“Alexa, open When in Rome”
Sensible Object (the company that brought us Beasts of Balance) just recently released When in Rome, a game show style game powered by Amazon’s Alexa. Using any Alexa-enabled device players will jet set around the world answering questions in major cities, making friends, and collecting souvenirs over 9 rounds of trivia featuring characters from each city.
While When in Rome does contain a small rulebook, it’s not needed to play the game. Once you tell Alexa to open the game she’ll go through everything you need to know to both setup and play, starting with reading a list of 5 items printed on the back of the board. Players then split into two teams, red and blue, place their planes on a starting city, and off they go! Each round Alexa will have players flying to connecting cities, answering questions, earning points (or sometimes upgrade cards), making friends, and collecting souveniers. The first team to collect 3 souvenirs or, in the case that no team has earned 3, whoever has the most points at the end of the 9th round wins.
A few things to note are that each city will have an option for a team to answer an easy or hard question, each worth a different amount of points. Also, while planes can normally only move one space to a connected city, friends allow you to pass through their cities and extend your range. Upgrade cards are one-use and have varying effects like automatically flying to specific cities.
- Friend Pawns
- Souvenir Pieces
( = Good, = Bad, = Exceptional)
As far as social, trivia-style games go When in Rome is pretty standard fare. The addition of an Alexa-narrated experience is what makes the game a bit more interesting. Not only does Alexa teach you to play the game and keep the game moving, but various in-game characters from each city have over 20 hours of dialogue between questions, bad jokes, and random information. Alexa keeps track of everything for you: points, locations, where you have friends, where you can travel, and what souvenirs you have. She even knows what questions she’s asked you previously, even during other games, so you get fresh questions almost every time.
Alexa is also the game’s biggest downfall. She over explains everything no matter how many times you’ve played the game. The pace of the game is a bit slower than I would have liked. A similar game without Alexa could easily be played in half the time. Also, and this is more on the players than Alexa herself, is easy to screw with. Since she responds to “Alexa, X” it’s easy for uncooperative teammates or even opposing players to mess with her and really screw up the game. This isn’t any fault of When in Rome, but Alexa, and there’s really not much that can be done about it.
Overall it’s a fun game if you’re into trivia and social games. The in-game content in entertaining, though wordy, and brings an extra sense of fun to a session. If you’ve got a trustworthy group of people to play with, and a good amount of time on your hands, you’ll probably enjoy When in Rome.
A copy of When in Rome was provided free for review by Sensible Object
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.