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Cielo d'Oro


No. of Players:
3 - 5



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Aquileia once was an important Roman city in Italy and served as a fortress and as an outpost to protect Veneti. It was also a traffic junction and trading centre in the old times. In Aquileia by ZOCH the good old times are reawakened and we plunge into the prospering everyday life of wealthy citizens in the Roman city. So, just like the average Roman citizen, we do a bit of gambling at the stadium and the arena, we buy weapons, soldiers and slaves to exert influence on the results of the gambling and we build new banks and villas to increase our power.

As you can see, there is quite a lot to do for us. In Aquileia we choose our actions for a whole round in advance by sending our playing pieces called henchmen to the different locations on the game board in the placement phase. Of course, the spaces on the board are limited, so that Aquileia seems to be a typical worker-placement game. And indeed, it is. Depending on the number of players, it is extremely important to place the playing pieces to the right locations at the right time. The board shows us all the different action spaces clearly, but the design looks a little bit old-fashioned, like Aquileia was some game of the 80 or 90s of the last century. Some of my fellow players liked it, but I think that the background of the game would deserve a somewhat more attractive design.


Now let us have a look at what you can do in the game: There are six different places on the board where you can send your henchmen in the placement phase. Players who chose to send their playing pieces to the Mercatus can collect money and buy new weapon, horse and slave cards. Besides they can claim four blue dice, an important advantage in the Arena and Stadium, but more of that later. Finally they can change money. You might ask what this is good for. Well, Aquileia uses three different currencies, gold, silver and bronze coins and choosing the field Pecunia (the latin word for money) is the only chance to change from one currency to another. Aquileia does not let us overpay, so if - for example - a workshop building costs two silver coins, two bronze coins and two slaves, we must give exactly the given number of every resource and can't pay one or two more silver coins instead of the bronze ones. Though this is perhaps not very logical, it is an important and interesting element in the game.

Players who send their henchmen to the Arena or the Stadium take part in a competition. At the beginning of the games, the players determine their basic strength by adding the values of the spaces where they placed their henchmen. Then the players roll three red dice and add the results to their strength. The six sided dice have three different symbols, two for gold, silver and bronze each. In the Arena only dice with the bronze side on top contribute to the player's strength. In the Stadium however it depends on which spaces the henchmen stand on, either it is the silver or gold side. The strength can then be improved with slave or weapon cards in the Arena or horse cards in the Stadium. Finally, the player who has claimed the four blue dice at the Mercatus, can use them to further improve his strength. The three winners of the competition can get new money, victory points and some special laurel cards that have one specific colour and are important for the final scoring.


If a player places one of his henchmen at the Theatrum, a special theatre laurel card is auctioned. In contrast to the Stadium laurel cards, these cards have two colours and can be used for both of them. The bid of the winner of the auction goes to the player who has sent his henchman to the Theatrum, but if this player has won his own auction the money goes to the bank.

One of the most important actions takes place in the Forum. Here players with henchmen can build new private banks or villas. The difference between the two building types is that the first one can be used during the game to produce new money or victory points, if the player sends a henchman to the Portus. The latter are important for the final scoring. Then the total value of all villas of a player are multiplied with the number of laurel cards of the same colour as the villas. How much a buildings costs, can be seen on the board. Last but not least, the player can send his henchmen to the Portus to activate his or her private banks.

After six rounds the game ends and the final scoring takes place. This does not sound too long, but about 90 minutes should be arranged to finish the game.

Aquileia does not underwhelm from the first impression. As already said, the board just as the game material seem to be a little bit antiquated. And in the rules you can neither find a hint of something very spectacularly new. Still, me and my group of playtesters liked the game. The worker-placement element works perfectly, so that even in a five player game there are still enough useful possibilities to place your henchmen. Of course it is annoying if you thought about going to the Arena and the fellow player next to you occupies the last free place with his henchman. But on the other hand, a visit of the Stadium may be just as worthwhile…

Aquileia lives of the fact, that you always must adjust your strategy to the current situation on the board. It is rarely predictable what is the best place for your henchman, but building the villas corresponding to compatible laurel cards seems to be a good counsel to win the game. With its quite long game duration, Aquileia is something between a family game and a more complex Euro game. An interesting detail is the declared name of the author of the game: "Cielo d'Oro" (=Skies of Gold) is not only one person, but a group of Italian authors.

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany