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Carolus Magnus Session Details: El Grande lite! That's how I think of this little gem of a game. It plays great for 2, 3 or 4 players and fills in nicely as a game similar in feel to El Grande but for fewer players. Still, this game has enough innovative ideas that it appears fresh and I have been playing it often as a 2-player game over the past couple of weeks. Tonight, we held two different games - a 2-player and a 3-player at different ends of the table. Mark and I battled in the 2-player game, while Jenn, Ed and Carol pined away at the 3-player version.
The idea of the game is rather simple - to build 10 of your castles on a fluid board which starts with 15 regions laid out in a circle. The control of a region is based on how many colored cubes (paladins) you control when the emperor (Charlemange) arrives there. If you control more than your opponent(s), you can build a castle - but if your opponet controls more cubes, they can build a castle - even if you were the player to move Charlemange there! If two adjacent land masses have a castle of the same color, they are joined to form a larger territory and are easier to defend (but also more desirable to overtake). Each turn the players "bid" a tile from 1 to 5 points to determine what order they will play and how far they may more the emperor piece clockwise around the ever-changing board. On their turn, the players can place three colored cubes to the table - either directly to the regions or to their own court. It is the court which determines who controls which colors, but the regions are all-important because they allow castles to be built when the emperor arrives. The game play is very quick and it gives you sense that you are engaging in a battle of wits for control of the regions. I like board games that really feel like a contest for control - and I enjoy the swinging back and forth that takes place throughout the game as regions are captured, overtaken and recaptured! This one earns high marks especially due to the fact that it will comfortably handle 2-4 players.
Both groups enjoyed their respective Carolus Magnus games. I was glad the 3-player table reported that it played very well with the larger number of players - I look forward to the 4-player partnership version soon!
Final Scores: Mark won our game, Eddie won the 3-player game.
Ratings(1-10): Jenn=8, Ed=9, Mark=8, Dave=9, Carol=9
Comments: Carolus Magnus will see lots of playing time in the near future!