Foundations of Rome Solo Mode: Improved Ceres

With the release of the first expansion “Roads of Fortune”, I’m bringing Foundation of Rome more regularly back to the table and am once again realising: the official solo mode “Gardens of Ceres” still isn’t that appealing to me. Before designing a completely new automa, I wanted to give Ceres a few more tries and figure out what I liked and what not. That led me to the idea of trying to improve upon Ceres instead of an independent design … at least until I have time to tackle the bigger task of designing an automa from scratch. Hope you like it!

Last update: May 21, 2024

Foundations of Rome Gardens of Ceres


There are a couple of issues I have with Ceres:

  1. She never overbuilds, which is probably the most fun part of non-solo Foundations of Rome.
  2. She rarely builds monuments as she only uses lots that haven’t been turned into gardens yet.
  3. There is rarely a reason to compete with her for population as it’s much easier to go heavy on commerce buildings and just place a single small residential building to be eligible for population scoring
  4. She’s not compatible with all expansion modules

Here are a couple of minor rules changes that address at least part of those issues. This is a living document, I’ll update it as I further improve the tweaks. As a base, all rules of the standard Gardens of Ceres apply unless overruled by the changes below. Most importantly, remember to:

  • Start Ceres off with three gardens as part of setup
  • Choose three monuments of different sizes (e.g a 1×1, a 2×2, and an L-shapes one).
  • Ceres always takes the “enlarge garden” action as her final action of an era.

New Rules

Population Scoring: if Ceres is in the lead, the human player will only gain points from population scoring if they are within 3 population of Ceres (e.g. Ceres has 11 and the human player 8, 9, or 10). Anything beyond that (e.g. Ceres has 11 and the human player has 1-7) and the human player gets no points at all!

Monuments: Ceres will overbuild over gardens as well as empty lots she has claimed for building a monument. As per standard rules, Ceres ignores the building requirements of the monument. If there are multiple valid options, Ceres will place the monument such that it maximises the reward from the monument, otherwise she prefers to overbuild coins before she overbuilds population garden tiles. If Ceres has multiple choices, she will build the largest monument she can build. Any garden tiles that are overbuild are returned to the bag and if population tiles were overbuild, her population count is adjusted accordingly.

Bribes: If a bribe action would only place 2 or less coins (i.e. Ceres has few commercial gardens or there are only 1-2 cards in the market), Ceres will do so and then immediately perform another action by flipping a new card from the automa deck. If Ceres buys a deed card with coins on it, each coin she thus received is converted into 1 VP.

Enlarge Garden: When Ceres does the enlarge garden action, she first tries to complete a square. If not possible and she has drawn a civic garden, she places it such that it maximises the points gained from it. Otherwise she places the tile such that it has the most neighbouring garden tiles, followed by closest distance to other garden tiles.

Buying Deed: When Ceres activates the “most expansive” card, she will buy whatever deed allows here to completing a square. If no such deed exists, she buys one that allows here to build a monument. If none exists either, she buys whatever deed is closest to one of her existing lots. If there are multiple options, she buys the card further to the right.

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