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How Do You Play Pandemic: Fall of Rome? (10 minute guide)

How Do You Play Pandemic: Fall of Rome? (10 minute guide)


Pandemic: Fall of Rome is the newest game fashioned from the Pandemic board game and its unique (One of the top rated games of all time) style of game play.  Instead of fighting a plague spreading throughout the globe like many of the games within the Pandemic series, the game play mechanics focus on stopping the insurgency of barbarian tribes into the Roman empire who controlled lands throughout modern day Europe around the 5th and 6th centuries.  This game requires players to work together through complex turns, with the goal of preventing the Barbarian card based system from establishing a foot hold in the Roman Empire that will ultimately lead to its demise. 

If you don’t own Pandemic: Fall of Rome already, check it out here on Amazon.


The goal of the game is to ally or eliminate the 5 Barbarian Tribes before the Empire is conquered. 


Board and Pieces:

  1. Place the board and put 1 Fort in Roma.  Place the remaining Forts and 3 Battle Dice adjacent to the board.  
  2. Place the Legion tokens in the allocated Legion Space on the board.  Place the Barbarians and Alliance tokens in the allocated Barbarian Supply Spaces aligning with their symbols and colors. 
  3. Place the Invasion Rate Marker and Decline Marker in the first spaces of their trackers. 

Constructing the Initial Invasion:

Locate the 5 red-bordered Barbarian cards (each showing the city of Roma) and lay them faceup on the board in the Barbarian Discard Pile.

Place the 9 gold-bordered Barbarian cards to the side. Shuffle the remaining Barbarian cards and lay them information side down in the Barbarian Deck Space. Now shuffle the 9 gold-bordered cards and do the following with them:

1. Reveal 3 Barbarian cards and place 3 Barbarian Cubes of the corresponding color to each city.

2. Reveal 3 Barbarian cards and place 2 Barbarian Cubes of the corresponding color to each city.

3. Reveal 3 Barbarian cards and place 1 Barbarian Cube 1 of the corresponding color to each city.

4. Lay these 9 Barbarian cards information side up on top of the Roma cards in the Barbarian Discard Pile.

Constructing Player Components:

Distribute 1 Reference card and 1 random Role card with its corresponding Game Piece (top left of the Role card) to each player.

Consolidate the Player cards by type (City, Event, Revolt!). Lay Revolt! cards to the side.

Randomly add Event! cards to the City card deck based on the total amount of players. Shuffle these cards and deal the prescribed number of cards (based on number of players) faceup to each player to form starting hands.

2 Players – 4 Events in Deck, 4 Starting Hand

3 Players – 5 Events in Deck, 3 Starting Hand

4 Players – 6 Events in Deck, 2 Starting Hand

5 Players – 8 Events in Deck, 2 Starting Hand

Every player leaves their Player cards and Role card faceup by the board. Each player will choose one City card and place their game piece and 2 Legions in the corresponding city. If the case that a player does not have a City card, they can place their Game Piece and Legions in any city.

Constructing Player Deck:

The game’s difficulty corresponds to the amount of Revolt! cards used during the game.  5,6, and 7 Revolt! cards are equivalent to Introductory, Standard, and Heroic skill levels. 

Depending on the difficulty level (5,6, or 7 cards) divide the Player cards into equal or close to equal decks.  Shuffle one Revolt! card randomly into each Player deck information side down.  Take these decks and combine them. 

Turn Flow:

The players review their City cards.

The player with the City card that has the highest amount of days from Roma will take the first turn. 

The turns will follow to the player to the left at the end of each turn.

Game Play:


Each turn has 3 steps:

1. Player completes 4 actions

2. Player will draw 2 Player Cards (and resolve Revolt! cards)

3. City Invasion

Players are encouraged to collaborate on ideas, but the person who owns the turn makes the final decision of how the turn will be played. 

Step 1 – Four Actions:

The player can choose which and how many times to complete an action.  Actions can be repeated, but each action will count as 1 action.  Special abilities can alter how an action is completed.  If the action results in a card being discarded, the card is moved to the Player Discard Pile



Player’s Game Piece can be moved to an adjacent city from the one it currently occupies (determined by one, continuous line regardless of color.  Can move over water).  Up to 3 Legions can be placed within one city.  Players may not move into Barbarian Supply Spaces.   


Use a City card to move from a port city (indicated by an anchor) to another port city on the board.  The City card’s color must match the destination color.  You can move up to 3 Legions while making this move.


Use a City card matching the city that the player occupies to establish a Fort drawn from the supply.  If no Forts are available, move a Fort from anywhere on the board to the city.  Each city is allowed up to 1 Fort.

Recruit Army

To recruit an Army the occupied city must already have a Fort.  The Legions placed must correspond to the Legion Rate on the board.  If there are not enough Legions available in the Legion Supply Area, move as many Legions as possible but do not take Legions away from other locations on the board. 


One Barbarian Cube must be present in the player’s city for this action to occur.  For every Legion in the city (up to 3) the player will roll the battle dice.  This will result in one of the five following results:

Remove 1 Legion

Remove 1 Barbarian

Remove 1 Barbarian and 1 Legion

Remove 2 Barbarians and 1 Legion

Resolve the special effect associated the player’s role


Two players must occupy the same city and agree on the exchange for the following to occur:

One player will grant the other player a City card that matches their city.   

If the player that receives the City card already has a total of 7 cards, they can discard a City card or activate an Event card. 

Forge Alliance

You must discard all cards of a tribe’s color to forge an alliance between all players and that tribe. One Barbarian Cube must still reside in the city for this to happen.

After an alliance is formed, place the Alliance Token for the corresponding tribe onto its Alliance Space in the bottom-left corner of the board.

Allied Barbarians will still invade but the players will continue to fight them normally.  Alliances must occur to do the Enlist Barbarians requirement to win the game.

Enlist Barbarians


To enlist Barbarian tribes the player must first remove the Barbarian’s color from the city by discarding a card that matches an allied tribe’s color.  Replace the Barbarians with Legions from the Legion Supply Area.

Legions can only be pulled from the supply area and cannot come from legions in other cities. 

Step 2 – Draw Two Player Cards:

After completing 4 actions, draw 2 Player cards at the same time from the Player Deck.  If a Revolt! card is drawn, then the player must complete the 3 steps on the card.  Once a Revolt! card is resolved it is removed from the game. 

If the cards have run out and 2 cards cannot be drawn the game ends immediately and the players lose!!  GAME OVER!!!

Step 3 – City Invasion

The Invasion Tracker dictates how many cards must be resolved from the Barbarian Deck.  For each card, 1 city is invaded and then that card is placed in the Barbarian Discard Pile

Barbarian CardBarbarian cards include the tribe’s color, destination city, and the tribe’s migration path.  The migration path is linear from the Barbarian Supply Area to the destination city that is listed on the Barbarian Card.  The migration path will cross through multiple cities on the way to the destination city. 

Invasion – For Barbarians to invade a city on the migration path, 1 of the following conditions must be met: 

The city must have a cube representing the appropriate Barbarian tribe. 

If no cube is present, the city preceding the city has to have at least 1 cube representing the appropriate Barbarian tribe. 

If no cities have a cube from the Barbarian tribe, a cube will be added to the first city on the migration path leaving the Barbarian Supply Area supply area.   

If a Barbarian Cube is added to a city with Legions, the city will be defended.  If no Game Piece or Fort is in the city, all the Legions will be ambushed and removed from that city back to the Legion Supply Area.  If a Fort or Game Piece is present, then the Legions will be attacked and only one Legion must be removed. 

3 Barbarians – If 1 Barbarian Cube must be added to a city with 3 Barbarian Cubes of the same color, the city is Sacked! and the Decline Marker is moved down 1 space.  If a Fort is in the city, return it to the Fort Supply pile.  After a city is Sacked! 1 Barbarian Cube is added to all cities directly adjacent to the Sacked! city, including the cities that are not along the migration path.

Chain Reaction – When a city is Sacked!, a chain reaction can occur that can cause another city to be Sacked!.  Repeat the steps associated with adding 1 Barbarian Cube to a city with 3 Barbarian Cubes until all chain reactions have been satisfied, or a winning or losing condition is met.

If a city is Sacked! don’t add a cube to it if it occurred during the same turn. 


Once the 3rd Step is Complete, the Player to the Left Will Play the Next Turn

Common Rules:

Event cards can be played at any time and are not considered actions.

Winning Conditions:  When no Barbarian Tribes threaten the Empire. 


To Win, 1 of the following conditions needs to be met for each Barbarian Tribe:

  • An alliance was formed with the Barbarian Tribe.
  • No Barbarians of a tribe occupy any city on the board.

Losing Conditions: 

To Lose, 1 of the following conditions needs to be met at any time during the game:

  • Barbarian Cube supplies run out and can no longer invade cities.
  • 2 Player Cards cannot be drawn
  • The Decline Marker makes it to the 8th space
  • Roma is Sacked!

Tiered Difficulty Levels:

Pandemic: Fall of Rome has a tiered difficulty system that allows the player to set the difficulty of the game by how many Revolt! cards they choose to use throughout the game.  The standard scale for difficulty during the game is 5 Revolt! cards for Introductory, 6 for Standard, and 7 for Heroic skill levels.  This gives the player flexibility in determining the difficulty parameters in relation to time, skill level of adjoining players, and pace they wish to complete the game.   

Since the game relies on a card based system to generate opposition.

Instant Sacking: 

Unlike previous versions of the Pandemic games, Pandemic: Fall of Rome has the ability for cities to be instantly sacked.  This is because of the linear migration path that is associated with invading Barbarian cards.  This quality makes the game much more challenging and fun for players that enjoy the Pandemic three requirement turn based game play. 

Versions Over Time: 

Pandemic games originated in 2008 with the original “Pandemic” style game play.  Since the original version which focused on an actual health pandemic that was plaguing the world, the game play has been adapted to multiple flavors of gameplay including environmental threats, health based logistics, and confronting warring factions. 

Quick Info: 

Time: 45-60 Minutes

Ages:  8+

Community Suggested Ages:  8+

Expansions: No current expansions.

Community Rating:  8.0

Overall Rank: 803

Difficulty:  2.39/5

Published Year:  2018

Designer:  Matt Leacock, Paolo Mori

Publisher Credits: Asmodee, Gem Klub Kft, Lifestyle Boardgames Ltd, Rebel, Z-Man Games, Inc.

Official Site:

If you like this game you’ll also like: 

Pandemic, Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, Pandemic: Contagion

If you don’t like this game you should consider:

7 Wonders, Agricola, King of Tokyo