Reviewed by: Chris Kovac

(Zoch Verlag, 3-5 players, ages 12 and up, about 90 minutes, $54.99)

aquileaboxAquileia is a five player worker placement with a light ancient Rome theme designed by Cielo D’Oro and produced by Zoch. The object of the game is to have the most victory points after six rounds of play.

To start, each player gets in his/her color five worker markers, a tie breaker piece, a strength piece, a number of house markers and a scoring marker. Each player also receives 1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze coins. A randomly selected player then starts the game and play follows clockwise from the starting player.

A player’s turn consists of either putting one of his workers on an action space on the game board or his tie breaker piece on the tie breaker track. A player cannot play any more worker markers after he places his tie breaker piece. After all players have played all their worker pieces and the tie breaker piece, the action spaces in each of the six action areas are resolved in order (1 through 6). Then a new turn begins starting with the start player who was the player who passed first in the previous round. Now onto more detail on the six action areas:

1. Mercatus – In this area you buy stuff or get money which you can use in later action areas. The sub action areas in this action area are:

  • Dolus – allows you to roll for extra money
  • Pecunia – allows you to do one money exchange action and get four victory points if you do so.
  • Equi & Arma – buy one of four face up horse (equi) or weapons cards (arma) for one copper piece. Armour cards can be used in the Arena action area and the horses in the Stadium action area.
  • Servi – Allows you to buy a face down slave card (one or two slaves) for a set amount of bronze, silver or gold coins
  • Potentia – Allows you to use four blue dice for extra strength rolls in the arena and stadium action areas. (You assign how many of these dice which you are going to use in each area.)

aquilea22. Arena – The arena has three action spaces with a base strength of either one or two. When this area is resolved, all players in this area first roll three red dice and add one to their base strength for each copper rolled. Next, players can play any armour/weapon cards they wish from their hand and gain one strength point for each weapon/armour symbol shown on their cards. Finally, the player with the blue dice can choose how many dice they wish to roll for extra strength and they get an extra strength for each copper rolled. The person with the greatest strength wins with ties broken by who is lowest on the tie breaker track. The strength track is used to keep track of the various players’ strengths. The person who comes in first gets either a free slave card or victory points twice their strength as well as three copper coins. The person in second gets two copper cons and whichever award (slaves/victory points) the first player did not choose. Finally the third place player gets one copper piece.

3. Stadium – This area has a total of six action spaces and, like the arena, they are a base strength of one or two. A player can play either on the silver or gold side of the stadium but not both. This is resolved the same way as the arena with base strength + die roll+ cards + blue dice to determine the winner with ties broken by the tie breaker track. The only catch is that if you are in the silver part of the stadium you have to roll silver on the dice to gain strength and only silver horse cards add to your strength. The same goes for the gold side. The winner picks up the face up stadium laurel card and one face down stadium laurel card then decides to keep one and will give the other to the second place winner. He/she also gets three coins in the color of the side that they played (gold/silver). Laurel cards can be either end of game victory points or one of four colors which are used in the end of game villa scoring The second place winner gets two coins and the “discarded” laurel card of the first player. The third player one coin.

4. Theatrium – This area has only one action space and the player here turns over the theatre laurel card (showing two colors for end of game villa scoring) and auctions it. Auctions are a little unusual in that the start player puts forward a number of coins for the initial bid which then must be matched by a player and added to. For example, a player might start with three bronze coins. So in order to beat this bid, a player must bid three bronze coins and an additional coin. If you cannot match the bid and better it, you must pass and are out of the auction. The winner (if not the player who started the auction) pays his bid to the start auction player. If the start auction player wins, he pays his bid to the bank.

5. Forum – This action area has five action spaces which allow players to build buildings (workshops, banks or villas). The action areas are resolved in numerical order. The first/fourth action space allows you to build one building (you mark ownership with your house marker), the second/fifth action space allows you to build one building and score the victory points or get the coins shown on the top right of the space. The third action space allows you to build two buildings.

6. Portus – This consists of two action areas: Latro (thief) and Portus. If you have a player on the Latro (thief) space, you roll three red dice and if you roll the color of a space occupied on the Portus part of the action space you steal that player’s payment. The Portus actions allow you to score all the victory points from your built workshops and receive any coins from any of the private banks you have built. Using a Portus space costs one bronze, silver or gold coin. If you are on one of the three Portus spaces and have your payment stolen by the Latro you can still take the Portus action if you pay again.

After the sixth turn is completed the game ends and a final scoring takes place. You get final points first for any victory point laurel cards. Next you get points for villas. You can only score villas if you have the appropriate coloured laurel cards of the villas “neighbourhood” (white, yellow, blue or purple colors). However for each card of the same color you get a “multiply” effect. So if you have victory points in villas in a purple neighbourhood, you get it times one for one purple laurel card, times two for two laurel cards of the same color and so on. Ties are determined by the tie breaker track.

Though there is nothing new in this game, this is a well crafted game with lots of hard decisions yet is easy learn. The strategy is balancing the buying of goods (especially slaves) with building in the forum and participating in the arena and stadium for the awards. Do you build workshops/banks for in game scoring or do you get laurel cards and build villas for end of game scoring? You even have to think what kinds of coins you have so you can buy the goods you need and still participate in the theatre auctions. The rule book is well illustrated and both the board and playing pieces are good generic wooden/cardboard pieces. The only minor criticism of the game is that the rules are a little vague in places requiring some house rules and checking on the boardgamegeek for clarification.

Overall, Aquileia is a nice mid level game which is easy enough for casual games yet has enough hard decisions for gamers. A good solid eight out of ten.

Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.

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