Roam Review

A great sleep has fallen on the inhabitants of Arzium, causing them to roam hundreds of miles in a dazed state. Players are searching for members of their community, waking them up and recruiting them to continue the search.

Roam the Countryside

Roam is an area control game for 2 to 4 players from designer Ryan Laukat. Fans of Above & Below, Near & Far and Islebound will recognize the iconic character style that grace these beautiful oversized cards.

Each player will start with a team of 3 adventurers that have a prescribed search pattern at the bottom of their card. In the beginning of the game, these cards have all the same search patterns. The landscape or board is made up of 6 cards that contain gridlines where players will place their tokens during their turn.

Players will turn over members of their search party to place tokens on the board that match their search pattern. When a card is filled with 6 tokens, the player who has the majority of the tokens on the card adds this new adventurer to their search party. The first player to have a team of 10 adventurers ends the game. The player with the most victory points on adventurer cards and artifacts wins the game.

The Search Continues

Roam is an excellent area control game that has really impressed me. The turn-to-turn gameplay is easy to understand and can be taught in a matter of minutes. One aspect of Roam that is love is that players search patterns are in relationship to their view of the board. If a player uses a diagonal search pattern, that diagonal must come from the orientation of where they’re coming from. Search patterns can’t be flipped or mirrored in any way as it’s placed on the board.

Once an adventurer uses their search pattern, that card is flipped over (exhausted) and cannot be used again until it’s refreshed. Exhausting all your adventurers will allow you to refresh the entire party. Players can also pay coins to refresh adventurers early if they get into a bind.

Since the board is made up of cards, it’s always changing though out the game. You’ll notice lots of opportunities to gather coins as you search the landscape. Placing your token on a space with coin(s) give you that number of coins which can be spent on buying artifacts or for bidding on a card when there is a tie.

Artifacts are a source of victory points but also give you abilities that can give you a leg up on other players. These artifacts become exhausted when used then refresh when the team is refreshed.

More Than a Family Filler Game

Roam works so well as a family game because the rule book gives you multiple ways to play based on the experience of the players in the game. You can play by the basic rules, full game rules (adding artifacts) or check out two variants that are in the back of the book. We’ve even been playing by hardcore rules that I found online which means that you can only use a search pattern if there are enough blank spaces on the board. This is my preferred way to play. Most people will feel at home with the full game rules.

Just like every game that Red Raven releases, Roam is beautiful to look at. The illustrations are beautiful and each component is very well made. The adventurer cards have a sentence of flavor text that tells you what they were doing when you found them roaming the country-side. I enjoy creating a little story for each of the people I find during the game.

The more I play Roam, the more I notice the balance that is present in the game. Adventurer cards that have a complex pattern will have a low victory point score while a single token pattern will have a high number of victory points. This is something that players need to pay close attention to as they vie for control over specific cards.

Roam is an example of a simple concept that is executed very well. The game plays in about 30 to 40 minutes and can feel like a puzzle at times. It’s more than a filler game but not a deep as something like Above and Below which we struggle to get on the table with our busy family schedule. This is a Kickstarter project that I was very glad that I backed. I’m even more excited that others get the opportunity to roam the landscape of Arzium.

You can purchase a copy of Roam at your local game store or get it online through Amazon.

Highs

  • Fast gameplay that feels like a puzzle
  • Multiple levels of play for new and seasoned gamers
  • Top-notch illustrations from Laukat on every card
  • Orientation to the board plays a big part in the game

Lows

  • You’ll need a good-sized table to play on
  • Not a game for players that struggle with spatial reasoning