Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Arno Steinwender &
Wilfried Lepuschitz


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Deukalion, Hercules, Perseus and Achilles - four Heroes from Greek Mythology of greatest reknown have left Athens with a ship full of faithful followers in search of treasures and glory. They have set sails to found colonies, plunder cities, fulfil quests and fight the vicious Hydra, and on their way they will be assisted by the innovative dice cup "Kylix".

Each player starts the game with a ship loaded with 10 followers which is placed on one of the Harbour spaces of Athens. In addition, each player receives three randomly drawn Action cards and one Quest cards which they take to their hand. The gameboard is prepared by placing the card decks at their appropriate spaces (with the topmost two Quest cards being revealed), randomly distributing 15 treasures of 5 colours at different cities, and placing the Hydra figure at its starting space.

As indicated, the most interersting innovation in the game is the Kylix, a transparent dice cup with depressions for a total of five dice. When using the Kylix, the players shake it like a dice cup, but instead of emptying it on the table they just stop shaking and the five dice simply drop into the appropriate slots. Four of the slots are located in a cross-shape around the outer edge, whereas the fifth dice stays in the middle of the Kylix. Each dice shows the numbers from "1" to "3".

During his turn, the active player first shakes the Kylix, and then he has to decide how to use the four dice in the outer slots. He will place the Kylix onto the central space of the gameboard and may rotate it so that the four outer dice will align to different action-symbols, and by rotating the Kylix he may influence how many points he assigns to each of the actions. However, before the active player has to place the Kylix and starts acting himself, each of the other players has a chance to move his ship up to the number of spaces indicated by the central dice in the Kylix.

However, whereas the other players only have the chance to move their ships and possibly act at their destination spaces by founding a Colony or attacking a City or another player, the active player has a widened choice of actions. So, the four symbols around the Kylix mean that he moves his ship, takes Action cards, gets back some lost followers from the Underworld and moves the Hydra. All these actions are performed by the active player in an order of his choice.

The most important action is - of course - the movement of the player's ship and the possible performance of an action at the ship's destination. If the ship ends its movement next to an unoccupied Settlement space, the player may move the indicated number of followers from his ship to the Settlement space to found a Colony, and as long as the Colony is intact the player can add the number of followers there to his total score of victory points. However, an attack must be made if a player wants to take over a Colony from another player, and likewise an attack is needed for taking a treasure from a City or for stealing a treasure or an Action card from another player.

An attack on a City or Colony is made by taking all figures from the attacking player's ship and rolling them like dice. If a figure lands on its front it is slain and is placed in the Underworld, whereas a figure landing on its backside will count for one point of combat strength. Figures landing on their side or remaining standing will count for a half point of combat strength each. Both Cities and Colonies have a fixed defense value, and only if the total combat strength of the attacker is higher than the defense value he may plunder one treasure from a City or take over the Colony by replacing the followers of the other player with some of his own. A battle between the ships of two players is conducted likewise, with the difference that bother players "roll" their followers to determine the outcome of the battle. The winner then may take either a treasure or an Action card from the looser.

As indicated, slain followers are placed in the Underworld, but they may be retrieved either by the active player using the Kylix or by sailing to the river Styx, the entrance to the Underworld. A player coming to the Underworld must take back as many of his followers as he can fit on his ship, and in addition the player with most followers in the Underworld receives a bonus of two victory points when he comes to pick up his followers.

The game will be won by the player who first acquires a certain amount of victory points, and so far two possibilities have been introduced to get victory points - the Underworld majority rule and the Colonies. However, even more important for the collection of victory points are the Quest cards. One such card is distributed to each player at the start of the game, and two additional Quest cards are openly available on the gameboard. Each of the Quest cards shows two different quests, and these quests may be the delivery of a treasure of a certain colour to Athens, leaving a follower as an ambassador in a City, discarding some Action cards at a city or attacking the Hydra or another player. If a player performs one of the quests on either one of the two open Quest cards or the Quest card on his hand, he may place the card face up in front of himself and he will receive the indicated amount of victory points for the successful quest. The Quest card from the player's hand is not replaced, but any card taken from the open display is instantly replaced by a new card from the deck.

Having not yet dealt with the Hydra, it is important to mention that a player may only attack the Hydra if a corresponding Quest card is available. However, the active player also has to align one of the dice in the Kylix to a Hydra symbol, and thus each active player will be allowed to move the Hydra between 1 and 3 spaces. In difference to the players' ships, the Hydra may be moved to attack a player, and combat against the Hydra is dealt with in the same way as other combat. The involved player "rolls" his followers, and if he succeeds in getting 5 or more points of combat strength the Hydra is defeated and victory points will be awarded.

Some additional spice and complexion is brought into the game through the Action cards which the players may use to perform specific actions at the time indicated on the card. Some of these cards allow the retrieval of up to three followers from the Underworld, while others give a counterattack, allow the exchange of treasures, increase a ship's range, give a combat advantage against the Hydra etc. These cards make the game slightly less predictable, since a player never knows what his opponents will have up their sleeve.

Deukalion is a typical family boardgame with heroes, a vicious monster and lots of dice rolling (or better: "throwing followers"). Looking back at the first two game in the PARKER-series of of Author's games which were Tal der Abenteuer by Reiner Knizia and Origo by Wolfgang Kramer, the Authors of Deukalion Arno Steinwender and Wilfried Lepuschitz are unknown to the gaming scene. However, in comparison to the two earlier games this new titles stands apart by the fact that the author's succeeded in creating a game with a higher degree of player interaction. The elements of combat, taking treasures, moving the Hydra and Underworld-majorities mean that players will constantly influence the decisions of each other, and it is these constant clashes between the players which make the game attractive if played with three or four players.

A very nice gadget is the Kylix, since it introduces an element of luck through rolling dice while at the same time turning the dice-roll into strategy by putting the dice into fixed positions and giving the active player the challenge of how to align the Kylix best to the different available actions. Likewise, the "rolling" of the followers is just more fun than determining the outcome of a combat by a simple roll of the dice, and at the same time this easy mechanism also shows a player's casualties.

Depending on the Quest cards available and the different factors on the gameboard (treasures, followers in the Underworld, positioning of the Hydra), the players will try to develop short term goals which they will try to pursue for a number of turns in order to get some victory points. Even the following of a long-term Underworld-strategy might be tried, since even loosing combats might become attractive due to the Underworld-majority rule. Over all, Deukalion certainly is no strategic heavyweight, and my initial hope which was kindled by the box cover that the game might involve Greek mythology a bit more through interesting missions and personalities was not really fulfilled. However, the game offers just the right degree of strategy to keep an easy-to-learn family game attractive after the initial round or two. Coupled with rather colourful but still fitting artwork and an average playing duration, I consider Deukalion to be the yet strongest addition to PARKER's series of Author's games.

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany