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Seeing as how this is a brand new blog site and I’m new to doing this kind of thing I figured I’d kick it off with a brand new game I just got a couple days ago- Lords of Hellas by Awaken Realms (LOH). LOH is described by the publisher as a “Fresh miniature territory control game with adventure elements” and, as a man who LOVES his adventure and miniature-based games, let me tell you that it does NOT disappoint!
I don’t remember how I first stumbled across the Kickstarter campaign for LOH, I think it popped up in my Facebook feed one day, but I do remember texting Terry almost immediately because I was so blown away by what they were offering. The figures, the artwork, the stretch goals they were offering were all SO amazing looking… to say nothing of the core game itself!
Needless to say, we jumped right on it! And in no time our $150 investment exploded into everything you see in the picture above AND THEN SOME. The components are all nice quality (although I wish the cards were linen-coated, if I’m being picky) and you can tell a lot of time and love went into this game. The artwork is amazing, the detail of everything is awesome and… the miniatures. Oh. My. #$%ing. God- the miniatures! The level of detail is so great here. Each army (colour) has different figures and priests, each colour has it’s unique symbol carved into the player discs, and the monsters and statues are INSANELY COOL!
Okay, okay- geek factor achieved… How’s the game?
In ancient Hella the Gods of Olympus and their heroes have been blessed, themselves, by a touch of other-worldly technology… but so have the beasts that stand against them. It’s a cool little twist on an ages-old story that adds a really cool dimension to the game- ESPECIALLY THE ARTWORK!! I can’t wait for our 50 page art book to ship!
After a few run-throughs I gotta say that I really, REALLY like this game. The board, temples, armies, cities, etc remind me a lot of Kemet or Scythe. The basics are: you are playing as a hero (Hercules, Perceus, Helen, or Achilles); you take control of regions by having enough soldiers (hoplites, in this case); you recruit new soldiers or build temples to get priests; your priests pray to increase your heroes stats (speed, leadership, strength); your hero goes on quests, fights monsters, etc… There isn’t a lot that’s “new” about this game insofar as mechanics or basic game-play goes but, damn it, if it isn’t just a fun game to play.
You should expect your first game to likely last about 3 hours unless you’ve given the rule book a good reading. Once you get it down a game can be anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. Once everyone’s got the gameplay down it’s a nice, fast-moving game- although big hunts or battles can really bog down the game sometimes.
Tips and Strategies
As with any game, you need to be willing (and able) to adjust your gameplay strategy as the game evolves. One of the coolest things about this game is that there are FOUR different ways to win the game (three in two-player mode). They are:
- Completely control 2 territories at any point (3 in two-player)
- Slay any 3 monsters
- Control 5 regions with temples on them
- Have control of region with a fully completed monument at the end of the game (not in two-player)
MONSTERS: If you start off in a area with 2 or more monsters nearby- pray to mighty Zeus for strength as many times as you can early on and use any artifacts or blessing cards you might get to collect the best combat cards you can (match up the symbols on the cards with the ones needed to slay the monster you’re most likely to go after next), then go after the monsters AND FOR GOD’S SAKE- IF YOU DON’T SLAY THEM ON THE FIRST TRY THEN HUNT THEM AGAIN AS SOON AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN!! Even if that means ending the round by adding to a monument prematurely to get your Hunt space uncovered. Leaving a monster with one or two hit points left is a HUGE temptation for other players to waltz in and make an easy kill.
TEMPLES: If you start off toward the west of the board (assuming the area you place the quest, monsterattack, and blessing cards is north) there’s a narrow strip that connects the yellow area to the green area. Starting up top in the red and going down this corridor- with a quick jaunt east to the Oracle at Delphi- you can find 6 or 7 spots with temples all kind of lined up (see image below). This is your best bet for this win.
CONTROL TERRITORIES: Your best bet for this strategy is starting in the south, specifically the grey territory, and taking over Laconia, Argolis, Arcadia, etc and any temples in the areas. Pray to Athena for hoplite movement as often as you can and Recruit as often as possible. Recruiting allows you gain 2 hoplites from EACH city and 4 from Sparta. So, if you control the regions I mentioned above just those three regions gain you 8 hoplites with one Recruit action. you can also use your Prepare action and gain 2 hoplites in the region where you’re hero is. Once you’ve built up your army swarming the grey and green or grey and blue area is pretty simple. There’s also a blessing card that makes each space take 2 less hoplites (to a minimum of 1) to control.
CONTROL MONUMENT REGION AT END OF GAME: If anyone completes a monument (builds the fifth part) the Monument Activation phase begins. This phase consists of three game play rounds. At the end of each round, whomever controls the region with the completed monument on it places a control token on the corresponding space on the Monument Activation card. At the end of the third round whomever controls the region wins the game. Obviously, your best strategies here are to either already control the region when the monument is built and surround it with your army, or to jump in at the very last round and hope to kick out whomever currently resides there.
The Good, the Bad, and the Awesome:
- Relatively quick gameplay. The turns play quickly and you can sometimes overlap turns to speed it up more.
- Lots of options for strategies. As I covered earlier there are 3 or 4 ways to win the game. This opens up a lot of different strategies for how you play the game.
- The artwork and miniatures are AMAZING!! I know this doesn’t affect gameplay at all but the extra attention to detail really makes the game more fun to play and adds an extra dimension to the game.
- Good two-player mode. I often only get to play with one or two extra people so the solid two player mode is definitely a bonus for me.
- Room for expansions. Looking into the expansions and add-ons that Awaken Realms has in the works then this game is going to be hitting the table for years to come.
- The rules read like they were written in another language then translated to English. This usually isn’t a problem but in a few spots it’s a little hard to figure out exactly how a rule works. This is most apparent in the section on hoplite fortification.
- The monsters can sometimes be a little too easy to slay. If you have 4 combat cards and a strength of 4 then at the beginning of your Hunt you have 8 cards in hand. Wiping out some of the smaller monsters is a breeze and there’s something about killing a Chimera in one round that feels wrong.
Solo Campaign: Fend off Xerxes and the Persian Armada
I haven’t played through the solo campaign yet but when I do it will be as a separate post. Here’s a preview: