Published by: Tasty Minstrel Games
# of Players: 3 to 5
Colosseum is about trying to make your amphitheater the most popular one to all of Rome. Players will be collecting different elements to put on great shows and improving their own amphitheater. Being able to be a great negotiator for trades and auctions will be the difference from putting on a epic lion fight or a crowd starring at a bunch of empty cages while a comedian tells some lame jokes. It is so bad, he makes Carrot Top look like the funniest guy in the world. Do you have what it takes to put on the best show? You will have 5 chances to do so. Before you jump into Colosseum, I invite you to read along as I give you my take on Colosseum.
The TMG version of Colosseum is called the Emperor's Edition. Do the components live up to being under the Emperor's name? The art for Colosseum is very colorful and contains some comic or animation style characters. Each player will have their own play mat that explains what happens during each part of a round. The other side shows the requirements for each event scroll so that you can prepare ahead of time. The coins that are included are heavy metal and amazing. I know this is something that some find pointless, but I find that having metal coins in your hand improves the enjoyment of playing. The event asset tokens a lot of other tokens are cardboard. The cardboard is really thick and should hold up very well over time. The dice use Roman Numerals, which fit well with the theme. There are several meeples on the board that represent the Emperor and some senate members. Each has a screen printed image on them. They look nice, but they all look very sad. I would think they would be happy to see a show. Finally the instruction book is 16 pages of detailed instructions that explain each element of the game. There are lots of helpful illustrations to clear up any confusion. Everything is in a logical order and large headings to allow for quick look up on any questions you would have. TMG's version of Colosseum lives up to the title of Emperor's Edition in my opinion, while also not going overboard with high end components.
I have been told that there are some differences between the rules of this version compared to the old. I never played the previous edition, but will try to be detailed so that if there is a rule change, it will be explained here. Colosseum has players competing to put on the best show in 5 rounds of game time. After each round, you will score your show that you put on. Instead of adding the victory points to your previous total, you will score your highest event during the whole game. This means that if you scored 27 points in the first round and 22 points in the second. Your score will reflect that your highest round is 27 points. At the start of the game each player will start with 30 coins, a number of starting event token assets depending on player count and 2 event scrolls. The board consists of 2 areas that will be the focus of the game. There is a stone path that will have the Emperor, 2 counsel members, and 3 Senators that will move clockwise based on rolls the players make during a later part of the round. Each player will also have 2 cardboard arena pieces that will mark where their arena is. The center of the board contains 5 areas with 3 spaces in each area. These will hold event asset tokens that will be auctioned during the game. This will be how you obtain new event assets during the game.
There are 5 phases to a round of Colosseum. The first phase is investing. During investing, players will spend money to upgrade their arena by expanding the size, purchasing season tickets for more visitors and constructing the Emperor's Loge. The other area you can invest in is to purchase a new event program. Each event program has a cost and it's own requirements to complete. After everyone has done an investment action, everyone will move on to the acquiring event asset token phase. During this phase, players will be bidding on sets of 3 event tokens. The first player will chose to either bid money on one of the 5 event asset token areas or pass. If they bid on an area, each player starting clockwise will be able to bid on those tokens. This will keep going around till all but one have decided to pass. The winner will get the 3 tokens. If the winner is the current active (first player to start a bid) then the next player will become the active bidder, the area will get refilled with tokens and a new area will be selected for bid. If the active player did not win the bid, that area will remain empty and they can start a bid on a different area of tokens. Once the active player has passed or won an auction, the next player will become the active player. Each player can only win one auction during each active players turn. So if player B won an auction on player's A active turn, player B will not longer be able to bid till player A is no longer the active player. Once each player has been the active player and either won an auction or passed, players will move on to a trade phase. During this phase the active player can ask for trades for event asset tokens and money. Once they are done, it will move on to the next person till everyone has had an opportunity to perform the trades while being the active player.
Now that everyone has their event asset tokens settled up, players will move on to performing their event. First players will roll a die (2 dice if they have added the Emperor's Loge) and move a figure on the board. If they roll 2 dice, they can move the same figure twice or move two different figures using a die for each one. The goal is to try and get the figures in your arena because they add extra victory points to your event. Also if a figure ends up on a colored space (the starting spaces for the figures) the player will earn a Emperor's Medal. These Medals can be use to get extra money, move a figure forward or backward up to 3 spaces, 3 victory points for your event or you can use 2 of them to perform an additional investment action. After you have moved a figure, you choose which event scroll you are going to produce. Each scroll will show event assets that are required to perform the show to earn the max victory points listed on the scroll. If you are missing some of the tokens, you may still be able to put on the show but earn less points. You will add up the points earned from the event plus points from previous events completed, season tickets, figures at your arena, podiums and star performers. Based on that total if you have scored higher than a previous event, you will move your scoring marker to the new score. Your probably wondering what podiums and star performers are. Podiums are earned if you have the highest overall score at the end of a round. You will then add the podium token to your arena. Star performers are tokens that are given to the player who has the most of that type of event asset. After everyone has moved a figure and performed an event, you will move on the final phase. During the closing ceremonies, the podium will be rewarded to the player with the current highest score. Players will clean up their events by flipping over the event scroll to show it has been completed and will have to discard 1 event asset token from the game. All other event asset tokens are free to be used in the next rounds. The player who is currently in last will take one token from the current highest player. They can not take a special token, but can take any other event asset token. After 5 rounds the game ends and the player with the highest score wins the game.
Colosseum is a 10 year old game and not many games hold up over time. I feel Colosseum held up great over time and if someone told me this was completely brand new game, I would feel it is up to today's standards of play. I really enjoyed Colosseum and liked how different it felt from other victory point games. The point of only scoring points for your highest round adds a good amount of strategy to what you do in those middle rounds. Do you go for completing what you hope will be your end game event scroll, or do you try to complete as many events as possible to earn money and completed events to go towards a possibly smaller event at the end. My group tends to not trade with each other often, (1 trade per year in fantasy football) but there were plenty of trades made each time playing Colosseum. The components were great for a euro game and will hold up over time. We did run into some issues of a player getting their end game tokens super early and being able to combo pretty nicely, but even then the games were close in score. Once everyone knew how to play, the game went fast. This was very easy to learn and teach. I would recommend Colosseum to anyone who enjoys auctions and set-collection mission type games. I am glad this got reprinted into a new edition and will be keeping it in my collection.
+Auction and trading that encourages everyone to participate
+Instructions are clear and easy to learn/teach
+Games move fast and keep everyone occupied
-Sad look on figures
-Some will prefer the old look
-Could feel the same after a 10+ games