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Author: Leo Colovini




One of the new games released by WINNING MOVES at the Spiel 2003 at Essen was Alexandros, a new strategy boardgame for 2 to 4 players by the well-known author Leo Colovini.

The game is set before the background of Alexander the Great and his conquests of the Orient and Persia. During the game, Alexander will lead his army into conquest, by by moving Alexander on the gameboard new provinces will be established. It is these provinces in which the players can place their own playing pieces in order to become Prefect and collect taxes.

The rules are quite typical for a Leo Colovini game. They are not too easy to grasp on first sight, but once mastered the players quickly will discover that once again Leo Colovini was able to create a rather fascinating game with a high degree of strategy on side of the players.

The gameboard itself shows a map of Alexander's Empire, and it is divided into triangular spaces. Half of these spaces show barren lands while the other half show one of the five governmental symbols: Administration, Food, Transport, Army and Culture. At the beginning of the game the playing piece for Alexander will be places at the left hand upper corner of the gameboard, and as a further preparation a deck of cards (showing the five governmental symbols) will be mixed and one card is randomly distributed to each player while two more of the cards are placed openly on the gameboard.

The game then starts with the first player's turn, and a player's turn always has to be started in the same manner - by moving Alexander on the gameboard. The move the figure of Alexander, the active player will chose one of the two cards which were placed openly on the gameboard, and then he must move Alexandros to the closest free space on the gameboard which shows the corresponding governmental symbol. He must move him there on the shortest route, and for every step Alexander takes a province boundary will be placed behind him on the gameboard. In this context a space is considered to be free if no boundary has yet been placed on any of the three sides of that particular space, and once the closest free space had been found the player con move Alexander there and place the new boundaries on the gameboard. Once Alexander was moved, the active player takes the card which he had chosen to his hand of cards and then turns over a new card from the pile of cards. He may then continue his turn with his normal actions.

The player now may chose two of the following options for his own actions in this turn. He may...

  • ... take a card.
  • ... place one of his Prefects in a free province or take over an occupied province.
  • ... collect taxes.
  • ... take back one of his Prefects.
The player is not restricted to chose two different actions. He may also take the same action twice (with the exception of collecting taxes).

If a player decides to take a card, he may chose between taking one of the two open cards or a random card from the top of the card pile. This action usually is taken quite often because the players need these cards on their hand to occupy new provinces.

A new province is created if an area of spaces on the gameboard is totally surrounded by either boundary lines or the outer rim of the gameboard. To place a Prefect in a province, a player must look at all the spaces in this province which contain a governmental symbol. He may place his prefect on one of these spaces, but he is only allowed to do so if he can discard cards showing the symbols of all other spaces of this province. However, a player may decide to substitute any of these cards with a further Prefect, allowing him to place more than one Prefect in this particular province and to take it over with one card less. However, this measure should only be taken in exceptional cases, since a player only has four Prefects available during the game and furthermore a province containing more than one Prefect does not yield taxes. To take over a province from another player, even more cards must be played. Here the player must first surrender two cards showing the same governmental symbol as the space which is occupied by the enemy Prefect, and after removing the Prefect though this procedure the player still must occupy the now empty province following the process outlined above.

The most important action for a player is the collection of taxes. To do so, a player must discard a card showing a governmental symbol which corresponds to one of the spaces occupied by one of his Prefects. If he does so, he may count and add together the total number of barren spaces in all of his provinces, and he will receive this number of victory points. However, when choosing to collect taxes a player must take into consideration that all other players now may collect taxes as well. Thus, the collection of taxes only is profitable if a player can score more victory points than his most prominent opponents.

When adding up victory points during taxation, a player also may not forget that only provinces which contain just one Prefect will taken into calculation. To get a province with more than one Prefect into taxation, a player is allowed to spend an action to take back one of his Prefects and thus make him available for placement somewhere else.

The game ends if all playing pieces for boundaries have been used up or if a player has reached more than 100 victory points. In both cases the player finishes his turn and then the player with most victory points will have won the game.

Giving an outline of the rather abstract rules of Alexandros has been a difficult task, but I hope that I was able to convey at least some understanding of the basic playing mechanism. As indicated above, Alexandros in so far is typical for Leo Colovini as it confronts the players with a set of rules which is difficult to grasp at first sight. However, once the players have understood how the different elements of moving Alexander, occupying provinces and conducting taxation work together, it becomes soon visible that Leo Colovini was able to create a game which positively outdistances the broader mass of games. To my mind, the game offers a strategic potential on a degree which is quite above average, but at the same time the game keeps a good balance with playability and a fitting adaption of the background story. All these elements were united into a fine product, making the game appeal to a broad audience of players.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany