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Romolo o Remo?» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Two Plays: A Review of Aqueducts; The Game rss

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Joe V
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Alright, so "Romolo o Remo?" is a civilization building and economic development game where you build up a resource production engine with workers and buildings. There are rewards for building armies and going on successful military campaigns, as well. There are also character cards you can buy that give you various once-per-turn abilities or help you in scoring at the end. In very broad categories you score at the end of the game for:

How developed your civilization is (number of buildings)

Your population (workers and soldiers)

Your money

How many "character cards" you purchased throughout the game.

How many tiles you influence (scoring one point for each tile, more if there is a multiplier chit)

For having the most or second post in each of the previous categories.


There are five resources in the game: stone, grain, wood, "refined", and salt. Stone, grain, wood, and salt you harvest from tiles with workers and you need available warehouses on the map to place them in. "Refined" is made by converting two cubes of the same kind into a nice little blue cube.

The game has an interesting way of handling supply. You need either farms on the map (each feeds two workers/soldiers provided those workers are within a hex of them) or grain in your supply to feed your guys. AND you can't exceed a population level given the level of your capital. The level of the capital is dependent upon the number of buildings in it and each tile, normally, can only hold four buildings. This is an interesting concept. I also liked how the market worked; it was innovative if a little abstract (by selling grain you could inexplicably make the price of salt go up). But I'm fine with non-thematic mechanics provided they make for a good game, which the market mechanic did.

Now, I've given you a brief overview of the game. Now I have to go into some minor technical things: Each building's number is an implied limit. Aqueducts are only five in number and you need them to progress beyond the second level in your capital (and increase your population). Essentially, Aqueducts raise the number of buildings you can have in the place you build it and in surrounding hexes. So you need them to get beyond four buildings in your capital.

This is why I called Romolo o Remo "Aqueducts; The Game". If one player builds three aqueducts or two players build two, someone is going to be screwed. It is absolutely impossible to win without an aqueduct. And there are so damn few of them. What I'm tempted to do is divide the aqueducts among each player and say "This is your aqueduct. Once you build it, you can race to build the last aqueduct." And just sort of have the remaining aqueduct up for grabs. Or house rule it in some way. Anyone who's read my reviews or session reports knows I loathe house-ruling. I have a friend who house-rules at the drop of a hat and it annoys the Heck out of me. Essentially, there are two categories of games under which most games fall:

Either they're good or they're bad. If they're good, they don't need to be house ruled. If they're bad they aren't worth house-ruling. But Romolo o Remo falls into a different category: Romolo o Remo is an outstanding game that is just waiting to be found and all I'd be doing by house ruling this is scratching the surface with a needle to reveal the amazing game beneath.

The other thing that I was toying with was the setup. Basically, there are four tiles in the game: Plains, hills, forest, and sea. You need at least one of each of the first three to win. Sea tiles are used to harvest salt which is only used to pay for mercenaries, so they can be nice but are by no means necessary. The game has each player start with a cluster of tiles that consist of two plains and then either one forest or one hill. The problem with that is that there are 19 plains tiles, 10 hills, 10 forests, and 15 water. So the most common tiles in the rest of the map (which is random) will be plains and water. So there is a very good chance of getting screwed out of the tile you did not pick and, in fact, it happened to someone in both of our games. I like the idea of making a choice with your setup; I really do. But I also want the game to be fun for everyone. And if someone winds up with no hills or no forests, they not only have no chance of winning, but the game simply isn't enjoyable for them. So I was toying with either giving each person two plains, one hill, and one forest to start (which guarantees an equal start) or just removing some of the utterly superfluous water and plains to improve the ratio.

Like I said, this is an excellent, excellent game. The resource generation mechanic is innovative, the market mechanic is novel and works rather well, and combat is tense and exciting, but the game manages to remain focused on economic engine-building. It's a fantastic game. In my opinion it just needs a little house-ruling.

For context, I played two four player games of this, winning the first one and losing the second one.
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robbin van biljouw
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Good review! But i don't agree with the aquaduct "problem", your opponents have various military and wall building strategies to deal with these aquaducts....., this also applies for the terrain tiles you don't "own". If you want it ALL,war is upon your hands in this game.
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Joe V
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No, that falls apart because having aqueducts means you're going to be able to support a better military. Aqueducts are the most important building in the game, without a doubt. And yes, walls are effective at limiting influence, but they're still going to influence more than you. You can't very well get up and behind their civilization with their walls, especially when you'd have to contend with their superior army.
 
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Thomas
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does it play well with two?
 
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