Letís Meet the patricians in
Aquileia the Game takes back into the times of the Roman Empire. In those times Acquileia has been the second most important town within the Roman Empire. All important locations which were present in a Roman city are present in Aquileia as well. Those locations are Mercatus, Forum, Arena, Theatrum, Portus and Stadium. These are the locations where patricians can enhance their wealth. The board holds six areas with those names and therefore is rather tightly packed. So it is hard to keep track of something on the board, you must orientate yourself first and get used to the board.
Players take up the roles of patricians and for them the aim of the game is to enhance their personal wealth. But before you can start to do business some preparations need to be made. Each player chooses a color of his liking and receives all components in this color, five henchmen, nine houses, one scorekeeper disc, one tiebreaker disc and one strength shield. Furthermore you are given some starting money to start up your business. This starting money is made up from one gold, one silver and two bronze coins. †
For the game several kinds of cards are necessary. These cards must be sorted by their back sides and shuffled. After shuffling you place them on their respective areas on the board. Then there are blue dice and red dice, which are positioned next to each other on the board. With this we have finished all preparations and we can begin to play the game.
The course of the game has been split into rounds, and each of those rounds is made up from two phases. Each round starts with the Placement Phase. In this phase players - in clockwise direction and in turn - place one of their henchman on a free action spot or the place the tiebreaker disc on the tiebreaker track. This placement phase continues until everyone has placed everything. This mechanism is very similar to that in Pillars of the Earth or Stone Age. This, of course, does not mean that this is bad! On the contrary, it is this mechanism that makes the game worthwhile playing. It makes the game interesting and the game works very well in this way!
The different action spaces on the board are distributed among the already mentioned sic areas, in which players can place their henchmen. The actions thus chosen are implemented in the Action Phase following the Placement Phase. For this implementation there is a fixed order which must always be adhered to. Should action spaces be empty they are simple ignored.
The first location is Mercatus. In this location you have the choice between five different actions. Using Dolus enables you to acquire additional money with the help of the red dice. In the action space Pecunia you can launder money, this means you change the denominations of your coins without changing the total amount. On the Dolus area as well as on the Pecunia area there is only room for one henchman, which means that in each round only one player can use those actions.
In the area Equi et arma a player can play weapon or horse cards that are on display. Depending on the spot where you place your henchman you pay a different price for each respective card. A problem arises from the fact that it is left open how the cards are replenished after some were bought. Basically two ways seem possible: Either you place a new card on the empty spot or the cards which are located behind the empty spot are moved forward. Well, this is not regulated or mentioned in the rule, which makes for anger among the players.
In the market you can - as was the custom in the Roman Empire - also buy slaves. A player can acquire up to three slave cards, depending on the position on which he did place his henchman and how much money he is prepared to spend.
The final possibility for an action in Mercatus is the Strength area. A player how took position in this area receives the blue dice to improve his own strength.
Strength is very important in the second location, the Arena. Players who did position one or more henchmen into this location have to enter into a Gladiatorial Combat. In order to win this combat you calculate the fighting strength of each of the players involved. Included in this strength are the values shown in the locations of the henchmen. Then all participants one after the other roll the red dice; when one or several of them show a bronze symbol you add one point to your strength value for each symbol. .
This result can then be further enhanced by players using slave or weapon cards. The number of symbols pictured on those cards is added to the combat strength. Should one of the players have gathered the blue dice in the first location he can now roll a certain number of those dice for additional combat strength. Each die showing a bronze symbols add one more strength point to your combat strength. Blue dice that you use in the Arena will be out of play for the Chariot Race in the Stadium, therefore you will do well to consider carefully if and how many dice you want to us.
When all participants have calculated their combat strength the winner of the combat is the player with the highest combat strength. In case of a tie the tiebreaker track comes into play. In the Placement Phase you also could place your tiebreaker disc on on the tiebreaker track; now you check which one of the players involved in the tie did place his disc earlier. This player wins the tie and the Gladiatorial Combat. The winner of the combat receives three bronze coins from the bank and double the amount of his combat strength for victory points or he can draw a slave card from the deck. The bonus not chosen by the winner goes to the player in second place in the combat in addition to his two bronze coins that he receives. The player in third place in the combat receives one bronze coin.
Strength is not only of importance in the Arena, but also in the Stadium location. In the Stadium players can deposit several henchmen but they must decide on one side; you can either place your henchmen into the gold area or into the silver area. In the Stadium, as already mentioned, a horse chariot race is held. In order to win the race you must calculate your horse power for the race. For this you first add the values of the positions where you did place your own henchmen. Then you again can roll the red dice and add either the resulting gold or silver symbols - depending on the side you did choose - to your horse power. You can of course also use the horse cards that you hold to enhance your horse power. Any blue dice that might be left over from the Arena location can be used by their current order to add the resulting symbols to his horse power.
The chariot race is won be the participant owning the highest horse power. The winner of the race receives three gold coins or three silver coins, depending on the side where you placed your henchmen. In addition, he receives either the open or the face-down stadium card. To facilitate his decision he can look at both cards and choose one of them. The card that he did not choose is given to the player in second place in the race, together with two gold coins or two silver coins. The player in third place receives one gold or one silver coin from the bank. Should nobody have placed a henchman in the Stadium, the face-up stadium card and the top one from the deck are taken out of play.
The fourth location to be dealt with is Theatrum. A player who has positioned a henchman there turns up the top theatre card and puts it to auction. The auction is started with any coin. Players can join the auction; in order to participate, the next bidder must raise the bid with an additional coin of any denomination. This is continued until the highest bid is determined and the bidder receives the card. He pays the price to the auctioneer. Should the highest bidder be the auctioneer, he pays the amount to the bank.
Both theatre cards and stadium cards are of importance for the end-of-game scoring. Therefore you should start early enough to collect them, as they earn you additional victory points in the end-of-game scoring that might help you win the game.
In the Forum location you can buy workshops, private banks or villas. For each of those buildings you pay the value which is indicated on the corresponding area to the bank, Then you place one of your houses on this area. The workshops and the private banks earn you money and victory points when they are activated in Portus. The villas, on the other hand, earn you victory points directly after you built them and need not be activated in order to do so.
The final location to deal with is Portus; and there the Latro or harbor thief is the first one to get active. If you did place your henchman on the Latro area you roll two red dice and steal the corresponding coin that is located beneath a henchman of another player; but this works only when a henchman is there, if not, Latro gets nothing.
Following the Latro action is the Harbor action, you can pay a coin corresponding to the location of your henchman in order to activate all workshops and private banks and receive the respective number of victory points or coins. If Latro did not steal from you you can use the coin under your henchman. If you cannot pay the corresponding coin you cannot implement the action.
The game is played over six rounds; players need not count rounds, they must only remember that the game ends with the round in which all Stadium cards have been used. Then a final scoring is done. On top of the victory points gained so far players receive points for the neutral Laurel cards as well as victory points for their villas. Each of your own villas is multiplied with the number of of stadium and theatre cards of the same color. The theatre cards are bi-colored, a player can only choose one color for the final scoring. If you have the highest total of victory points you win the game.
The biggest disadvantage of the game, unfortunately, is provided by the rules. They are not very clear and sometimes hard to understand. One of the problems, for instance, is the point of the position in which the strength shield is placed in the first Placement phase. This is explained in the rules for the Action phase and you must go through the examples with a fine comb to find an answer to the question.
Yet another problem is that certain restrictions or rules of usage are not explained when or where they appear first or must be applied but in other passages of the rules. Usually these queries can be resolved by a long and exhaustive search through the rules, which proves the point of much unstructured rules. For instance, the basic rules for money and cards, which are very important for the course of the game, are explained at the very start within the instructions for game preparation and at that point are usually disregarded or overlooked.
Very often a good rule decides on the success of a game. A standard player will not be very taken by such a rule as that of Aquileia. Those rules do not help in making a player take out the game again. And thatís a pity, because Aquileia is a very good game, that is fun to play; in a game of four and five spaces for action get limited and therefore the game becomes quite tactical and you can try different strategies, for instance buildings plus harbor.
Designer: Cielo d`Oro
Art: Geoffrey Cramm, Victor Boden
Price: ca. 35 Euros
Publisher: Zoch 2011
Genre: Worker placement game
Users: With friends
Rules: de it fr nl
In-game text: no
Unusually simple components
Allows for different winning strategies
Good use of the worker placement mechanism
Pillars of the Earth, Stone Age
My rating: 4
A nice worker placement game on the borderline of family game and a game with friends, the more players the more tactical it gets.
Chance (pink): 2
Tactic (turquoise): 2
Strategy (blue): 2
Creativity (dark blue): 0
Knowledge (yellow): 0
Memory (orange): 0
Communication (red): 2
Interaction (brown): 3
Dexterity (green): 0
Action (dark green): 0 †