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Those were the days: Olympic games without doping or big business, no television, no sponsorship. The winners in those old-time Olympics received nothing more than a barrel full of olive oil. Competition was hard but fair, and the favorite didn't always make it onto the podium, since, in the days of the ancient Greeks, all athletes competed in all five disciplines--Discus Throwing, Marathon Running, Long Jump, Archery and the Combination event, a contest to find the best all-around athlete from the other four disciplines. And naturally enough, the best archer wasn't always so good at running marathons!
To win, players need to put together a team so that each athlete competes in his strongest event and so comes back with the victor's laurels. Hold back your stars a little too long and you'll be standing empty-handed in the arena when the prizes are given out. Not even consolation points will compensate.
This is a wonderful filler game that is very easy to learn, plays quickly, has a unique theme, and presents the player with agonizingly fun decisions to make.
You hold four cards in your hand which represent individual Olympic athletes. As various Olympic events come up, you must pick one athlete to compete in the event. Each athlete is rated in five different events, and as the game progresses the events become more valuable, earning bigger victory points. Once an athlete competes, he is removed from the game.
The tricky part comes when you have an athelete who is outstanding in several events - should you play him now, or try to save him for the possibility of a more valuable event in the future? Sometimes you may even want to play one of your worst athletes, since losing gives you the privilege of choosing which event goes next in the queue. In all cases, you need to consider what your opponents are likely to do - you don't want to waste one of your best athletes if your opponents are only going to offer up weak competition.
Another nice thing is that it not only plays well with several players, but it makes for an engaging two-player game as well.
Olympia 2K is one of the rare games that succeeds both as a strategy game and as a goofy little filler. While I would never use it as the main course of a gaming night, it is more satisfying than most bits of fluff that open or close most such evenings.
Olympia 2K is a card game of athletic competition, using 55 humorously illustrated athlete cards. Each athlete is rated for his abilities in 5 different events, and these rankings can vary wildly from one character to another.
Each round sees each player selecting one card from their hand of four to serve as their representative in the currently chosen event. The cards are revealed simultaneously, and the laurels for the event go to the best athlete. These laurels start at a low end of two, but by the fifth and final time an event is played, it has risen to six laurels.
What sets the game apart is how the next two parts of the turn are handled. Whoever played the worst athlete will determine which event will take place after the next one. There are times when intentionally fielding a loser can be a setup for taking big points a couple rounds later.
Finally, the starting player turns over cards one at a time, deciding which player should receive each one. This is a definite gamble on the part of the start player, but you can rest assured that whoever is out in front will probably receive a lousy athlete for use in future rounds. The next player then becomes the start player for the next round.
There is a wonderful tension to the game, trying to decide when to use a star athlete: waiting too long could mean that another player has an even better athlete, or possibly the game might end without that star ever getting a chance to shine on the field. With only four cards in hand, there are plenty of tough choices.
The game ends when the deck runs out or all events have been played out in their entirety. Whoever has the most laurels wins.
Did I mention that there are seven 'injured' athletes in the game, almost guaranteed to lose, but who earn a 1-point consolation just for entering, as well as being able to set the choice of event?
This game is good fun for 2 to 5 players, and is definitely recommended.