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Subject: A first shot at Roman Strategy rss

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Julien Van Reeth
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so I've played this game a lot in the past few days, and here are my thoughts on how to play this game well.

1. Fill your empty spots as soon as possible

You only start with 10 Vps, 2 of those you'll have to discard on your very first turn. That means that you could very well, if not careful, go bust in 4 turns. You want to avoid that. The way to do it is to make sure to build a card on the first two turns, stopping the VPs bleeding away. Do not get angry if you don't have a great card to play : at this point, any will do. Once you do not loose Vps at the start of every turn, then you can focus on nice cards.

This means that on your first throws, the highest die should go on money, and the second highest on cards. Again, you want to increase your odds of building a card, not having a nice pool of cards to choose from but no money to build them.

And of course, in your first throws, you should definitely NOT activate more than one card. Even if you get the worst throw possible, 1,1 and 2, get two gold and one card.

A good card to use on the first few turns is the Consul, allowing you to turn a 5 into a 6 for even more money.

2. Do not put cards on the wrong number

Some cards just belong to high numbers : the tower, for instance, should go on a 6. That way you can save your sixes for money or cards.
Any card that do not require a die to be actived should go on hig numbers, too, except of course Temples and Basilicas (they should sit next to forums, or fora for the latinest of you )
Cards that you will not need to play every time can go on high numbers too : The temple of Aesculape, for instance. Or architects.

The idea is to save your 5s and 6s for money and cards.

The low numbers cards are :
- Forum : no brainer. if you have a 6 and a 1, what would you rather get, 6 VPs or 1 ?
- Consuls. They are a great way to use a low die to turn the others into higher dice.
- Any card that you will want to activate at every opportunity, like the Gladiator or the Praetorian

3. Learn the counters

Every card in the game has its counter, and even every style of play has its counter.
Forums are the quickest path to victory. They are very powerful. You could potentially, if you're very lucky, get 12 VPs in one roll. Forums have good armor and thus are hard to destroy. However, the Praetorian can and should block an opponent forum at every opportunity it gets.
Should you want to destroy a forum, you will not want to waste turns doing it. That's why the Centurion should be used instead of the Legionnary. Sure, it costs a lot, but your chances are very good that you will manage to take the forum down. If you have to use a legionnary, think of putting an Essedus (sp ?) down. A forum with 3 armor is much more destructible
Gladiators are a pain in the butt. The will cost you a lot of VPs and money by simply making you take your guys back in your hand : next turn you'll pay 1 vp and gold if you want to rebuild your card. The obvious counter when someone places down a Gladatior is to focus on buildings. This is great if you have forums. But think also of the Senator ! This guy is really cheap (3 gold) and allows you to rebuild all your guys for FREE ! If your opponent makes you take back the senator, it should be really easy to rebuild him right away. If not, you will be able to place your guys back for free

4. How to earn VPs

The best way to earn VPs is with the Forum. Period. Make sure to build the Forum on the 1 or the 2. If you get a temple or a basilica before the Forum, put them on the 2 or 3.

The best way to get VPs from your opponent is with the Merchant (Mercator). However, the gold will go to your opponent, and the Merchant has the weakest armor in the game. So :
- Do not put the merchant down if your opponent has a lot of empty spots. You want to give him gold he cannot use.
- Avoid putting the merchant down if your opponent has the Gladiator. It will cost you a lot to rebuild him, and thus if you have less gold your Merchant will be less effective.
- NEVER put the merchant in front of an offensive unit. You're just asking to get killed.
However, forget all these rules when your opponent has more that 18 VPS. You should then put him down first thing and amass gold while praying for lucky throws

The other ways to get (a small amount of) VPs are :
- Markets.
- Tribunus Plebeius
- Legat. Legats are great in the early game only, when your opponent has empty spaces.

Of the three, I think the Tribunus is the best, because you are not dependent of what the opponent set-up is. You just get a VP.

5. Use your throws wisely

When you play Roma, you've got to know what your priorities are. Do not try to always activate three cards : this is not good. You want gold and new cards.

When you have empty spots that you want to fill (and this should be a very high priority, trumped only by getting a fat bunch of VPs from a forum), take the most gold you can, even if you will draw only one card.

if you have lots of gold, focus on getting cards.

And save your dice ! That means, on a turn when you are getting new cards, wait before activating cards. You might draw a great card that you can build right ahead on the spot that you'll activate with your saved die. A great combo with the Gladiator

6. My favourite cards

Here is a description of some cards and why I like them. I did not put the forum since it should be everybody's fav card

- Gladiator : it is by far the most annoying card. Every time it is activated your opponent will take a character card back in his hand. No die rolled. Your opponent will loose 1 VP next turn and will usually have to pay if he wants his card back. And the gladiator has high defense ! excellent.
- Tower : the perfect 6 card. All your cards have +1 defense, and every 6 you roll can be used for money and cards, which is nice.
- Scaenicus : the actor is great because it will duplicate your favorite character. So instead of having a 1 in 6 chance of activating him, you now have a 1 in 3 ! And you could potentially use the same power twice in a turn, even with different dice ! A nasty combo is gladiator, Tribunus Plebeius and Scaenicus.
- Consul : it is a cheap card, great in the early game when you really need a 6 instead of a 5. I do not hesitate to cover it up later on, though.
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Sue Hemberger

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Lots of good insights and a number of claims that you'll sheepishly retract after further play. I won't tell you which are which because what I've found so fun about Roma is discovering all sorts of unforseen strategies and combinations.
 
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Robert Rossney
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True enough. He doesn't even mention the Mercator!
 
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Julien Van Reeth
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UhhhClem, maybe you should read the whole article ?
 
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Mark Haberman
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Quote:
A good card to use on the first few turns is the Consul, allowing you to turn a 5 into a 6 for even more money.


Why would you waste a die to turn a 5 into a 6 for more money, when you could just use the die to get more money? Remember that you can use as many dice as you want for cards and money.
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costa
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Vieira de Leiria
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Nice post.
I have been playing a lot of ROMA in this past days and i like to use the architect and the senator, this way i do not need gold for building cards, i keep saving the gold for a final and deadly sweep with the mercator. It works. When i have enough gold to eliminate all VP's of my opponent, i just wait for the right combination of dice and then i activate the senator, bring up the mercator and... cabumm... end of game.
This is trully a simple but very enjoyable game. I love it.
 
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Flix
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fs1973 wrote:
Nice post.
I like to use the architect and the senator, this way i do not need gold for building cards, i keep saving the gold for a final and deadly sweep with the mercator. It works. When i have enough gold to eliminate all VP's of my opponent, i just wait for the right combination of dice and then i activate the senator, bring up the mercator and... cabumm... end of game.

Remember that the author confirmed, that allowing the mercator to buy unlimited VPs from his opponent was a relict from playtesting which should have been removed since two other cards which are opposed to this ability (Spy and Thief, if I remember correctly) have been omitted, too.

So what the author suggests is to limit the buyable VPs to 3 (=6 Sesterzi) per activation!
 
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