Designer: Attila Szogyi
Time: 45-120 minutes
In Ave Roma you play as a wealthy citizen in the city of Rome, trying to gain popularity to become the most influential. During the game you will gain power in many different facets in the Roman Empire, gaining victory points throughout the game. The player who gains the most points will rule Rome with an Iron Fist!
All players will get a player board that tracks their resources as well as provides you a place to keep the cards that you will collect over the time of the game. Each player chooses a player color and takes all the pieces for that color. Each person starts with certain goods based on their player board and 3 money. Everyone also gets 5 workers shaped like pillars numbered 1-5.
On a players turn they will place one of their workers in an area on the board to take an action. The number of the worker they want to use will determine what action they can take. Some of the actions will require you to have a specific number to use it. Some you can use a range of workers, say from 1-4. And in other spots, the number you place will determine how much of that action you can do, for instance when you get money, you get double what ever number you place there.
Over all there are 9 different places you can place your workers. Quaustor allows you to get Money. Mercator is where you trade goods. Aedilis gets you more goods of the area that you choose. If you want to purchase a building you go to the Aedificator. To put your efforts towards war and conquest you can gain armor from the Legatus. The Propraetor is where you go to influence other regions. Gaining political influence is done at the Roma. Patrons that give you special abilities are found at the Senatus. The final spot to put your workers is on your own player board to train them to make them a different number for the next round. All of these areas have their own unique purpose to go to and give you many different options to consider.
At the end of the round players will then take turns getting their workers back….maybe. In turn order each player chooses an action area to take all the workers from that area for the next round. Many players will put high numbers at the Quaestor to get the most money possible, so if you want higher numbers for the next round you would choose to take all the workers from the Quaestor. There will probably be a couple of fives and a four. So the workers you get will not all be the same each round. You keep taking turns until every one has five workers again.
You add all the numbers from your new workers together and that determines the turn order for the upcoming round.
You play a number of rounds until one of two different end game triggers occur, there are no more areas to be placed or all three decks of the Aedificator, Senatus and Legatus run out. The game then ends and points are added.
You score points for how many Patron seats you have unlocked on your player board, a point for every 5 coins, a point for every three remaining resources, Patron special scoring cards, and each Area of Influence. The player with the most points is the winner!
This section’s rating is based on the Kickstarter version but I don’t think the normal game would be that different. The biggest difference is the Player’s Worker columns. They are fantastic and a very thematic choice. In the normal game, they would just be discs. The player order boats are also great. I absolutely love the round board. It looks so unique and it actually flows very well. There are two different sides to the board which is a bonus. The only knock is the board is busy and needing to use cubes for tracking resources. If they are bumped it could get messed up. Overall, I am ecstatic about the components of Ave Roma.
Now we are getting into the meat of this game. There are so many great mechanisms used in the design. First is the worker placement. I love that you have to make a choice at the end of the round of which group of workers you want or need for the next round and that every round you will have a different set of workers. It really is great! I love all the different actions as they are truly different. The Senator is like a Rondell mechanism, the War cards are set collection and the Area cards can be used in multiple ways. The very best of these mechanisms is the Area Influence. It is just fantastic! The first time an Area card is used it gets pushed up. The second time an Area is used it is then bought. When you buy War or Building cards, some of them will have flags on them. You use these flags to influence the Areas in the middle of the board. The more influence in one area will give you more points at the end of the game. Influencing all the areas will give you less points on each but score more areas. It really is a nice puzzle to find the right cards and then deciding which Area to influence because each Area is associated with a specific number. So, later on in the game, choosing which workers you need becomes even more valuable so you can influence the right area. There really isn’t a mechanism I don’t like about this game and the little twist on each mechanism makes it even more enjoyable.
I can’t believe the replayability in this game. Not only does the base game have so many different paths to victory but it comes with 5 different modules that you can add or leave out. Literally you could play this game 20 times and get a different feel with each play. I haven’t even tried playing with the modules yet. Not only that, but there is a normal and advanced mode! Oh, and the player boards are different every time. Each player board has a different value for each good. So, the goods that are cheap for me might be expensive to someone else and vice verse which adds variety to what other players are doing each round. Every time you play you will need to pay attention to your goods and what type will benefit you the most.
The only ding in my opinion for strategy is the randomness of the cards when they come out on the board…..that is it! Even then it is not that bad because you will have 5 of each time of card available. Though, there still might not be much that interest you. Other than that….this game is all strategy! Pick a strategy and keep at it. There are so many choices and deciding when to do things is so important.
Final Thoughts: 18/20
This is one of the best Euro style games I have played in quite some time. The one thing that keeps this from being perfect for me is the length. Playtime can run a little long and set up can be tricky. Other than that this game is fantastic! It is at just the right meatiness, thinky enough to make you keep focus but simple enough to know clearly what it is you need to do. There is not a lot that is hidden, it is simply…. who can do it the best. I can’t express how happy I am with this game. The game also scales well even though the 2 player game is kinda goofy with the worker placement. If you like medium weight European style games, I urge you to pick this up and give it a try. You will not be disappointed! A great design!