Municipium is another tight worker placement strategy game from the Eurogame guru, Reiner Knizia. It has simple rules, deep gameplay, tough choices and beautiful design.
The gist of the game is that each player is one of the four ruling families of a Roman colony, vying for power. Each player has 7 pawns that represent their influence in the city, and these pawns are placed in the 7 locations on the board. Each location offers a different power to the family that has the majority in it. The game is won by converting citizen meeples into decurion tokens. There are 4 colors of citizens, and a complete set (one of each color) is automatically converted to a decurion token. 5 decurion tokens wins the game.
The key to the game is strategically using the powers of the various locations. Powers are actvated by the play of cards, some cards will let each player activate one power, or each power they control. One particularly powerful card activates all powers, no matter who controls them. The powers range from the Temple, which controls the tie breaker (and can turn one of your pawns into a distinguished citizen complete with laurel wreath!), to the Praetorium, which lets you move all of your pawns anywhere you want.
The mechanics of the game mean that there is not a lot of downtime. You often take actions during another players turn. It also means that there is the potential for some analysis paralysis as you try to come to terms with the various options available to you. Although, that hasn't been a great problem in the games we have played.
I love the simplicity of the rules (essentialy, your turn is move a pawn or two and draw a card. That's it.) and the depth of game play. We still haven't found a sure fire winning strategy, although I am starting to think that the Forum's ability to keep putting citizens out is pretty powerful. As with most Knizia games, the game rewards multiple plays. We have played with 3 and 4 players, and enjoyed it with both. I wonder how it would play two player, though…
A special mention should be made of the design. The board and cards are beautiful, yet still convey a lot of information. I especially like the mosaic look to everything. My one quibble would be the pawn colors selected, as the pink and orange end up looking pretty similar in cafe lighting.
I definitely recommend this game.
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