Roman Catacombs is a flip-and-write game with a Biblical theme.
You are the librarian for a small church meeting in the catacombs outside of Rome. You have been tasked with building a representative collection of manuscripts of the various books of the Bible. Unfortunately, you have limited storage space. Therefore, your goal is to complete a library of three books from each of seven categories. You need to keep the books in the canon order and you can’t move a book once you’ve placed it.
The game ends when one player completes their library. Points are earned for completing categories (with bonus points for being the first to do so) and points are lost for leaving spots empty. The player with the most points wins.
Deck and Scorecard Description
The Roman Catacombs deck of cards has 90 cards. The face of each card has the name of a book of the Bible and a scripture quote from that book.
The backs of the cards and the box feature an ancient painting of Noah on the ark that was found in one of the catacombs near Rome where the early church met.
The scorecard has 21 circles organized in 7 groups of 3. The 7 groups are labelled by categories of books in the Bible:
- Historical Books
- Wisdom Books
- Gospels and Acts
- Paul’s Epistles
- General Epistles & Revelation
The back of the scorecards lists all of the books of the Bible organized into these categories and in canon order. After the name of each book is a number in parentheses. This indicates how many cards for that book are in the Roman Catacombs deck.
Note that the card faces are color coded to the category that book belongs to.
How to Play
Roman Catacombs is a flip-and-write game. All the players are using the same cards each turn.
At the beginning of the game, the deck is shuffled and divided into 3 piles, each containing approximately 30 cards. The piles are placed face down where all players can see them.
Each turn the top card from each pile is revealed by flipping it face up onto a discard pile next to the face down pile. Each player decides which of the three revealed books they are going to add to their library (if any). They write the name of that book (or an abbreviation) into one of the circles for the category that book is a part of. Each turn each player can only add one book (at most) to their library.
It is important to carefully select which circle to write the book into because books cannot be moved to another circle, and the canon order of the books must be maintained.
For example, if during the first turn a player decides to add the book of Luke to their library, the middle circle in the “Gospels and Acts” category would be a good place to write “Luke”. Later in the game the player can add either the Matthew book or the Mark book by writing it in the circle to the left of Luke and he can add either the John book or Acts book by writing it in the circle to the right of Luke.
Sometimes, especially late in the game, a player will not have a usable spot for any of the three revealed cards during a turn. In that turn the player passes without writing down any books.
When a player fills all three spots in a category, they announce that they have done so and they read the verse on the card for the book that completed the category. If they are the first player to complete that category, they circle the larger of the two numbers under the category name. If they are the second or later, they circle the smaller of the two numbers. If two players both complete the same category on the same turn, if no one had previously completed that category they both circle the larger number.
If all the cards in a pile are revealed before the game ends then those cards are shuffled, placed back face down and the game continues using the card on the top of the pile.
The game ends when a player successfully fills in all 21 circles on their scorecard. At that point players add up the circled points they received for completing categories and subtract one point for each circle left unfilled.
The player with the most points wins.