With this rubric we intend to share our opinion about the game Magna Roma, which is going to Kickstarter soon. We were directly contacted by Milan Tasevski from Archona Games, who sent us a review copy so we could try it out and give our opinion.
Official Image - Magna Roma box cover
Designer: Matteo De Nardis
Artist: Jose David Lanza Cebrian
Publisher: Archona Games
Time: 30-45 m
Language dependency: None
Official page: https://www.archonagames.com/magna-roma-board-game/
The story behind the scenes
In Magna Roma, each player is building their own city in order to expand the great Roman Empire. The key to great success is to find the perfect balance amongst the possible strategies and a lot of paths lead to glory. You need to gather resources, employ citizens, build monuments, favor the Gods, produce luxuries and conquer provinces.
Official Image - A neighborhood with monuments and citizens
Talking about the components
We received a review copy, being about that version that we will make an evaluation. We do not know yet which levels and specific contents that are going to be available during the Kickstarter campaign, but we know that some of them are being upgraded and that there are some great surprises awaiting to be revealed.
There are distinct types of tiles (neighborhood, town centers and monuments), being those the components that surprised us the most! We believe that this could be their final quality because the cardboard is very thick, making them resistant.
Neighborhood Tiles | Town Centers | Monuments
There will be available 3D miniatures for the monuments along the campaign, from which Archona Games have been revealing pictures every week on their social media.
Official Images - Mausoleum, Pantheon, Triumphal Arch
We consider that the quality of the cards could be better. It seems that some finishing is missing, not providing a smooth shuffle. However, this is a prototype version so this can yet be improved.
Front & Back | Some of the different Provinces
The boards are not so thick as the tiles or the cards but we also do not see the need for it. The cards are shuffled once per game, the tiles are managed a lot and need to be well randomized but the only purpose of the boards is to hold and slide tokens on top.
Scoring | Gods | Market | Military
Wooden & Cardboard
Both the player markers and the citizens are represented by wooden pieces, serving well their purpose. Even though the citizen Meeples are not final, we have fun playing around with them considering that they are shaped in a little person format.
The coins and the favor tokens are both in cardboard but they have a good enough thickness. As for the coins, we think that they would look amazing in metal, fitting the thematic of the Roman Empire. We can confide that we asked Milan if there would be any metal coins on the campaign, but the answer is a secret of the Gods.
Wooden Tokens | Cardboard Tokens
For us the game box is an element that deserves so much attention as the other components. We think that the box illustrations are really beautiful and thematic, matching the theme with perfection and the remaining contents of the game.
As for the size, considering the components on this review copy and saving some available space for the monument miniatures and any other extras on the campaign, we think that it could be adequate.
The only aspect we pointed out was the fact that in this copy there was not the name of the game on the laterals thinking about both vertical and horizontal storage, but this is going to be fixed for the final boxes.
Front Cover | Back Cover (review copy)
Breaking the rules
Overall, we think the rule book has a great structure and a simple language, which make the rules very clear, even for beginners. In addition, each explanation is followed by an example, where the reader can visualize the topic being explained.
We also like the way the information is organized along the rule book, specially the final appendix with clarifications for each monument tile and province card.
Rule book overview | Appendix with monuments and provinces
In addition of the rules explanation below we published a video preview on YouTube as well. If you opt to see the preview in video instead of reading it, you can jump to the last section of this blog post to read our General Review.
On the picture below we have the setup already prepared for two players, with all ready to start building upon the Roman Empire.
Setup ready for a two player game
Throughout the game, each player will be lifting up their own city, by placing tiles connected to their town center. By placing a tile, multiple effects can be triggered: from earning stars, to get bonuses, and combining symbols to get resources.
Town center with neighborhood tiles connected
Each combined symbol provides you with a different bonus: from coins, to population or advancing in a specific track. Later on, we are going to tell you why and how you can use each one of them.
After solving all tile placement effects, there are three optional actions from which you can choose one: lifting up a monument on your city, conquering new provinces or letting the Gods bless your city.
Lifting up a monument | Conquering a province | Gods blessing a city
Your turn ends by reserving a new tile for the next turn. As soon as all the cities are shaped in a five per five square, the game ends immediately.
Two completed cities
Neighborhood board and tiles
Your neighborhood board is directly related with the stars on your city - for each star you add on a new tile, you advance on the neighboorhod track with the color of that tile. There are opportunities to advance both on the military and on the market tracks, and you can also increase your population or gain coins.
Tiles with and without stars | Advancing on the neighborhood board
Each combination of symbols provides you with a different bonus:
When you get the shape of a house, you increase your population.
Each time you create the shape of a coin, you get money from the supply.
As for the remaining symbols, they let you advance on the common boards.
There is only one additional detail to consider: connecting symbols with tiles from the same color provide you better rewards. For example, with the shield on the first image you advance one space on the military track and with the shield on the second image you would be allowed to advance two times on the military track.
Shield formed with two colors | Shield formed with one color
Market and luxuries
By forming the luxuries symbol, you advance on the market board. Depending on the space you end your movement, you can chose to activate an exchange. For example, you could trade two coins and one person, for two movements on the military track.
Luxuries symbol + Market with trading option
The goods you own by the end of the game can award you potential victory points, by multiplying the goods you have by the lowest number achieved on your neighborhood board.
Military and provinces
By forming the military symbol, you advance on the military board. The first player reaching out to any of the last two spaces collects extra bonus points. We mentioned that one of the free actions available is about conquering provinces, and to conquer a province you need to go back on the military track two, three or four spaces as indicated on the corresponding space where you place your marker.
For each province, you can gain points by the end of the game for each set of symbols or districts (group of buildings of the same color). In addition, you gain an immediate bonus, when placing the marker in any space with an additional indication.
Military symbol + Conquering a province
God's favors and blessing
By forming the favors symbol, you advance on the Gods board. The higher you get by the end of the game, the more points will score you each remaining token. You get one favor token every time you pass through the indicated spaces. We mentioned that one of the free actions available is about blessing the city and you can spend one token to reactivate the bonuses from the symbols formed by one specific neighborhood tile.
Favor symbol + Gods track | Blessing a city
Building a monument
The last of the three free actions available to choose from is building a monument. You can pay the required money to lift up one of the revealed monuments on your city and, if you employ the necessary population before the end of the game, you can earn victory points. Some buildings require specific symbols/colors on the foundations to actually score.
Paying to lift up a monument | Monument in the city with employees
Ongoing and final scoring
By forming the prestige symbol, you advance immediately on the scoring board. There can also be possibilities to score during the game on the market and military boards.
Prestige symbol + Scoring board
Remember that by the end of the game, you add up points for the monuments, provinces, favor tokens and by multiplying the lowest position on the neighborhood board by your goods on the market.
In general, we can state that this game matches perfectly our style, being simple to learn but with deep decisions to be made. You know upfront everything that you can do and throughout the game you are constantly finding the best match for your strategy in order to benefit in a long term.
The only aspect that can be somewhat random is which tiles are displayed to choose from on each turn. However, you choose the tile for your next turn in the end of your active turn so you can take advantage of that to plan which bonuses you want when matching tiles.
We definitely love tile placement, the roman theme and games where you have the possibility of chaining bonuses. Magna Roma ticks all those boxes perfectly and add yet some sprinkles on top! If you also enjoy those aspects we totally recommend you to check this game.
Regarding the components, we have to admit that this time Archona Games goes beyond maintaining their already good production quality. The tiles are extra strong, the aspect of the 3D sculptures for the monuments are absolutely stunning and the illustrations are awesome.
Thank you Milan Tasevski for sending this copy our way so we could review it before the Kickstarter campaign and for being so prompt and thoughtful while answering all our questions until now - you rock!
We knew about Archona Games since the beginning with Small Star Empires and we are also waiting for Small Railroad Empires to arrive from their last campaign. We have a lot of personal respect for this publisher and it is an honor for us to review Magna Roma.
We sure will not miss this Kickstarter launch to access the game in full and we are also going to keep following their next projects.