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Subject: Roma - A Mini Review rss

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All of my reviews aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them. I feel that other reviews can be sought if detailed game mechanics is what you are after.

Rome is in a state of emergency, the Senate and the Guard are embroiled in fierce rivalry and the people are divided. In Roma both players compete for control over the other and they can call on numerous forces, both military and political to force their opponent into submission and control the city.

Roma is a card game but it uses a series of cookie sized discs to create the play area and control the action. There are 8 discs in total including the numbered discs (1-6), a money disc and a draw card disc. The numbered discs work much like numbered hexes in Settlers but instead of drawing resources, cards at that location can activate their special ability. The game also includes coins to pay for cards and victory point chips. The game can be won in two ways. Either by reducing your opponent to 0 victory points (players start with 10) or by collecting the last victory point token and the player with the highest total wins.

The game starts with each player receiving 4 cards. The cards come in two types, characters and buildings. Each player must pass two cards to their opponent and then all four cards are played to the game area. Each card must be placed on its owner’s side of the table and below one of the numbered discs (ala Lost Cities or Battle Line).

A player’s turn begins by paying 1 victory point to the bank if they have not filled all slots below the numbered discs and then they roll 3D6 (three six sided dice). The dice can be allocated as the player wishes. Placing a dice on its corresponding number allows any card located there to be activated. Most cards have a special ability that require dice activation. The other options are to place a dice on the money or draw cards disc and the result is to receive the amount of money or number of cards on the dice.

When drawing cards however only 1 may be kept and the rest are discarded. Once money and cards are taken, if any, the player can purchase cards out of their hand by paying the cost printed on the card. This allows the cards to enter the field of play. They can be placed on an empty disc slot or replace an existing card, which is then discarded.

Once a player has activated any cards, taken money, drawn cards or purchased and placed new cards their turn is over. This is the basic game play of Roma.

The beauty of the game however is in the cards themselves. Many of the cards use combination play to create interesting and powerful results. Like Magic the Gathering, this is the fun of Roma. In all there are 17 different characters and 8 different buildings (there are multiples of each). Some cards earn income, others steal victory points and some allow attacks on your rival forces and resources. Most importantly the cards allow for interaction with each other and allow for offensive, defensive, military, economic and political roads to victory.

The Final Word

Roma is a classy game with excellent artwork and thoughtful card names and descriptions that add to the theme. The cards use useful icons to outline cost, defence and abilities and the game play is well woven and doesn’t feel artificial. This is one of the best small box games from Queen. May all your roads lead to Roma!
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