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Matagot released its first giant-sized game in 2006, and the run on that mountainous pile of Khronos was amazing to watch. Since then, Matagot has released one giant-sized game annually, with Cyclades from Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc being the 2009 release designed to stretch your Ikea bag to the utmost.
In Cyclades, players control one of the five major pre-Grecian cities -- Sparta, Athens, Corinth, Thebes and Argos -- and they're using their wealth, troops and relationship with the Gods to bring them prestige among their peers. To win, you must be the first to own two Metropolises, and you can obtain them through building, through intellectual development or through battle.
In addition to having five gold pieces (GP), each player starts the game with two fleets and control of two islands on a gameboard that's specific to the number of players. Each turn, you lay out mythological creatures (with 1-3 available from a deck of 18), determine the order of the Gods, collect revenue, make an offering to one of the five Gods, then perform actions. These last two steps are the most involved. First, players make offerings to the Gods through an Evo-style bidding system, with each player making some bid in turn order. If you are outbid, then you must immediately make a new offering to a different God. In the end, only one player can make an offering to Poseidon, Areas, Zeus and Athena, while any number of players can appeal to Apollo. (He's not choosy.)
Once the bids are set, players pay their offerings, then take actions following the order of the Gods: Poseidon offers a fleet, Ares a troop, Zeus a priest and Athena a philosopher. You can pay GP to purchase one or more extra items of the same type, depending on the God. You can also build certain buildings -- a port if Poseidon favors you, a temple for Zeus, and so on -- for 2 GP per building or pay to bring one or more mythological creatures under your employ. Certain Gods allow you to move fleets or troops in order to attack opponents, with battle being resolved through a die roll modified by the number of troops/fleets involved on both sides, modified by ports or fortresses.
If you choose Apollo, you have no actions available to you because you are sad and poor, or perhaps because you prefer charity to more active work. Apollo gives you 4 GP if you own only one isle (perhaps due to being attacked by others, in which case you probably need the handout) or 1 GP if you have multiple islands. He also boosts the productivity of one island by 1 GP for the remainder of the game. (Naturally this will make that island an even bigger takeover target!)
You acquire Metropolises in one of three ways:
- You build one. As soon as you have all four different buildings on your isles, you immediately discard them and add one Metropolis, which has the power of all buildings, to one of your islands.
- You conquer one. If someone else has a Metropolis, you can attempt to overcome his defenses and take it for your own. A "mercy" rule prevents you from attacking the last island owned by a player – unless a victory in that attack would win you the game, in which case you're free to send in the troops.
- You think your way to one. If you own four philosphers, you immediately discard them and place a Metropolis on one of your islands. I didn't realize that the Greeks were keyed in to The Secret and the "Law of Attraction," but here's a good example of it!
Acquire two Metropolises, and you win the game at the end of the current round. If two or more players have achieved this goal, then the one with the most GP wins, so make nice-nice with Medusa and the Harpies and start island-hopping...
Langauges: English, French, German, Dutch, Russian & Greek
Description written by W. Eric Martin and used with permission of BoardgameNews.com
Players: 2 - 5
Time: 60 - 90 minutes
Weight: 1,805 grams
Language Requirements: Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English). This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.