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Pre-Release Predictions: Alba Longa

Jesse Dean
United States
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Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
Alba Longa, released by Quined Games, is a game where players are competing to be the first played to achieve two conditions: 10 monuments and 16 population. One of its central mechanisms centers around the use of dice, and it was hopes about that mechanic that originally attracted me to this game. Dice manipulation intrigues me but, with the exception of Troyes, released last year, I have not found most of the other dice-based Euros interesting enough to explore past the first handful of plays. Unfortunately, it looks like Alba Longa is in the latter category, and at this time I do not plan on adding Alba Longa to my collection.

The dice rolling system is fairly straightforward. Starting with the first player, each player rolls a group of four dice. Each of these dice is associated with the color of a place where you can assign, and thus define, workers as soldiers, priests, merchants, or quarry workers. The player who rolls these dice can then selects one of the dice and then assigns workers to the location associated with that die. Each other player has an option of buying the other dice, and then die rolling passes to the next player. Once it comes back around to the first player again, they can choose to continue rolling, paying money this time, or pass, and this continues until all players have passed or no longer have any workers to assign. This is only changed during a “harvest round” when a player can use any rolled dice to add to the number of farmers they produce.

After this occurs, each player resolves each of the different types of workers, with soldiers being the most complicated and inserting a little bit of interaction into the game. Each player uses a set of cards to determine who they are attacking with their soldiers (the soldiers defend their city automatically) and then, after the attacks are revealed, get to pick a hero card to use to help in their attack and defense. Based on the amount the attack exceeds the target’s defense, the target can have up to 4 workers “sabotaged”, either removing them from their assigned spot, or knocking them down and reducing their capability. This is actually one of the parts that concerns me the most, as I see little reason for trailing players not to simply use any assigned soldiers to relentlessly attack the leader since there is no direct advantage to launching a successful attack and thus no real reason to attack players who are trailing. This is compounded by the fact there is no subtlety in determining who the leader is and thus it is fairly obvious who to attack on any given round.

The rest of the actions are fairly by-the-numbers resource generation. Merchants generate money, quarry workers generate monuments, priests generate worship level, and farmers generate food. How much food the farmer’s generate is determined by whether they are sabotaged, which reduces the amount they generate, and if the year is dry, normal or wet. Worship level can be spent to increase the size of the harvest as well as getting one of three bonuses that is determined by randomly drawing a card from the top of the “Blessings of the God” deck. The food generated is needed to pay current workers, with any excess being used to buy workers for further rounds.

So I am not particularly impressed by the game. The take that city attack element seems to be problematic in its lack of effective decision making, and the rest of the game isn't nuanced enough for me to find it interesting. I am sure that it is does have a market, probably in the segment for those who like lighter dice games with a bit of take that thrown in, but I am not that market. I was hoping for meaty, interesting decisions but Alba Longa is much too straightforward to provide the sort of experience that I am looking for. Too bad.
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