Carpe Diem, designed by Stephen Feld and published by Alea, serves 2-4 players, is up for Kennerspiel Des Jahres (Connoisseur’s Board Game of the Year). The Spiel Des Jahres Awards, are given out by a jury of board game critics from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and are highly coveted throughout the game world.
Carpe Diem is not the first game where you arrange and manage your own simulated living space; but may be the first set in Ancient Rome, where you take the role of a patrician trying to optimize their district. (It’s less of a “kingdom builder” scenario, feeling more like practical real estate management without getting bogged down in minutiae).
Each player has their own personal board (representing their own district). Randomly distributed bonuses reward specific buildings erected on areas where the bonuses take effect. A centrally-located starting point is decorated with a shovel. The main game board (separate from the player boards) is dedicated to the overall supply of tiles to be laid out, and the scoring section.
On your turn you move your meeple on one of the two paths available from your starting space to another space. You take a tile and immediately build it in your city. Your first tile must go on the shovel space in the center of your board; future tiles must be orthogonally next to another tile already on your board and all edges must match. When a tile is built on a space with a banderole, you remove it and move up one space on the banderole track.
Landscape tiles produce goods: like grapes herbs and chicken. Dwellings always require two tiles. The fancy villas bring you VP at game’s end. Some other, single-tile buildings get you more resources (markets bring you gold, bakeries bring you bread, and fountains have their own decks that you can draw extra cards from).
Play continues until all players have taken 7 tiles; you then proceed with end-of-round scoring. It accommodates players as young as 10 and can be played in under an hour.