Christian Fiore &
Knut Happel


No. of Players:
2 - 4



G@mebox author Marco Klasmeyer writes about the game:


Via Romana plays in Roman times in the provinces of Gallia and has the mission to build and extend the ancient roads between the cities. The game board shows several cities in 5 differently coloured areas. The roads connecting the cities are already shown on the map, but they need to be built and finished by playing out cards. The colour of the cards determines where the roads or even castles may be built. For example with two blue coloured cards one might build a castle in a blue city. A road segment (token) between two cities can be built with one card of the same colour as one of the cities, i.e. grey and violet if the cities have the colour grey and violet. If a complete road between two cities is finished, an evaluation takes place immediately. The player with the most road segments (tokens) wins this evaluation and gets the topmost victory points of one of the involved cities victory point pile. The other players who also participated in building this road may take cards from the face up supply cards equal to their number of tokens within the road. At the end of the game each castle gains the remaining victory points of the cities victory points pile. The player with the most victory points after the final evaluation wins.



The basic game principle of Via Romana is quite simple and easy to explain. The map consists of 5 coloured provinces with several cities. A player may have up to 7 coloured building cards in his hand at the start of his turn. You can build castles (nice wooden tokens) in a city with two cards of the same colour and you can build a road segments (wooden sticks) with cards matching the colour of one of the adjacent cities. Roads must start in a city where a player has already placed a token (either a castle or a road segment) and may only be extended. It is not allowed to build a road segment with no connection to an existing road segment or castle. One special build rule allows you to built two road segments at the same time. Each card also displays a symbol (temple, helmet, horse or laurel wreath) and each city has also a symbol. If colour and symbol of the card match a city, the player may build two segments for the roads starting from that specific city. The two segments must be placed next to each other extending the same road. If a player has no matching cards for his desired road segment he can play two cards as a wildcard and build one road segment ignoring the colours.


At the start of the game each player draws a secret mission for the game (a combination of coloured victory markers he has to gain in the course of the game).Each player is allowed to play up to three cards during his turn. At the start of his turn a player is not allowed to have more than 7 cards, so might have to discard some before he can make his move. But during his turn he may have more than 7 cards. As soon as a building action completes the road connection between two cities, this road is immediately evaluated. A road is complete if all fields of the road contain a token (road or castle of a player). The player with the most participating tokens (road or castle) wins the evaluation and may choose to take the victory points of one of the two involved cities from their victory point piles. For the next possible evaluations there are now less victory points remaining. If two players have the same amount of tokens, then the player of these two who initiated the evaluation wins. If the initiator has not that many tokens, the player sitting next to him (clock wise) wins this evaluation. Thus it may make sense for a player not having the majority of tokens to initiate an evaluation knowing the there will be a draw but the victory point may go to the initiator then. The winner of the evaluation gets the victory points but all other participants get cards from the face up supply deck corresponding to the number of tokens they have for that road under evaluation. After the evaluation all tokens are removed from the road and go back to the owner, castles and road segment on city fields remain on the game board. A milestone marker is placed onto the evaluated road to indicate that this road has been completed. The face up supply card deck is refilled with four cards. After a player has finished his turn, he can draw cards from the face down supply pile until he has 7 hand cards.

The game ends after placing the last milestone marker (this does not mean that all roads have been evaluated, a few may be still under construction then). The player finishing the game gets two extra victory points. The rest of the round is still played, so that all other players can make their last turn. If there are roads completed which is very likely at the end of the game, they are all evaluated with the normal rules. Only the removal of the tokens is skipped.

Now the final evaluation takes place:


  • All players count their victory point printed on the marker they have gathered during the game
  • Each castle gains that many victory points as the victory point pile belonging to that city still displays
  • The player finishing the game gets two extra victory points
  • Each player who has completed his mission gets 5 victory points

The player with the most victory points wins.


First I thought that the game sounds quite simple: you draw cards, you build roads with the cards and you gain victory points for finishing roads. But when I was playing it with four friends I found out that it is nothing like that. You have to really look for where you gain your victory points, because it has to be more than the others have in the end. Building one road is easy, building two roads at a time is even better, but then you can hardly build the roads you want to build because your card symbols and colours do not allow this. You will also find out that using one card per road you cannot build much roads because you run out of cards quite fast. After three players had their turn, the map and roads might look totally different. Especially the mission you have to fulfil might also drive you to the one or the other city to gather the needed victory points of that colour. But just getting the right colour and getting 3 or 4 victory points at the same time is not so easy, if more than 3 players are in the game. Sometimes you might also consider not winning the evaluation of a road, but getting more hand cards from the face up supply instead because there are the cards you really need to make a better move. Via Romana is no strategy game but offers some good short term tactics for planning one or two moves in advance depending on your cards and the constellation of the roads. With three perfectly fitting cards you could build up to 6 road segments and this might bring you good revenue for your victory point account.

In the two player mode the game starts with some roads already marked as evaluated, so the possible range of roads is limited, but there is no real surprise in the turns of two players. For me the game mechanism works better for three or four player mode. With a lot of wooden tokens and the milestone markers the game offers a rich view of material on a nicely drawn map

There are some interesting rule extensions for advanced players worth mentioning:


  1. Hard limit hand cards: During the game it is never allowed to have more than seven cards on the hand. This means that it might not be allowed to take cards from the face up supply stack after an evaluation. In this case a player could miss a whole evaluation without any benefit and his opponents most likely enjoying this.
  2. Dangerous Draw: If in case of a draw the player who initiated the evaluation is not one the winning side no one gets victory points and no cards are distributed among the participating players. In fact the evaluation is aborted and skipped. So here a player can jump in and just annihilate the prospects of the other players.

These two rules bring some spice to the game although the latter might not very often occur in the course of the game.

In general, due the non-complex game mechanism it was fun playing Via Romana. Later on in the game it was even harder to estimate who is or might be the winner. It seems to be neck to neck, up to the final evaluation with all those extra points for missions, finishing the game, victory points for castles. That makes it an exciting and also fair game, because everyone gets enough points and is not too far behind.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany