Game Buzz: Santorini Colosseum

Today’s post takes a look at a couple of games currently on Kickstarter that are reprints of older games, though the publishers now working on them are not the original.  They’re also related in that one is about Ancient Rome and the other is about Ancient Greece.  We’ll start with the one whose campaign is ending first:

image by BGG user drakecoldwinter
image by BGG user drakecoldwinter

Colosseum is a 2007 3-5 player game by Wolfgang Kramer and Markus Lübke that was originally published by Days of Wonder.  It’s been out of print for years, and now Tasty Minstrel Games has picked up the license.  Players are Roman impresarios that are trying to attract the most spectators to their shows.  The player who is the most successful will be granted the title of Grand Impresario.

This new edition of Colosseum comes with a board, 10 arena pieces, 10 arena expansions, 5 Emperor’s loges, 10 season tickets, 5 scoring columns, an Emperor piece, 2 Consul pieces, 3 Senator pieces, 80 metal coins, 152 event asset tokens, an event asset bag, 30 event scrolls, 18 emperor medals, 4 podiums, 7 star performer tiles, 2 dice, a start player token, a round counter, and 5 player aides.

Each player gets two arena pieces at the start of the game, as well as 30 coins.  The Emperor, Consuls, and Senators are placed on the board in marked spaces.  Three starting asset tokens are placed into each of the market spaces, with 5-8 being given to the players (based on the number of players).  Each player gets two random event scrolls (value 7-9 or 11-12), and the start player is the one whose arena is to the left of the Emperor.

image from Kickstarter project page

There are five rounds in the game, each with five phases: invest, acquire event asset tokens, trade event asset tokens, produce an event, and closing ceremonies.

INVEST: Each player can do one of the following:

  • Buy a new event program, which contains information needed to create an event, such as its cost, the size of the event, assets needed, and spectator potential.
  • Buy an arena expansion, which makes your arena bigger (obviously).  Pay 10 gold and expand your arena in either direction.  An arena starts with two squares, and can go up to four.
  • Purchase a season ticket by paying 10 coins.  This adds 5 spectators to your shows from then on.
  • Construct an Emperor’s Loge by paying 5 coins and adding it to your arena.  This allows you to roll an extra die when producing an event, and your arena can’t have more than one Loge.

ACQUIRE EVENT TOKENS: This is the auction phase of the game.  Each player will have a turn to choose a market with three event asset tokens to bid on (at least 8 coins for the starting bid).  If you win, you get the event asset tokens and are finished for the rest of this phase.  The phase ends when everyone has had a chance to be the active player.

TRADING EVENT TOKENS: You can use this opportunity to trade some useless asset tokens with other players to try to get what you need.

PRODUCING AN EVENT: Here is where you put on your shows.  First, players will try to move the nobles to their arena – this brings extra spectators.  Movement is done by rolling 1-2 dice.  You then choose an event program from those you have and display the event asset tokens you have that are needed (you don’t need all of the necessary tokens, but you do lose points for not having everything).  You then count the spectators for your event.  If it’s higher than you’ve gotten before, move your scoring marker up the scoring track – your final score is the score of your best event.

CLOSING CEREMONIES: The player with the highest score in the round receives a podium.  This brings three extra spectators in the following rounds.  Everyone removes one event asset token they used from the game, and the last place player may then request an asset donation from the winner (who cannot deny the request).

The game ends after the fifth round, and the winner is the player who produced the most attended event over the entire game.

I’ve been hearing about this game for years, but it seemed to me that it wasn’t a huge success at the time of its release.  It came out at a time where Days of Wonder was really supporting Ticket to Ride and Memoir ’44, and not much else.  Cleopatra and the Society of Architects had come out the year before, and it flew underneath the radar as well.  Neither ever got any expansion support beyond the base game, and both petered out.  This one really made some big fans, however, including Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower who has been calling for a reprint for some time.  And with well over $100,000 raised so far, there is clearly a market for it.

For me, I’m not a fan of Wolfgang Kramer in general.  I find that most of his stuff has a little more going on than is really necessary, and they all seem to be quite dry to me.  That said, this does have a pretty interesting theme.  Readers of this blog also know that I’m not a fan of auctions either, but in this case, it intrigues me that there’s a trading phase after the auction so you’re not just stuck with junk.  That seems like something I’d want to check out. So this has moved into the interest category for me, rather than the “Yawn, let’s move on” category I thought it would be in when I saw Kramer and auctions in the same sentence.

The campaign ends on April 15 at 11:00 PM CDT, so you don’t have much time to jump on it.  A game will cost you $60, and the estimated delivery is in January of next year.

image by BGG user RoosterJuice
image by BGG user RoosterJuice

Santorini is a 2-4 player strategy game by Gordon Hamilton (aka Gord!) that was first published in 2004 (though it has apparently been in development since 1986).  Now Roxley Games is Kickstarting a reprint with upgraded components, new art, and further developed rules.  Players take on the roles of characters from Greek mythology trying to get their followers to the top of a temple before the other player does.

The game comes with a 5×5 grid board that sits on an ocean board and a pedestal.  Additionally, there are 22 base pieces, 18 middle pieces, 14 top pieces, 14 domes, 6 builder figures (three different colors), a Golden Fleece piece, and cards for each of the (currently) 32 mythological characters included.

To set up the game, each player puts their two builders on the board anywhere they like.  Each player also gets a character, which gives them a special in-game ability.

image by BGG user RoosterJuice
image by BGG user RoosterJuice

The rules are quite simple.  On your turn, choose one of your two builders and move into an adjacent space.  You can remain on the same level, move up one level, or move down any number of levels.  After moving, you construct one building in a space adjacent to the builder you just moved.  This can start a new building, or add to one.  There are four parts to a building – a base, a middle, a roof, and a dome.  Once you have placed a dome, no other parts can be added to that building.  The game ends when one player gets either of his builders up to the third level of any building – he wins.

Where the variety comes in is in the characters you use.  Here’s what they have announced so far:

  • Athena prevents other players from stepping up a level if you did on your turn.
  • Pan allows you to win by stepping down two levels at once.
  • Dionysus gives you another turn with the other player’s pieces and power if you placed a dome this turn.
  • Demeter allows you to build a second block in a different spot than the first.
  • Atlas allows you to build domes at any level.
  • Poseidon allows you to build up to three blocks next to the builder you did not use, as long as the builder is on the ground level.
  • Aphrodite forces your opponent to end adjacent to one of your builders if it starts adjacent to one of your builders.
  • Ares lets you remove the top block from a building adjacent to the builder that didn’t move.
  • Artemis gives you an extra movement with your selected builder.
  • Hades prevents your opponents from stepping down.
  • Apollo lets you swap with a neighboring opponent up to one step higher.
  • Medusa allows you to remove neighboring opposing builders from play, replacing them with blocks.
  • Gaia gives you four builders to work with.  You must have two builders on level three to win.
  • Clio gives you inspiration tokens to place on the first three blocks you build.  These cannot be built on by opponents until you have built there.
  • Bia allows you to push an opponent onto a new space that has not been domed.
  • Persephone forces your opponents to step up if they can.
  • Morpheus collects nectar tokens, and during his build can discard any number of nectar tokens to build that many times.
  • Bellerophon allows you to go up two steps instead of one (but only once per game).
  • Achilles lets you build before moving instead of after (but only once per game).
  • Aeolus points the Wind Source token in any direction.  No one can now move in that direction until you change it again.
  • Hecate has a secret location.
  • Heracles can build any number of domes during his build phase (but only once per game).
  • Theseus can destroy a neighboring builder he is two levels below (but only once per game).
  • Hera must be adjacent to your opponent’s winning builder, or the game continues.
  • Polyphemus can put domes on any two spaces regardless of height (but only once per game).
  • Charybdis places whirlpools, which act as a teleporter.
  • Hermes can move both builders any number of spaces (without moving up or down) and build with either one.
  • Triton gets another move if he moves a builder into any of the 16 perimeter spaces.
  • Chronos can also win if there are five or more domes on the board.
  • Graeae uses three builders, and does not have to build with the one she moved.
  • Nemesis can swap opponent’s builders that are non-adjacent with her own.
  • Atalanta can move as much as she wants (but only once per game).

So, I think this game looks really cool.  Not only are the components pretty spectacular looking, the gameplay sounds very engaging.  It’s kind of an abstract game, although Roxley is pushing it as a non-abstract game.  The player powers do detract from the symmetric play usually found in abstracts, but otherwise, I think it’s kind of in line with a game like Torres (though I find it far more interesting).  Definitely one to take a look at.

The campaign ends on April 28 at 12:59 AM CDT, so you have a little more time to get in on this one.  It costs $65 CAD (which is about $49 USD), and is expected to deliver in November of this year.

That’ll do it for today.  Thanks for reading!


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