Tales of Ulysse
List Price: $19.95
Your Price: $17.95
(Worth 1,795 Funagain Points!)
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Heroes of the Trojan War, Ulysses and his shipmates set sail for their triumphant journey home to Ithica. Unknown to them, however, the long battle for the city of Troy has created foes as well as friends among the gods of Olympus. What should be a short journey on familiar waters instead turns out to be an incredible adventure.
Based entirely upon Homer's poem The Odyssey, players assume the role of Ulysses and pilot one of his four ships through unknown seas populated by the most famous creatures of myth and legend. Among their challenges they must weather the storms sent by Poseidon, resist the charms of Circe and Calypso, outwit the Cyclopes, navigate the straits between Seylla and Charibdis and endure the enchanting songs of the Sirens.
Every player will arrive in Ithica transformed into a hero... their journey worthy of an epic poem!
At first glance, I was somewhat disappointed with TALES OF ULYSSE (ToU). Initially, you'll notice that there will be lots of empty space in the interior component tray since all you receive is a set of rules, 4 cardboard ships (with plastic bases), a mounted board, and 30 cards--that's it. Next, gameplay reminded me of one step up from CANDYLAND, albeit with the ancients theme. And the rules and cards were not as helpful as they could have been (i.e. the -1 modifier on the special weapons cards, but a +1 modfier in the rules; the Poseidon card should have a note that it is removed, not discarded, after use, etc). Finally, the penalties for a shipwreck (lose all your treasure, discard your weapon, then roll to get displaced to a island) were just too severe.
But... after a few plays, this title really grows on you. To start, there are two paths that players can choose from, one short and dangerous, the other long but safer. Each participant receives a special weapon (bow, shield, lance, or helmet) that may help them overcome certain challenges. As your ship sails the sea, there are places on the board where an Encounter card is drawn. These encounters range from Fog, Mist, Gods, Creatures, Treasure, etc. If an obstacle is met, you will generally have to overcome it via a dice roll before continuing to move. Victory is gained by being the first ship to arrive in the home port. It takes about 45 minutes to finish the game.
I must applaud the designer (Ed Wimble) for constructing this game around Homer's classic tale. What a great way to introduce the kids to the mythical tales of the past.
Also, ToU is a perfect stepping-stone to introduce youngsters to the next level of gaming after CHUTES & LADDERS and such similar efforts.
Still, you might want to modify the shipwreck penalties to reduce frustration and speed up gameplay, with any number of house rules easily implemented.
The bottom line is that my kids (ages 7 and 9) keep asking me to play this game. After 7 sessions, their enthusiasm hasn't waned at all.
When viewed through the eyes of the children whom are the target audience for this game, I can declare TALES OF ULYSSE a clear winner. So hear the 'Sirens' call to purchase and play this game, but just try not to crash your boat onto the shore!