4 Chits, 4 Giggles
The Emperor is coming! Quick! Release the lions, call the gladiators, put out the potted plants. This has to be the greatest show he's ever seen!
Colosseum by Days of Wonder is a 3-5 player competitive game. You play as the Master Impresario (Events Manager) at a Roman Colosseum and the idea is to put on the greatest show for the crowd and gain the most glory! Each show must out-shine the last. If you're lucky, a Senator or Consul might swing by to see the show! If you're REALLY lucky the Emperor himself may pay you a visit. Each show has requirements and will attract more spectators to your Colosseum. You have to collect as many of the event asset tokens from the market to get the best out of the show and attract those spectators. The bigger and better the show the more spectators will come to your event. At the end of the 5th turn the player with the highest spectator count is the winner and gets to go to a glitzy award ceremony or something...
There are 5 phases, in the first, each player can upgrade their Colosseum in some way improving your chances of attracting more spectators. Or you might want to buy a new events programme which means you can put on much grander shows... as long as you have the assets!
In the second phase players go to the market where they can bid on lots of 3 event assets that you'll need to put on your shows. Starting with the first player they can bid on one of the 5 lots. This can get pretty heated when different players are after the same assets. Prices can quickly soar. One of the benefits of going last in this game is that you get to help yourself to a lot for market price.
In phase 3 you can trade your event assets with other players. You can bargain as much as you like to get the assets you need to complete your event. Having the most assets of a certain type can also score you bonus glory points as you acquire star performers for your show. It's the equivalent of getting the Spice Girls or One Direction to play at your arena! This game is basically the 2012 Olympic Ceremony.
In phase 4 you put on your event. This is where you get to score the big points. You are trying to attract the most spectators to your Colosseum. There is an interesting part of this phase where you move the nobles around the board. Getting a noble into your Colosseum means more spectators will attend your show. Players roll the nobles dice and move the pieces around the board; ideally into your Colosseum and out of other player's arenas. Going first in this round means you get to move the nobles where you want them. This is a lot of fun and creates some great interaction and rivalry between the players. Each player puts on their show, counts up all their spectators and scores this on the spectator track. If you have put on a previous show you can flip it to give you bonus points, this helps you increase your spectator count. A really interesting mechanic is that your total score is only ever as much as your best spectator count throughout the game. For example if in my previous turn my spectator count was 30 but this turn I only managed to score 20 then my total score is still 30. It means you are always trying to improve your Colosseum and put on bigger, better shows to best your own score and hopefully the other player's highest score.
In phase 5, the closing ceremony, the player with the highest current spectator count earns a podium that will give them bonus spectators in future events. Every player has to discard an event asset token as that performer has died of exhaustion or something? Then the player in last place steals an event asset token from the lead player. SNEAKY!!
At the end of 5 turns, each player checks their spectator count and the Impresario with the highest score wins. Celebrate with several jugs of wine.
I love any game where you can look at what you've built in the game and be proud of it whether you win or lose. Colosseum is one of those games. You enjoy the thrill of putting on the events. There is not a huge amount of interaction with other players but there is definitely enough to really feel the competition. As with most Days of Wonder games there is lots of fun to be had here. The feel of the game is great, it leads to lots of great banter. There are some odd event assets such as the potted plants (decorations). One player in our game had a monopoly on potted plants and became leader of the Roman Horticultural Society. Somehow you can really imagine the show, you hear the cheers of the crowd, the clash of swords and the roar of the lions. Its awesome!
Review by David Murcutt