Click here to go to Kulkmann's Gamebox!



Author: Wolfgang Lüdtke

Publisher: Kosmos 1997

Awards: none



As announced on the Essen-Convention 1997, Kosmos Spiele Galerie started on the ambitious task to bring more 2-player games into the playing scene. Until now, Caesar & Cleopatra (CC) is after the Settlers-Cardgame the second game in this new series, and after playtesting it I grow more and more confident that Kosmos seems to be able to fulfil the high task of producing good 2-player games.

In CC the players take up the roles of Caesar and Cleopatra (who would have though...), and the players directly become involved in a struggle about the future of ancient Egypt. Claesar plans for Egypt to become part of the Roman Empire, whereas Cleopatra tries to stay independent of Rome. Since the politics of Rome and thus the future role of Egypt are decided by the roman nobility, both - Caesar and Cleopatra - try to convince the roman nobles of the righteousness of their cause.

At the beginning of the game, 21 roman nobles are distributed on the table. These nobles belong to 5 groups (Senator, Zensor, Praetor, Quaestor and Aedil), from which 3 groups contain 5 nobles each and 2 groups contain 3 nobles each. It becomes the players aim to get as many as possible of these nobles to their side, since the nobles are calculated into victory points at the end of the game. Each noble counts as 1 victory point, but players may score extra points for:

  • Having the majority of nobles from a group;
  • having all nobles of a group; and
  • scoring with a bonus card.(at the beginning of the game each player is secretly assigned one of the major groups. Having the majority in this groups gives extra victory-points.)


I order to "lure" the nobles to their sides, each player has 2 different kinds of cards at his service. Most important are the "influence-cards", showing more or less important ambassadors from Caesar or Cleopatra. These cards have values from 1 to 5, and they are used to get the nobles to side with the players. During a game turn, a player decides whether he wants to place 1 secret influence card or 2 open influence cards in front of one or more of the nobles-groups. After doing so, the player turns over an influence-check card, annoucing one or none of the groups to perform a check for higher influence. During this check, each player turns over all his cards placed with this group, and the player with the higher value of influence cards placed with this group gets one of the nobles from the group. After this, the player who was allowed to take the noble must dicard his ambassador with the highest influence on this group, whereas the other player must dicard his ambassador with the lowest influence.


Already this basic playing procedure offers a high strategic potential, since none of the players is allowed to play more than 5 cards on one group. Additionally, a group is considered as "filled up" if a total of 8 influence cards has been played on it. In this case no influence-check card is drawn this round, but the filled-up group is revealed and the player with the highest influence takes a noble. So a player may decide to fill a group up, which allows him to control which group will be checked this round. But players must beware, since each player has two special influence cards: The Prophets. If a group contains a prophet, the player with the lowest influence on this group wins the next card...

The game gains even more flavour through the action-cards. Each player has a deck of 15 action cards, which he may draw at random to fill up his card-hand. These cards can be used for many different reasons. So there are spys which reveal influence cards of the other player, there are assassins which may eliminate influence cards, or even the gods may intervene and remove all influence cards from one group. Careful play of these cards at decisive moments may give a player an advantage, but he must always be on the watch of actions of the other player.

I think the most striking element of the game is the equality of the players. Each player has exactly the same deck of influence and action-cards, so that no player has a "secret weapon" by which he can unbalance the game. Although the influence and the action cards are drawn at random (players may decide the order of their action-cards in the standart game), no player gains an advantage which rests for the rest of the game. Step by step, each player loses his powerful cards, and a player who has many powerful cards at the beginning will still suffer a severe setback when the other player gets to play his stronger cards. For proper gameplay, the players need to perform clever cardplay, bluff the other player and play their action cards with the right timing.

To my mind, Kosmos has set a new standart of 2-player games by deciding CC to become only the second in a row of new games. They have found the perfect ingredients for a short but interesting and entertaining game: The game has clever rules, nice graphics and (to my mind of greater importance) a convincing background. As in the Settlers-Cardgame, the players arenīt involved in some abstract struggle for "who-is-the-most-clever-player", but they become part in some history themselves. Here they take up the roles of Caesar & Cleopatra, and this leaves to players with a feeling to participate in some greater struggle. For an essentially small game, this is a quite great achievement. Additionally, the gamebox has the same shape as the Settlers-Cardgame, so that a continuing outer appearance is kept.

Once more, Kosmos is setting a new standard...

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer

Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany