- Designer: Joao Quintela Martins
- Publisher: mebo games
- Players: 2-4
- Age: 8+
- Time: 60 minutes
- Played with copy provided by publisher
Considered by many to be one of the most timeless cities in Portugal, The UNESCO World Heritage city of Evora is rich with history, culture, architecture, and more. The city dates back more than 5,000 years. It was originally known as Ebora by the Lusitanians and was their regional capital. It was conquered by the Romans in 57 BC and began the growth that led to the popular city walls that help lend Evora its unique ambiance.
The city was conquered by the Moors in 715 along with other cities in the region such as Sintra. which led to further development before finally being recaptured in 1115. Between 1385–1580 it came under Manueline rule. During the reign of Manuel I and John III, Evora became the capital of culture. This time of growth led to some of the most iconic architecture in Evora as well as many of the magnificent monasteries that dot southern Portugal.
The Roman temple of Évora was probably built in honor of Emperor Augustus. It was built in the 1st century AD in the main square (forum) of Évora – then called Liberalitas Julia. Although there has never been proof that the Evora Roman temple was ever dedicated to the ancient goddess of the hunt. The Roman ruins in Evora consist of 14 surviving columns topped by Corinthian capitals on a granite base.
Though it was built in the 2nd or 3rd century, the Roman Temple is in remarkably good shape. Apparently, the Temple was walled up in the middle ages and used as a slaughterhouse which is why when it was excavated it had retained much of its original character. The Roman ruins stand out against the more classic Portuguese architecture in Evora, making it one of the best things to see in Evora.
In this game players will play the role of builders of the Roman Empire and the action takes place in Évora in the 1st century AD. The objective: Build the 14 columns that still exist today on the site.
Players move their workers around the rondel to define the action they intend to perform: Build (stones and capitals), improve the columns already built (points multiplier) and request the influence of important characters (cards).
These characters are:
The Emperor who will value the columns at the end of the game.
The governor who will inspect the columns and during the game will compensate the player.
The centurion who maintain order in the construction site and will offer greater mobility to the player.
The architect who helps in the construction process making it much more effective and profitable.
The player who obtains the most prestige points, based on the stones placed in each column and also on bonuses, wins the game.
To set up the game, place the board on the table. The upper section of the board has the 14 column sites, empty to start. The four decks of cards are shuffled and placed face up on the respective areas. The immediate benefit tokens are also placed here. The bottom of the board has the action rondel. The grey centurion is placed in the upper right corner. All other players, going clockwise from the start player, choose any empty space to place their meeple. Players take all of the column pieces, capitals, workers and bonus tiles in their color.
Turns have two parts. First, you must move your worker on the rondel. You look for the next clockwise section of three consecutive empty spaces. You then choose one of those three spaces to place your worker. Second, you can either draw a card or use the action of the space you landed on.
If you choose to draw a card, take the top card from any of the four decks located within the temple, and place it face down on the table – it is not in your hand yet. If your desired type of card is not available, collect 2VP instead. Either before or after you draw a card, you can also play previously acquired cards. You can choose to play one card to use its effect, and then you discard the card – but the type of card you play must match the background color of the rondel space where your worker stopped. You could also choose to play 3 cards of any color to use any available Immediate Benefit token in the temple; and then you discard that token.
If you choose to use the rondel space, follow the instructions as shown on the space. You can:
- Build columns and/or capitals – place one or two pieces, either in same or different space, as dictated by the iconography. Each column can only have 4 column pieces in it, and the capital can only be placed on top of the 4th column piece. Immediately score for any column pieces/capitals placed. If you build on a column and then have the majority there (at least 2 pieces) – that is more pieces than anyone else, or tied for most while having the higher piece, then place a meeple of your color on top of the column.
- Place bonuses – put one of your 2 tokens next to any column, at the end of the game, you will gain extra vp for each pieces here in your color
- Draw 2 cards – types determined by the iconography.
- Use the centurion – move the centurion in the usual fashion and then take the action of the space that you move the centurion to.
- Use a card in the temple – apply the effect of the specified card type in the temple. You do not take nor move the card which you use
The game end is triggered when either one player has played all of his column blocks to the temple OR all of the columns have four blocks played to them. The current round is completed so that all players have the same number of turns.
Final scoring is then done:
- Emperor’s bonus – in columns adjacent to your bonus marker(s), score VP as shown on the marker for each stone or capital in that column
- Column majorities – score 5VP for each meeple you have on top of a column
- Level majorities – counting all the columns, score majorities/2nd place for bottom most, 2nd, middle, 4th, and capital levels in the entire temple. Neutral stones count as a dummy player in this calculation.
The player with the most points wins, ties broken in favor of the least leftover building material.
My thoughts on the game
Evora is supposedly a beautiful historic sight – and one I hope to see in a few months. The pictures of the old temple show the columns that you are building in the game.
The idea of the rondel with the extra centurion figure is interesting. Having to go until the next set of three free spaces really gives a lot of room for interesting decisions – especially with blocking certain spaces. Obviously, a lot of your energy should be spent on building column sections; though you have to be artful to get the desired segments of the columns built that you want.
There is definitely a bit of AP-possibility as you’ll be calculating and recalculating your majorities in a particular column versus your majority at a particular buliding level – but overall, the game plays swiftly. All of our games have come within the 60 minute time limit stated on the box, and I think this is due in large part to the fact that you usually only have 3 choices on the rondel – so your possibility horizon isn’t as open ended as you might think.
The cards should not ignored though – the actions on the cards can be quite decisive; and depending on the action you take, you might be playing an action card from your hand or you might just simply be using the one on the top of the deck. As there are so many different options, it does simplify the possible defense against the cards – because you simply can’t stop all the possibilities. The light blue cards which offer scoring possibilities felt like they were the strongest – but of course, you have to be set up to score the cards you have – so it is kind of relative.
I’m not sure if the game was meant to work this way, but we did find that many of the columns were only built by a single player. Given the way that the majorities are determined for a column, the player who started building first generally has a chance to respond to an “attack” on that column, and this tended to keep other people away. Sure, sometimes an opposing player would play on a column mostly to place a piece at a certain level – but most of our columns tended to be one player color and the white neutral pieces. The game also kind of incentivizes you to concentrate on a particular column or two in order to maximize the scoring from the bonus markers. Maybe it was just groupthink in my local group, but the same pattern happened in all the games we have played so far (without me saying anything about it in the teach).
The only other thing to remember while playing is how powerful the Benefit tokens can be – they require three cards to be played to use one – but getting the chance to take one of these powerful actions should not be missed. They can often lead to changes in the board state that are unexpected to your opponents. It’s a great way to snag a majority in a column or level out of the blue.
The art is pretty straightforward, and the icons are fairly easy to understand. We didn’t have much problems with any of that in the game. The scoring rules are also nicely recapped on the board itself so that everyone can see them. The cards are maybe a bit harder, but the rules have a nice page of explanations – and it’s easy enough to pass the rulebook around if someone needs a quick refresher on what a particular card does.
Other than the rondel with the extra worker, there isn’t a lot novel in the mechanisms in Evora, but everything just works together smoothly. It is a game that feels pretty comfortable, even while playing it for the first time – and that’s a nice trait in a game. The designer and publisher of the game are both from Portugal, and this game brings a bit of their home country to your gaming table. As someone who is interested in Roman history (and planning a trip to Portugal soon) – this one definitely was high on my interest list, and I think it would be worth taking a look at if you have the opportunity.
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor