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Colosseum - Board Game Box Shot


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Colosseum title

As commanded by the Emperor, the greatest celebration in Roman history has continued unabated for 99 days. All of Rome has borne witness to the grandest spectacles the empire has ever seen - all to commemorate the opening of the Amphitheatrum Flavium - the Colosseum. Tens of thousands have flocked to the city to experience the sight of a hundred gladiators in battle... rare and exotic animals prowling the arena floor... and to hear and see the greatest musicians and entertainers from throughout the empire. But these events have only been a prelude to today - the closing finale! As a master impresario you have prepared for this moment your entire life. Titus himself has taken his seat in the Emperor’s Loge. At the drop of his hand, the final spectacle will begin. Your moment in the sun has come...

Colosseum close up

In Colosseum you act as a Roman impresario - producing great spectacles in your arena in the hope of attracting the most spectators to your events. You'll earn wealth and glory for each event you run, using it to build ever more ambitious events. Attract the most spectators to one of your events and you'll be granted the title of Grand Impresario, with tales of your extraordinary spectacles acclaimed throughout the empire.

Colosseum game in play
images © Days of Wonder

User Reviews (7)

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Critic - Level 5
Professional Advisor
Expert Reviewer
Marquis / Marchioness
117 of 124 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“Days of Wonder "Puts on a Show" with Colosseum”

Colosseum merges a number of mechanics to give a solid game to keep a Euro-gamer interested throughout. Auctions, set collection, trading, roll-to-move (with a twist), variable starting positions, and upgrades with different powers come together into an enjoyable, colorful game.

Your goal is to put on the grandest show in your colosseum. Your victory points at the end of the game are based on your best scoring show, not the sum of all of your shows. A savvy showman can jump from last to first easily in this game, and the front runner can be tracked down and passed at the end. A solid all-around game will help, but only if you can use it to beat out those building towards one giant show.

The game is played over five rounds. Each round has the following phases:

Invest (buy upgrades)
Acquire Asset Tokens (auction)
Produce an Event (earn those points!)
Closing Ceremony (clean up phase)

Each of the 3-5 players starts with two (small) shows, which are different from the shows of the other players, and some performers/tokens to use towards shows. Each show needs a different combination of items to perform, with a number of points for putting on the full show, and fewer when missing components. The money you earn each round will depend on the points for the show performed.

Investing allows you to either increase the size of your colosseum (needed for larger shows, and giving more room for dignitaries), buying new events (larger shows with more components for more points), buy season tickets giving more points per show, or an Emperor’s Loge, allowing you two die rolls instead of one for moving dignitaries. Once everyone has invested (one item per turn), you move to the auction.

In the auction, you’re bidding on a set of three tokens. Each player may only buy one set (make it a good one!) Then players may trade tokens with each other.

The main action is putting on your show. First, you roll to move dignitaries. The dignitaries walk around the board, based on the die roll. Each player has a colosseum set up along the way. If a dignitary stops in your colosseum, you’ll get bonus points. Then, you choose which of your shows to put on, and assign your tokens (performers), and gain points (including bonuses for previously completing shows). At the end of the round, you’ll discard one of the tokens used for your show, and the best show will gain a bonus. At the end of the game, the highest single round score wins.

I find Colosseum to be a solid game, playing around 90 minutes. I place it in the tier of games above gateway games. While I have played it with new gamers, it seemed a little too complex in general. Learning the combination of mechanics will come easily to a Euro gaming veteran, but throwing all of them at someone new to boardgaming is a bit much. Colosseum certainly is not a major strategic brain-burner like Brass, Age of Steam, or even Power Grid and Agricola, instead being more of a moderate game. From my experience, it sits at a complexity that few gamers settle at, and acts more as a stepping stone from gateway to meatier games. If you’re looking for a visually appealing game to introduce to someone after they’re already hooked on gateway games, give Colosseum a try!

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I play black
128 of 136 gamers found this helpful
“Sound the horn and let the show begin.”

In the world of Colosseum you are put in the world of ancient Rome tasked with the daunting job of running a show potentially for various senators, or perhaps even the emperor himself.
Right out of the gate the game has an impressive layout. Each player starts with their own Coliseum some basic actors props and set pieces, and two shows that they can perform to amuse the masses. The pieces do an excellent job of keeping with the theme of the game. You then have 5 rounds to attempt to use your earnings from your previous shows to attempt to purchase even bigger and better shows, more actors, and set pieces, and try your best to impress all who attend.
The game is played in several phases, allowing each player to feel involved and keeping the pace going throughout the game. First players are able to invest in their coliseum. They have the ability to gain an additional die to move the spectators around the board, add additional seats to obtain additional victory points, or even add additional sections to their coliseum so that you have more room for bigger shows. You also have the option to buy more shows at this stage. There is a list of 30 different shows, requiring different size coliseums and more actors/animals/props ect.
After each player makes no more than 1 upgrade, (unless special tiles are played), each player can obtain asset tokens. This is done through an auction system. This means that if you have the money and you absolutely need those two priests to put on your next show, you can outbid your opponents and take it from them.
Once each player has had a chance to acquire their group of 3 different tiles, they are given time to trade assets. There are no hard and fast rules here, so you can trade just about anything and this can become hectic. Still this can become a very fun part of the game.
Now it is time to put on your show. Each player declares the show they are putting on, scoring more points for the more complete the show they can put on. For example if you are missing one tile for a show you will score one fewer point, and if you are missing 3 it could be 3 less. You also gain points for any nobles who attend your show, for any bonuses on your coliseum and for any previous shows you have put on.
Afterwards a reward is given to the player who earned the most victory points in their current show, and the player who scored the lease can take one tile from the winner to use on their next show. All players then need to remove one tile from the show they performed.

From top to bottom this is a game that I totally enjoy. With only 5 phases in 5 rounds the game has a set limit which does not make it a huge time investment (although it can run up to 90 mins), Some gamers dislike the mechanic where the player who is last gets to take from the player who is first, but there is still a great deal of thought and balance in this game.
I have taught it to several friends, many who are experienced gamers, and some who are new and after a round or two they were in it without any difficulty, although with all of the phases I would not recommend this game for little ones. In the end this is a great game, and you will not regret getting or playing it!

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Gamer - Level 6
Asmodee fan
Count / Countess
131 of 141 gamers found this helpful

Days of Wonder has always been good at one thing: production value. And Colosseum just goes to prove that this is the case. The board itself, together with extraordinary senate pieces really makes this game a joy to look at. But does it have any good gameplay?

You are putting on a show for the public of the Roman Empire, and your colosseum has to produce the greatest show of them all. The game consists of different phases, which will ble played out each round. You have to bid for new actors for your show, maybe trade some actors with other players, and then finally run your show. Preferably a new one, or else you won’t gain points.

At first it can be a daunting task to figure out what you want to do. The game comes with a total of 30 shows that can be bought. But they all reqire different actors in order to run successfully. Fortunately, each players are given a handout with an overview of all the shows and what they require in terms of actors, but there’s a lot to take into account. It can be quite a handful at first, but after a few rounds, you should have chosen your path to success.

The trading with other players is a time for negotiations. There aren’t many rules here, you just have to haggle with other players as best as you can. It’s a vital part of the game, so you had better have some enjoyment of this, or else it might be a bust.

Some dice rolls defines who of the senates will move and how far. And you want them to oversee your shows, that brings a much larger audience. The good thing about the game is that it’s impossible to really know who will win. At the final stage, there may be a couple of surprises where other players have seen something you have not.

It’s a nice game, but might be a bit overcomplicated at first. But once you’ve given it a go, the next game would be much better.

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Novice Reviewer
131 of 145 gamers found this helpful
“An Unheralded Game”

I think it’s too bad that this game hasn’t received more attention—it’s got a lot going for it…

• Superb production value—artwork and component are amazing.
• Great phases. It feels like you have five games in one because of the varying mechanics employed for each phase. In one phase it is a bidding game, the next it is a trading game, the next it is a set-collection game, etc. This may sound like it is a Frankenstein design, but the sum is truly greater because of the parts. Despite being a fairly long game to play, the mini-games in the form of phases makes it feel like it takes less time. There is also a decent amount of interactivity between players, so it doesn’t feel like you’re just waiting for the next person’s turn to end.

• A bit long. It plays like a gateway game, but takes as long as gamer games.
• Box is glossy rather than matte. This may seem really nit-picking (ok, it is), but the box can be hard to open because of the glossy cover.
• Need to have one player drive the other players through the phases. Maybe this doesn’t seem that big of a deal, but it can be hard to keep the game moving without someone saying, “OK, everyone. The next phase is…”.

All in all, I really recommend this game. It seems there have been varying times when Days of Wonder has put this game on sale or bundled it with others. If you can get it at discount, consider yourself lucky. If not, I think it is worth the full price.

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Book Lover
I play blue
127 of 151 gamers found this helpful
“One of my favourites!!”

Ancient Rome. Time to put on a show.

The game is played through five rounds with five phases each. You start off with a small arena, with two tiles in your color. In phase one you invest. Here you can buy upgrades for your arena, as some shows require bigger arenas to run, new shows for the bigger arenas (you start off with two small shows at the start of the game), or season ticket, which gives you five more on audience, or an emperors lodge.

When all players have performed one of these tasks (or passed), it`s time for second phase. Now you go to marked, to buy some more assets for your show, like warriors, horses, ships and so on. The active player bids on one of the five markeds, holding three asset tokens. Minimum bid is 8. If the active player loses the bid, he moves on to the next marked, untill he eventually wins a bid. Only then is the empty marked restocked.

Once you have bought at the marked, your phase two is over. In phase three, there is a possibility to trade between the players. That way you can get hold of assets that you ar missing for your show. All trades have to go through the active players, and future arrangements are not allowed.

In phase four it is time to put on the show. There are six dignitaries roaming the streets of Rome. You start off rolling a die to see if any of them visits your show. If you have emperors lodge, you roll two. You cannot split the die between dignitaries, but you can use them both on one. They can only go one way. You announce the show you are putting on, and count off if you have it all. Missing one or two of the assets, you will find at the bottom of the program what it will do with the score. Then you check for extra points, like dignitaries within your arena, maybe you have bonus tiles for having majority in one asset, season tickets and medals, that you get from landing a dignitary on a special medal tile on their track. The medal can also be used to track a dignitary back 1, 2 or 3 steps, so he might reach your arena. You move on the point track equal to the final score, and recieve the same amount of money.

Should you run a show later that scores lower, you stay at the previous score, but you recieve the money for the current show. However when you score higher on the next show, you do not move equal to the number, simply to the actual number; example – last round you ended on 14, current round you scored 26, so you move to 26, not 26 spaces from 14…

Then comes phase five. Closing ceremony. All players discard an asset used in the show. A horse breaks his leg, a warrior gets impaled…well, you get the drift. 😉 Then the first player marker goes to the next player. The leader recieves a token for three extra audience, and the one with lowest score gets to take an asset from the leader. Now it starts over from phase one.

Since you only get to do one thing in each phase, you seem to have to little time to get everything done. This is where the medals can play a vital role. If you sit pretty on at least two medals at the beginning of phase one, you can pay them in to do two things in that phase; so you can upgrade your arena from three to four, and buy one of the biggest shows, that requires an arena the size of four. That`s a good thing!

This game I tend to play alone during late evenings alone, as I find it very fun to play. It is easy to learn, and I find the components very well made. I constantly try to teach it to new people, and I have had people asking for it when I don`t have it with me. I just love this game to death!!

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74 of 133 gamers found this helpful

i find myself playing this with my avid gamer friends, my psudo-gamer family, and my ‘what does this card mean?’ mother in law and having an equally fun time with each. i’ve yet to introduce colosseum to someone who didn’t go on to ask for a rematch.

i realize that components dont make a game fun, but im a sucker for a good set. the quality of the board, tokens, and pieces is high, which is nice, but also very clever and self aware. the emperor piece with a little crown of laurels? too clever by half.

some replayability issues could use some ironing out. most notably, i notice that every player buys the emperors loge with their first turn every game, and thats just stupid. why even offer the upgrade if every player is going to take it? i recommend just assuming player playes by the loge rules right out of the gate and actually begin pursuing their own strategy rather than waste the entire first investment phase doing something monotonous and predictable. simple fix, DoW.

still though, colosseum is an excellent offering and well worth picking up, some small issues aside.

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62 of 132 gamers found this helpful
“Played once but I need a second”

I played this about 2 weeks ago and I need a second go around cause like most board games I play it’s about half way through where I get that “OH That’s what/why/how/when/where…..” and by that time I am out of the running of winning (oddly I came in second in this one) and I want/need to play again so that I can satisfy my brain with the age old question “How would I have done if……”. To me so far there is good replay value in this game (of course it’s out of print) and it’s not hard to learn but you might want to ask more questions than I did and use your resources at the right time which goes back to the start of this review where I said the light bulb went off and I finally clued in.


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