Game Overview: Spectaculum is an economic game where traveling circuses move across the kingdom trying to gain the favor of the royal court, you are able to invest into any of the four traveling shows.  Some shows will get jeers and some will get the cheers.  Each player helps or hinders the paths the shows will take throughout the kingdom and must decide when to invest and when to sell to maximize your earnings.

Box Contents: Included in the box is a trifold board which has just enough detail.  I wouldn’t consider the art on the board outstanding in any way.  The cards on the other hand have excellent art on them and are also very funny.  However, there are just 11 unique pictures on the cards.  Each picture is duplicated across the four card colors found in the game.  They are just a little thin but still strong enough to hold up to many plays of the game. The coins and village tiles are nice and thick cardboard pieces.  Finally, a larger draw string bag is included to hold all of the wooden tokens used in the game.  People with larger hands will not have any problems reaching into the bag due to its size.  There are a couple of compartments in the box to store things in.  One plastic storage bag is included to store the components, but we added a few more to keep things separated for quick setup.

Clarity of Rules: The rules manual is just four pages long and provides a few pictures which are used as examples to demonstrate the game play.  They do an excellent job in explaining the rules.  It also includes a small variant that you can introduce into the game.

Game Play:  To begin the game, you turn all 48 village tiles upside down.  These tiles represent +1, +2, +3, -1, -2, -3, pay day, and illness.  After shuffled, they are placed randomly onto the designed spots on the board and turned face side up.  Each player takes one entertainer of each color from each traveling circus.  The type of entertainer does not matter. On each side of the board, there are two paths where you track the current value for that traveling circus color.  The trackers go from 0 to 25.  They all initially start with a value of five.

When it is your turn, you reveal 3 wooden tiles that you had drawn randomly from the bag.  You can then take up to two entertainer actions.  You can purchase an entertainer of a certain color for the current value, assuming you have enough money.  You can also choose to sell an entertainer to receive their current cash value.  You must also play your 3 wooden tiles which allows the traveling show of that color to move throughout the kingdom.

When traveling, you must play a wooden token on an empty spot on the board where a previously played tile of the same color exists.  On the first move of the game for each traveling circus, there is a specific starting point for each color that gives you two options to play the first token.

When you play a wooden tile token onto one of the village tiles that were laid down during the game setup, they will either make the value of that circus go up or down.  In addition, there are pay day tiles that gives you two ducats (dollars) for each entertainer of that color that you have.  There is also an illness tile that forces you to remove two ducats for each entertainer of that color that you have.  If you can not afford the loss of money, you must release that entertainer.

The game continues with each player taking the turns noted above until one red bordered village tile remains and the royal court, which is in the middle of the playing board (and worth 5 points for that circus) is occupied.

Replay Ability: Because you have a random and different setup every single time, no two games will be the same.  Each time you will have to study the board to figure out the best paths to take and who you should invest in based on the actions of the other players.

Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 8+ and we think that is appropriate.  If a younger child is playing, they may need to be just a little older to figure out the best strategies that are involved to win the game.  Reading is not needed, with the exception of those few number tiles.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: This is the first economic game that I introduced to the boys and they really enjoy the game and I think it does a good job of teaching the basic economic concept of buy low and sell high and also being able to influence the market.  There is a bit of luck involved with the game in the colored tiles that you draw from the bag.  There will be times where you are at the mercy of other players because you can’t draw the colors that you need.  We enjoy the flexibility of the turn moves.  You are not required to do the same order every time.  You have to pay very close attention to ensure your chosen order will help you maximize your money earned.  Different strategies come into play. Sometimes we have the value of a certain traveling circus sky rocket and other times they all remain low and you aren’t sure which one to fully commit to.  The only negative comment I have is that the theme just doesn’t grab you.  It’s there but you just don’t feel yourself truly being involved with circus entertainers as they move throughout the kingdom

Add-ons/Other Releases:  n/a

          **A review copy was provided to us.