If I turn the chariot like this can it go sideways?
At last it’s time to bring out the big guns of one of the all-time classics. Unfortunately we only have the re-released version without the 4-player board and with not quite the same level of stuffage as the original edition, but Ave Caesar is still Ave Caesar and is a standard by which race games can be measured, even 20-odd years after its initial release. You may be starting to infer that I like this game. You’d be right. So how does it measure up when playing with a four-year-old?
The box says this is for ages 12 and up, but the only simplification I made was to play this with only the two of us (and also to just play individual races with no scoring scheme). The rules are really straightforward and Miss B was quite happy (subject to a bit of a barrage of “why?” questions) with the rule about not playing a six when in the lead. Some of the subtleties of planning moves and counting spaces to hit key locations were lost, but I explained the options most turns and reminded Miss B when she needed to visit Caesar, and other than that it all went fine. Even down to holding the cards in hand.
So, we had a ball, with one exception. I won the first game which led to a brief bout of tears. That calmed down quickly with another discussion about winning and losing, plus agreeing for us to have another game — though I did strongly stress that it was entirely possible that I would win again next time. As it turns out, I didn’t win, despite me shutting Miss B out of Emperor’s Alley on the first lap. I’ll get my revenge next time.
In future plays we’d like to include Mummy to add some more excitement, and possibly other people if we can find and persuade them. Somewhere down the line we’ll probably try out the unmanned chariots that the rules suggest for filling out the field. Non-player entities are always a fun way to add some chaos to the proceedings!
The verdict from Miss B (aged nearly 4½): “I liked it because you winned and then I winned. I didn’t think that I would win but I did.” It’s all about the winning, isn’t it? But she does like everyone having a chance to win. Later conversation gave a little more information: “I really like racing,” and, for the first time, a very high accolade: “Can we take it to nursery?” I’m not letting a treasured game go to nursery, but I’m pleased that she wants to share this with her friends. I said that if some friends came around we could have a go at playing Ave Caesar with them, a judgement which received approval. A little later, Miss B was gushing about the game on the phone to Mummy, who was away for the night, so I think we have a keeper here.
The game: Ave Caesar (Pro Ludo), 2 to 6 players, age 12+.