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Subject: A Brief Look at Strada Romana rss

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Larry Levy
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Since I live in the congested Washington DC area, the last thing I want to see is a game about traffic jams, but that's the main theme of this design set in Ancient Rome. To be fair, lots of racing games feature choke points and bottlenecks, but not so prominently. And it plays out about as excitingly as you might expect. I don't think Strada Romana is bad so much as it's kind of pointless. There are ten wagons on the board--five traveling from left to right and five traveling from right to left--and they travel over the same set of roads. On your turn, you get to move some of them and based on where they end up, you might be able to take a counter and/or a cube. If you have a counter and a cube of the same color in your supply, it represents a delivery. Your score at the end of the game is equal to the number of different colored deliveries you've acquired multiplied by the highest number of deliveries you have in one color.

Okay, fair enough, but in our game, at least, this proved to be ridiculously easy to do. On the vast majority of turns, each player was able to grab a counter and a cube of the same color. Often, it was in the color they most needed. There was no tension and few clever moves, just move, grab, grab, "Your turn." The traffic jams didn't even come into play until very late in the game, so even the game's main focus was lacking.

You can also predict which wagons will complete their journey, but that wasn't too exciting either. It really only made sense to do this in the middle of the game: too early, and it was a crapshoot; too late, and the likely finishers had all been chosen. Finally, there are some special moves you can make for a cost (like moving sideways or diagonally), but these were rarely necessary to accomplish everything you wanted during your turn. I don't know, maybe we weren't playing the game very well, but without any real challenge, it was pretty boring and...well, like I said, pointless.

Designer Walter Obert did a good job getting his games published this year, but this one pales in comparison to Aargh!Tect, the party-style game of his where you try to communicate with your caveman partner by smacking him on the head with an inflatable club. Then again, I guess that's not a fair comparison; if you had the chance to play a game about Roman traffic jams or a head-bopping, club-wielding caveman game, which would you choose?
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Paulo Soledade
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Weak game. I also played it once and got that same "we must be playing something wrong" feeling. Very disappointing. There were no interesting decisions to make. It seemed not tested enough.
 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Your review doesn't state the number of players you played with. Could you please supply us with that information?
 
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Larry Levy
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Sure, Maarten. It was a four-player game.
 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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4 players, huh? That's a shame to hear, really. I was hoping that the above was written with 2 players in mind, where the game is so 'open' that all the special moves one needs to move out of traffic jams hardly ever are required. Apparently in the 4 player-game that need is not very existent either.
 
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Walter Obert
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cymric wrote:
4 players, huh? That's a shame to hear, really...

A really short look to SR :-)
I see this with a big delay, and I'm sorry for this. It's not first time a game is played (and reviewed) with wrong rules...

I must to admit: the first edition of the game had the english rules blurry on some parts. I discovered this reading the negative comments from US players. New revised rules by Will Niebling are in the Elfinwerks edition:
http://www.elfinwerks.com/our-games/itemlist/category/20-str...
with optional rules:
http://www.elfinwerks.com/images/stories/SROptional.pdf

About the game, I wanted to mesh a running game style with collect and bidding mechanics, on a simple abstract setting. I dont remember another game with these features. The final result is SR, a game placed at second place on 2008 Archimede contest (+140 games) and at firsts four places at 2008 Boulogne-Billancourt prototype contest (+140 games). These awards have high level juries, so I like to think is quite difficult for them makes wrong choices, considering the level of past games awarded from them.

http://www.studiogiochi.com/en/p/Premio-Archimede_Edizione-2...
http://www.ludotheque.com/spip.php?article402

Some designer notes and suggestions
- Breaking ten wagons run in two sides, five wagons runs against the other five; so is possible to have fast running game and more tricky situation when them crush in the bottlenecks, adding more variety from match to match.
- Turns are distributed by players: a full game is composed from X rounds, divided by players. Two players play more turns then 5, but the game remains the same.
- Picking the right tile or cubes is easy only if you play with not skilled players. Drawing them from the sack is a bit random, I agreed, but moves must to be planned considering this factor.
- Take the right tickets at right time can be the key to win a game.
- Draw away the lasting piece of the fifth (or sixth) contract of a player can be helpful.

For a more challenging game I suggest to use some optional rule, or all together.





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Nicola Bocchetta
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Mr Obert, you should upload corrected rules then.

Here on BGG I find only rules stating quite clearly that in 4-5 player games you can take a tile AND a cube. The restriction only applies to 2-3 player games.
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Walter Obert
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Yes, this is right. Thank you
 
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Gary Barnett
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wallover wrote:

I see this with a big delay, and I'm sorry for this. It's not first time a game is played (and reviewed) with wrong rules...

I must to admit: the first edition of the game had the english rules blurry on some parts. I discovered this reading the negative comments from US players. New revised rules by Will Niebling are in the Elfinwerks edition:
http://www.elfinwerks.com/our-games/itemlist/category/20-str...
with optional rules:
http://www.elfinwerks.com/images/stories/SROptional.pdf




Apologies if I'm missing something, but can you explain what rules the OP played incorrectly? The links are just to some "optional" rules and the site to buy the new edition.

Also the link to the rules page in the Links section appears to be broken.
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