Ancient Rome is a veritable goldmine for slot developers. The themes within this larger historical theme make the perfect backdrop for innovative slot design, but what exactly is it about Ancient Rome that has proved such a success for online slots?
Historians argue that of all the ancient civilisations it is the Romans who hold up a mirror most closely to us. They were bureaucratic, predominantly Christian and whilst Adam Smith’s free-market economy was centuries in the making the Romans valued commerce and trade as much as they did military expansion. However, similarities between modern society and Ancient Rome are most likely to be found before connections with older societies, simply because the connections are more recent.
What have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
At the height of its powers the Roman Empire reached from the north of England in the west, to the far reaches of Turkey in the east. Along the way they took in countries that cover areas we now call Morocco and Tunisia in Africa and Belgium in central Europe. Taking in over 2 million square miles by 117AD, it was the first Empire to spread from one end of Europe to the other, and whilst it may have been dwarfed by the earlier Macedonian Empire and later empires like Genghis Khan’s Mongolian Empire, there are few that lasted as long or have had as seismic an impact on modern culture.
Networks of roads were built, the routes for which are still used throughout Europe today. They invented the modern calendar. Pluming and sanitation, advertising and trademarks, bureaucracy, religion and language. Much of what shaped western Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries was established by the Romans nearly 2000 years earlier.
Latin was the base for French, Spanish and Italian and whilst not as influential as it is in those Mediterranean countries its influence extended far beyond those crystal blue seas, in no small part because of the spread of Christianity during the first millennium. In other words the Romans have influenced how we speak, how we think, how we get from A to B and what day we plan on getting there.
Rome and Slots
The fact that Rome become monotheistic and rejected its belief in the old gods means there appears to be less myth and lore to tap into, especially when you consider that the new religion they brought to the world is still a huge piece of everyday life for billions of people living throughout the world.
In the absence of mythological characters, Roman iconography relies more heavily on the real life gods amongst men who ruled over the empire; the emperors and Caesars, the might of their armies, how they entertained themselves and the wealth that the aristocracy flaunted as their subjects scrabbled around in the dirt beneath them.
Needless to say this means that Roman themed slots tend to be less magical than their Greek equivalents. This can often mean the features are less grand but not necessarily less ambitious.
Realism Over Fantasy
If you are playing a Roman slot for the first time then you can expect swords and shields over pitchforks and lightning bolts. The celebrity of real men, in charge of huge armies, opposed to gods wielding giant hammers with super strength. There is no magic in Ancient Rome, just the shock and awe that came with a sprawling empire, built on the blood and bones of its victims.
Who needs gods when you have the kind of rulers that have sat on Rome’s golden throne? We might live in the age of celebrity but this is yet another example of something that the Romans perfected long before we did.
And with rulers like Nero, Augustus, Julius Caesar, Caligula and Marcus Aurelius there aren’t too many modern-day heads of state who can compete in terms of infamy or brilliance in office. Slot developers have looked to these historical figures for their inspiration on a number of occasions with varying degrees of success.
In most instances slots containing the word Caesar in their title are not referring to a particular Roman leader but simply the concept of a ruler. Things you should expect from a generic Caesar title are red and gold colour schemes and symbols that you might associate with the Roman army: eagles, types of weaponry, flags, tents, etc.
A recent example of what I am talking about would beRome: Caesar’s Glory, a Playson slot that received an excellent score from us when we reviewed it. The reels have an unusual formation that is clearly meant to resemble a Roman Legion, increasing in size from left to right. The Free Spins feature sees the reels reverse their formation so that reel 1 contains 5 symbols and reel 5 contains 2. That flip in formation is meant to resemble the speed and unison with which a Roman Legion could change direction.
Perhaps a better example of a slot with a bit of Roman celebrity would be Quickspin’s Nero’s Fortune. Rome burns in the background, depicting the city as it may have looked whilst the infamous ruler “fiddled”. Nero is nowhere to be seen in this slot but his legacy of fire most certainly is, with special features based around flames and fire helping to keep this one interesting.
Nero was known for being one of Rome’s weakest leaders, a tyrannical figure more interested in pleasing himself than his subjects. He killed his own mother, watched his city burn and then, when he had caused as much damage as one man could he took his own life.
Other slots with Caesar in the title are Ave Caesar, Age of Caesar and Caesar’s Empire to name but a few. However, none of these can live with the standard set by Quickspin in Nero’s Fortune and none really worth your time to check out.
Along a similar line, Stake Logic’s Caligula promised much but really should have delivered more than it gave us. A colour scheme comprising of red and gold fits the Roman slot standard and Caligula’s face is one that is suitably smug enough to fit the profile of a leader who was renowned for his lavish spending and wanton consumption. Caligula was, like Nero, a mad emperor and his reign was one filled with murder and treachery. A slot looking to buy into that story needed to do more with it than Stake Logic did.
Armies and Legions
A hop and a skip away from the Caesars will take you into the belly or war and another popular source of Roman inspiration. In all honesty, there is very little to distinguish many of the army or legion inspired slots from the ones that take their cue from the men who led them.
If I was to pick out a software provider who I would say really embraced the might of the Roman armies then I would look no further than Playtech who have two slots, Shields of Rome and Rome & Glory, both of which stand out from a fairly ordinary crowd as slots that are worth checking out.
Again, this is the realm of gold and red. Flags and eagles, helmets and shields, with the odd chariot thrown in for good measure.
It isn’t just the Caesars and their armies who get to hog the Roman celebrity limelight, as a certain Hollywood titan who goes by the name of Spartacus is a more than common sight in casino lounges across the internet. There are 3 different slots all with Spartacus in the title: Spartacus: Gladiator of Rome, Spartacus – Legendary Warrior and Spartacus – Call to Arms. Two of there are WMS slots and one is a Red 7 slot, with all 3 of them designed by SG Gaming helping them to share an obvious identity, not just those their titles but also through the colours and the fonts that have been used.
You can expect the sand of the gladiators’ fighting pits and the stone of the Colosseum to form a colour palette of browns and deep oranges. Gone are golds are reds of the Caesar slots and in their place comes something much more rustic.
Spartacus is the best known of the gladiators, most of whom would not have lived long enough to become famous and, for those who haven’t seen the Hollywood blockbuster, was actually a Greek being held prisoner by the Romans. He escaped his chains and led a rebellion against the Romans, a rebellion that he died fighting in. His story is one that sees him defy the odds only to fall on the field of battle in glorious failure. He was the ultimate little guy taking on the system, much like slots players themselves might feel when they take on the might of the casino.
Unfortunately, none of the slots mentioned above would make it onto a best of list but there is one gladiator themed slot that should be considered one of the finest releases of 2019 and that is Yggdrasil’s Champions of Rome, a slot that is in my humble opinion the single best Roman themed slot out there for you to play today.
There are few slots that look as good as this one, which has forgone the realities of hand to hand combat in favour of something much more polished. But don’t let the lack of blood and guts put you off as this one has comes with a series of bonus features that come as close as it is for a slot to land you right in the middle of the action. The Free Spins feature will see you fight a series of bad guys as you look to increase your wins.
There are a few other titles that take on the gladiator theme, such as Play ‘n’ Go’s Game of Gladiators, Pragmatic Play’s Wild Gladiators and iSoftBet’s Gladiator’s go Wild. Along with the Playtech series of slots that are based around the Russell Crowe Gladiator movie that dominated the 2001 Academy Awards. All of these slots have something worth recommending but they all pale in comparison to the Yggdrasil slot, which unlike Spartacus should be crowned king of the gladiators.
Whilst the gladiators are left hacking each other to death for the chance to literally fight another day, the gentry sit in the comfort of their royal boxes, watching on as guts are spilled and lives are ended for their entertainment. The divide between those who had and those who had nothing was a clearly drawn line back in Ancient Rome: Most people had nothing but for the lucky few who got live a life of luxury, things really could not have got much better.
The glitz and glamour of life at the top table in Ancient Rome is well-documented. The Romans knew how to enjoy themselves, the problem for a number of their most notorious revellers, or more accurately, their subjects, was that they were the ones running the show.
Slots like Luxury Rome by iSoftBet, Glorious Rome by Pragmatic Play, Golden Rome by Leander and Yolo Play’s Treasure Rome are all about the sort of good living that only the most wild of the Caesars could have enjoyed. The reds and the golds are all there again but in amongst the colours that define the might and glory of the Roman Empire you find greens and most commonly purples to indicate the kind of money that slot developers want you think is out there waiting for you.
With these slots you can expect to see togas instead of plates of armour and goblets of wine instead of swords and shields. In all honesty none of these slots really stand out as being worthy of your time, which would suggest that the theme of wealth is slightly less engaging than the theme than those of war and conflict.
First of all, and I have seen a few reviewers do this in the past, Roman slot should never be confused with Greeks slots. Roman slots don’t deal in magic and as much you will find yourself encountering few random features. The colours are less bright, less vivid and instead you will find them limited to reds, oranges and golds, with a few specific games adding flourishes of purple to show off the wealth that existed in the empire.
You find nearly as many Roman slots as you will find Greek or Egyptian ones because there is less for you play around with and because myth and legend have been left behind for harsher realities there is less more for creative manoeuvre.
There are a few franchises out there, with Playtech’s Gladiator series the best amongst them but you may struggle to find them being offered in casinos today.
The best Roman themed slot of them all is Yggdrasil’s Champions of Rome, a slot that gained a perfect 10 out of 10 from us and one that we considered to be worthy of a top 10 place for 2019.
Looking forward I don’t expect big things from this theme. In fact I will be genuinely surprised if I find a Roman themed slot in the near future that I decide should replace Champion’s of Rome as the best of the bunch.
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