You can travel the world with this Amazon Alexa-powered board game | Feature Tech
If you love that classic combination of travel, board games, and smart speakers, the round-the-world trivia game, When In Rome, could be the perfect post-dinner activity to whip out next time you have friends over.
Developed by Voice Originals, the game works with Amazon Alexa, so you will need an Alexa-powered device like the Amazon Echo to play, which we used to test it out. To get going, you will also need to enable the free When In Rome skill in the Alexa app.
In the box you’ll find a world map board, player tokens, ‘friend’ tokens, ‘upgrade cards’, and five ‘souvenir’ objects – all of which is helpfully explained by Alexa as you play, so you never feel unsure about how to play.
Price and availability
When In Rome is available on Amazon at a reduced price in the US of $19.99, but is still at full price in the UK and Australia for £24.99 and around AU$43, respectively. Whether you consider this to be good value for money really depends on how much use you’re likely to get out of it – for us it was more of a one off novelty, but if you have kids or have friends round for dinner regularly, it may be a smart purchase.
How it works
If you’re not a fan of reading through rule books, you’ll probably appreciate the fact that Alexa guides you through the entire process, meaning you can kick back and enjoy the game without arguing over opposing interpretations of the rulebook.
The game is designed for two teams of between two and four player, but we found it worked just fine with just two players if you’re having a couples night in. To start the game simply say ‘Alexa, open When In Rome’, and you’ll be prompted to get into your teams and select a team token.
One fun feature is that the first turn of each round is determined by a head-to-head question, meaning the stakes are high from the get go. Then, you can start your adventure with a destination of your choice – we started in San Francisco, where a real local asks you a trivia question about the city.
With every question your team answers correctly, you can earn a ‘friend’ in that city, preventing the opposing team from doing the same and creating easier connections so that you can get around the map and earn more points.
Some cities have special ‘souvenirs,’ which you can claim if you answer that city’s trivia question correctly – an they’re worth more points than correct questions alone. The more souvenirs you can get your hands on, the more likely your team is to win. The game is over after twelve rounds, or when every souvenir has been found.
Although issues with the voice recognition element of the Amazon Echo could have made this experience extremely stressful, we found it couldn’t have gone smoother, and in fact, any time Alexa didn’t pick up our voices just added to the hilarity of it all.
Throw out the rulebook
Not having to read through a rule book was really refreshing, and it was great to sit back and let Alexa guide us through the game – although at times it did feel like the game was ‘over’ explained and it was sometimes frustrating to sit through the long explanations at the beginning of the game.
We found the questions to be a great mix of the kind of general knowledge most players will be able to answer, and more left-field questions that required a bit more thinking. With multiple choice answers it didn’t feel too difficult, and we think children will enjoy this just as much as adults.
We loved how Alexa was able to lead us through the game, giving less instruction as we became more comfortable with the rules – although small children may become bored by the amount of listening required.
Having the questions read out by real locals was a nice touch as well, making the game feel super interactive and authentic, with each local speaking in a regional accent and discussing what it’s like to live in their city.
Overall, playing When In Rome was a really fun experience – silly enough to be entertaining, but with questions cerebral enough to actually give you a decent challenge.