Hera and Zeus
English language edition
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When Gods feud, the earth quakes! Zeus, the father of the Gods, and his wife Hera often disagreed on matters both earthly and olympic. Eventually, the disagreement became a full-fledged feud with both Zeus and Hera calling upon the other Gods from Olympus and mortals from earth to support him or her against the other. Cyclops, Amazon, Medusa, Hydra, Pegasus, and others joined the feud. The players take the roles of Hera and Zeus and use strategy and cunning to pit their allies against the allies of the other. It is winner take all for control of Olympus!
Time: 40 minutes
Ages: 12 and up
Weight: 346 grams
All-Time Sales Rank: #31
Customer Favorites Rank: #136
Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.
- 86 cards
- 1 Zeus figure
- 1 Hera figure
- 2 summary cards
- 1 rule booklet
Average Rating: 4.4 in 34 reviews
If you like fair games that rely more on skill than on luck, this is the game for you! Both players have equivalent decks, so winning has to do more with playing your cards right, and at times, some calculated bluffing! Learning the game is pretty easy, it is just a matter of memorizing what each card does and playing the game a couple of times. For those of you who don't like games that rely on memorizing card functions, fear not! There is a handy cheat-sheet for you to refer to in-game.
My long-term fascination with the game has to do with how a seemingly simple game can draw upon so many modes of strategy to become truly proficient in playing it. It is possible to have an incredibly strong first hand, and blow the game, or an incredibly weak hand and win it all. It is all to do with who you're playing, and how well you can skill your way through. Are you ready for the fun and up to the challenge?
I have played this at least least 20 times now, and watched 20 more. This game is MUCH better than other highly regarded 2-player games such as Kahuna and Balloon Cup, in that each player's actions really affect the other player in a way that they have to respond to (like say Chess). In Balloon Cup / Kahuna, you can only really do what you have cards for, and what the other guy does pretty much doesn't change what you're going to do, at least not in a very interesting way. With Hera and Zeus, the interaction between players is just much more interesting.
I introduced Hera And Zeus to many people, all of whom loved it. Well, everyone except my dad, who I've realized is old enough to not be motivated to learn anything more complicated than Scrabble or Chess. Hera And Zeus seems complicated when you read the rules, but it's really not. I was beat multiple times by a 9 year old girl.
I took a whole bunch of games to an extended family vacation (including many on the all-time classics lists), and after learning this, it was pretty much in constant play for an entire week. There's enough luck that the better player won't always win, but there definitely is enough strategy and tactics such that if you discover them (it took me losing 5 games straight to start discovering them), you will be rewarded for doing so. And most importantly, it's fun whether you win or lose. And interestingly, it's sometimes kind of hard to tell who's winning or losing. A real interesting aspect of the game is that you have to really shift your strategy if the game gets past a certain point. I won't say how, because it took me about ten games to figure it out, and it was fun deducing the strategy shift, so I don't want to spoil it for others.
In response to someone else's comment in their review that, 'The Cards Zeus and Hera are uselees cards. Playing that card can be countered with a strategie that always wins': This is completely false. It's true that the card is easily countered, but that reviewer clearly hasn't played enough to discover the true value of the cards. They're DEFENSIVE cards, to be saved when you're about to lose, kind of like the abort button in Lunar Lander (coin-op--showing my age a bit). Normally you get the number of actions based on non-empty columns (3 if all columns are full), but if you're down to one column, you're basically almost dead, since you can't place and attack in one turn, but playing Hera/Zeus means that you get FOUR actions, which gives you a REALLY GOOD chance of getting AND placing decent cards to hold an extra column. This often is enough to stave off immenent destruction, and sometimes enough to turn the tide. In fact, they're so important that we tried various house rules such as allowing a player to force their Hera/Zeus card into their starting 9 cards.
So anyway, the reason that I got around to writing this, is that I just got an email from my brother saying, 'Hey, so where can I get that Hera And Zeus game?' Nuff said. :-)
To summarize what's been said several times:
It's like Stratego but it doesn't drag like Stratego. It's like poker, but it's more interesting and requires a better memory and internal odds-estimator. The cards look great, and are of moderate quality (for all of the use they should be made of plastic). Sometimes you win or lose by luck, and sometimes by problem-solving. The game can last 2 turns or 40 turns. It takes about 2 games, which may be 15 minutes or an hour and a half, to get the feel for how it's played. After that it's like riding a bicycle.
Strategy notes (aka personal observations):
Keep Pandora away from Artemis/Io, get her onto the board and put cards IN FRONT but not behind. In fact, both Pandora and the Medusas are better off in the rear to act as a column-holder. You can always add cards to the front, but the opponent has to shuffle around and waste actions to deal with them even if face-up. Keep some Heroes/Amazons in your hand for Pegasus Defense. If you face a Medusa in the opposite column, remove it quickly if the opposite column is empty, but consider leaving it alone to clog up the works if it has 3 or 4 cards. Centaurs belong behind Medusa. If you have a Pegasus in your hand, the best thing to do is place it in an empty column. The opponent will have to treat it like a Medusa unless he knows you're out of them, and it might buy you time to get your 3 actions back. In the likely event that you start the game with several Pegasi, take a few shots at the opponent's hand. In addition to the slight chance of winning, losing a really heavy Mythology card on the second turn is really demoralizing. Also, if you can count cards you have a crushing advantage against someone who can't. Also, don't play Zeus or Hera until you need to. Try to figure out, by how the opponent is playing, whether the Hostage is on the board yet. If you still have Pandora, line her up where the Hostage is and pay close attention to how the opponent uses Dyonises. If you have that figured out you will most likely win.
after playing Lost Cities, which by the way is a good game, where chance and luck play a big part, Hera and Zeus was my next stop. it is very different, and more strategy than chance compare to Lost Cities. It might be a lot to take in at first when you are learning what each card does, but as you play more you really get into it. You will love this card after playing just 2 rounds because it's really fun. I also love the art work done on the cards, very beautiful. This game is well designed and I place this among Lost Cities and Carcassonne as one ofthe best two player game ever.
This is the best two-player game I've seen to meet the needs of gamers and non-gamers. There is definite strategy here, and it will vary a lot based on the cards in your hand. Your game can change completely with a single draw. The luck factor is really well-balanced with this game. My girlfriend and I have been having a lot of fun with this one, and see a lot more games in the future. Now if only I could get her into Dvonn...
I never tire of playing Hera and Zeus when I'm playing this game with someone who 'get's it.' The friends I've played with have either been hot or cold about this one. But my experience has been that you've got to play it 3 or 4 times before you clue in to the games' intricacies. The first time I played it I didn't appreciate it; but now it's become one of my favorite two-players.
When you get good at it, and play against someone else who is also good at it, it really adds to the fun. And it never gets played just once. There's got to be a rematch, because the game is short. There's always lots of tension. There's also a luck factor, but can you name a game that has no luck and is actually fun to play? Since it is a card game it goes without saying that there will be a luck of the draw factor.
If you're looking for a really cool two-player that is short and will grow on you--Hera and Zeus. I've played it about 25 times now and I enjoy it much more than at first.
I really don't care much for games that have quite a bit of luck to them, but Hera and Zeus is easily an exception. It's now been played 9 times by me (not sure about the rest of the family) and is quickly becoming a staple at the table. The luck factor makes it to where my 14 year old daughter and 9 year old son can play and have a decent chance of winning. They love it when they get pleasantly surprised by one of their 'lucky' wins, and I admit I like to be lucky myself at times!
However, there is also plenty of strategy involved that makes the difference for me and my wife. There is more depth and subtlety here than I first realized. There is nothing more satisfying than making a play and later learning its effectiveness or realizing it was a dreadful mistake that shouldn't be repeated!
'Let's play just one more!' is heard quite often with Hera and Zeus. More than anything else, this card game is simply just FUN and easily recommended... great bang for the buck.
As noted below, this game definitely has the feel of a Net Runner-family game! Just consider your cards in each row as being like 'ice' in NR, the limited actions, the care required in setting out your dispositions, the ability to bluff your opponent and hide your agenda (sorry, 'hostage'), and the skill needed in play to know when to run (sorry, 'challenge') at a weak spot. All fairly familiar.
Does that mean I should rate it as derivative? Not at all! Reminiscent, but not identical. I love NR, and I love this game too. The manifold ways of winning, the balance of the game--and also the fact that few games overstay their welcome (not always the case in NR...).
This is one I'll play and play!
If I got stranded on a Desert Island with Sandra Bullock (or even the wife) and could take just one thing, then, this may well be it.
Hera and Zeus is a phenomenal game for two with such incredible variety that no two games ever seem to even play alike.
Every move in this game is such compulsive viewing that you will be ecstatic if you win and, so what if you lose; you'll have had such a great time pounding your opponent with all those ancient Greek gods and characters that you'll become the stuff of legends. Fired up and ready to kick ass in the rematch.
Strategy, controlled compulsive gameplay, entertainment, a pinch of luck and a myriad of ways to outdo or be undone. What more could you ask for?
Just get past that initial one-game learning curve and you will find that those dozen special cards with special actions are truly the perfect blend for an extremely competitive game.
Don't be fooled. There isn't a card wasted in this set and if you think that there is (as my wife Rachel and I were prone to at first) then you'll be amased when you realise how powerful a card it becomes with proper use.
Some people refer to the luck element of any card-drawing game. Well, I personally avoid games of luck so much that I won't buy a game with a die in it (Settlers excluded). However, it's even exhilirating to win by rescuing the hostage on the first turn of the cards (get a Pegasus in your initial hand and you've a 43-1 chance of doing it first time)--who cares, maybe winning is everything in this game, after all.
But as for Hera and Zeus, I don't have any inclination as yet to alter any part of this fascinating game.
If you ever buy another game take my advice and make sure that it is this one. As the old adage goes: I doubt that you will be disappointed.
I must join in the praise for this excellent game. My girlfriend and I have owned it for only three weeks and it keeps calling us back for more (and we keep responding.)
Other reviewers have noted the basic elements of the game play. Hera and Zeus each hold equivalent decks of cards, although each draws their cards in a different order due to random shuffling. Cards with numbers on them show their strength in battle. Cards with mythological symbols on them have special powers (such as: move a card, recycle a card, for your opponent to reveal all of their cards, and so forth).
The battlefield is three columns on each side. Each player lays cards face down on their side of the battlefield and reveals them only when they are required to do so by an attack from one front row to another, or by the play of an opponent's card. One similarity with Stratego has been noted (when two pieces collide, they reveal who they are, and the stronger one wins) but beyond that element I find little that is similar in feel between the two games. Stratego is a more static game; Hera and Zeus is much more dynamic--cards are entering and leaving the playing field all the time.
Although Hera and Zeus is a card game, it feels much more strategic and conflict-laden than most, because each player is developing a strategy and sending his pieces into battle against his opponents. One must constantly make very difficult choices--is Pythia of more value to you as a spy, or for her ability to overcome Nemesis? Should you play Dionysus early when it's not an optimal use of the card, or hold it in reserve for a better time and risk it being plucked out of your hand?
One of the aspects of Hera and Zeus that makes it a high quality game is that defeat leads one not to curse one's bad luck as much as to reconsider one's strategy. I am on a losing streak right now, for example, and I have concluded that I'm not using my Pegasus cards terribly well, and I'm looking forward to the next play in order to try something new. Cards that might seem extremely valuable to you on the first few plays may not seem so important in later ones, and vice versa.
Hera and Zeus offers a number of ways to win, with the consequence being that each game develops its own special character. You can win by capturing your opponent's hostage, or you can win by destroying all of your opponent's columns. But you're also obliged to make one move for every column you have on the board. Consequently, the player with fewer cards late in the game sometimes goes into a defensive crouch, and takes advantage of the aggressor's requirement to make more moves. Not all of the cards can make attacks. I've gotten myself tied up in knots at the end a few times, simply because I've had Medusa or Pandora where they shouldn't be. Normally when we play games, my girlfriend is the more aggressive nd impatient one, and I'm the more conservative, time-biding player. But in this one, for reasons that are unclear, I'm almost always the aggressor, trying frantically to finish her off before the deck runs low (and rarely succeeding).
I really can't think of any major flaw in this game. Each experience is varied enough to ensure replayability. Strategy is more apparent than luck, though certainly there is an element of luck in the order in which you draw your cards. But the fact that each side ultimately has the same cards ensures that skill will be rewarded more often than not.
Most of all this, game has the character a fight, more like a chess game than a card game, even though it's played with cards.
Finally, on a random aside--a little bit of fun is added to the game by the gradual familiarity with the drawings on the cards. I am constantly tormenting my girlfiend, it seems, with the anatomically incorrect Giant, one of many burly bare-chested men on my side of the board. Hera's lean more to the exotic, like the multi-headed Hydra, for example. Apollo and Artemis are ready to run off together, from the looks of it.
Ok, so sitting down to Hera and Zeus the first time can be a bit intimidating, but after you get past all the different cards (which are, as all Kosmos cards, lovely) and their special roles, play boils down to bluffing and strategy.
The best part of the game is the endgame; trying to force your oppenent to take more turns than you have to--even if you don't find the captive, it's a rewarding victory.
My only qualm might be that Hera and Zeus are really easy to kill off (not that you always want to...)
A must have!
FINALLY I think I am ready to review this game. When I first played it, I thought the game was mediocre and would probably have only given it 3 stars. But since it's hard to find 2-player games that my brother will actually play with me, we kept playing it a couple times a week. And what a difference a little bit of time makes!
Yes, there is a big chunk of luck in this game. Yes, if the hostage is at the bottom of the deck, it can make the game lopsided. But I have found that overall that doesn't matter much: in almost every game I have played, be it a 3 minute game or a 45 minute game, there is plenty of tension--something I really enjoy in a game (Pandora, anyone?) I find myself holding my breath a number of times during the game as I gamble in an attack, or am drawing a card from my deck desperately needing a Dionysus to stay alive. And the 5 different ways to win means that half-way through the game you may suddenly switch to a different strategy and send your opponent reeling.
One thing I really like about this game is that it really feels like a GAME and not just another 'standard deck of cards' game. I realize that Lost Cities is a good game in its own right (though horribly overly-packaged and thus overpriced) but Lost Cities still is a very basic 'deck of cards' type game--I like card games with more GAME to them. Games as different as King of The Elves and Bohnanza really are fun to play without feeling carddeckish.
I think this game is worthy of 5 stars. A great two-player game, good for gamers and especially good for family gamers.
(I am starting to like the [page scan/se=0546/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Kosmos 2-player series. Now if only I could find a copy of Tally Ho! to try...)
One of your earlier reviewers has been a friend and gaming buddy for 20+ years. So, when he said H&Z is "a superb little [2 player] game that is highly replayable," I had to check it out. Of course, he was right!
After several playings, I can say not only is each game unique, but the variety of winning (or losing) conditions results in myriad possible tactics. Several of the cards have 'mythological' abilities, and the interplay between the various cards adds a richness not often found in other games of the genre. This, coupled with the ability to use deception by 'maneuvering' your concealed cards within the playing area, rewards cunning play and forethought.
However, the game mechanics remain relatively simple, allowing even novice gamers to quickly learn and apply the strategies. My wife (admittedly not a master tactician) has managed to put up a respectable showing on a number of occasions. What's more, she continues to enjoy playing H&Z, which is a testament to its staying power!
I strongly recommend it.
I think the review below is quite unfair.
First, The reviewer claims that there is little opportunity to move the cards. Maybe they overlooked the rule about adding cards from your hand to the FRONT, MIDDLE, or END of a line, like I did the first time I played this game. This rule makes the cards even more maneuverable than pieces in Stratego.
Next, there is more than one way to beat your opponent beside finding Io / Argus. You can also wipe out all of your opponent's columns. Or your opponent can lose by running out of valid moves (when they can't play any cards / deck is depleted). I had a great victory by holding one column strong and only drawing one card a turn while my opponent burned through their deck. Two of their columns were useless! Finally, they ran out of cards and I won. Heh heh heh.
I found the games where Io doesn't come out till the end just as exciting. Remember: usually there's only a few pieces left in Stratego when the flag is actually captured.
The first time I played this, I had already heard the Stratego reference so I truthfully wasn't impressed. It's after multiple plays that you realize all of the wonderful options and different possible outcomes.
Finally, I have to say, very few games are completely original. Lost Cities could be likened to rummy, or Modern Art could be considered a rip off of countless other auction games. The key is taking a familiar mechanic and reworking it into something fresh, exciting, and fun!
Hera and Zeus IS fresh, IS exciting, and IS fun!
See for yourself.
I'm new to the 'German games' genre and this is the second game I've purchased for me and my wife (Lost Cities was the first). My wife isn't a big gamer and I was seeking to convert her so we could enjoy time together gaming. Well, Lost Cities was a good primer, but Hera & Zeus hooked her! I was pleasantly surprised that she liked it as much as she did!
The game is fantastic! A different play EVERY time guaranteed! Your strategy changes with the play of the cards and you must remain flexible or get trounced! Awesome job, Mr. Borg!
Sometimes it's hard to get a group of people together when you feel like playing a game at the spur of the moment.
Games like Caesar & Cleopatra and Lost Cities are just the answer when you only have two players. They are fun and entertaining. But you haven't experienced a truly great two-player game until you try Hera and Zeus!
We've played approximately twenty times. The games have lasted anywhere from five minutes to an hour, and no two have been alike. You must constantly change strategy as situations change with every play of the cards. Almost like poker, 'reading' someone's expression can greatly help you (or hurt you, if they're bluffing).
The instructions are clearly written and include a summary card that each player can use to refresh their memories during the game. Once you play the game through once, you shouldn't have any problems with the rules. As I mentioned before, bluffing can be a good tactic and we've even fooled each other by pretending to consult the summary cards!
This game is reasonably priced and very compact so it would be easy to travel with. We highly recommend it!
I don't usually care for card games. I like a nice board--especially a map. Being a 'converted' wargamer, I find that card games don't give me the same satisfaction of winning, or the sense of struggle that I find in maneuvering pieces around a board. All of that ends, however, with Hera and Zeus! I've only played it 4 times, but the satisfaction derived from playing this game is equal to winning at Battle Cry (at least for me).
The components are beautiful. The feel of conflict is like a war game. Three columns of heroes/gods lining up, Greek-fashion, against each other. The sense of the fog of war, the maneuvering, the tactics (flanking, straight ahead charge, waiting, setting up defensive lines--all are found in this simple game that can be taught in 10 minutes.
I rate it at the top of all the games I own--right up there with Euphrat & Tigris, Battle Cry, Settlers, Air Baron, and Advanced Civilization. And, it only takes 30 minutes to play. What don't I like? I can't get my wife to play it... yet.
If you are looking for a two player game you won't tire of quickly, or maybe never, this is it. Borg created a superb little game that is highly replayable (EVERY game is different).
The blend of cards allow you to try different tactics to win and also create enough choices that you wind up getting engrossed in the game. You've heard the saying 'like chess, easy to learn, hard to master'. Well, this is one of those games.
BUT, it's also just pure loads fo fun, trying to lure an opponent into your Medusa, or set up an attack by Pythia on Nemesis, or using a Pegasus to seek out the traps ahead of your next move. When do you play your Zeus or Hera to get more action points? Do you hold back the more powerful cards to strike with later? Can you set up an attack on Medusa with your Hero or Amazon without it being detected? On and on.
My wife and I have played it over and over and both of us marvel at the way each game is so different from the previous.
Really, get the game. You won't regret it. Five stars plus!
This game is pure gold. There are six ways to win or lose this game and if you play a dozen games, you'll experience all of them. Can't think of any other game where that's true. A game can last 30 seconds or 30 minutes. Every card in the deck has value. The system rewards both aggressive and conservative playing styles. It is the best example ever of how to incorporate a 'bluff' element into a game. I could go on and on.
I don't want to turn non-collectible card gamers off, but the game has a lot of MAGIC in it; all the best parts. If I ever design a game this good, I'll retire.
Richard Borg's brilliant new game has taken the sleepy fishing town of Gloucester by storm. In the three weeks since our gaming group got a copy of Z&H it has been played many more times than all other games combined.
It has all the ingredients of a great, addictive, lasting classic. There's constant tension, lots of interesting choices and innumerable fascinating predicaments in every game.
The rules are quite simple and you get used to the cards after a couple of games. Since the average games lasts about ten minutes, you'll be cruising in less than a half hour.
H&Z has great battling ala Magic with the added element of bluff. The cards are simpler than Magic cards but there are lots of subtle and interesting things that you can do with them.
H&Z is hands down Game of the Year in my book. I've played over 50 times and there's plenty of fun left.
Since Funagain offers only 5 stars, I was forced to make my own sixth star
* ** ******** ****** ******** ** *
This brand-new game has been translated back into English from German, even though it was originally done by an American designer (Borg). In German, it was 'Blitz und Donner'; in English, it is Hera & Zeus. This game is either so new or so overlooked that I can find little commentary on it at any of my favorite game sites. So for now, Hera & Zeus will be my major sleeper pick for two players.
Each player (Hera, and Zeus) has a virtually identical 43-card deck, out of which are drawn 9 cards to begin. You select three of those to start with and lay them out side by side face down to form the top of 3 columns. Your opponent does the same. For the rest of the game, that 'front line' will be where most of the action occurs, as you push forward one of those cards to duel the opposite card of your opponents. The game is extremely heavily themed (and quite effectively carried off) with Greek mythology, so if you're like me you're quite at home and predisposed to enjoy playing Persephone, Artemis, Apollo, the Sirens, etc.
Most of these cards have a number from 0 to 7 that represents the power of the card in a challenge, although about a third of the cards have special abilities, as well (some, multiple abilities from which you must painfully select only one). Each turn you take a few actions (draw a card, play a card to the table, challenge, play a card from your hand), and you will be building out a tableau in front of you--up to a full table's worth of 3 columns by 4 rows. Your goal is to 'fight through' your opponent's defenses to release one hostage card (Zeus is in love with Io, and Hera has her hostage, while Hera is in love with Argus, whom Zeus has captured). You will often challenge and 'rescue' (to win) the hostage on the table; some cards, though, enable you to 'attack' your opponent's hand where you might find the hostage, as well.
As you play the game, you are drawing from your unused deck, adding to your hand, playing to the board, challenging, moving cards around, and discarding losers or cards whose special ability's wad you've shot. The constant decisionmaking as to whether you should spend your three actions this turn to draw, draw, and challenge, or instead to play to the board, challenge, and challenge again (and not draw), etc., creates a really neat tension. The game is fast-paced and can be won or lost multiple ways.
TIP: Watch out for Pandora! (Yours, AND your opponent's.)
I have not thoroughly played the game enough to give my 5-star review in an unqualified way, but from what I have seen and played I am really impressed. This is a beautifully produced card game that will get lots of play in our house.
That, and I'm a Borg fan. Thus, my thanks to Richard Borg for his designer's genius.
P.S. Rio Grande slightly screwed up the printing, putting the wrong color card backs on the cards. Not a big deal--slightly annoying. They may offer a 'make-good' later on, dunno.
As metioned previously there is a great deal of luck invovled. Especially around finding the hostage card. The cards often offer a good balance but occasionally (espcially after long weeks of play) the cards become predictable. Primary issue is the fact that the cards of certain factor (such as pegusas) move close to each other and even shuffling leave that way. To correct this I split randomly seperate the cards of my deck into 4 to 6 piles then shuffle together. This seems to add the randomness back.
Overall thou game play is short and never go over a lunch hour. Many games that say 30 - 40 minutes tend to bog down in the mechanics at end up taking hours instead. This one does not.
It takes a lot of work to lose by more than a point or two in this game. Most of the time, there are no serious leads. This makes it a perfect game for my husband, who is a sore loser. If you're trying to get any sore losers to play games with you, I'd advise this one.
Nice game, it includes more then you would expect the first time you play it. Two remarks:
1. the first 9 cards you draw are very important for the game. The luck factor is a little to much here. If the game is in balance after the first draw, luck is just a small small part of the game
2. The Cards Zeus and Hera are uselees cards. Playing that card can be countered with a strategie that always wins.
We are playing the game without those cards, anyone else?
This game is all about making the best with what you have at that moment. There is a bit of luck when it comes to what you have to deal with so there is a limit to progress you can make, no matter how good your strategy is. Games where exceptionally bad luck has become a factor end quickly with plenty of time for a rematch. The best part of this game is the limited number of actions you can take a turn, making every decision so vital. This is an excellent two player game with equally excellent artwork.
Just another voice to say that all the comparisons to [page scan/se=0101/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]Stratego shouldn't scare you off. I hate Stratego, and this game is great. Yes, there is the challenge element against your opponent's hidden card, but you only start with three cards on the table. Then you have your 'hand', plus a draw pile. Your hostage (i.e. the 'flag') starts somewhere in the draw pile--not on the table, and there are several different ways to win the game. You have to manage both your table and your hand carefully, due to the special abilities of certain cards, and the multple victory conditions. So, despite a few elements that may have been borrowed from Stratego, there is so much here that is different, I personally don't find much resemblance.
The best part is that the kids love it--even my kindergartner likes to play. He needs a little help for now, but it won't be long before he can do it on his own.
There is a luck element, due to the random card draw, but no worse than most strategy games. In fact, I find that a certain luck element makes for better multi-age family play; the kids can beat me often enough to keep them coming back.
If you're looking for a fun, quick-playing, two-player card game for nearly all ages, easy to learn and play, yet not 'simple', then Hera and Zeus is it.
I give it four stars, only because I reserve five stars for truly brilliant games--of which there aren't many.
I've become so strung out on trying to keep up with CCG's like [page scan/se=0534/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Magic, that I've become very attracted to stand-alone card games like Hera and Zeus. This particular game does not disappoint. As I played several games against my 8-year old son (after mucho games of [page scan/se=0101/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Stratego and Magic, he had no problem picking up the rules), the various strategic possibilities really started to unfold. I love the way that the legendary powers of the Greek Gods closely approximate the special abilities of each card type. Beware Pandora's box! Very cool indeed.
I have only one complaint. Although the cards themselves are beautifully done, I might have preferred the use of stand-up tiles, a la Stratego. This would have saved me constantly having to pick up face-down cards whenever I couldn't remember where I had positioned a particular god. A minor quibble, really, considering the overall quality of this game. Quick and light, yet full of strategic possibilty. Just the way I like 'em.
Don't get me wrong; I like Hera and Zeus a lot. It's fun to play, very replayable and somewhat strategic (short-term; the system doesn't allow for long-term strategy). So by all means, if you want to pick up a great two-player game, I don't think you'll go wrong with Hera and Zeus.
So I would normally give this game five stars; however, the unoriginality of this game is so clear to me I'm taking one star off. Yes, as pointed out previously, it has its origins in Stratego. But instead of Magic as previously stated, it also has its origins in a lesser-known collectible card game: Netrunner. Not only what seems like a good deal of the mechanics, but even the colors! (my wife and I both said 'Oh, look... Netrunner!' when we opened the box, as its two different colors are green and purple as well).
Now, I could never do what Mr. Borg has done; take two dissimilar types of games (board game and collectible card game) and use ideas from each to create a new game altogether. But I've seen all of this stuff before in other games, really.
Hera and Zeusers: if you really enjoy this game, you have to try and find copy of Netrunner; since the game's not really supported any more, you can probably get one at a decent price. Netrunner's somewhat more complex, but with that added complexity comes more strategy, more bluff and a better designed game overall.
The other reviewers have done a good job describing the game play and the quality of the art on the cards. These elements--along with the fact that the game rules are fairly simple, there are ample strategy options, and games rarely take more than 45 minutes--make it a pretty good game.
However, my biggest concern is with the amount of luck that comes into play. There are a number of ways to win (or lose), but you don't feel like you're entirely in control of what's going on. After you've won (or lost) there's sort of a feeling of, 'gee, I guess I've won.'
That aside, the positives outweigh the negatives, and it's well worth the purchase.
Hera and Zeus is a fun game, but not, I think, 'the game of the year.' Of Rio Grande's two-player games, I like Caesar and Cleopatra better and this one's not nearly as innovative as the Settlers card game. Other reviewers have noted some similarities to Magic, but no one has mentioned the game's true heritage: Stratego. It struck me almost instantly, but you may have to look past the mythological theme to see the Stratego system in sharp relief. The 3, 4, 5, and 6 value characters match up to Generals, Colonels, Majors, and Lieutenants. Nemesis/Poseidon is the Marshall; Pythia is the Spy. Medusas are Bombs; Heroes/Amazons are Miners. Pegasus is a Scout. Argus and Io are the Flags. Other characters add a few twists, and the 'board' is smaller and more changeable, but seeing so clearly this game's roots in Stratego made me a little less excited about it. It's a fine, fun game, but talk of 'genius' and 'best game of all time' and whatnot might be overstating things a bit.
Hera and Zeus looks like it has promise, but I was disappointed. I don't like the victory conditions (there are about four or five different ways the game can end - some very abrupt). And I didn't much like the blind luck 'strategy'. Ultimately, I didn't find it much fun to play.
If it weren't trying to be so much like "Stratego with cards", I feel it would be a better game.
On the other hand, Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation had the opposite effect on me. The victory conditions are well defined and logical. The strategy grows on you as you learn to utilize the abilities of the characters. A much better choice if you like this type of game, in my opinion.
This game came highly recommended to me as 'one of the best two player games on the market.' If that is the case, then there is a worse dearth of two player games than I thought. Among the multitude of problems with this game are the following:
1. There is far too much luck involved.
2. The Zeus and Hera cards are extraordinarily weak, and rarely, if ever, survive more than one turn. Why have the title characters have so little game effect? Sure, you can occasionally pull off a big move with the four actions you get in one turn, but this happens rarely.
3. Quite often the player dominating the game will lose due to running out of actions first. I can see the argument that you need to adjust your strategy to playing around this, but I find it silly to win a game when you have clearly been outplayed.
4. Far too many games are decided by running out of actions. This makes the game drag on and seems, as mentioned above, to result in a somewhat arbitrary winner.
Save your money on this game and pick up a copy of Starship Catan or Caracassone for two player gaming...and if anyone agrees with my opinion on this game, I would appreciate feedback on some other two player games: Hera and Zeus does not cut it.
When I bought Hera and Zeus, I expected a clever and good two-person game. But what a disappointment. This game draws heavily on Stratego, with action cards to add some spice. But since there is hardly any possibility to move your cards in play, strategic options are seriously limited. Adding the luck of the draw (you can't lose as long as you don't draw Io or Argus), this makes for a rather boring game, which doesn't make you feel the cleverer player when you win.
I may be missing something, but to me, it's a vastly inferior version of Stratego.
Hera and Zeus has been described as "Stratego Legends: the card game". That's probably as good a one-sentence summary as any, but H&Z certainly stands on its own as a wonderful two-player game.
The theme of battle between two Greek deities plays out nicely, with some cards (e.g. Medusa, Dionysus) being common to both sides and some being specific to one (Hera has Nemesis and Amazons; Zeus has Poseidon and Heroes). Many of the cards have mythological powers, sometimes in addition to and sometimes instead of a standard battle rating of 0 to 7.
Players each begin with their own shuffled deck of cards and choose the top nine as a starting hand. The initial placement of three cards is crucial, as it sets the stage for the rest of the game. With those three cards lined up across from each other, players then are faced with a series of choices on each turn: when to draw cards, when to play them, and when to challenge your opponent.
Drawing cards gives you more options, but doesn't have an immediate impact on the game. Playing cards can include setting them up for future use or using certain mythological cards immediately. Pegasus, for example, can be used to challenge a card from your opponent's hand. The challenges are very similar to Stratego--if the matchup is between two numbered cards, the higher number wins unless one of the cards has a special power that tilts the balance in some way.
It's important to keep your side of the field somewhat full of cards, as the number of columns you have (1 to 3) determines the number of action points you can spend on your turn. The presence of Hera or Zeus can give a player up to 4 action points to spend, again tying in nicely to the theme.
There are enough nuances to the game that many players will need a couple of rounds to catch on to the basic strategies. The game has sufficient depth to warrant numerous replays, but the ending can come quite quickly and without warning. There six ways to win the game, and more than one gives it a very random feeling. Still, the game generally plays in less than the listed 40 minutes and falls somewhere between a filler and a hardcore strategy game.
H&Z comes packed in the now-recognized Kosmos two-player game box with two decks of cards (43 cards in each deck) and two small wooden cubes, one representing Hera and the other Zeus.
This game may fall a little high on the luck scale for some readers, but those who enjoy games where tactics weigh at least as heavily as strategy will find Hera and Zeus to be a welcome addition to the game shelf.