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Game Review

Caesar & Cleopatra
"A card game for two players."

Ages 10 and up
Author: Wolfgang Lüdtke
Rio Grande Games
Game copyright 1999 KOSMOS Verlag
Caesar & Cleopatra starting setup

2 Players30-40 minutes


The political fate of Egypt is in the hands of the Roman Senate. Ceasar and Cleopatra are vying for the power over Egypt behind the scenes. With the clever placement of influential attendants, each of the Patricians in the Senate become cogs in the political machines of Caesar or Cleopatra. She or He who controls the most Patricians, wins.


At the start of the game, the patrician cards are set up in the middle of the play area. There are 5 different groups of Patricians. Both Caesar and Cleopatra, place influence cards face down under each group. Both players know that the starting 5 cards consist of the influence values 1 through 5. Both players' opening 5 card hand also begins with duplicate cards.

Cleopatra begins the game.

Each player's turn is played like this:

  1. A single action card may be played.

  2. Either 1 Influence card (face down) or 2 influence cards (face up) are placed under the Patrician group(s).

  3. Draw cards from either your Action deck or Influence deck to fill your hand with a total of 5 cards.

  4. Uncover the top "Call for Vote" card and proceed as written.

When uncovered, the "Call for Vote" will yield two possible results -- The vote is cancelled due to an Orgy, or a vote is held. If a vote is held, the card specifies one of the Patrician groups. Both players reveal all of their influence cards for that group, sum their influence points and the highest total wins control of one Patrician. The patrician card is then removed from the center by the more influential player.

When a vote is over -- the winning player must discard his/her highest influence card from the Patrician group -- and the losing player must discard his/her lowest influence card.

This cycle of voting continues until there are no more Patricians left to influence or the players are out of cards to play altogether.

There are a few special actions and influence cards that are used to change the outcome of the votes, but the basic game is described above. Most turns that we played are identical to these basic descriptions.

 A closeup of common influence cards

Winning Conditions:

  • When all Patricians have been won, Players count points based upon them: 1 point per Patrician won, 1 additional point for a majority in a group, 1 additional point for ALL of a group and so on. The highest number of points wins.

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Up! The Baroness and I love this game. With intelligent players, at the end of their turn will usually have controlling influence over almost all Patrician groups. Luck, based upon the next "call for vote," generally tips the balance of the game -- If one player regularly uncovers the "Orgy today -- Vote Cancelled" their built up influence is worthless.

Strategy is important in this game -- Players must know when to play a single face down influence card versus playing two obvious face up plays. On occasion, action cards rearrange the player's influence setup. Skilled players must understand which group their opponent wants more in order to thwart their power play.

The game box claims that this game only takes about 30-40 minutes -- We have yet to play it in under an hour -- perhaps we are too careful...but the difference in points at the end is rarely more than 2.

This game makes you think, and learn how your opponent thinks. The close scores keep you coming back for more. Keeping this game to 2 players is a distinct blessing for gamers who can't get a large group to play games. Get this game -- It's worth the money.

Where to buy:

Any local game or hobby store.

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