to jump into and it has a clear guide that explains the different aspects of the game.

The home screen after you’ve logged in with MetaMask

CryptoRome, developed by GigLabs, a DApp development company based in Atlanta, GA, has three main components: battles, land, and industry. The game is set in Ancient Rome and the idea is to build a worthy army that can conquer enough land for you to become Caesar. When you first start out, you have nothing but 500 troops a day, which all new players are given.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

The 500 troops a day are enough to enter battle and get you going. Currently, the battles are divided into four different regions: red, blue, green, and black. Each region has thirty land cards valued from one to thirty, with one the lowest and thirty the highest. Conquering a land card gives you points, and the player with the most points in a region will become a Senator of that region. The player with the most points in total will become Caesar.

Depending on the number of points you gather during battles, you’ll be placed in Battleground I, II, or III, with each Battleground giving you more denari, the game’s currency, if you manage to become Senator or Caesar.

When I became senator of the black region

Each region has two daily battles. Each battle lasts three hours and the first battle start at 12 AM EST. The battle mechanics to conquer a land card are surprisingly simple. Each card shows the number of enemy troops currently stationed there. All you need to do is send more troops to the card and it’ll be yours.

Conquering card #3 requires at least 132 troops

Despite the seemingly straightforward way to conquer land cards, there’s a lot of depth and complexity to CryptoRome, and here’s why: firstly, you need to take into consideration the constraints that you’re operating under. If you’re a newb, you only have 500 troops a day. Additionally, some cards are worth more points than others. And there’s always the chance of other players snatching your cards away right before the battle ends by sending more troops than you’ve stationed on a card.

Secondly, there are ways players can defend their cards. For example, you can use wine to receive one to five bonus troops per wine bottle, up to a wine bottle maximum of 20% of the total number of troops. If you have 100 troops stationed on a card, you can add a maximum of twenty wine bottles, which will yield between twenty to a hundred new troops. But here’s the important bit: to other players, it will seem as if you still only have 100 troops on the card, while in reality you’ll have between 120 and 200 stationed there.

You can also construct walls around a land card, which can be built from wood, stone, and iron. Each type of wall makes your troops stronger and the longer a wall stands, the stronger it gets. Walls generate 3% extra strength every ten minutes. Attacking players don’t know the type of wall nor how long it’s been standing there.

Finally, defending players can deploy centurions to get a troop bonus on a land card for the remainder of a battle. Centurions can level up, drink wine, train, gain experience, and provide additional troop strength.

Attacking players have their tricks too. They can send scouts to see the actual number of troops a player has on a card, as well as the type of wall they have surrounding it. Attackers can also deploy cavalry horses to reduce the troop count of defending players.

I’m an easy target, because I didn’t use wine, didn’t build walls and didn’t deploy centurions

When you send fewer troops to attack than there are troops defending a card, you’ll lose 40% of the troops you sent. And if you retain final control of a land card during a battle, 25% of your troops (the survivors) will be there to defend that land card for the next battle. So you probably want to make sure you send more troops when the next battle comes round.

As you can tell, there’s much more depth and complexity to CryptoRome than you might think at first glance. And that’s only for the battle part of the game. Let’s talk about land next.

Pecunia Nervus Belli (money is the soul of war)

You’ll need land in order to construct buildings to generate the resources you’ll need in battle. There are three types of land you can get: villages, towns, and cities. Three villages make for a town and three towns make for a city. The developers offer players to buy a village for either 0.12 ETH or $15, but I recommend having a look at the marketplace, where villages are listed for as low as 0.04 ETH (just under $7).

Some villages for sale

Now here’s something really interesting about CryptoRome. If you’ve played DGames before, you know that nearly all in-game assets you can buy on the Ethereum blockchain are ERC-721 tokens. They’re non-fungible tokens, i.e. tokens that are completely unique. These are different from ERC-20 tokens, which are fungible, i.e. tokens that are identical to one another. Examples are cryptocurrencies. This bitcoin does not differ from that bitcoin, because it’s a fungible, ERC-20 token. But this CryptoKitty does differ from that CryptoKitty, because they’re non-fungible, ERC-721 tokens.

However, there’s a problem with ERC-721 tokens. Imagine you equip your CryptoKitty with cool, ERC-721 sunglasses and a powerful, ERC-721 dagger. If you want to sell your CryptoKitty, you’d need to sell each individual ERC-721 asset instead of your CryptoKitty as packaged with its sunglasses and dagger. That’s inconvenient.

The developers at GigLabs realized this. CryptoRome is the first game to build and release ERC-998 tokens to its players, in the form of land. An ERC-998 token is an extension to ERC-721. They’re still non-fungible tokens, but they can be packaged together. For example: a village is an ERC-998 token. If you combine three villages into a town, that town becomes a single ERC-998 token, not three separate ERC-998 village tokens. A city, in turn, becomes a single ERC-998 token too, and not three ERC-998 town tokens or twenty-seven ERC-998 village tokens. Much more convenient if you want to sell your town or city later on.

Details of a particularly valuable land card

Each land card in CryptoRome has three sections: the number of resources it produces, the production rate of items produced on a daily basis, and the number of additional troops you’ll receive each day. Each land card has six slots, three of which will already have buildings on them and three slots which are free for you to build new structures on. Which brings me to the final part of CryptoRome: industry.

Panem et Circenses (bread and games)

There are nine different resources in CryptoRome. From least to most rare: wheat and wood, grapes and stone, fish and clay, horses, iron, and marble. Wood, stone, and iron are needed to build walls while defending land cards in battle. Wheat is needed to produce bread that you can use to feed workers and train centurions. Grapes are needed to produce wine. Fish and clay are needed to increase worker production and upgrade your buildings. Horses are needed to speed up up the production of troops and marble has no function yet, but will bring unique benefits to a village, town, or city sometime in the near future.

*cough* my resources in CryptoRome so far

In order to make items with your resources, you’ll need buildings. On each land card, you can build three new buildings. Which building you’ll want to build will depend on your strategy and the resources you have available. If you have plenty of iron, you might want to construct a blacksmith to forge swords that give you an advantage in battle. Or you might want to put down a winery so you can produce wine to better defend your land cards.

Each building will cost resources to build. If you don’t have those resources, you can visit Trajan’s Market, which is a dynamic, self-regulating market where you can buy all nine resources and a few finished items. Prices fluctuate and the developers mention in their guide that a key part of the game will be monitoring the Trajan’s market to snap up resources that are going cheap.

Buy resources in Trajan’s Market

In Trajan’s market, you can also trade resources for denari, although, as far I know, you cannot buy resources for denari. You’ll need denari to construct buildings, upgrade them, and to produce resources. You can buy denari in Trajan’s market, although I think they’re quite expensive. It’s $4.99 for 75 denari, $19.99 for 350 denari and $49.99 for 1,000 denari. Considering you can win a good amount of denari by winning battles and becoming Senator or Caesar, I wouldn’t buy denari from the Trajan market right now.

Omnium Rerum Principia Parva Sunt (all beginnings are small)

As it stands today, not many people play CryptoRome yet. It’s still relatively easy to win battles without any additional resources besides your 500 troops a day. This presents a big opportunity for new players to gain an immediate, strong foothold in a complex and interesting game. You don’t need to spend a significant amount of money or Ethereum on land, buildings, and resources to have a fair shot at becoming Caesar.

However, this opportunity is unlikely to last very long. The developers are regularly updating CryptoRome and they’ve recently announced their plans for the next big phase in the game, the next major leap forward: the Roman Conquest. It’s a map conquest, battle simulation game where you’re the general. It’s played from a 2D map where you view different regions of Europe.

There will be forty regions and two thousand cities and capitals for players to fight over. Separate regions will have their own narrative, surprises, reward, and special characters (in the form of tokens). The Roman Conquest will be tied into the CryptoRome economy and battles will be bigger and better than they are today. Players will be able to change troop formation, move units, deploy special characters and defend land by placing structures, add military, bring in reinforcements, and so on...

The Roman Conquest is scheduled for release this summer. Considering the developers have consistently met their deadlines and seem eager to improve and expand their game, I have no doubt it’ll be another great expansion. In fact, I feel there’s plenty of potential for CryptoRome. There aren’t many DGames playable today that offer the depth and complexity of CryptoRome while still dealing with the limitations of blockchain technology.

I can’t really say I have a major gripe with the game. Its relatively small userbase makes it easy to win points without requiring any of the more advanced strategies, but this can act as an incentive for new players to start playing now, before it becomes too difficult or expensive to win land battles. Denari feels a little bit too expensive for me, and its use in the game could be expanded. For example, it could be used to purchase resources too. But that’s a relatively minor detail in the grander scheme of things.

All in all, I found CryptoRome an enjoyable and interesting game that’s still new enough for beginners to jump in and gain a strong foothold. However, considering the upcoming updates and the fact that it is a good game, I wouldn’t wait too long before diving in. You can do so by visiting The DGaming Store.