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In the Carpe Diem board game, you become a builder and city planner in ancient Rome. Is the tactical tile-laying game any good, and if so, for whom?
A game with the same name as our life motto? Of course we had to try it out! Especially if it is set in ancient Rome.
The Carpe Diem board game turned out to be a kind of more complex Carcassone with more strategy and tactics. More on this below!
Small note: Ravensburger Verlag kindly sent us a free copy of the game for review. However, this review is not paid for or agreed upon in terms of content, but reflects our independent opinion.
Let’s now move on to a brief overview of rules and how to play Carpe Diem. There is no claim to reproduce and explain the rules completely 😉
For Carpe Diem you definitely need space, because there is a large game board for everyone, as well as a separate city district field for each player, which is determined by a square frame randomly put together from pieces.
In addition, building tiles have to be sorted by colour, score and victory point cards have to be shuffled and raw materials in the form of small wooden blocks have to be placed ready.
On the large game board, the player pieces are first placed on any one of 7 large squares that lie in a circle. Then 4 light green building tiles are placed on each of the squares and turned over. These form the main building material for the players’ districts.
After other things such as scoring cards, player markers on the parchment bar and additional craftsmen tiles have been distributed on the game board according to the rules, the game can begin.
In principle, the aim of the Carpe Diem board game is to build your own city district (in ancient Rome) in such a way that you score the most points.
Building is done with square tiles, most of which represent only a section, sometimes 2, of buildings or cultivation areas. Some tiles also represent a self-contained structure, e.g. a well or a bakery.
The tiles may only be placed next to each other and buildings that have been started should be completed as far as possible. All those who are familiar with the classic game Carcassone will immediately recognise these basic rules, but they are also intuitively easy to understand.
The player whose turn it is first moves his piece in the circle with 7 squares to one of the two opposite squares and may take a tile of his choice from there and place it on his city quarter.
The first tile must always be placed on the starting square with a shovel and all other tiles must have one side adjacent to a tile that is already there.
If there are no more tiles on one or both of the opposite squares, you can move on from the empty square until you reach a square with tiles again. In this way, you always have the choice between 2 squares.
If all the tiles are used up after 7 moves per player, the round is over and an intermediate scoring takes place. Then new tiles are dealt out. A total of 4 rounds are played until a final score is reached.
As simple as the basic procedure is, as complex is the awarding of points. Because here there are various possibilities and basically you have to consider everything from the beginning and ideally even include in your own strategy what the other players want to do. So it is quite possible to snatch tiles away from another player, simply so that the latter does not score too many points.
In each district there are parchment scrolls on some squares. If you build on these, you may move your marker forward on the parchment bar. This gives you victory points at the end of the game, but it is also important for the round scoring. The player whose marker is in front or on top may first place a marker on one of the round intermediate squares, which are each formed by 2 scoring cards.
At the beginning, these are laid out on the game board according to certain rules. A round field is always formed between 2 cards by the design. If a player places a marker on it, he triggers the cards. They show conditions that must be fulfilled and a reward that is given, e.g. victory points.
The nasty thing: if one of the conditions is not fulfilled, you get minus points!
In addition, there are also randomly distributed tasks on all frame pieces for building your own neighbourhood, which, if fulfilled correctly, give you points at the end.
The tasks often depend on the construction of buildings, but also agricultural yields. As if all this were not complex enough, there are also two wild cards with different functions: coins and loaves of bread. And completed craftsmen’s houses unlock additional building tiles on the lower bar of the game board…
Carpe Diem is an extremely sophisticated game, but for that very reason it is not for everyone. It is clearly a connoisseur’s game for frequent players who appreciate tactical complexity.
Even if luck plays a role due to the random distribution of the tiles, it is ultimately tactics and strategy that determine victory or defeat here. Those who are not good at this or simply not skilled can be frustrated while playing. On the other hand, if you are good at this, you will automatically have a lot of fun playing the Carpe Diem board game.
We would therefore recommend Carpe Diem primarily to adult game lovers or families with children from 12 (instead of 10) who are already little strategists.
We liked the fact that there are several different ways to collect points with the score cards, the parchment bar, the tasks on the game board frames etc.. And actually none of them can be called “most important”, so that different strategies can lead to victory. This makes the Carpe Diem board game complex and promises long-lasting fun with many strategic possibilities.
The rules of the game are also very clear and easy to understand, and there is also a small overview board for each player that serves as a reminder of the rules. There is also a rule summary in the right margin of the instructions as a memory aid for frequent players.
One minus point from our point of view is the design. If the cover already looks a bit dull, the design of the game material is rather spartan than Roman.
Of course, a good game doesn’t necessarily have to be a burner aesthetically to be great, but here the very basic design leads to very practical problems when playing:
For example, the light green tiles on the back can hardly be distinguished from the dark green ones on the back, even for young people without impaired vision, unless there are super-bright lighting conditions. And the representation of the buildings on the tiles is not particularly intuitive either. In the first game, we had to constantly look up what it was supposed to represent.
If you like tile-laying games like Carcassone, where you build the game board yourself and are also fit in strategy and tactics, you will find a game to your liking in Carpe Diem.
Sophisticated strategy games are your thing? Do you already know Race to the New Found Land? Every month on Abenteuer Freundschaft you can discover exciting board game tips and inspiration for gifts as well as lots of ideas for activities with friends, partner and family.
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