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Caesar & Cleopatra

Publisher: Kosmos
Players: 2
Reviewed by Debbie Pickett
Reproduced here with kind permission from Funagain Games.

A game fit for royalty

When I first played this game, I lost at least six times in a row. I didn't care, the game play was just so fascinating that I wanted to come back to it again and again.

This classic two-player game is beautiful to behold. The attention to detail in the cards is very high. The cards even tile together to make a background panorama.

The game is as well-balanced as Kosmos' other two-player games (including Kahuna and The Settlers of Catan Card Game). Do you place two influence cards out in the open, or hide just one card secretly? A good strategist will do both during the game to confound the opponent about which cards are high-valued, which are low, and which is the decision-reversing Philosopher.

Although the rules suggest that you sort the pile of action cards before the game, I prefer to just shuffle them and add a little more randomness. There is only a little German on the cards so those who are linguistically challenged will soon learn the actions from the beautiful illustrations on the cards.

The game is always close and rarely ends in a draw (and usually it does only when the players deserve to tie). Because there are only a limited quantity of each value of influence card, a player who gets a runaway start will usually be caught when all they have left are low-value influence cards at the end. Playing aggressively does not always work to your favour, so it is usually necessary to restrain your play and keep your opponent guessing by not revealing everything to them.

The one complaint I have about the game is that my partner and I are always arguing over who gets to play the Cleopatra side, as we both think those cards are prettier. I'm still thinking of buying another set so that we can play Cleopatra and Cleopatra . . .

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