Magna Roma

With 96 neighborhood tiles, 4 town center tiles, five kind of trackers and many more components like population meeples and province cards for example, the prototype of Magna Roma provided us with a very nice view of the game already. As big fans of Archona Games, we felt honored when they asked us if we wanted to preview the prototype of their new game, so we dove in right away! Magna Roma is all about creating the best city that you can with the tiles you are provided with. You can gain resources at the market, expend your military, or even attack other provinces. Just remember to offer to the gods when you have a chance to in order to receive their blessing, you might need it.
Keep in mind that this is this is a prototype of Magna Roma and not a fully finished product yet. Some rules or components might change.

How to Play.

Place the score board on the table with the military, market and favor of the gods next to the score board. Give each player their starting town center tile together with the components of the same color. Each player also takes a neighborhood board. Place one marker on your color on each of the starting spaces on each tracker. Also shuffle the monument tiles, place them on the score board and reveal the top three monuments. On the military track, you can place three province cards and you can place the two and three victory points on the military board on their marked spaces. The market board also receives four random tokens. Then shuffle all the neighborhood tiles and make two piles in reach of every player. Reveal eight tiles faceup and place them in a circle around the two tile decks. Now the first player can choose with their remaining marker a tile to start the game with. When everybody chose a tile, the last player that has chosen, can start the game.

On your turn, you have to take the neighborhood tile you have chosen with your marker at the end of your turn. If your tile has a star, advance the marker in the right color on your neighborhood board as well. If you come across an icon, you may take the rewards of that icon. If the icon is spread over two color tracks, you need to pass the icon with both colors in order to claim the reward. Now you can place the tile in your city. Try to match as many icons as you can while placing the tile. Each different icon, stands for a different benefit. Like the market or military board for example. Use the reference sheets to see what benefit you receive for each icon, then move your marker on the board of the benefit you gain, or gain the benefit like a coin or population. If you have made an icon match with two different colors, you gain the smallest benefit, like one coin for example. But if you manage to match an icon with the same colors like with two red administrative tiles for example, you will receive the greatest reward like two coins.

Placing a tile on your turn is mandatory, but you can optionally perform one extra action each turn. You could buy a monumental tile to give you more points at the end of the game, as long as you can pay for the monument and have the population at the end of the game. You could also send your advanced armies to conquer provinces. You can place one of your markers on each province by reducing the place of your marker on the military track. At the end of the game, you will receive the victory points of the spot you chose of the province. If there are any other bonuses like coins or population for example, you may immediately take them. The first player to reach the two or three victory points at the end of the military track, may claim those points.
For every place you advance on the market track, you get more victory points at the end of the game, but you are also able to make different kind of trades. Like gaining two coins for one decrease on the military track for example. The trades you can make are randomly placed every game. Lastly, you can bless a neighborhood tile if you have gained bless tokens from the favor of the gods board for example. If you bless one of your tiles, you immediately gain all the benefits of each matching icon on that tile again.

At the end of your turn, you must choose a new tile with your marker that is two spaces away from your current position. You can’t choose a tile containing a marker of another player, but you can jump over a tile with another players marker. This does not count towards the two space range. Once all the tiles have been chosen, take the tile of your choice during your turn and replace it by a new tile. The game will end when each player has placed 25 tiles in a 5 x 5 grid, then final scoring will begin.
For the market tracker, look at your neighborhood board and see what color you have advanced the least. Take the number under your marker of that color and multiply it by the number you have landed on at the market tracker.
At the favor of the gods board, you receive a certain amount of points for each unspent god’s favor token depending on where your marker has ended.
Also count the scores of the monuments you have build if you added enough population to them, and count the province cards you conquered from the military board. All of this, together with the victory points you had already gained during the game, is your final score. The player with the most victory points, wins the game.

Playthrough of the game.

In the beginning of our first game, we started out with a lot of fun, trying to see what tiles were best to place and where. But soon we started to get more quiet and focused. With so many possibilities and tiles that you wanted to match, we had to keep our head in the game and focus. This game had a lot more depth than we originally thought! You can’t fully focus on only one colored tile, because then the market will only give you a couple of points. But you also can’t max out all the colors since there aren’t enough turns and you will receive less bonuses when matching icons. But also the tracks you choose to advance are important, will you try to max out the market to receive the most points? Or maybe the favor of the gods to get favors. And then the limited tile choice you have, monuments and also province cards, doesn’t make it any easier.

We had a lot of fun with this game and this was even still the prototype. Magna Roma has many different strategies to try and explore. With two players this game is already awesome, but with more people, the pressure in choosing the right tile is definitely present. We have played several games and we always ended really close with victory points, every time trying out a different way to win. The replayability is also high since so many components are placed random. Like the monuments, the market trades, the provinces and the tiles itself.

Final Thoughts.

Magna Roma is a strategic city tile placing game where you have to create the best functioning city. Note that this is still a prototype and the final production copy might look different or have different rules or components. We had a lot of fun with Magna Roma, but this game is also very challenging since you have many choices to make throughout the game. There are so many ways to win but for each strategies you also have to get lucky a little with the tile choices, especially near the end when you have limited spaces to place tiles in your city. Even with that many ways to win, this game is still very balanced. We have played many times, each time choosing a different strategy to win and the point difference was very minimal every time. We found that this game is already a lot of fun with two players, but with more players, the tension to choose the best tile is definitely there.

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