Review – Romi Rami

romirami

 

Designer Antoine Lefebvre

Artist Fanny Saulnier

Publisher Randolph (Hachette Boardgames USA)

Category Card Game, Filler Game

Length 15-30 minutes

Release Date Fall 2023

Player Count 2-4

Price $14.99 MSRP

Rummy is apparently back in style, because after not only did it inspire Spellbook this year, but also Romi Rami from designer Antoine Lefebvre and publisher Randolph. In this game, you are collecting runs and sets, just like in Rummy, but now you’re using them to fulfill contracts, along with suit bonuses associated with each contract. It plays easily and quickly, but is it fun enough? Let’s take a look!

A lot of games are very plainly inspired by others. I just reviewed Match of the Century, inspired by a singular chess match, and Magic: the Gathering clones abound, not to mention all the deckbuilding games spawned by Dominion. It seems to me that if you are going to go the “extremely obvious” route with your inspiration, then your game needs to be at least as good or better. Unfortunately, while Romi Rami is fine, it’s not as good as plain old Rummy.

The main unique thing about Romi Rami is that you are fulfilling contracts, instead of just being able to play any set or run at any time. But the gameplay is also a lot faster, in the sense that you can draw up to three cards a turn (having all the same suit or same number), meaning that the central display is constantly being refilled, as are the contracts. For me, this means that despite seeing lots of cards, you are pretty much at the mercy of what’s present, and if you don’t complete a contract on a given turn, you feel incredibly behind. This is exacerbated by the fact that you can always draw back up to three cards, meaning that if you don’t spend your whole hand, you’re essentially wasting draws. 

Due to the constantly changing markets (both for suited cards and for contracts), it feels as though you don’t even need to look carefully at other player’s turns, because you can’t stop them anyway, and your situation will be entirely different. It even feels this way in a two-player game. Meanwhile, in Rummy itself, there’s a constant back-and-forth with the discard pile, and that big risk of digging deep to play a set but possibly being stuck with the remaining cards. I’ve played Rummy countless times, and a lot of my memories are of the shock that another player had the card that you gambled they wouldn’t. Meanwhile, Romi Rami feels like I’m just playing against the game, for a brief moment on my turn, and hoping that I win out. There’s a tension of feeling ahead or behind in my number of contracts filled, but I also feel like I have no agency to overcome that tension or not; no calculated risks to take. 

To me this greatly exemplifies the “over-designing” of the modern era, where players feel the need to take a classic game, or even modern classics from the 90s and 2000s, and “fix” them with complexity. Usually we see that in the 2-hours-plus Euro monsters, but it’s true of small card games too. While Romi Rami isn’t hard to learn by any means, and it’s fast and easy enough, and not actively bad, it is a pale imitation of its inspiration. 

The Bottom Line

It's fine, but I would rather just play Rummy.

 

5.5

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Author: Derek Thompson


I’ve been a board game reviewer on Geeks Under Grace since 2011. I love card-driven games and party games. I have a Ph.D. in Mathematics and teach the subject at Taylor University in Upland, IN. My wife and kids are my favorite gaming partners.