I remember exactly where I was the first time I played Glory to Rome. It was the spring of 2011. I was on a Thalys high-speed train leaving Amsterdam, headed for Cologne, not far from where I was living at the time in Bonn, Germany. My friend Joe brought this new game straight from the US that he’d recently acquired—he was eager to teach it to me on the train ride.
Joe, who had a penchant for game nights, roped me into board games by teaching me the classic gateway game Catan. From there, I learned Puerto Rico, Power Grid, and many others. There was a period of time when our circle of friends gathered most Fridays over burritos and beer to play one game or another.
But GTR felt different. First, I noticed the packaging. Unlike the high-quality large-format cardboard boxes with soft colors and thoughtful art, GTR came in a compact, cheap, plastic tub that wasn’t much bigger than a large paperback book. Second, and more jarring, was the game’s art. It had a bright color palette and cartoonish characters that seemed like they belonged in a children’s clip art computer game. But hey, who was I to argue with Joe?