Review: Via Appia – all roads lead to Rome

Via Appia - packaging

I always thought, I would never look inside Rome city. But now our city is doing something, we never dreamed of as a child. Young are building a road and we old can look in our capital for the first time. But I am not telling myself stories. These stones are not there for us, even when it opens doors to the world for us, we will have to watch out for fast carriages, horses and robbers our pilgrimage. The journey entails not only fulfilled dreams of old people, but moreover hope for others.

is a board game, that also brings us hope. Its new entertainment from , created by author . Illustration were prepared by and Stephan Claus in year of its publishing, .

Box is no different from other big games coming from this house. It has a square shape and same size as for example Edo (review) or Lost Legends (review). Title picture shows building of the road, running down the hill to the nearby Brundisium. Builders have a long way from Rome to get there. And you will help them to complete whole road, after we look inside the box together and discover everything needed for this construction.

Via Appia - game is ready

Big and thick game board is eagerly waiting for us in there and shows this road waiting to be built of stone. But its dimensions are result not only of actual route, but you can find also surrounding woods and a scoring scale on it. Most interesting part is not the road winding in shape of letter L, because almost entire half of the board is occupied by an abandoned mountain peak, that serves as a reservoir for road builders.

Below the game board are hidden sheets with cardboard pieces and a lot of wooden components adding a touch to whole gaming mix. There is a pawn and token for each of four players, but above all discs of three various sizes. All without exception constitute stones – eight large ones, twenty-two of middle size and most (34) small rocks. One poker, which will be used in a quarry, is made of wood as well.

Rest of the components consists of a cardboard pieces. There are tokens for actual road construction, bonus tokens and victory points, money, share tiles, but also a token indicating starting player. Each player has there one transport tile, a screen composed of three tiles and a token for crossing a fifty point border. Largest component remains quarry itself, built of few boards according to instructions.

Via Appia - game is ready

Game then begins by each player choosing a color. He takes not only one pawn (set to Rome, where construction of roads begins), but also round scoring token placed next to start of points track. Color at the same time also determines shade of player screens. Starting equipment is finished by one cart with four compartments for stones, whose content is not secret.

Joint construction will begin with distribution of pieces on the board – almost all stones start game in reserve, but players also have to fill cardboard quarry with them and get some these wooden stones into their possession. Bonus tokens are placed on individual sections of the road and other components are placed next to the board. Exception is victory points, which start a game next to each city as descending stack. The only thing left to do is to reveal top seven income tiles from a shuffled deck and create a starting offer.

In their turn, players have four actions available for choosing – movement of their builder, receipt, or visit to quarry, where rocks for road construction can be obtained. All activities are closely interrelated and build on each other, though not successively. Income is done by choosing one of available tiles in the joint offer and its picture also serves as a guide to what you can do. Player can raise money and then move or buy rocks and go to the quarry. In both cases, it is necessary to turn the market card with its back side facing up. Offer will be supplemented only when players use up all the current tiles (but by choosing last three, players can take advantage of both revenues).

Via Appia - game in progress

Money allow player to move pawns, but only on already constructed parts of the road. Their movement options are therefore limited in the beginning. The amount paid per round depends on the distance, player wants to go with his piece.

Other action allows player to build a road in section, where his pawn is located. He has to connect to already placed stones. To create new part of the whole path, he has to place his stone in the local quarry and hope to get a treated one in return. Player must slide one or two of his stones into the bottom side of quarry and hope, that some stones fall off its top. Rules allow to align newly added stones with a wooden poker, so there are no disputes. Only these fallen stones can be exchanged for cardboard tokens and loaded on player’s cart. Using other action, builder can take one or two stones from his cart and expand the road. Each stone will bring him not only the immediate reward in the form of victory points (depending on the size of the stone), but also a token reward for improving the road.

Once a player reaches new town, he receives a reward in the form of a top token from town pile of tokens. But by doing so, he also provides cheaper road building for the whole segment crossed. He marks this by putting an orange round token next to a city Road there has been partially completed and the movement is way easier and faster and with it also building actions.

Via Appia - game in progress

Players are buying and changing stones, their workers move along the game board and try to place as many stones as possible in different parts of the road. Game is all about majority, which is decided in the end. It can be found out easily at the end of the game according to number of section tokens (acquired for every stone built), he owns. For each such superiority, player gets eight points and second in line receives four. End of the game occurs, when road is full or someone gets his first token in Brundisium. After adding rewards for the most sesterces, the winning player is decided based on highest victory point gain.

Via Appia is a strategy game, which is not only chase for superiority on three sections of road to Rome, but rather a quest for victory points. They are hidden under every stone, you just have to look well and work hard. Only like this can you build a large part of the road and bring you closer to win.

Although reward for superiority seems high at first glance, there is more options to get in lead. All of them are connected with stones. Whether you use them as your pass to city or collect points simply by placing them, you always have the feeling, that your work is rewarded. And this is important for all strategy games. Yet it is up to the player, which combination they choose to get their victory.

Via Appia - game in progress

Everything goes wrong with element focused on skill for many advanced players. But its inclusion in Via Appia is definitely not a mistake, because it is an interesting and original bridge between raw materials and their usage. It naturally separates these actions and rewards players for their efforts, but it is not frustrating in any way. It provides stones as its output, which have to fit on players cart. Fortunately, they can also sell unwanted ones for finance.

It is precisely the quarry and its design, what makes this game stand out as original. And although it divides players into love / hate groups, game is without doubt nicely designed. Although we have a small complaint to the topic and its connection with the mechanisms, overall the game works and is very entertaining. Moreover, it is precisely this, which could make way for newcomers with no gaming experience whatsoever. You can explain rules to them quickly, because Via Appia works great as an entry game.

Biggest shortcoming is intertwined with several points of the game. You would often prefer not to do anything in your turn, because you will be simply giving a helping hand to opponents. And we are not talking just about the quarry, where this could expected. Even when constructing roads, simply by getting too close to a city, you give others opportunity to connect it first, thus gaining reward instead of yourself.

Via Appia - game in progress

Market of card on the other hand works perfectly and even remaining tiles (unwanted at first) will not stay long. On the contrary, everybody is waiting for his chance to get both sesterce and stones together, or even bonus tokens with three last tiles! This bonus token allows its owner to load a third stone to a quarry in a single run. With good timing, it can be a great advantage.

All pawns share the same game board and fight together right on the road, so the game has a pleasant feeling of true rivalry. In all phases, players can somehow steal options of others but it is still guaranteed, that state of their finances during the game remains the only secret information.

The game is fun with two, but it works a bit better with multiple opponents. The game board has then less space and all rivalries are much tighter. It does great job of supporting players, who stayed behind with their workers, but also allows all rivals to focus tactically on a different path to victory. Game time really fits into the promised 45 minutes, which is great.

Via Appia - cards

Processing of the game is excellent. Game board is detailed and full of illustrations, rulebook is clear and screens summarize all the fundamental mechanisms. Everything in terms of design works here for A+.

Via Appia is a challenging game at first glance, but this is certainly not true. On the contrary, its unique mechanism of pushing stones out of the quarry and accessible theme of building roads is speaking to all beginners. And as such, we would like to have it evaluated, although advanced players may be slightly disappointed from its skill element. Via Appia works really well and offers plenty of ways to win, to make you return with your truck again and again for more stones.

DesignerMichael Feldkötter
ArtistMarko Fiedler, Claus Stephan
PublisherQueen Games
Year Published2013
# of Players2 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4 players
Recommended with 2, 3, 4 players
(22 voters)
Playing Time45
Mfg Suggested Ages8 and up
User Suggested Ages10 and up
(6 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(5 voters)
CategoryAncient
MechanicPush Your Luck, Slide/Push, Tile Placement
FamilyAncient: Rome, Series: Yellow Wave Box (Queen)
Primary NameVia Appia

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Via Appia – all roads lead to Rome
Final word
Via Appia allows you to connect Rome with three neighboring towns. You only need to do a proper mountain pass and create a sturdy road. But it is not enough only to acquire stone. It needs to be processed in a quarry, which will bring you a hard time. Game also has an important skill mechanic - players are pushing stones out of quarry. This depends on the skill of player and it still fits well into the overall concept of the game and does not play a major part in deciding the winner. Nevertheless, it may deter someone, although it's a shame. Via Appia is otherwise very accessible game, but you will be surprised by several options, how to achieve final victory. Players are fighting over rocks in a straight contest and favors builder, who is holding back. Quick and easy game rules mean, that Via Appia should appear on many tables for a long time.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
unique mechanism of stone processing
more ways to acquire points
majority mechanism
players vie for the same space
simple rules
great game for beginners
takes only 45 minutes
Cons
you often help rivals
partially focused on skill, which can be a letdown for someone
4
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