Alea Iacta Est is a die-rolling game. Each turn you roll some number of dice, then choose to put them in a location where you're either summing up dice, creating straights, creating sets, or just placing low numbers. It's a nice blend of strategy and tactics. You have to tactically decide where to place your current dice, but you have to strategically think about which sets of dice will actually last the round (which goes until someone has placed all of their dice).
Different spaces give different rewards. The two big ones are citizens and provinces, which go together to form points. You can also get straight Victory Points from the Temple and bonus tiles which reward certain behaviors from the Senate. There's even a nice catch up mechanism: unused dice give you dice reroll tokens.
I already mentioned the nice blend of tactics and strategy. I also think it meets the most important criteria for a dice rolling game: it's exciting. You come into a roll specifically hoping for certain things, and if the dice turn your way, that's great.
Some people hate dice games in and of themselves, but this one tries to balance things a bit with those aforementioned reroll tokens. If you're rolling badly (or making bad choices with your rolls), you get the opportunity to try to roll better on feature turns.
I personally find the biggest problem in the game to be the bonus tiles, which aren't iconically clear, and which you have to select among, meaning that they can really drag down the game as you consider a set of them.
As of now, I like Alea Iacta Est. I think it's more enjoyable then many of Alea's light games (e.g., Palazzo, Rum & Pirates), particularly since it better matches length and depth than some games. I don't think it's ground breaking though.
L1: Ra. A+. (Plays: 15) [ Read my Review ]
L2: Chinatown. B-. (Plays: 1)
L3: Taj Mahal. A+. (Plays: 7)
L4: Princes of Florence. A. (Plays: 4+) [ Read my Review ]
L5: Adel Verpflichtet. B. (Plays: 2) [ Read my Review ]
L6: Traders of Genoa. A+. (Plays: 3+) [ Read my Review ]
S1: Wyatt Earp. B+ (Plays: 2)
S2: Royal Turf. A- (Plays: 6)
L7: Puerto Rico. A+ (Plays: 11) [ Read my Review ]
S3: Die Sieben Weisen. C (Plays: 1)
S4: Edel, Stein & Reich. B- (Plays: 1) [ Read my Basari Review ]
L8: Mammoth Hunters. B+ (Plays: 5) [ Read my Review. ]
S5: San Juan. A+ (Plays: 32) [ Read my Review; plus Glory to Rome review. ]
L9: Fifth Avenue. C- (Plays: 3+)
M1: Louis XIV. B+ (Plays: 7) [ Read my Review ]
M2: Palazzo. B- (Plays: 6)
L10: Rum & Pirates. B (Plays: 3)
M3: Augsburg 1520. B+ (Plays: 2)
L11: Notre Dame. A (Plays: 6)
L12: In the Year of the Dragon. A (Plays: 5)
M4: Witch's Brew. A (Plays: 5)
M5: Alea Iacta Est. B (Plays: 6)
Thus endeth my series of discussions of Alea games. If you'd like to see all 22 discussions, click on the "alea games" tag below.
The last three years I've had some themed goals for my gameplaying (Knizia in '07, Wallace in '08, and Alea in '09). My goal in '10 is to reread the rules for most or all of my games, so that I can play them (even if I don't). I don't plan to write about that here. However, I do plan to write another several Alea articles in '10, talking about my experiences with the Treasure Chest expansions which I just (finally!) picked up this last Monday.
And, of course, you can always read my regular board game discussions at BoardGameNews. My favorite column of the year, The Tao of Board Gaming, published last week, while next Thursday I'll be publishing my yearly summary.