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Subject: Session Report: Roma rss

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Matt Jenkins
United States
Fresno
California
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My buddy Jeff brought over his new copy of Roma the other night for a couple of quick plays. After spending a few minutes getting acquainted with the cards, and the very simple game mechanics, we started.

Our first game was nothing more than a practice run. We played face up and discussed what could be done with our dice rolls. Jeff, having played several times before with his wife, offered advice and discussed the different strategies one could employ with his card play. It was a nice way to get a feel for the game without having any of the competitiveness.

Our second game, however, was a "real game." Jeff still said he'd play nice, which I appreciated, but the two of us still made plenty of aggressive plays. I was able to draw the Haruspex in the early stages of the game, and used him to find and draw the Mercator card. Jeff had mentioned during the rules/cards explanation that this was a very powerful card so I decided to give it a try. I placed him on the 1, leaving my higher numbers free so that I could use them to generate gold to be used in conjunction with the Mercator's ability. This turned out to be devastating for Jeff, as I was able to roll 1 after 1, pounding his victory point pile unmercifully. At one point, my stack was nearly double his. Victory was within my reach, as there were only 3 v.p.'s remaining in the general supply to the side of the board. All I needed was for my Forum to come up (placed on the 3), coupled with any number 3 or higher. Hell, I even had the Consul at my disposal, granting me the ability to change one of my die results up or down a digit.

Alas, the 2, 3, or 4 I needed never materialized. It was an amazing run of 1's, 5's, and 6's that bordered on the statistically improbable.

Jeff took it upon himself to repeatedly use his Gladiator to force a card off my side of the board, which cost me 1 v.p. in the process. To make matters worse, these v.p. went back to the general stock. Slowly but surely, the general stock of v.p.s grew and grew, reaching a point to where it was no longer possible to knock the pile out with one blow. Amazingly, Jeff was able to pull back to within 1 v.p. utilizing this strategy (as well as his Forum). On his next turn, he rolled the number he needed to activate his Forum, which sitting adjacent to his Basilica, earned him 7 v.p.s. These 7 v.p.s exhausted the general stock, marking the end of the game. Jeff beat me by around 10 points.

After the game was over, Jeff and I talked about the game a bit. I was a big fan of the way cards could be played in combinations to achieve different results. At one point in the game, I used my Consiliarius to reposition my Consul, who I then used to change the die result that allowed me to utilize my Aesculipinum. I then used the Aesculipinum to retrieve my Mercator, who Jeff had ruthlessly slain during a prior turn. If I had not been able to do this, Jeff would have been able to use his Aesculipinum on a later turn, retrieve the Mercator himself, and use his pile of around 40 gold to steal all of my v.p.s, and give himself the win. By using the full combination of 3 dice, I was able to make a play that saved me from being eliminated.

I was also quite pleased with the quality of the components, from the art style down to the functionality of the iconography they chose to use. While confusing at first, once you get a feel for the icons and the meanings each has, it becomes second nature. In some ways, I've grown to prefer international versions of games, as the effort to eliminate language dependence forces them to really clean up the cards, and establish a system of iconography that flows across all cards consistently. A big thumbs up to Queen in that regard.

Overall, I'd rate Roma an 8, and will purchase it with my next game order.
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Gaius Caesar
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Good session review for a good game. I think it takes some people a bit of time to wrap their minds around the various cards, but you nailed them down real well for the games we played.

For beginners, it may take a bit of time/skill/luck to keep the game running for over about 20 minutes or so. Initially, my wife and I would get through a session in about 15 minutes or less; this was due, in part, to learning how to manage special abilities of each card.

When a game of Roma lasts more than 25 minutes, it is a pleasure. The “tug-of-war” over victory points adds character to each game, making every game a bit different than the last.

Huxley, next time we break out a friendly game of Roma, beware of a swift coup de grâces!


 
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