Sunday, 9 June 2013

Cleopatra and The Society of Architects

I've been trying to get a copy of this sadly out of print game for a few years now and thanks to eBay managed to bag an un-punched German language copy last week.

Cleopatra and the Society of Architects
Published in 2006, by Days of Wonder, design by Bruno Cathala (Shadows over Camelot) and Ludovic Maublanc (Cash 'n' Guns), Cleopatra and the Society of Architects is a sumptuous 3 to 5 player game with an Egyptian theme.  Each player is an architect trying to impress Queen Cleopatra (and guarantee a prosperous afterlife) by constructing architectural features for her new palace project.  These adornments are represented by gorgeous plastic miniatures in the shape of 6 Sphinx, 2 Obelisks, 9 Column sections, 2 Door frames and Cleopatra's Throne and pedestal.

The Completed Palace
Ingeniously, the game utilises the box lid as a 3D game board onto which you lay the tessellating Mosaics of The Gods, Cleopatra's Throne and its Pedestal.  Columns and Door frames are placed around the sides of the box and interact with each other to score even more cash when built.  This gives the whole game a wonderful 3 dimensional feel which adds to its appeal and to be honest Days of Wonder could have made this game using traditional card components but it just wouldn't have had the visual impact (but would not have deserved the £40 price tag) or the tactile element which is so fun.

The game itself has a simple concept, collect resources from the market and build various items to decorate Cleopatra's new Palace.  Each time you build you earn money and the object of the game is be the richest surviving architect.

A smorgasbord of components
Yes, I did say "Surviving", because along the way you will inevitably acquire corruption amulets for having to use "tainted" resources, not offering enough cash to the high priest or simply trying to do dodgy deals with various "Worshippers of Sobek".  These corruption amulets get counted up in the end game and the most corrupt architect is fed to Cleopatra's crocodile.

There's a ton of different mechanics in the game from area control to trick taking and even a blind auction so there's plenty of opportunity for you to different strategies to try to win.  The multiple mechanics for gaining and removing corruption tokens means that you never really know who is in the lead at any time making for a tense and fun end game.  This is always something high on my priority list when I look at a new game.

As I said before my copy is German, and I foolishly thought that I could get away this as the majority of the cards just have the German names for Wood, Stone, Marble and Craftsmen.  However, the "Worshippers of Sobek" (aka the tainted character cards) had other ideas.  These cards have complex instructions on their use which needs to be readily available to the players.  My solution was to photoshop the German Summary Cards and replace the text with English, no mean feat I can tell you.  If anyone has scans of the English summary cards to donate, I would be most grateful.

Playing the game with 4 players


  1. Days of Wonder has PDFs of the Rules and Helper Sheet in multiple languages on their web site. Will at least give you good translations of the text to use.