Rome: City of Marble from R&R Games raises time-tested gameplay of area control to a new level through worker placement. With its numerous pieces, including individual player boards, and vibrant art, Rome: City of Marble is a “big box” game reflecting deep strategic play. Where multiple hours are often consumed by other such games, Rome: City of Marble is much shorter, making it a great centerpiece for a moderate game night or one game of several for a major gathering, while retaining all the strategic flavor of its big box kin.
Many people remember playing Dots and Boxes or “that box game” that used up graph paper meant for Geometry class. Rome: City of Marble follows a similar premise: players add blocks to the framed areas, and the player to place the most key blocks wins. While Dots and Boxes is something of a one-trick pony, Rome: City of Marble includes an entire circus of different structures, all worth different amounts of points, with the player who gathers the most declared the victor.
Rather than simply taking turns placing individual tiles, players get three meeple “Magistrates” who serve as workers for actions. Players draw Neighborhood tiles from the stacks of four colors, red being the rarest and blue being the most common. Whenever a corner is completed, the resulting Civic Building is determined by how many tiles meet there. Each Civic Building correlates to a color of tile, and the player who holds the most matching color tiles gets the points for the Temple, Baths, Theater, or Arena.
Each play is greatly affected by the set-up, meaning players will have to be careful in strategizing to coordinate placement, arrangement, and color. They will need not only to position their own constructions, but to study the board for chances to interrupt another player’s payoff move and seize the points. Flexibility is key, but players will have to think three steps ahead to maximize their gains with the right place at the right time.
Along with Neighborhood tiles, players also pick up points by uncovering bridges along the Tiber and expanding aqueducts. These bonuses may turn a close game, but they will not make up for a few poorly planned rounds. Instead, players will get ahead through gathering points by Civic Buildings and the resulting Imperium pluses, which give extra actions later in the game. These will be instrumental in setting up major plays and harvesting a bounty of points.
Rome: City of Marble is an area-control game for two to four players aged 14 and up. It takes about an hour to play through. With the length of the game dependent upon the depletion of the Neighborhood tile stacks, more or fewer players will not affect the length of play so much as the time players spend thinking about their moves each turn. The rules are straightforward, but the difficulty in calculating what’s the most effective action makes Rome: City of Marble a game for strategy masters.