The Print and Play game Aquaducts has been on my radar for a long time. It’s a tile-laying game for one player about creating a map for an ancient Roman city. It’s right up my alley :D
The whole game consists of 24 cards and one six-sided dice so it’s an easy build. Each card shows a square city space with aqueducts on each side with the other third of the card showing two different amenities. Stuff like bathhouses and waterwheels. There’s four different kinds of amenities, by the way.
Each turn, you draw a card. You can discard it face down to upgrade the die that serves as your pawn. You can set it to one side to fund amenities. Or you can add them to your map.
Of course, there are restrictions, just like Carcassonne. They have to line up in the grid. The aqueducts have to line up. And they have to be adjacent to the tile where your dice pawn is. And the pawn can only move after a tile is placed and they have to be high enough level to move via aqueduct.
The game ends when the deck runs out. You win if you have a sixth level pawn AND filled in the grid AND funded every amenity. Fall short of even one goal, you lose!
Oh and the game has different difficulties, ranging from a 3x3 grid to a 4x4 grid. Which might not sound like much of a difference but there’s only 24 cards and you have to use five cards to level up your pawn no matter what level you are playing at. So you only have three cards to fund amenities at the most difficult level.
As soon as I finished making my copy, I grabbed a d6 and tried. And then played it four more times in a row until I had won on easy :D Of course, my first two games ended quickly when I realized that I had boxed myself in and couldn’t move my pawn :P
The two design choices in Aquaducts that make it stand out in the pretty big world of PnP tile laying micro games (seriously, there’s a lot of them) are the pawn and funding amenities. Having to manage the level and movement of the pawn adds a whole new layer to the game and managing funding can make or break a play.
Of course, even with those two bits, it’s a very simple game. And, particularly at more difficult levels, luck is going to be a big factor.
Aquaducts came out in 2015. Since then, a lot of Print and Play games have come out, fueled both by contests and it’s become more of a publishing standard. And I honestly think Aquaducts still holds up. There are better micro tile laying games like Orchard but I would put it up there with Micropul or Micro Rome.
I like Aquaducts. It isn’t a Teraforming Mars by any stretch of the imagination but it does well in its niche. It’s definitely a game I can play over and over.