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I am reading my Glory to Rome instruction booklet and I do not understand how the pool works.

Are players free to choose any card they wish from the pool, or are they just supposed to draw the top card?

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The Spanish version of the game has really badly translated instructions. The English version (latest version downloadable here) is clearer (emphasis added):

Place all the face up Order cards [which are revealed during setup] in the middle of the playing surface beside the pile of Jacks — they are the starting Pool.

Page 4 shows an image of the cards in the Pool face-up.

enter image description here

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To answer the question directly, yes, you may choose any card you like from the pool, especially since they're face-up.

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