Via Appia (aka Through the Apes)

Posted: March 3, 2014 in Board Games, Reviews
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viaappia1As I have previously mentioned I will be doing game reviews on this blog and it is time for the first of what I hope to be many reviews to come. On Wednesday at the weekly board game Meet Up I attend I played “Via Appia” from Queen Games for the first time.

Via Appia roughly translated to “through the apes” if you don’t actually know history, Latin, or what the object of this game is. If you do know any of these, you know that Via Appia (or the Appian Way) was an important road in the early Roman empire and in this game you build that road.

 

This game is a Euro style building with an element of dexterity that adds a fun bit of randomness, skill, and excitement that might otherwise be lacking from this game. During your then you can take one of four actions: take a stone/money card, push stones through the quarry to get building materials, build the road, or move your player token. When you take a stone/money card you choose from one of the cards that is face up and either receive stones to push through the quarry later or gold which you use to move your player piece down the road toward your destination.

Once you have some stones, you can push up to two of them through the quarry; this is where the dexterity and excitement I mentioned above comes in. The quarry is like one of those games in arcades or casinos where you roll a coin down a ramp on to a ledge and then hope the sliding wall pushes it to knock off more coins than you put in. Instead on tickets or money, when you cause stones to fall off the ledge you get tiles to build the road with. This was my favorite part of the game and kept us all in suspense every time someone tried to get the pieces they needed to continue our road.

When you choose to build the road, you take tiles you obtained from the quarry and build up to two spaces further along the communally built road. The different sizes of road tiles you place earn you different quantities if victory points.The road is divided into three segments separated by cities along the way. The players who build the most road pieces in each section earn extra victory points at the end of them game.

Once construction has begun on the road, a player may choose to pay gold to move their player token along the road. This action is important for two reasons, the sooner a player reaches the city at the end of a road section the more victory points they receive; a player also may not begin to build on the next section of the road until they reach the city preceding it.

A look at the game in progress

A look at the game in progress

Game turns go quite quickly once everyone gets the hang of their options. As you only get one action per turn, like most Euro games Via Appia is all about maximizing the efficacy of those actions. This game brings in an element of suspense and randomness through the quarry mechanic which keeps you on your toes and forces you to change your plans when you don’t get the tiles you need to build out the route down the road you planned. This is the first game I have played from Queen Games and I’m not familiar with the game play or construction of their other games but I found this game to be a delight to play; there was a nice mix of planning and randomness to keep things interesting but not completely dependent on luck and things moved along at a steady pace. The end of game scoring does a good job of keeping all of the players engaged until the end of the game without taking too long to figure out who actually won the game (in this instance it was actually me who won!).

The quality of the component construction is solid, but the one major issue I have with this game is the tokens players take for each tile they build in a road section; if they are set to the side of the road, players tend to forget to take them as they build road pieces but if they are placed on the spaces where you build the road it is difficult to see what variety of tile is needed to build on that space.

The game at the end. Blue Wins!!!

The game at the end. Blue Wins!!!

Overall I would gladly play this game again and hope to add it to my personal game collection. I give this game 4 out of 5 stars

To Guslado’s Board Game Reviews

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