History has always been an excellent inspiration for board game designers, and one of the most fascinating periods in history is ancient Rome. Something is captivating about the grandeur and power of the Roman Empire that has drawn people in for centuries. From the sprawling architecture to the strategic military conquests, the Romans left an indelible mark on the world, and their legacy continues to captivate and inspire us today. It’s no wonder that so many board games are set in ancient Rome, offering players the chance to step into the shoes of an influential Roman leader and build their own empire. One such game is Magna Roma, a city-building game that challenges players to construct the next great Roman city and bring glory to the empire.
1-4 players, ages 12+
Playing time: 30-90 minutes
Designer: Matteo De Nardis
Artwork: Jose David Lanza Cebrian & Sara Stanoeska
Publisher: Archona Games
🏛️ The game is played in turns until all players have placed exactly 25 neighborhood tiles in their cities in a 5×5 grid. On their turn, players must take the neighborhood tile that has their marker on it, place it in their city, and gain all benefits from it. Afterward, players can play one optional action: buy and construct a monument tile, send armies to conquer provinces, or bless a neighborhood tile in their city.
💰 The neighborhood tiles provide resources based on the combinations of symbols players connect with adjacent tiles. By carefully planning how to place them, players can maximize the efficiency of gaining resources, leading to more victory points. When players place a neighborhood tile, they must put it next to another one, and if this placement results in a combined symbol, they gain that symbol’s benefit.
🗡️ Players advance on the Market and Military boards by combining symbols on the neighborhood tiles or by gaining a bonus resource. During the game, players can send their armies to conquer provinces by spending the required military amount on the province cards. Players can also use the Favor of the Gods board to gain Gods’ Favor tokens, which can be used to bless a neighborhood tile and receive that tile’s benefits again.
👑 Monuments are magnificent structures that players can construct in their city. To build a monument, they must pay the corresponding coin cost, and for the monument to score points at the end of the game, it must have the required population employed inside.
🤴 The game ends when all players have built their 5×5 grid cities. Players then proceed to the final scoring, earning points for their positions on the Market and Favor of the Gods boards, their Monuments, and conquered Provinces.
As a lover of all things historical, I was thrilled to dive into the world of Magna Roma and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. From the moment I opened the box, I was blown away by the game’s production value. The artwork and components are stunning, with every detail carefully crafted to transport players to the heart of the Roman world. And the deluxe components, with miniature monuments, are indeed a sight to behold.
💡 But it’s not just the visuals that impress me – the game mechanics are equally well-designed. The innovative tile-placement system keeps the game exciting and unpredictable, with a variety of strategic choices available to players at every turn. And the scoring system is deep and challenging, with multiple avenues to earn points and endless possibilities for experimentation.
🎭 I’m also impressed by how accessible the game is, despite its depth. The playtime is manageable, striking the perfect balance between complexity and ease of play. And the rules are straightforward, with enough room for creative thinking and strategic decision-making.
🏛️ As I played, I found myself getting lost in the world of Magna Roma. I became fully invested in building my city and maximizing my score, carefully selecting tiles and planning ahead to create the most efficient and effective layout possible. And watching my miniature monuments come to life as I constructed them was a real thrill.
🔍 Of course, no game is perfect, and Magna Roma does have a few minor flaws. The iconography and terminology can be a bit confusing at times, and there are occasional moments of frustration when things don’t quite go according to plan. Additionally, one potential drawback is that there can be some downtime between turns, especially during later rounds when players are more deeply invested in their cities and taking longer to make decisions. However, these setbacks are minor compared to the game’s overall experience.
💭 In conclusion, Magna Roma is an absolute must-play for anyone who loves history, city-building, or just a solid, engaging game. It offers a unique and innovative take on the genre, with top-notch production values and challenging gameplay. And as someone who has played many board games over the years, I can confidently say that Magna Roma is among the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.