Dale Yu: Review of Romi Rami

Romi Rami

  • Designer: Antoine Lefebvre
  • Publisher: Randolph
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by publisher

Says the publisher: “Romi Rami is a game that feels like it’s been around forever, with thousands of people quietly and gradually polishing it over time. Falling squarely in the family of ‘Rummy’ games, Romi Rami features a double market. The first one has number cards, and the second one has contracts to complete. The goal of the game: Make the most points by optimizing the combinations required by the contracts. Keep an eye on the trophies (they change from game to game) which will propel you to to the top spot on the podium!”

The back of the box proudly proclaims that Romi Rami is “The Modern Take on Rummy”, and after reading that, I had no choice but to get a copy to try!  I grew up playing card games like Rummy, and I love seeing modern takes on some traditional games.

The deck of 92 cards is split into 4 suits, with cards numbered from 1 to 5.  There is a second deck of 36 contract cards, each of which shows a pattern which you need to score, and then a bonus suit on the bottom.  To start the game, both decks are shuffled separately, and each player is dealt a starting hand of 3 number cards.  The rest of the number deck is placed on the table and then 6 cards are placed face up on the table as the initial Number market.  The Contracts are shuffled, placed on the table, and then 4 are turned face up on the table.  There are four double sided trophy markers – they are thrown up in the air, and whichever side ends up face up on the table is the side of the token to be used in this game.  Finally, each player is given a Joker token which they leave in front of them until they use it.

The game will now be plated in a number of turns until the end of a round where someone has finished their 5th contract (at least in a 4p game).    There are three phases in each turn.  

First, you draw up to 3 cards from the Market – they must all share a common characteristic (number or suit).  These cards are added to your hand

Second, you can fulfill any contracts you wish from the market – by discarding cards that match the pattern shown on the contract card.  Once in the game, you can use your Joker Token as a replacement for any card.  Take the filled contract card and place it in your scoring pile.  Now, look at the cards you spent to fill the contract.  Any cards that match the bonus suit on the contract are kept in your score pile, each of these will be worth a point at the end of the game.

Third, refill the markets (4 contracts and 6 numbers) and then check your hand to make sure you have between 3 and 10 cards.  If you have 2 or fewer, draw cards from the deck to get back to 3.  If you have more than 10, discard down until you only have 10.

The next player then goes – and the game continues until the end of a round when at least one player has reached the target number of filled contracts. At this time, the game moves into final scoring.

First, you resolve the trophies.  Each one either has a suit or a particular card combo.  Each of the contract cards helpfully has the same icons on the top.  If any player has the most icons matching a trophy, they collect the trophy.  No one gets the trophy if there is a tie.  The points on the trophies are added to those listed on the filled contracts.  In addition, each player scores one point for each card kept from the suit bonuses.  And, in the unlikely event a player still has their Joker token, it is worth a single point.

The player with the most points wins.  Ties broken in favor of the player with the most suit bonus cards in their stack.

My thoughts on the game

Romi Rami is a quick playing game that certainly had a strong rummy flavor to it, but the contract market definitely makes it feel and play differently than simply collecting cards to make melds.   You obviously want to collect cards that somehow match; and you can take up to three cards each turn.  At first, it seemed like the players would always take the selection that gave them the most cards; but as we soon learned; sometimes you are forced to take less as you need specific cards to fulfill specific contracts.  Also, if you are shooting for a lot of suit bonuses, you would obviously have to take cards in that suit to use in your meld.

In my first game, I did not pay much attention to the suit bonus, thinking that the piddly one point addition wouldn’t be a big deal… but let’s just say that I lost to a player who had almost as many points in suit bonuses as I had for all my contracts.  I’m now a firm believer in matching the suits as much as possible.  Of course, if you work too hard at getting the right suits, someone might take the contract card before you buy it – so you’ll need to closely watch what other people are collecting.  If you do a good enough job at this, you might even be able to defensively draft cards, taking the cards that you know your opponents are waiting for!

To further the race aspect, the game ends when at least one player has 5 contract cards – so it is possible for a player to try to rush the end of the game; though given the difference in point values between small (1-2) and large (6-9) contracts; getting a suit bonus with each one is a must in order to be able to compete.

The rules come on a single sheet that folds out, and everything is nicely organized on it – even a nice reference for the melds.  The graphics on the cards/tokens is very simple; and it makes the game easy to read and understand.  The only bit that caused some consternation was the start player token.  It is a cardboard piece that has a “1” on it; but there is also a small crown over the number, and this is exactly the icon used for 1VP.  Nowhere in the rules does it state that the starting player gets an extra point; but it is a curiously confusing bit of graphic design if that is not the intent.

Romi Rami definitely plays in under 30 minutes, and it feels like it plays faster than it does. It certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome on the table, and all of our games have felt competitive with a few different strategies coming out on top; and this is good to see as it means that there likely isn’t a single best path to this game.

I’d definitely recommend Romi Rami to anyone who is looking for a light card game that feels familiar yet offers just a touch more in the complexity department.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale, Steph H, John P
  • Neutral. 
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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