|Artist||Marko Fiedler, Claus Stephan|
|# of Players||2 - 4|
|Mfg Suggested Ages||8 and up|
|Category||Action / Dexterity, Ancient|
|Mechanic||Press Your Luck, Tile Placement|
|Family||Ancient Rome, Queen Yellow Wave Box Series|
Via Appia is a game about building a road between cities. There are three sections of road to be built, and each requires stones of different shapes and sizes to complete. The person to most efficiently build the road, and move along it the quickest to the next place, will receive victory points for their efforts. And, just like with most resource management games, the person with the most victory points is the winner.
On a turn, each player takes one of several possible actions: you can take money or raw materials, you can move along the road, you can place rock tiles on the road, or you can send rocks through the crusher. The crusher is really the fun part of the game. It’s a card board pedestal with a lip on both sides to keep all of the “stones” in. However, both ends of the pedestal have no lip and thus you can force stones out. If you choose the crusher option on your turn, you put one of your raw stones at the edge of the track, and push it in using the “pusher” tool, this forces the stones to move, and hopefully fall out the other end. The different sizes of stones corresponds to the different possible stone tiles that you can use to build the road.
The game play feels like a big game of chicken. I find this to be an interesting thing, but some of my players found it down right disheartening. You see, each action that you do benefits the next person. If you crush stones, you can end up packing the stones tighter, which will make them more likely to fall for the next person. If you move from one city to the next, it becomes cheaper for your opponents to move along the road. If you play road pieces, it can allow you opponents to zoom ahead of you. If you take raw materials, the benefit for doing so becomes greater for the next person. So every action you take has to be weighed, will it help you more than it can potentially help your opponents?
Besides some players not enjoying the game of chicken, one downfall of the pusher mechanic (which I enjoyed), is that it’s significantly easier to manipulate from one side of the table than the other. This either forces players to get up and move around the table each time, or be at a disadvantage. You might think that “a push is a push”, but you do have an ability to affect the outcome through careful, skillful pushes, because unlike the pusher machines in the arcade, you can angle the pusher slightly to get the maximum outcome.
(Middle of the road, not bad, not great)
So as I mentioned earlier, a good gimmick can make a game outstanding. I personally really like the gimmick, and if they substituted it out for something more standard (a die roll perhaps), I would have a very different opinion of this game. The gimmick is the selling point, and it was executed as well as I think can be expected given the nature of the beast, but without it the game would feel very dry and simply an exercise in patience.