The Great City of Rome by ZMan Games – Review

Theme and What is it?

The emperor of Rome has decided to expand his beautiful city. He is gathering the most skilled architects and city planners in his realm. You are one of the lucky few chosen to take part in this glorious opportunity. You must work to impress the emperor and gain his favor so you can become the Roman Empires new chief architect! 

The city of Rome wasn’t built in a day. But you can build it in 45-60 minutes in this tile laying/city building game!

Gameplay Mechanics

The Great City Of Rome is a tile laying game where players compete to build the best 4×4 city grid. Players start with two city squares and the game is played over 14 rounds to complete the city. Each round, new tiles are laid out and players bid for the right to pick the first tile. They do this by placing their meeple on an action track. The player who is closest to the Emperor token wins the right to pick first. The down-fall is that the closer you are to the Emperor, the fewer resources you receive. These resources are what all players use to build new buildings and perform production phases. After all tiles are selected and laid, players can then choose to pay for a production phase where their tiles can provide new coins, bricks, cogs and sometimes victory points. Bricks and cogs only last the round in which they are acquired, so it is in the player’s best interest to use them. After 14 rounds, the cities are scored based on tile placement and the types of tiles. Players also get bonuses from temples inside their city. Each temple awards unique bonuses. The final score is tallied and the player with the most points wins!  

Initial Impressions

We really enjoy tile laying games at my house. We were very excited for The Great City Of Rome (GCR). We did run into some confusion in the rules. They were not specific in a couple of areas, and it left us guessing what we should be doing at certain points in the game. We hoped on youtube and quickly resolved these issues. The game sets up very quickly and we were off playing in no time. GCR has the fun bidding element to it. You can pick tiles first, but you don’t get as many resources to use that round. This made for some interesting dynamics. When we saw that the game had 14 rounds we were thinking it was going to drag, but the rounds move quickly and it is fun to see your city coming together. Once we hit the last card in the stack, that let us know it was the last round of the game. I was shocked to see that we were done already. That must mean I had a great time. 

Game Build Quality

For the most part everything is standard for what you would expect from ZMan Games. The only real problem I had was with the tiles. They are card stock tiles instead of cardboard pieces. With tiles that you will use all the time, they should be a heavy cardboard. There was plenty of room in the box to still have them fit if they were thicker. It didn’t take away from the game, but I did notice it and had the desire to see heavier tiles. Other than that, everything was great.

Artistic Direction

The art for GCR has a very modern feel to it that does not get in the way of allowing players to suspend their disbelief while building an ancient city. Smooth aesthetics and a modern color pallet bring everything together to make the experience beautiful and entertaining. The graphic design is well done and the game looks wonderful when it is all laid out on the table.

Fun Factor

The fun in GCR is in the bidding process to try and secure the tiles you want to increase your city score. Various tiles also provide benefits for your city so you want to try for those, but you have to balance your desire for the best pieces with getting fewer resources when you bid to pick before other players. It is a balancing act that can go horribly wrong if you aren’t careful. 

Age Range & Weight

The Great City of Rome is rated 10+. This is a very fair evaluation as the game has elements that require strong critical thinking, and the ability to plan future moves based on choices that are made during a given turn. I didn’t even try to play this with my six-year-old. As I went through the rulebook, the game felt too advanced for him and once I played it, I felt like I made the right decision. Once players understand how the game flows, they should pick up on it quickly. I would not hesitate to play with anyone 10 or older, as long as they can think ahead. Plus, GCR provides some awesome opportunities to help build these skills in young players. 

Conclusions

The Great City of Rome was a great experience. After an initial bout of confusion, we figured it all out and were on our way to a really great experience. The rounds move quickly and player interaction is very high. Although, I do wish the tiles were a higher quality, it did not take away from the game and overall it was a very rewarding experience. Everyone that played gave it a big thumbs up and wanted to make sure it made it to the table again as soon as possible.