Carpe Diem is a placement game with a draft mechanism by the game designer Stefan Feld and published by Alea / Ravensburger. The experienced game designer gained fame in the world of gamers through mostly complex games, including Forum Trajanum and Bruges. In the following review, we will reveal whether Carpe Diem really belongs to the board games for connoisseurs or whether it passes as a more demanding family game.
Quite as easy and light as the title of the board game by Stefan Feld suggests, the qualities are not revealed. You have to dig up the field a few times to be able to recognize Carpe Diem as the jewel that it is in the beginning. The jury of the game of the year eV has nominated the placement game from Ravensburger/Alea for the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2019. The jurors are enthusiastic about the author's performance: "Stefan Feld has developed a selection mechanism that requires planning considerations and still allows fast moves. Rarely has a strategic connoisseur game had so much speed.”
As a patrician "seize the day"
While playing Carpe Diem, the player in the role of a wealthy patrician in ancient Rome must build the most impressive city districts possible in order to receive a high number of victory points in the scoring phase. But not only do buildings have to be erected for this, but the resources required for them also have to be collected. This is how the city districts and their landscapes emerge step by step. In the course of the game, these produce the resources and goods required for further construction.
In order to achieve the goal of the game and thus emerge from the game as the winner with the most victory points, the player must place appropriate tiles on his own game board during the four rounds of Carpe Diem. In order to receive tiles, the respective player must move with his patrician meeple on the central game board to the field with the chosen tile. The movement is limited to two adjacent fields. This makes the selection of the platelets much more difficult. You place the selected tile appropriately on your game board and gradually create finished buildings and perfect landscapes.
If a building or a landscape has been finally built, this triggers a reward effect, with the player receiving resources, goods or the bonus card well. The fountain cards are worthwhile in the final scoring. Finished villas do not bring the player any useful effects, but they do bring victory points.
When all the tiles on the board are used up, a round ends and the scoring phase begins. After completing the fourth round, the game ends after the final scoring. A special feature that the Carpe Diem player should pay attention to right from the start is the game board. The frame of the tableau shows certain landscape and building markers, here it is important to ensure that you place suitable game tiles, because if you have completed this task appropriately, you get special points.
Material: Minimalist yes, but Roman?
Carpe Diem's artwork is minimalist, but in keeping with the theme of the age of the patricians in Rome. Earth tones dominate the game and exciting embellishments are not to be expected. The material is made of high quality, mostly made of sturdy cardboard or wood. In particular, the resources made from wood stand out positively.
The set of rules is clear and easy to understand. Experienced players have no obstacles in the way of a quick introduction to the game after studying the rules. But even infrequent players will be able to look forward to a comparatively unproblematic course of the game after a briefing, thanks to the comprehensible basic mechanics.
Images of Carpe Diem
Number of players: 2 to 4 players
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 45 to 120 minutes
Difficulty: medium to high
Long-term motivation: high
Published by Ravensburger / Alea
Author: Stefan Feld
Graphic: Lalanda Hruschka
Year of publication: 2018
Cost: 38 Euro
At first glance, the board game Carpe Diem looks simple, but even during the first round of the game, the inclined player notices that the placement game by Stefan Feld offers more playful depth than initially assumed.
During the move, not only do strategies have to be developed in order to expand the district as successfully as possible, but tactically well-considered moves, which could restrict the other players in the course of the game when building their own district, can be useful on the way to the glorious district. In addition, each individual player has to consider the intermediate and final scoring when building the buildings and landscapes in order to get as many victory points as possible.
A simple free game without a lot of strategic thoughts is therefore possible with Carpe Diem, but not useful. On the positive side, the different tasks of the player boards that the player can fulfill in order to receive additional bonuses are also to be noted. Thus, no game is the same as the next. It is up to each player to evaluate the artwork; I personally like the reduced representations, as I find them suitable for the game setting. In the end, the material is at least functional.
Carpe Diem is a game for few and frequent players, because it can be played in different ways. Few players will rather play for themselves and act less tactically against their fellow players, connoisseurs will give the game more space for depth and develop sophisticated strategies in order to build glorious city districts.
The mixture of the uniqueness of the playable combinations and the, at least on average, high game speed make Carpe Diem an attractive board game that skillfully focuses on planning aspects - with a few exceptions.