Age of Mythology: The Boardgame
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Age of Mythology, the tremendously popular real-time strategy game from Ensemble Studios and Microsoft, gets the Eagle Games treatment!
Age of Mythology: the Board game takes the popular computer game and enhances it by including three hundred miniatures in thirty-eight sculpts. With literally piles of different mythological creatures and warriors, players create huge armies to conquer their neighbors. The game is not simply all about combat, as players must build up cities with a variety of buildings and resources that they produce each turn. Players must make raids against each other, attempting to destroy buildings, capture territories, and steal victory points. All of this combines with the stunning components to make a balanced, interesting game for two to four players.
The ultimate real-time strategy game jumps off the screen and onto your tabletop! A game of epic proportions...
In Age of Mythology, you will:
For those who like a great theme attached to their strategy games, Age of Mythology will be hard to beat.
The components are worth having in their own right, with 6 sets of detailed miniatures, and superb artwork on the boards and cards.
Add to this an original blend of resource management, City Building and evolving mortal and mythical creatures in battle (coupled with plenty of divine intervention from each race) and you have the perfect recipe for a great nights entertainment.
I know there will be some pure strategists that may shy away from the luck elements of the battle dice but the science of probabilities can be a considered strategy in it's own right. My personal preference has been to reduce the luck element by including the 5 and the 6's as hits and this generally ensures that the stronger units win through.
A particularly interesting element to the game is the 4 Victory objectives. On each turn, the Players allocate victory points to each or any of the games objectives: Largest Army/Most Buildings/The Wonder/Winning the last battle. This ensures that there is no perfect gameplan to guarantee a win and keeps you alert to the ever changing possiblities.
Above all, Age of Mythology is a rewarding and entertaining game and should appeal to a broad spectrum of gamers who have a couple of hours to spare.
One small caveat that I have is that it is possible for inexperienced players to get wiped out early in the game. Don't let this put you off the game as there are strategies to prevent this happening. A little advice from a more experienced player should be a pre-requisite for any beginner.
A great game and great addition to the list of American games by American designers. This game is a mix of resource management, empire building, and conquest. Like any great games, there are more than one way to acheive victory with many tough decisions to be made along the way. Each player starts out as the ruler of a civilization based on its mythology (Greeks, Norse, or Egyptian). Also, each player has their own game board divided into gridded areas for a city, land development, and army units. Each civilization has its own unique flavored units and terrain though all the buildings for cities are the same for all. Creatures are divided into mortal, mythical, and heroic, each having special abilities that benefit them in combat. Players will progress through 4 eras beginning with the archaic and ending with the mythical. In each round of play, each player will select a hand of cards based on the actions they wish to perform during the round. You begin with the selection of 4 cards in the 1st era and may choose an additional card for each era, so if you progress to the final era, you will be able to choose 7 cards for your hand. From this hand, you will only be able to play 3 cards in any given round. The start player will rotate each round. Obviously, it's better to progress your civilization along to acquire more cards and have more choices for play in a round. The objective is to gain the most victory point cubes by the end of the game. An interesting mechanism is how victory points are obtained. There are 4 cards on which victory points accumulate. They are: Largest Army, Largest City, Building the Wonder, and Winning the most recent battle. Of the 4, all are won at the end of the game except Winning the most recent battle. In each round, the first 3 players in turn place one victory point on a card of their choice. Right from the start, the decision is yours on deciding what to strive towards. If you have a weaker army, it would be best to go for the largest city win and place your victory points there (and so on). There are only 30 victory point cubes in the game, so at 3 cubes a turn, you're sure that the game will never exceed 10 turns. There are other ways to get victory points as well such as building a Temple building that allows you to convert certain resources (favor cubes) into victory points. Other than the battle sequence, interaction is constant and downtime for players is minimized. Certain actions such as explore and harvest will affect all other players as well. During the game, it's best to play cards that give you an advantage and hinder your opponents.
Combat involves deciding whether to attack an opponent's city (to destroy a building), land (to steal a resource tile), or reserves (to raid their cubes). Each player selects a number of units of their choice (usually 4) and then fight the units one on one in turn. Here's where the dice rolling comes in and can slow the game a bit. The player rolling the most 6's in a battle eliminates the other unit. The units are well balanced and provide a number of special abilities from adding extra dice to your rolls, to resurrecting or stealing opponent's units. Certain units can only be purchased if you have progressed to a more advanced era. In a four or more player game, combat is limited to attacking only the neighbor to your left or right. This eliminates some of the ganging up on the leader syndrome. You have the option to play as teams with an even number of players though ultimately there will be one winner.
Building your city involves the purchase of buildings that also provide special abilities. Storage facilities allow you to store more resources at the end of a turn to avoid spoilage, walls and towers add extra dice in battles, and armories give you extra units in battle. There are 14 different buildings though it's unlikely you'll be able to build every one of them. Again, the choice is yours on which ones to build that will aid your objectives.
So what about the bits you ask? Fabulous and plentiful. There are hundreds of minatures from the mundane builder and archer to the mysterious wadjets, mummies, medusa and more oh my! Not to mention the hero units. There's wood in the box! Plenty of wooden cubes to represent the resources. There's dice (though you'll probably want more). There's colorful game boards for up to 6 players, though to play with 5-8 players, you'll have to order some extra cubes and building tiles. I liked this aspect since most people will probably play with 3-4 players and you don't have to shell out more money for something you might not use. The rules are very well written and tight. There's not much that can be misconstrued. For that matter, if you want to read the rules before purchasing the game, trot over to the Eagle Games web site and they have them there for you to download and read. There's lots of examples including a walkthrough of a battle sequence. Definately a very low fart factor once everything is placed in the box and definately a great bits to bucks value.
Ultimately what we have is a game that has borrowed elements from the likes of great games such as Settlers, Civilization (AH version), and Puerto Rico or Way out West. The designer has even admitted to influence from some of the afore mentioned games. However, the game has managed to achieve its own unique flavor and distinguishes itself as a unique game, not revolutionary, but evolutionary in nature. It has the elements of a good game. There are plenty of decisions to be made about what actions to take since you can't do everything you want in a turn. There are multiple ways to achieve victory. There's a built in time limit. There's plenty of interaction and nobody is permanently knocked out of the game. It's truly a game that bridges the best elements of Euro and American type board games.
So what's not to like? Well it's certainly not the real time, build and combat computer game that it was based on. If you're expecting the computer game you need not purchase or play this one. There is combat and dice rolling, though combat is only one small element of the game. So if fighting is against your ethics, best stay away and stick to Settlers. It will take you at least 2 hours to play and possibly up to 3+ if it's your first time learning the game and you have a full compliment of 4 or more players. So if you want the Euro game that clocks in under 90 minutes, steer clear. On the other hand, you won't be playing Risk until 4am either.
So should you buy it? Well, I could probably go into another 2 pages of explaining the game and praising the number of choices to be made along with strategies for changing situations. There's plenty more depth to the game than I care to paraphrase here. My suggestion is purchase the game. I would certainly rank it in my top 10 of this year's choices. It's screaming a loud 95 db on the Mulder Meter. But at the very least, read the rules at the publisher's website, then balance it with reviews posted here to make your own decision. Cheers, I'm off to build the wonder.
I just got back from a major gaming con, and i played in 4 games of age of mythology with 3 other
players each, and all of the players LOVED IT.
its ez to play and lots of fun. it does take about
4 hrs per game. i was attacked and lost my first 3 battles, but guess what i still one. all you have to do is use some tactics. witch is half the fun.
and all the sides are = they just have there own tactics you need to use.
The latest miniatures game from Eagle is another computer port, this time involving the best selling game from Microsoft. Once again, Eagle has attempted to capture the flavour of the computer game in a boardgame. The computer game is a real time strategy (RTS) game with a multitude of actions underway at once. These include gathering resources of various types, erecting buildings, improving your army and then fighting enemy armies. There seem to be several objectives on following this path. Firstly, to attract people who know the computer game to boardgaming (good) and secondly to make the board game feel like the computer game. Does this work and does the boardgame simulate the computer game?
The first significant change from other Eagle designs is the lack of a giant board. In fact any main board at all. Instead each player receives their own player board, which is split into three areas. The first is a general holding area for resources and your armies; the second represents your city and is where you erect your buildings (as in Puerto Rico); and the third is where your mines are placed and crops sown. This is called your resource producing area and is similar but not identical to Puerto Rico's crops area. Each player board shows a map of the area they control, which is where the resource tiles are placed. These maps are different for the chosen cultures, so Egyptians have more desert tiles and a scattering of fertile areas, the Norse have more mountains and the Greeks have more hills.
The initial set up of the game sees a series of resource tiles available to be placed on this third area. These cover the five different types of resource that are available but not in any direct relationship, so fertile tiles come in flavours that produce green resources (food), brown (wood), yellow (gold), and blue (favour of the gods). Mountains (one of the other types of terrain) produce mainly gold while deserts mainly produce favour. The initial drawing of these tiles allows players to place the resources one at a time on their player boards, but only on the terrain shown on their maps. This means that you can often ensure that you get the resources that can only be played on your player board and may provide a slight advantage in the set-up.
Clearly it was not possible to include the real-time aspect. It has been replaced by a simultaneous choice of action cards which determine what you can do each round. This works rather well, as each player has a fixed set of cards as well as the option of getting better cards from a face-down pack. The fixed set contains
Gathering (resources are produced from the resource tiles) - this affects all players;
Exploring (get more resource tiles to add to the player boards) - this also affects all players;
Building (allows constriction of buildings);
Trading (swapping resources with the bank);
Recruiting (build armies and pay resources for these);
Attacking (other players)'
Moving to a new age (access to better and more powerful units and more cards in your hand).
Each round players decide how many cards to take from the fixed deck (initially, up to 4), and the balance comes from the random face-down deck. These cards are always better than the fixed deck, but you may not get the one you like. As you may have spotted, there are 7 types of action and only 4 cards to choose. Do you want to guarantee an action? Then you have to choose from the fixed deck. As only 3 of these cards will be used in a round, there is some flexibility in what you do, but if you take a random card it may not be the one you want. At the end of playing and acting upon the three cards, the remaining cards are either held in the hand or discarded. The fixed deck is always available, so the issue is whether to retain any random cards for the next round. This system works very well and is one of the best aspects of the game.
Initially play focuses around getting more resources. These are then translated into buildings (which mainly add higher levels of resource gathering, such as the granary, which allows an extra 2 grain to be received when the player gathers resources). Houses can be built which confer no special advantage in the building, but add a worker, who can be assigned to a resource tile and increases the amount of resource gathered on that tile by one.
There are a number of nice touches that feel right in the game. One such is the gather option, which allows the player who plays the cards to choose what type of resources can be collected. This will either be to receive resources from a terrain type (say, desert) in which you have an advantage or a particular resource type (say green, which is food) from all terrains producing food. The choice is dependent on the situation the player sees themselves in and what they need to buy with their resources. If several players play gather in a row, it is likely that the stock of resources will run low and mean that players who receive their resources late in a turn receive fewer of one type than they are due to get. But that's part of the game.
The random card that increases gathering is a ``gather all'', which means that every resource tile is used to gather resources. This often causes stock-outs in some resources.
The two actions that distinguish the different cultures are recruiting and fighting. Each player has access to a range of sculpted plastic models that represent the troop types of each culture. Initially these are mortal units, and fairly weak, but later on the game heroes and mythical beasts are available.
Which leads nicely to the combat. This takes place when a player uses an attack card, which shows the number of units used by each player. These are chosen in secret and then each player shows the composition of their army. For each different type of unit, the player takes a card of that type, such as an elephant, archer or hydra. Each player selects a unit to fight the first of the battles which are always one-on-one confrontations. Dice are rolled based on the strength of the unit and the winner is the unit that gets the most 6's. All OK so far. Obviously you put your best (strongest) units out first. But the game then introduces big benefits for getting the right match ups. These can cause huge swings in the number of dice thrown. For example, the Greek Cyclops (a giant Myth unit) is +4 dice against Mortals - basic cavalry and warriors - but the Norse dwarf is +7 dice against Giants. So if the Norse army includes cavalry and dwarves, while the Greek army includes Cyclops and a Greek hero (+4 against Myth units), the Greek player cannot risk the Cyclops as the dwarf may get played, while the Norse player doesn't want to risk the dwarf (a myth unit) against the Greek hero. Someone will guess wrong and gain a significant advantage. (and in armies with 7 different troop types, the guessing is even harder to make out.
This makes the selection of your fighters more of a lottery. Either you will accept the ups and downs of this system or you'll not. My own view is that the battle resolution detracts from the general level of strategy that the rest of the game offers. This is a pity as I like the rest of the game's systems and in particular the card and resource systems.
How does the combat compare to the computer game? In RTS games the number of units has a major bearing on the outcome. In the board game, the numbers of units are usually the same, so the game has a different feel to its computer based cousin.
Victory conditions are set using a novel system. Each turn red victory point cubes are allocated by players to four areas:
* the player with largest army at the end of the game
* the player with most buildings at the end of the game
* the player who builds a wonder
* the winner of the last battle
As these accumulate, the different areas become more attractive. Players can only afford to focus on one or two of these as they will not have the resources to cover more areas. The apparent logic of these areas can force players into specific courses of action.
In a three player game, if player A and player B fight and weaken one another, then the beneficiary of this is player C. This person can now dominate the army side by building a bigger army faster than the other players. While A and B might challenge player C on army building, they have to play catch-up and realising this, will choose instead to focus on erecting buildings. This situation can arise after the initial build up phase and seems to be caused by the way in which victory points are earned. The only short term goal is to earn victory points for battles. Given the uncertainty over battles, this cannot be at all assured. So missing from the game are any mid-game goals, which either lead to or earn victory points themselves.
So where does that leave Age of Mythology? I like the early build up, the card system and the how resources are earned. I don't mind the randomness of using dice in battles but the lottery over match-ups is not enjoyable. Despite this, the game overcomes these downsides and still produces a game that I'll play again, but it is not the rounded product that the computer game has become in its own environment.