Game: Romi Rami

Release Year: 2023

Publisher: Randolph

Designer: Antoine Lefebvre

Player Count: 2 to 4 players

Play Time: About 10 to 15 minutes per player

Rules Complexity: Very simple

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Man, I was really excited for this one.

I'm always on the lookout for small-box card games that are equally good for gamers and non-gamers, and Romi Rami felt like it could be that game. A take on rummy with some modern twists? I was all in!

Sadly, this one fell short of expectations. I know it's been getting some good reviews, but there are some flaws in Romi Rami that make it hard for me to like or recommend. Ugh, I really did want to like this one!

Keep reading to see how Romi Rami plays, why its concept is interesting, why it missed the mark for me, and whether you might like it anyway.

This review is based on my own personal copy of Romi Rami, which I bought brand new from Boardlandia. Not a free review copy.


Romi Rami is a modern take on rummy card games, where you collect sets of number cards and turn them in to win contract cards that score you points:

  • The number cards range from 1 to 5 across four different suits.
  • The 1 and 5 cards have four copies per suit (total of 16 each) while the 2, 3, and 4 cards have five copies per suit (total of 20 each).
  • The contract cards can require sets (cards of the same number) or sequences (cards in consecutive order) or a combination of both.
  • The contract cards also belong to a single suit each.
  • The contract cards have different score values based on how difficult they are to complete.
This is Romi Rami. The contract market is on top and the number market is on bottom.

But there are a few neat twists that help it stand out:

  • You gain number cards by drafting from a central card market.
  • When you draft number cards, you can take up to three cards of the same number or the same suit.
  • After drafting, you can fulfill one or more of the public contract cards.
  • When you fulfill a contract, you gain bonus points for using number cards of the same suit as the contract card's suit.
  • The game ends once someone has fulfilled a certain amount of contract cards. (The amount depends on player count.)
First player token on the left. Double-sided end-game trophies in the middle. Joker tokens on the right.

Plus, two more twists:

  • At game's end, you can earn a few more points by winning trophies. Each trophy goes to whoever has fulfilled the most of a certain type of contract card (e.g., the most contracts of the heart suit).
  • You start the game with a joker token that you can use as a wild card when fulfilling contracts. If you never use the joker token, it's an extra point for you at game's end.

Long story short, Romi Rami has two different card markets and several ways to score points. Through smart card play, your goal is to fulfill contracts as efficiently as possible to score the most points.

Setup and Table Footprint

While the setup for Romi Rami isn't as quick as just shuffling up a deck and dealing out cards, it's still relatively quick. About 3 minutes.

Everyone gets a joker token. Then, toss up the trophy tokens to see which random trophies are in play this game. Shuffle up the contract cards and flip over four of them to start. Lastly, shuffle up the number cards, deal three to each player, and flip over six to start the central market.

An in-progress example of how much space Romi Rami needs for four players.

As for table footprint? Well, it's weird. Romi Rami doesn't objectively take up a lot of table space, but it feels messy and cluttered to me.

Not only do you have the central market and the contracts array, which take up most of the space, you also have players collecting contracts in front of them (along with the matching cards they used for suit bonuses).

All of that is fine, but then you also have the trophies off to the side and a joker token for each player. For a small-box, lightweight card game, it feels messy. Maybe it's the bright yellow colors? I don't know.

Learning Curve

Romi Rami is a relatively simple game, but it has one too many rules that can make it hard to grasp for non-gamers. It definitely feels like a gamery version of rummy, meant for people who want some crunch in their set collection.

Contract examples. The left contract requires two sets: a three-of-a-kind set and a four-card straight set, with bonus points for every diamond-suited number used. The right contract requires a five-card straight set, with bonus points for every heart-suited number used.

The number cards, their different suits, and the central market of number cards are all pretty easy to understand. The idea of using those number cards to fulfill contracts is straightforward, too. After all, pretty much everyone knows what a pair is, what three-of-a-kind is, what a four-card straight is.

And the fact that you gain bonus points for using number cards with suits that match the suit of a contract card isn't difficult.

But once you add in the end-game trophies, Romi Rami can start to be a little much for non-gamers. Between contract cards, suit bonuses, and trophies, non-gamers may feel like there's too much to think about.

Game Experience

Player Interaction

Romi Rami has no direct player interaction. There are no take-that elements and you can't do anything to change someone's hand or affect their scored contracts. You're only focused on your own hand.

The contract market has four contracts that are public and available to everyone.

However, there is some indirect player interaction with the central card markets. By drafting certain cards, you're denying those cards to everyone else. And with contract cards being public, you're racing to complete the ones you want—and when you complete one, you're denying those points to the rest.

That said, hate drafting—taking what someone else wants even if you don't want it yourself just to deny them of it—doesn't really happen because you end up hurting yourself too much. You don't have enough wiggle room in your hand to clog it up with unwanted cards, and you can't afford to fast-complete contracts on a whim or else you'll lose out on the matching suit bonus.

For the most part, Romi Rami is a game where you're best concerned about your own hand, your own plan, and your own decisions.

Decision Space

You have a few things to think about in Romi Rami, but the decisions feel inconsequential because you don't have much control over what happens.

The numbers market has six cards. You can draft up to three of them, but the cards you take have to be all the same number or all the same suit.

The main decision is which cards are you going to draft from the market. Most of the time, it's best to pick three of a number or three of a suit to maximize your efficiency. More cards in hand means more flexibility in fulfilling contracts.

Occasionally, when you're on the verge of fulfilling a juicy contract, you might forego a three-card draft to pick up a very specific card or two.

But that's one of the issues I have with Romi Rami: it's prone to some minor analysis paralysis. If you want to win, you have to run all the possible combinations between what's in your hand and what you can draft from the market and what contracts are out, and this can take more time than you might expect.

There's some minor analysis paralysis as you think about all the ways to draft from the number market that could possibly score you one of the available contracts.

The trouble is that you aren't just trying to meet a contract's requirements but also trying to maximize its matching suit bonus. Could you submit a mismatched set of 4s to secure that five-of-a-kind contract worth 4 points? Sure. But if you can do it with five 4s of matching suit, it can be worth 9 points! That's a lot of points to leave on the table if you choose to rush a contract.

So, if you want to extract maximum points, every turn comes down to comparing your hand to the market and running through all possible drafting combinations to see which of the current contracts will earn you the most points.

This player focused mainly on clover-suited contracts, winning him the "Most Clover Contracts" trophy at the end of the game. Will those extra three points matter?

On top of that, you're also considering whether a contract will help you win the end-game trophies. Are you going for the 6-point diamond-suit contract purely for the points? Or will you opt for the 3-point cherry-suit contract in the hopes that winning the "Most Cherry Contracts" trophy will give you the edge?

The thing is, you can consider all of these factors, but the effort feels meaningless in the end. And that's because of the luck factor...

Luck Factor

In Romi Rami, the board state changes a lot between your turns. If you don't draft a certain card or fulfill a certain contract right now, there's no guarantee it'll still be there next turn. This chaos can make you feel like there's no strategic agency.

In this example, I could fulfill the heart-suited contract with my 2s. But maybe I want to wait another turn so I can draft one more 2-of-hearts so I can maximize the suit bonus.

Let's say you're saving up on heart cards to snag the five-of-a-kind heart-suited contract. It might take you one, two, or even three turns to get the cards you need simply because you need the card market to provide you with those cards. If they never show up, your plan is dust.

So, do you grab the contract now and waste points? Or wait?

But what if—before I can take my next turn—someone else snags the contract? Now I'm stuck with a hand of hearts with a contract market that doesn't have any hearts...

Let's say you're almost there but someone else snags the contract card right before you do. Suppose it was the only heart-suited contract available. Well, now you're doubly screwed! Not only have you lost the contract, but now your hand is full of useless heart cards that won't earn bonus points towards the other contracts.

So, do you sit on your hearts and hope for a heart-suited contract to show up? Or do you waste them on a mismatched contract and move on?

There are lots of different contracts in Romi Rami. You never know which ones will show up.

The unpredictability of the contracts market also makes the end-game trophies sort of random. If only one heart-suited contract ever shows up, whoever gets it will win the "Most Heart Contracts" trophy for absolutely no reason other than luck.

On paper, Romi Rami looked to me like a strategic game of set collection and contract fulfillment. But in practice? It plays like a push-your-luck game where you're mainly deciding between taking what you can get this turn or hoping for better next turn.

Fun Factor

Romi Rami is generally a quiet, contemplative game.

On most turns, the active player is silently working through market card combinations in their head while everyone else waits twiddling their thumbs because they can't plan ahead. (More on this below in the "Player Counts" section.)

In my experience, something about this game makes people go quiet as they play.

The highest thrill offered by Romi Rami is when you're able to fulfill a contract with every card being of matching suit. It's pretty satisfying when you can turn a 5-point contract into an 11-point contract with a handful of cherry cards.

But those moments are rare.

Player Counts

Romi Rami is strange in that it seems like it's intended to be a four-player experience but actually plays best at two players.

The issue here is the numbers market, which consists of 6 cards but each player can draft up to 3 cards on their turn. At three players, it's possible for the entire market to be fresh and new by the time it comes back around to you. At four players, it's almost guaranteed. It's too random and chaotic.

There's also more downtime with more players. You can't plan your next turn until the player before you is done (because you don't know what the market will contain), so you can't do much between turns. You also don't need to pay attention to what others are doing, so it's a waiting game until it's back around to you.


Romi Rami isn't fiddly at all. You have a hand of cards and you're picking up cards from the card market. There isn't much manipulating of components during play, even if the layout is a little cluttered. (See the "Setup and Table Footprint" section above.)

Production Quality

The production for Romi Rami has its ups and downs.

The linen finish on the cards is faint and hard to capture on camera.

For starters, the card quality is okay. There's a faint linen finish that looks nice but feels slightly sticky or grimy to the touch. Meanwhile, the card stock is somewhat thin and I worry that they'll get damaged easily during play.

Overview of all the different number and suit designs.
A close-up of the back of the number cards. My favorite bit of art in Romi Rami.

The artwork and graphics are fine. My favorite part is the backs on the cards, which really pop. The suit icons and overall graphic design lend a unique mood to the game, which some might describe as a "classic" kind of look. I don't think the artwork is very exciting or appealing, but at least it doesn't get in the way.

The usability is great. You can tell what everything is at a glance, and the contract cards are cleanly organized and not confusing. Once you learn the rules and iconography, you won't need to reference the rulebook again.

It's also colorblind-friendly. All of the suits have a distinct appearance so it's easy to tell them apart. In fact, I think these cards would be pretty striking if they were black-and-white! (I kind of wish they were.)

The cards fit snugly into the box and there's plenty of space for the tokens, too.
Both sides of the box have flaps that close. Not really necessary but a nice touch.
The game box next to my Samsung Galaxy S21 as reference for a size comparison.

Lastly, the box and insert are pretty good. It's small and portable so you can take it on the go with ease, but not small enough to fit in your pocket unfortunately. They clearly went for a functional design and it works.


Romi Rami doesn't evolve much from play to play. Whether you play it once, ten times, or a hundred times, it's the same experience.

Despite a bit of variable setup with randomized trophies, they're all pretty similar and don't lead you down different decision-making paths. Sure, they change which contracts you're going after, but the actual process of drafting cards and fulfilling contracts is unchanged. It feels samey (which wouldn't be an issue if the core gameplay was more interesting).

Overall, Romi Rami straddles a weird line: it's too thinky yet too lucky, and it feels like it wants to be a strategic game while lacking the necessary strategic depth. There's nothing that compels me to play this over other small-box card games that are either more strategic (e.g., Scout) or more fun (e.g., PUSH).

I hate to say it because I wanted to like this one. Unfortunately, Romi Rami is forgettable and there's a good chance I'll never play it again.

The Bottom Line

Romi Rami

Mediocre Score Guide
  1. Familiar rummy gameplay with a few modern twists
  2. Lighthearted graphic design makes it easy to introduce to non-gamers
  3. Small box and portable design
  4. Best at 2 players
  1. One rule too many for what should be a simple card game
  2. Nothing to do on other player turns, can't plan ahead due to how the card market works
  3. Too much luck, especially at 3 and 4 players

With an MSRP of $15, it's hard to fault Romi Rami for its shortcomings. For the price of a Chipotle burrito bowl, you get a game that's familiar enough to share with non-gamers yet more interesting than traditional rummy games.

If you have family who are into games like canasta, mahjong, or Rummikub and you want to introduce them to more gamery concepts, then Romi Rami is a solid option. Between the card market, the card drafting, and the contracts, it has the potential to be a good evangelizer for the board gaming hobby.

Otherwise, I think there's too much downtime and too much randomness between your turns for it to be enjoyable at counts above two players.

If you're mainly playing at four players, if you already have a lot of small-box card games, or if you don't care for rummy-style gameplay, then you can safely skip this one and you won't be missing much.

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