Die Baumeister Des COLOSSEUM
Klaus-Jürgen Wrede for Schmidt Spiele 2-4 Players Aged 10+
For a 30-45 minute game Die Baumeister des Colosseum has a lot of pieces and a good number of options for the players. It also has some assembly required by ensuring that one of the two boards is fitted neatly into the box and slotting wall pieces into that base board during play. The second board is placed in the centre of the table with the wooden Chariot model positioned on the starter space. The other components are of good quality card and the illustrations are good but possibly a bit too sombre for the entertainment attitude of the game.
The players are dealt one of the four Starting Land Tiles each, these are all different and show 4 of the 6 resources (aka Land Tiles). These tiles represent: Rocks, Forest, River, Wheat, Tents and Wheels. There are four decks of cards, one each for Forests, Rocks, Wheat and Water. The Land tiles have I, II and III on their backs and are shuffled separately to form three specific stacks and the cards are placed in four individual stacks. There is a track around which the Chariot is moved and adjacent to four of these spaces are points on which columns of 4 Land Tiles are drawn and placed leading down away from the board. The game mechanic is so simple it borders on genius. On their turns the players have to move the Chariot at least one space clockwise round the arena. Wherever it stops the players have the option of adding a Land Tile to their Starter Tile, either above or below it if it is a resource they do not currently have, or alongside the same Land on display.
The two central spaces on the arena track give you a Tent which allows you to hold 2 more cards, you need as many of these as you can get. The spaces adjacent to the central spaces (4 in total) give you the choice of taking a Land tile (and activating another) or buying (with resource cards) one of the Colosseum columns (these have VP points values 4 or 7). If you buy a column you take the VPs (in the form of counters marked 1,2, 4 and 7) and then slot the column into the first empty space on the other board (the one in the box); eventually this builds the Colosseum and ends the game, quite a neat game end mechanic. Most of the Colosseum columns show flags in the colour and number required to purchase them. These are generally in two, three or four colours but a few have AAs BBs and CCs on them representing any same colours; for example: AAAA BB means four cards of one colour and 2 cards of another colour.
The cleverest part of the mechanic is that when the player lands the Chariot next to the column of Land Tiles they can take the first one nearest the board and add it to their personal Land Tile board. This allows the next tile to slide up and all players who have a tile or tiles of that type on their personal boards take cards of the same colour equal to the number of tiles they have; these are the cards you spend to buy the Colosseum columns. If a player cannot or doesn't want to take the action of the space they can instead take one VP. VPs can be used for additional movement, (the English translated rules state "you may also pay 1 VP to take a step" - so our interpretation is 1 space for each 1 VP spent, though there is an argument for 1 VP for one extra space only).
One space allows you to action any resource without actually gaining a Land Tile, everyone who owns Land Tiles of the type you call out gains cards as normal. How far you move the Chariot is up to you and your movement allowance, shown by the number of Wheels you have on your personal board. Everyone begins with 3 wheels and can gain Land tiles with extra wheels to increase possible movement for each turn.
At the end of the game, when the Colosseum is completed, all players tally up their Victory points. These are VPs per their counter value, 4 VPs for having the solo majority in each of the Land Tile types, (2 pts for ties) and 1VP for every 3 cards still held. The last three Colosseum Columns also score the player who places them 1VP, 2VP and finally 4VP for the last piece.
COLOSSEUM is a really good fun game and can easily be played in an hour with three or four players. I know the box reckons 30-45 minutes but from our experiences it's closer to 45-60 minutes per game, and closer to the hour if you have to read and explain the rules prior to playing, especially for the first time. We reckon that 8 year olds who regularly play boardgames with their parents and friends will almost certainly have no difficulty playing Colosseum.