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Thunder & Lightning
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Thunder & Lightning

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Ages Play Time Players
13+ 40 minutes 2

Designer(s): Richard Borg

Publisher(s): Z-Man Games, Asmodee North America

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Product Description

In Thunder & Lightning, players take on the role of Thor or Loki and fight their way through an army in an epic mythological showdown. Because Loki has already stolen Odin's Crown, the Allfather has entrusted his son Thor with his prized ring of power, Draupnir, to help him defeat the vile trickster. But who really has what it takes to gain control over both relics and therefore claim the throne of Asgard?

Thunder & Lightning, a reimplementation of Hera and Zeus, features the same gameplay as the earlier design, but with larger decks of cards with a different distribution of powers.

In the game, each player starts with nine cards in hand, then places three cards face down in their first row, with these rows butting against one another and each player having space for four rows in their playing area. If a player loses a card in a row, then any cards in the same column behind this card slide forward to fill the empty slot. On a turn, a player has as many action points as the number of columns they have in the playing area. They can use these action points to draw cards, play cards to the battlefield, play a mythological card for its power, or challenge an opponent's card.

To challenge, the player chooses a card in their first row that abuts an opponent's card, then reveals both of them. Most cards have a strength value (0-7), and the card with the lower strength value is discarded, with the opponent's other cards in the same column then sliding forward.

If a player cannot use all of their actions or has no actions (due to having no cards on the battlefield) or loses control of Odin's Crown/Ring, then they lose the game.

Product Information

Product Reviews

Erik Arneson
July 31, 2000

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.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

Other Resources for Thunder & Lightning:

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