Colosseum: My First Session Report
With four players around the board, and three of those new to the game, we were going to be in for an interesting evening. All of us are avid gamers however, so picking up on the rules wasn’t going to take very long. The game setup and rules were easy to follow, and as Days of Wonder so keenly does often, everything pertinent was on a double-sided reference card so there was no room for error. I was one of the new players, taking the 3rd position; referencing clockwise from the emperor’s start position.
First, I feel the need to talk a little about the game objectives. In order to win, you must produce the largest single hit of all time in your colosseum. The more building upgrades, the more guests you have, and the more shows you’ve aired in the past, all effect how much better you’ll do at your spectacular event. Everything will hinge on this one sale though, so you’ll have to decide on when the best time is to have your spectacular production and how to carve your resources up to get that production to be as big as possible. You only have 5 rounds to make it all happen, but you are given a break; you are given two small productions numbers to start off with.
The game began and I looked down to see what fate has given me to work with. My two production events both required similar resources (Musicians, Comedians, and Decorations, with a little scenery). I then looked at my resources (Musicians, Comedians, and 1 Decoration). I felt that I had the luck of the draw on my side. I glanced around the table to see what my competition would be like. Silent grumbling was on all three sides as my three opponents tried to figure out how they were going to tackle their mismatched events and resources. Apparently I was the only one who had this advantage…if it really was an advantage at all.
Onwards into Round 1 we went, the Buying Phase. Each player is allowed to buy one and only one item from the list, unless you have an item to overrule this rule. (I noted that it was odd for Days of Wonder to write it like that: ‘one and only one’. This was important and I had to look out for what this was going to mean in the future.) Players 1 and 2 bought some season tickets right away, giving their future events +5. I decided on a different tactic and instead bought the emperor’s ruge, allowing me to role 2 dice during the ‘move guests and produce’ phase whereas everyone else would be only rolling 1 die. Player 4 also bought season tickets and we then moved into the Auctions Phase.
I felt that the Auction Phase was the least balanced part of the game, and you readers will see that in the lack of written content I have for that phase. One of two things seemed to always happen; either the resources being auctioned sold for the lowest possible bid of 8 gold because the other players saw another auction on the table that they liked better, or if the resources being auctioned had a significant enough value to one person, then the other players would jack up the price up as high as they could, being only about 15-17 gold since the ‘buying’ phase was just before.
After came the Trading Phase where each player then had the chance to undo any damage done in the Auction Phase and obtain the resources they wanted, if the other trading party was willing, being another good reason for not wasting money on the Auction Phase unless you were in competition for something). By the end of this phase, all players ended up with something they needed this round to help in their first production.
Then the big round came; ‘Moving Guests and Production of an Event’. Everyone thought it best to produce an event this round since it was the only way, other than trading, to obtain gold for future purchases. Also, by not producing an event, there would most likely be a very high ‘catch-up’ hurdle to overcome. Player 1 ended up in first place with Player 2 just behind, myself just behind player 2 and player 4 just behind me. Not bad for a first round.
It was then time for the Wrap-up Phase. Every player had to lose a resource from their production and bonuses were handed out. Player 1 received a +3 podium tile for having the most spectacular event that round, and player 4 was allowed to take any one resource from the first place player for being in last place. I’ll say it again; the last place player was given a bonus for doing the worst! I saw advantage right there; ANY resource that the first place player has. Wow, that was better than trying to bid for resources and way better than trying to trade for them. It was just ‘walk in and take’; the only catch would be to stay just a smidge behind the third place player, lest I fall too far back in the running. I decided I would use that game mechanic to help collect the ‘hard to get’ resources for the end game, especially since it should be easier to get a last place bonus when everyone else was struggling for the first place bonus.
That ended Round 1; only four rounds to go.
Round 2 seemed to be the ‘prepare for Round 3’ round. Everyone expanded the colosseum in order to host a larger event in the next round. When it came time to auction, no one wanted to spend more than 8 gold since we were all saving up for a medium production. Not much trading happened either since we picked what we wanted from the auction. Everyone produced the same event as the first round again in order to put some more cash in there pocket, however while the other players moved a guest into there colosseum for more gold and points, I move 2 guests (thanks to the emperor’s ruge) to 4 squares before my colosseum. I gambled that no one would want to move those guests into my colosseum for me and was hoping that they would sit there until I was ready to make my spectacular event. Also, but more importantly, but not placing a guest into my colosseum, the other players all pulled ahead of me in points, placing me in last, enabling me to take my pick of player 2’s resources.
Round 3 was a round for upping the stakes. Player 1 and 2 bought medium events that would grant them an addition 10 – 15 more gold when produced. I counted my gold and decided that rather than buying an event for 20 - 25 gold like the others, only to make 10 – 15 more per round, I would instead make use of the other event that was given to me at the beginning of the game. The Auction Phase came and a ‘buildx2’ tile came up that I just had to have. Everyone else saw my desire and jacked up the price, but as I mentioned above, no one could outbid my 17 gold because they all bought items in the Build Phase. The Produce Phase produce came and all the other players produced their best event, placing them a good 20 gold higher than my production event of 23 gold. I was falling behind; maybe this last place thing was not a good item after all. However, I took the most of the situation and obtained a key resource (a torch) from player 1 that I knew I would need for Round 5.
Round 4 now came and the tension over the board grew. Everyone was preparing for Round 5 and the ONE sale was coming. Since everyone was trying to make their sale on Round 5, I considered making my sale on Round 4. The guests would be running all over the place and I didn’t want my 2 guests that were four squares away from my colosseum to disappear. In the end I turned the idea down though, instead using the round to build up my bonus points along with everyone else; other guests would come. Player 1 built his second colosseum expansion. Player 2 held onto his gold, saving it for a big purchase in the next round. Player 4 also ended up holding onto his gold. I cashed in my ‘buildx2’ chip to expand my colosseum and buy the third best spectacular event available. I liked that particular event because I only needed to collect 2 priests and 1 decoration. I had all the other resources already from my other productions. During the auction round, I collected one of the priests and during the trading round I obtained the decoration for 5 gold. The Produce Phase came and I chose to produce my other small event from the beginning of the game. This gave me +5 bonus for hosting multiple events and 21 gold to work with for the last round. I was hoping player 1 would be in the lead so that I could steal my last priest, however player 2 jumped into the lead and had nothing of value for me. I ended up taking a gladiator since they appeared to be the hot resource in the game. Everyone else wanted them so it would be good for trading for that priest. The round ended with me still at 23, the others were 35 – 40.
Round 5, time to throw in all your marbles. The Building Phase came and player 1 purchased production number 23 (out of 30), not bad considering he was first place in two of the rounds and had an additional +6 bonus for finishing first in two of the rounds. At that moment player 2 found out a fatal flaw happened in his game and player 4 found out the same about 10 seconds after. They both planned to buy a big event but didn’t have a large enough colosseum to host it. Now I knew why Days of Wonder put that rule in the reference card ‘one and only one’ item can be built. Without the ability to squeeze in an extra build (like with the ‘buildx2’ tile), they were finished. The best hope they had now was to build season tickets and move guests to try maximizing their current productions. Since both player 1 and myself already owned our large production number, we also purchased season tickets to increase our production value.
It seemed like it was between player 1 and myself. We each had large events and we each had a substantial amount of bonuses saved up. He had 2 podiums (+6), a guest (+3) and a star on horses (+4) along with his season tickets (+10). I had two star bonuses, the musician and the comedian (+8), two guests that thankfully no one moved throughout the game (+10) and season tickets (+10). The game was in my favor since I had a higher production number than he. The Auction Phase came and no priest was available for me to bid on. I was becoming worried. The Trading Phase came and the only player who had a priest, player 1, was sure not going to trade it to me. I was really worried now. Then came the Produce Phase. Time was up and I was going to have to take a 5-point penalty for missing one resource to my show. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared though. Player 1 was missing two resources to his production and placed him farther behind than he would have liked.
The final Turnout
Player 1 put everything he had to his production, but his two missing resources gave him a 10-point penalty, resulting in a final score of only 64.
Player 2, still saddened by his earlier mistake, counted out his points on his medium production, and to everybody’s surprise, ended up with a score of 65.
My turn to count and I felt confident now with my primary competition being lower in score than another. I ended off with a score of 78.
Player 4 was hoping for a similar miracle to what player 2 had but just didn’t have his ducks in a row. He ended off with a score of 48.
Overall, it was an interesting game. I most certainly can’t argue my win to 100% strategy. There was a lot of chance involved with what came up at the auction and what the other players were willing to trade for as well as where the guests ended up at the time of a production. In addition, if player 2 and 4 had a ‘buildx2’ somewhere along the line, no doubt there scores would have been significantly higher. Some luck was also given to me at the beginning of the game where my original two events required the same resources. That in turn allowed me to focus on less of the resource market.
I thought it was a good game, challenging, yet simplistic enough that no one will get bogged down in the rules. I think a more hidden auction would have stimulated the market more only showing one auction instead of five but then in turn players would need more money in which to bid with, so I guess Days of Wonder had thought about that in terms of game balance after all. I can, however, understand why people may not like this game. When you fall, you fall hard because everything hinges on one vital sale. If your ducks aren’t in a row, you don’t stand a chance. Also I felt this game dragged on a little too long for the end result, though this could simply be a first timers experience. If everybody knows the rules, the gaming experience should go quicker.
Overall game time; including instruction: 2hrs 15min
Moral of the story: You don’t have to get caught up in the rat race in order to come out ahead.
- Last edited Fri Mar 6, 2009 5:55 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Mar 3, 2009 7:33 pm
Nice session report.
I was player 2. I guess my fatal flaw was forgetting that the biggest shows required another piece to the colosseum. As a result, I wasted most of the second half of the game trading goods when I couldn't do anything with them anyway, and they just helped my opponents!
It's a fun game - my only gripe is with rolling the dice - in the whole game I only once got an emperor's medal, because each time my roll would be too high or one too low. Sure, you can get a Loge to offset this, but at least your die roll should be worth something.
Better next time