Our step-by-step guide to the rules of how to play Carpe Diem board game. Stefan Feld is a highly regarded designer who is known for his style of tons of point opportunities and this one fits in with that perfectly. This is a drafting and personal city building game that has you choosing from one of the many paths to victory to score the most points. The game is for 2 – 4 players at ages 10+. The rules for how to play Carpe Diem are complex at first because of all the options, but easy to get the hang of.

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Rome, 1 BC. As influential patricians – members of the founding families – you set out to improve your city district. Ensure your city’s prosperity with profitable buildings and beautiful landscapes.

As you improve your city district, embrace the concept of “carpe diem.” Seize the day by growing and harvesting various goods, then trade them in the forum for rewards. Build comfortable dwellings for your household to make them more diligent and productive. Enhance your own villa to gain prestige.

As you strategically build your city district and make wise trades in the forum, your accomplishments will be turned into victory points.

The player with the most victory points at the end of the game is the winner.


Time Needed: Approximately 45 – 75 minutes.

This is a step by step guide for how to play Carpe Diem the ancient rome medium weight set collection board game. Additional notions and special rules can be found below the list. These will be referenced for your convenience.

1. SETUP | Put Out The Central Game Board
To kick off how to play Carpe Diem, you need to put out the central board. Take the large board with the drafting circle in the middle in a communal place for all to access.

2. SETUP | Form Player Boards
Each player takes four random frame pieces and one central brown city board board. Put the frame pieces together to form a square. Each piece should have random icons showing around it that have to do with end game scoring bonuses. Put the city board in the center of the frame, with the side with the shovel facing up and the handle pointing to the top right corner of the frame, to form the player board.

3. SETUP | Put Out Writ Symbol Tokens
Each player board has nine “writ” symbols. These are little scrolls in random spots. Place one of the matching white writ tokens on each of these symbols. These are taken throughout the game as you use spots they are on.

4. SETUP | Give Out Resource Boards
Each player gets a resource board that has a basket symbol, a chart showing all the resources and a white background.

5. SETUP | Put Out Player Tokens
Each player chooses a color. They get five discs of this color and a Patrician token (the one that looks like a person). The five discs should be placed on the basket symbol on each player’s resource board. The Patrician token is placed into any empty spot on the central drafting circle. There are seven overlapping brown papers, the place to put the figure is in the black outlined rectangle at the top of each card. The starting point really doesn’t matter, you just need one.

6. SETUP | Grab & Put Out Forum Cards
The cards with a gold leef circle, a colored border and a letter on top are the forum cards. Separate these into four stacks by letter (A, B, C, D). Take cards based on player count shown by the bottom dots. For four players, you look at the row of four dots and take as many cards as dots filled in. With A, for example, that is 3 cards. Take the required cards from each stack and then shuffle them into one pile. Fill in the empty spots on the left of the communal central board, that has icons matching the back of these cards, with these randomly. Spot show which to leave empty based on player count.

7. SETUP | Put Out Fountain Cards
The white cards with the blue fountain symbol on the back are the fountain cards. Shuffle these up and form a face down pile to place near the board.

8. SETUP | Put Out Victory Point Cards
The black double sided cards with a gold number on them are the victory point cards. These come in varieties 1, 3, 5, 10 and 25. Separate these by point values and put the five stacks near the board for player access.

9. SETUP | Put Out Resource Tokens
There are tokens needed for (1) coins which are gold (2) bread tokens which are brown and (3) goods which are multicolored wood tokens. Place these in nearby accessible piles.

10. SETUP | Put Out Black Building Tiles
The small square tiles are the building tiles. They either have a white or a black back. Separate them by this back color. The black tokens are placed randomly one by one, face up, along the bottom strip of the central communal board where there is a line of spaces.

11. SETUP | Put Out White Building Tiles
For the white backed building tiles, you will add those to the central drafting wheel on the communal board. Each of the seven brown cards have faint outlines to hold four square pieces each. Randomly flip up white tiles into each of these spots (28 total).

12. SETUP | Give Out Starting Player Token
The oldest player, or whoever, is given the starting player token. It is a square token like the building tiles but it has a green border and portrait in the center. That player takes one of their colored discs from their basket and places it on the first space of the prestige track on the central board. It is the one with numbers 1 – 20 that starts with a scroll.

13. SETUP | Add Starting Tokens To Prestige Track
Going clockwise from the starting player, each other player takes one of their colored discs and places it on the starting spot on the prestige track. Order maters so the player pieces should be stacked with the starting player on the bottom and the last player’s disc being on top.

14. SETUP | Give Out Starting Victory Points
Depending on how many players there are in a game and what your starting position is, you get a certain amount of victory points to start with. There is a chart in the rulebook but for example, in a 2 player game the starting player gets 8VP and the second player gets 9VP. Give out the black victory point cards matching these gains. This is the final how to play Carpe Diem step before getting into gameplay.

15. GAMEPLAY | Building Phase | Taking Tiles
Starting with the “starting player” and moving clockwise, each person with take their entire building phase. Move your Patrician token one spot to the left or the right. Wherever you move, you then take any one of the available building tokens in the space. If a card is completely out of tiles to take, you skip over it when moving.

16. GAMEPLAY | Building Phase | Taking Tiles | Spending Bread
An optional choice you can make before moving your Patrician is spending a bread token. If you have one of these, you can use it to instead move to any of the five other drafting spaces, not just the ones to your immediate left or right.

17. GAMEPLAY | Building Phase | Taking Tiles | Removing Leftovers
After a certain amount of tiles have been taken from one of the seven drafting spaces, the remaining piece of pieces gets removed. This has to do with player count. In a 2 player game, once 2 of the 4 tiles have been taken, the other 2 are removed. In a 3 player game, once 3 are taken, the 4th is removed and with a 4 player game, all 4 are available and no leftovers are taken away.

18. GAMEPLAY | Building Phase | Placing Tiles
The moment you draft a tile, you then get to place it in your personal grid. The first tile you collect must go on top of the shovel symbol found in the middle of your board. All other tiles have to then touch a side to one other tile, so you are building off that start point. The four sides of a tile have to make sense before it is placed. Grassland can only touch grassland, and improvements or buildings that move off a side can only be connected to matching spaces. This includes the outside frame, which is all grassland. Tile placing is not mandatory, you can put your chosen tile off to the side, face down.

19. GAMEPLAY | Building Phase | Covering A Writ Symbol
If you ever place a tile that covers one of the writ symbols with a small white token on it, remove that token and put it back in the box. When you do this, you increase your prestige. Move your disc token on the prestige track forward one space. If you would ever move into a space with other players, put your token on the top of everyone else there.

20. GAMEPLAY | Repeat Building Phase 7 Times
Because of the number of building tiles available, you will always go through 7 different building phases. Once all those tiles are drafted, players move on to the Forum phase.

21. GAMEPLAY | Forum Phase | Determine Player Order
Determine the order that you will get to pick forum goal cards. The player with the highest prestige total will pick first, second highest picks second and so on. If there is a tie, whoever is on top of the stack (got their later) gets to go first.

22. GAMEPLAY | Forum Phase | Choose Forum Spot
Going in the just determined prestige order, players choose a spot within the forum cards on the central board. Take a colored disc from your basket and place in between any two cards. You will then get to utilize those two cards, and no other player can take that same spot.

23. GAMEPLAY | Forum Phase | Fulfill Cards
Once you have your two cards chose, you then need to activate them, in any order you choose. The symbols should help you explain what each does, but there are more details in the rulebook. One key thing is the there are two sections on each with a red or green line between them. Red means you pay that much back to the supply. Green means you need to have that many. This is going to result in getting tokens or victory points.

23. GAMEPLAY | Forum Phase | Using Gold Coins
If you need to turn in resources at any time, you can instead use a gold coin token as a wild to replace it.

24. GAMEPLAY | Pass The Starting Token & Reset
You are basically starting from the top now. You are setting everything back up to do another build and forum phase like you just completed. Pass the starting token clockwise and restock the 7 communal drafting spots with 4 new building tiles (28 total)

25. GAMEPLAY | Building Tiles To Use
When setting up for building phases 1 – 3, you are using the white back tiles. For the 4th and final building phase, you will use the additional black tiles that had remained.

26. GAMEPLAY | Repeat Until Game End
There are a total of 4 rounds of this. Repeat the process each time until you have made it all the way through. Once these are completed you move to final scoring and determine the winner of the game.

27. GAMEPLAY | Final Scoring
There are many different things that will score you final points to add to your total. See the Scoring Rules section below to go through each,

28. WINNING | High Score Wins
Whoever ends with the highest overall score wins. As you can see, how play Carpe Diem is not difficult, you are just overwhelmed a bit by options.



Dwellings (consist of 2 tiles)

Merchant with yellow roof – When completed, return all of your good tokens to the supply and in exchange get +1 gold token for each good turned in.

Granary with brown roof – When completed, take 2 bread tokens from the supply.

Administration with gray roof – When completed, move your prestige token 2 spaces forward on the prestige track.

Craftsman with green roof – When completed, take any of the build tiles along the bottom of the center game board (black back building tiles) and immediately place it in your city, triggering any effects.

Villas (can be any size)

Villas with red roof – A completed villas is one that has all sides closed off, regardless of size. No immediate effect but will help with other scoring.

Landscapes (consists of 2 – 4 tiles)

Farmland – Completing provides a brown chicken good token.

Pond – Completing provides a blue fish good token.

Garden – Completing provides a green herb good token.

Vineyard – Completing provides a purple grapes good token.

Solo Improvements (consist of 1 tile)

Market – When placed receive one coin from the supply.

Bakery – When placed receive one bread token from the supply.

Fountain – When placed, draw the top two cards of the fountain deck. Take all the fountain cards you have and then place one of them on the bottom of the deck. These are secret scoring objectives.


Victory Point Cards: You get victory points equal to the black card points you collected throughout the game.

Items on Resource Boards: Add up the number of remaining items on your storage space (goods, coins, bread and building tiles you didn’t place) and dive by 2 rounding down. This basically means everything is worth 0.5 points.

Prestige Bar: You gain victory points equal to your final position on the prestige track. If you were ever on 20 on the prestige track and gained more, instead of moving you gain one victory point each time.

Frame Achievements: Each player board has a unique set of frame achievements. Somewhere on the outside of their board are symbols. Those correlate to this scoring. Look at where they are and imagine a straight line going out from it, you score the points shown for every building of that type that crosses that line. It does need to cross, it cannot just go along the line.


  • 1x Game Board
  • 4x City District Board
  • 16x Frame Parts
  • 4x Resource Boards
  • 60x Forum Cards
  • 24x Fountain Cards
  • 66x Victory Cards
  • 1x Starting Player Token
  • 84x White Back Building Tiles
  • 39x Black Back Building Tiles
  • 18x Bread Tokens
  • 24x Gold Tokens
  • 36x Writ Tokens
  • 4x Particians
  • 20x Marker Discs (5x Per Color)
  • 20x Good Tokens (5x Each)


We hope you can now say you know how to play Carpe Diem. This is a pretty straightforward game to play but like all Stefan Feld games there are so many opportunities and things you can score points from that it is challenging to manage. Set in a cool farmhouse ancient Rome, there are many paths to victory and tons of different things to choose to focus on. There may be many steps to the process, but learning how to play Carpe Diem is not as difficult as it seems.