Caesar & Cleopatra is an influence game where players place agents to gain control of various nobles in ancient Rome. (In a nice humorous touch, every noble has a unique and silly name like Oculus Myopus or Justitanius Anus.) There are five groups of nobles up for grabs, two stacks with three nobles each and three stacks with five nobles each as in the picture above.
On your turn, you must play one numbered influence card face down on your side of the table below a group or two cards face up. Two cards increases your influence faster, but your strength is known by the other player. Additionally, you may play an action card which lets you do things like discard a card from your opponent's hand, remove a card from your opponent's side of the table, look at his face down cards, etc.
After you've played your card(s), you turn over a Vote of Confidence card which tells you which group is voting this turn. (Votes are automatically held if a total of 8 cards are placed by the players in any column.) To resolve the vote, you flip all the cards in that column face up to see who has the most influence, and that player takes one of those nobles as a prize. You may also turn up an Orgy card which means that no vote for influence is held that turn. The winner of the vote discards his highest card in the column, the loser discards his lowest card, which helps to balance out a dominant position. There are also Philosopher cards which reverse the result to make the player with the least influence the winner. After your turn you draw back up to five cards in hand from your action cards deck and/or your influence deck.
To score the game, you get 1 point for each noble card you capture, 1 point for taking a majority of any one type of noble card, 1 point for taking all of a particular type of noble, and 2 points if you take the majority of the group of nobles on your secret Influence Bonus card drawn at the start of the game.
I really enjoy C&C which, as you can see, has really beautiful artwork. You only go through your card decks once in the game so you have some tough decisions about when to draw action cards and when to draw more influence cards. There's also strategy in deciding when to play a Philosopher card to reverse the results of a vote. But be careful because if the other player also plays a Philosopher, they cancel each other out.
Unfortunately for Carol, this was as much of a blowout in my favor as her victory in Lost Cities. I captured every noble in three different groups, an almost unprecedented event, and so got lots of bonus points. Plus, I captured the majority in my secret group while Carol did not.
Coming up: We visit the Jungles of Central America in The Pyramid of the Jaguar