(Review copy: The opinions of this game are my own and are not influenced by anyone associated with the game)
Published by: NSKN Games & Passport Games
# of Players: 2-5
In the year 122 CE, Caesar has begun construction of Hadrian's wall to help protect the Roman Empire. You and up to 4 other players have been appointed as engineers & sent to the eastern part of the wall to build a city worthy of the glorious Roman Empire. Can you impress Caesar with your city and be appointed Praetor to rule over the Province?
The main components for Praetor are the square city tiles. Each tile is sturdy and can handle many gameplays. One issue I did have with the tiles was in the corners of each tile. In each corner was one of 4 colors/tile pattern, that when matched up with other tiles next to it could provide favor points. These colors/patterns are really hard to tell apart except the pink ones. None of us playing were color blind yet we were constantly asking if it was blue, green or grey. Also on the tiles are resources that are represented by (white,orange,black & grey) wooden cubes. On some tiles it is hard to tell the white and grey apart due to shading of the cubes painted on the tiles. The rest of the components work good and are designed to work well with the game. Praetor's rulebook and 4 player summary sheets are huge (the size of the box). While that is fine, it does become a problem when table space becomes sparse. The rulebook does contain everything you would need to know about the game and provides many examples which help pick up the game faster. The game needs a lot of space to play due to the size of the city tiles and how you may build your city in any direction. Praetor's components might not be the flashiest but they get the job done with only a few hiccups.
Praetor has a unique take of combining worker placement and tile laying mechanics. One aspect I enjoyed was how your workers (represented by dice) gain experience performing tasks and are able to produce more based on that experience. Once they get to max level experience (represented by the 6 on the die) they retire and will not work anymore but you must still pay them a pension. Next they will want better working conditions... Actually that is half true as you have to pay for all your workers at the end of each round and if you cant then their morale goes down and could cost you favor points at the end of the game. There is one or 2 tiles depending on player count, that allow you to a worker out of retirement for one turn and use him as an active worker. While this great for us (not so much for his retirement plans), but whoever owns the tile has a nice advantage as they can do this for free. Everyone else must pay 3 coin or 1 weapon to use this ability each round. This was the only tile in the game that I felt was unbalanced because the player who owns it is getting a lot from other players and everyone wants to use it. Coins are very valuable because they are used to help build city tiles but also more importantly they are used each round to pay your workers. They can also be used to pay for other building materials such as wood,stone,marble and weapons. Favor points are this game's victory points and are obtained through many different ways. This includes placing of city tiles & matching up tile corners, giving goods to Caesar for his wall, morale of your workers and other actions on the tiles. Each round you are using workers to build city tiles or use the actions on already placed tiles. If you do not own the tile (the player who built it) then if you want to use that tile's action you must pay that player the cost shown to the left of the circle. Once the city tile stack is empty you all perform one last round. Total up the favor points and the person with the most wins & becomes Praetor.
Praetor combines Carcassone and Agricola to form its own unique blend. Designer Andrei Novac created a game that even with its minor flaws, plays great and very easy to learn. The game fits nicely in with other games that have a playtime of 60 to 90 minutes. I did enjoy playing Praetor but for me it just did not make me want to play another time right away. I would gladly play it again but with so many new games hitting the market, I worry that it might not stand out and get played as much as it deserves. If you enjoy tile placing or worker placement mechanics then I highly recommend giving Praetor a shot as it really does execute a blend of those mechanics very well. I wish the corners of the tiles were easier to tell apart as that became more annoying as time went in the game. In summary Praetor brings a delightful blend of two great mechanics, but minor issues made what could have been an outstanding game to a good but could be easily overlooked game.
+ Execution of tile laying/worker placement mechanics
+ Dice used as workers & getting experience/retiring
+ Rulebook provides many great examples
+ Player boards make everything easy to maintain
+ Many paths to victory
- The colors in corners of the tiles & cubes should have had more variety to help tell them all apart
- Labor Camp tile is a little overpowered for the person owning it
- Wall tiles seem underwhelming
- Player summary sheets are huge & could take away from valuable table space