Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rome: City of Marble

One of the most overused adages of all time goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day." While that may be sage advice for those impatient people, some of us might indeed want to build the Eternal City in a day, or better yet an hour. Luckily, R & R Games has provided us with just such an experience in their tile-laying game Rome: City of MarbleRome: City of Marble is a game for 2-4 players, age 12+. It takes between 45 and 75 minutes to play and retails for $40. In this game, you and your opponents are prominent families in the time of Augustus. You are all trying to help build Rome into its glory and claim the title of Architect of Rome!

Board Setup
Place the board in the middle of the table and shuffle the seven Hill Tiles. Place three face-up in their spots on the board, returning the other four to the box. Shuffle the eight Bridge Tiles, number side down. Place one on each of the seven bridge spaces and return the leftover one to the box. Separate the 60 Neighborhood Tiles and 48 Imperium Tiles into stacks and place them in their spaces on the board. Form a supply of sixteen Coins, a fountain supply of ten Fountain Tiles, an aqueduct supply of 39 Aqueduct Pieces grouped by color, and a civic building supply of 48 Building Tiles.
Player Setup
Every player selects a color and receives the following of their color - Player Board, three Action Disks, three Magistrates, and sixteen Commission Cubes. They also receive one of each color of Neighborhood Tile.

Game Play - Players take two actions per turn, completing the first action before moving onto the next. Actions can be performed in any order, can be the same twice, and Imperium Tiles can provide bonus actions. The actions are as follows:
1. Draw Tiles - Draw two different Neighborhood Tiles.
2. Expand the Aqueducts - Extend one or two of the three aqueducts by adding pieces from the supply. (Note: You may expand one by two pieces or two by one piece each.)
3. Recall a Magistrate - Remove one of your Magistrates from the board and place it back on your player board. This makes him immediately available to use on your second action, if this was your first action.
4. Play a Neighborhood Tile - Play one Neighborhood Tile on the board, following placement rules. You may also place a Magistrate on this tile.

When placing Neighborhood Tiles, you will complete one of four types of construction sites (Temple, Baths, Theater, and Arena) each worth more points than the previous. The player to complete the construction site determines what is built and who has the majority of influence in its building. That player will score the points. Then, every other player who helped build it has a chance to remove one of their Magistrates and gain a tile which will give them an extra future action. Construction sites also have the potential to cover one of the bridges or build an aqueduct. This provides additional scoring opportunities. The game end triggers when three of the four stacks of Neighborhood Tiles are depleted. One more round occurs with only one action per player. Most points wins.

Rome: City of Marble is a tile-laying, area control game that I would classify as deceptively simple. You can complete two actions a turn (not counting bonus actions) and the bulk of those actions, you are drawing tiles or playing tiles. However, you have to be careful with the tiles you play and when you play them, because you might create a construction site where you don't have the majority, thus resulting in points for your opponent not you. In the simplest of comparisons, it reminds me of the pen and paper game Dots and Boxes, where you are trying to draw lines and complete boxes without setting your opponent up to complete boxes. However, if I left the comparison at that, it would not do the game justice.

With most tile-laying games, you have a tile and you have a very finite number of places you can legally place the piece and only one of those places is remotely good anyhow. This game is not like that at all. It provides lots of different places to place your tile, all equally good and equally tough in if you should place it there or wait. In a two-player game, which I played more than other player counts, there is a lot of blocking that can occur, since you can tie for majority and no one gets points. That can happen more often than not and result in a lot of feelings, of "If I can't have it, neither can you." This made for a tense and sometimes frustrating game experience, but those hurt feelings aren't there as much in a higher player count. Overall, I enjoyed the puzzle nature of the game and would recommend it.

This game was provided to me for free by R & R Games in exchange for an honest review.