New To Me Games (3/7/2011): Arena: Roma II

Today’s New To Me Games will outline the second game in my mini-quest to introduce @LisersN to games that are highly interactive or have a confrontational element. Yes, more cards and dice, but this time we’re in Rome!

Arena: Roma II

Photo by Antony Hemme via

As I stated above, I have been on a mini-quest to introduce my fiancĂ©e @LisersN (that’s just her handle, she is in fact a real person; I’m not marrying just a Twitter account) to game that involve a lot of interaction between the players, either with a confrontational element in the game or a system that in entirely built around eliminating the opponent. Both this and the first game (you can read about Summoner Wars here) have streamlined rules that can be explained in minutes. We were literally up and running in 3 minutes.

Arena: Roma II is somewhat of a remake/sequel to Roma, allowing owners of the first game to use the cards in the newer version. What piqued my interest about the system of Roma was the inclusion of dice as a way to balance the players turns. Because you can only activate cards based on the results of your die rolls, this prevents one player from getting a really strong card to the table and playing it over and over again. Of course there are ways to modify the rolls or to eliminate one of the dice from the opponent available pool, but for the most part you only have 3 dice per turn to try and squeeze out as many actions as you can.

Photo by Keith Leonard via

Another interesting idea that this game features is the way that the game is decided, giving the players an option to either deplete the supply of victory points or to try and force the opponent down to 0 points. Since you get penalized every turn for not having cards in each spot available to you, a viable strategy can be to kill off the opponent’s cards forcing them to lose points every turn. This was actually how my first game played out. Maybe I taught Lisa a little too well! The second game, however, turned out much differently. For most of the game both of us held onto very few points, but we were each able to acquire enough to stay above water each turn. Eventually we were each able to play cards that allowed us to remove points from the supply until it got down to making the decision to either gain more points hoping you have amassed more than the other player or rush to dry up the supply because you feel that you can’t allow your opponent to gain any more points. In the end, the supply dried up and I came out on the short end.

I was really pleased with how both of my plays turned out. Even though there are many duplicates of each card, the way you interact with each one changes based on the strategy you feel would best get you to victory. Do you try and be super aggressive to eliminate your opponent’s most powerful cards, do you position your most powerful cards next to other cards that can allow multiple plays of the same card on one turn, or do you try and stay balanced so that you can stave off attacks and still continue to gain points. This is definitely a filler type game, but it’s certainly not lacking the opportunity for interesting decision making. Another game I highly recommend!

Now that you’ve read about a number of new games that we’ve played this year, feel free to recommend any that you think I might like! Leave a comment here or find me on Twitter at @ianoble. Until next time…


2 Comments to “New To Me Games (3/7/2011): Arena: Roma II”

  • Chris K. March 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    This looks really cool, and something I’d definitely like to try. In a similar vein, I’d like to try out the Pocket Battles line from Z-Man.

  • tomg April 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been wondering about this one as I like Stefan Feld’s games. I’m glad you liked it.

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