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Subject: Colosseum reviewed! rss

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Randall Silver
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After having played this game a couple of times, a review is due. So here it is, ladies and gentlemen! After 99 days of bread and games, the final spectacles are about to begin!

The looks

As we are used from Days of Wonder by now, the game is a delight to look at. The board looks like a Roman city map and is nicely done. The pawns of the senators, consul and emperor are really great.

All counters have great artwork, and even the coins don't have a boring number on both sides, nono. They have a different back for every denomination. Another great detail.

The only downside I can think of about the look, are the dice. You may have read this before, but the white numerals on the light brown dice are sometimes hard to see. They look good, especially with the Roman numbers, but aren't handy for gameplay. This is the only slight downside. Otherwise, the game's look is fantastic as usual.

What's it about?

At the end of 100 days of games and spectacles, it is up to the most succesful impressario's to end with a bang. Something really great to end the games with. That is your job.

You'll need to get programs and event assets like gladiators, chariots, torches and cages. You will have to expand your arena, or even build a lodge for the nobles.

But in the end, all you really need to do is show Rome that you're the greatest of the 3 - 5 impressario's. How? By getting the most spectators, of course.

The rules

I'm not fond of getting into the rules too much when reviewing, so I'll keep this short. Visit the rules section or read the manual for the entire rules

There are 5 game turns, and each turn has 5 phases. After that, the game is over. Important to know is that each phase is optional. If you like, you can pass every single phase, although that wouldn't be very smart, I think.

Phase 1: Investing. You can expand your arena to host bigger events, buy season tickets to get more spectators, purchase a new event program or construct an emperor's lodge to try and get more nobles in your arena.
Only 1 investment can be made each turn (unless you have certain goodies), so choose wisely.

Phase 2: Acquiring Event Asset tokens. There are 5 markets, each with three event asset tokens. This can just about anything: priests, musicians, horses, decorations,... Everything you need for your program.
This is done by bidding, with a minimum of 8 coins per market. The one who bids most, wins.
If the starting "bidder" also wins, every market is filled up again. The same if someone passes. People who won an auction can't participate again this turn.

Phase 3: Trading event asset tokens. You want to get rid of an asset token, or desperately want one from another player? This is your chance. Business can be done with only one player at a time, and only for asset tokens or coins.

Phase 4: Producing an event. This is the whole point of the game. Show everyone which program you want to produce, and see if you can make it. On the event programs is listed what you need (the tokens), how big your arena must be, and how many spectators (and points) you get when finished. It is possible to produce an event even when you don't have everything you need, but you get less points that way. Every show after the last one must also be more spectacular (i.e: have a higher number).

Phase 5: Closing ceremonies. Everyone gets rid of one of the asset tokens he/she used. They are too broken, too old, or too dead
The player with the most points at this time gets a bonus: a permanent podium worth 3 extra spectators.
The worst player gets to "steal" an event asset token from the best.

The extra's

The dice are used to move the nobles around the board. Getting a noble in your arena (or several!) adds more spectators. Or you can get them to rest on special places, to earn medals. Build an emperor's lodge and you get to roll 2 dice instead of 1.

Those medals can be used to move nobles up to three spaces (even in a direction which normally isn't possible), get more gold, or get more spectators.
You can also use two in the investment phase, to get 2 investments instead of one!

The event asset tokens are taken from a bag after the first round (the starting assets are always the same), and there are some specials in there as well. For example: an instant medal, or a "joker", which can be used as any kind of normal asset token.

Every show you did before gets you more spectators, and having a number of the same asset tokens gets you a "star performer", once again raising the spectators.

Getting spectators is what the game is all about, as they get you the points, and the gold to buy new things. Another fun thing about the scoring: you don't add to your score every time. Your score will always be the most succesful program you ever did!

The feel of the game

Once again, I think Days of Wonder has a winner. The look and feel of the game is very nice, and is quickly gaining popularity in our own gaming group.

The auctions can be pretty intense, although I get the feeling there is something "wrong" there. Every player gets to start a bid, but someone who won an auction can't participate again.
So, in a 3 player game: player 1 won his own auction. Player 2 loses the auction to player 3. Then the auction round is over, right? Player 3 can't start one, because he already won, and player 2 goes home with nothing. It doesn't feel right to me, so I recommend the official variant for a better feel around the auctions (see variant here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/162039).

So, why are the auctions intense, when you might read they're straightforward, and everyone just specialises?
Well, the markets are randomised, so it's very possible one market has something 2 players want. Or you see someone is winning, and get the market HE wants, so you can trade later for a better price. Trust me: play it like a meanie and you have more fun

Randall's opinion

This is a game most people will enjoy. Long term planners will enjoy getting a big program later in the game. Meanies will be well... meanies in the markets. Players who just want fun can actually win if they're lucky with the nobles and the dice, or maybe by winning a cheap auction nobody else is interested in.

This may not be for the hardcore strategic player, but I think everyone else will have a great time playing Colosseum!
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Tristan Brightman
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You've misinterpreted the bidding rules, I think.

The player initiating auctions chooses one set of tokens to bid on. If he loses, he gets to choose another set to bid on, and so forth until he wins. If he wins, the markets are refilled, and the next player who has not yet won an auction gets to initiate auctions, and so on.

If you look in the examples of bidding in the rulebook, you can deduce that this is how auctions are meant to work - this is the one bit in the rulebook we found a little unclear.

We played the way you describe at first, and it hurts the game.
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Pierre Gaubil
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Quote:
So, in a 3 player game: player 1 won his own auction. Player 2 loses the auction to player 3. Then the auction round is over, right?


No. player 2 can now initiate another round, alone, and the market is not refilled.

Pierre@DoW
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Randall Silver
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Ahhh, it was indeed a misinterpretation of the rules. I always thought there was something wrong with the way we played it.

Thanks for the replies, guys!
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fabrice vandenbogaerde
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Another question. Let's say I won the bid I initiated. Can I bid on markets initiated by other players? In other words does turn mean the whole bidding Phase or just the moment from the start of a bidding initiation till the moment that the player who initiated the bid wins an auction?
 
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Jeff Khoury
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fabricefab wrote:
Another question. Let's say I won the bid I initiated. Can I bid on markets initiated by other players? In other words does turn mean the whole bidding Phase or just the moment from the start of a bidding initiation till the moment that the player who initiated the bid wins an auction?


Yeah, this whole thing is very fuzzy.

Let's say this is a 3 player game.

-I initiate a bid and lose to player 2.
-I initiate a new bid, can player 2 bid again?
-I win my second initiated bid, do we skip player 2, and now player 3 initiates? Can player 2 and I bid on player 3's initiated bid, or does he just point to a pile and say "Eight"?
-Let's say I lose BOTH of my first initiated bids to 2 and 3, can I now just choose a pile for eight, or do they still get to bid?

It seems silly, because barring players from bidding ENTIRELY after they win an auction sets the last player up for a free pass, but if they are always allowed to bid on others' initiative (barred only from making their own initiatave) it allows players to gain MULTIPLE sets in one turn (at the disadvantage of the initiating players, who must continue to recycle until he wins or passes) which seems to run contrary to the spirit of the rules.

As it is, it's WAY too confusing, these rules were implemented to make it more FAMILY friendly? What's wrong with each player gets to initiate one auction, if he wins it, the market is refreshed, if he loses, nothing is refilled, in each case the next player starts the bidding. This would counteract the first player's advantage in selection - if he picks what he wants and wins, more options open up for everybody, everybody who can still afford it that is. If he fails to exercise his privelage of priority, then first selection was not an advantage, and every one has one less set to worry about. If you win 2 or 3 auctions during bidding, good for you, the others should have managed their money better.

 
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