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Lords of Hellas


Adam Kwapinski

Awaken Realms

No. of Players:

G@mebox Star



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

The Greek myth, that's always a great theme for a boardgame. Zeus, Hermes, Heracles, Perseus for example. And then there are the seducers and monsters like Hydra, Medusa, Chimera. There is definitely enough matter to form a lovely boardgame. Most of these games are competitive ones, because the mythical stories are seldom peaceful. Quite the contrary they tell us about fierce battles, cunning heroes, treason and temptation. Lords of Hellas is the newest offspring in the world of mythical boardgames. And it is definitely a great one, I can tell you in advance.

But let us start at the beginning: You could call Lords of Hellas a pure miniature, area control game. And you will be right. But on the same time there are a lot other things going on. Quests have to be solved, monsters to be slain, and most notable monuments have to be build.

The game uses a huge board with a mythical map of old Greece. This map is divided into different lands, and each land again consisting of 3-4 regions. The first player who completely controls two of these lands, wins the game. But this only one way to win the game. You can also succeed, if you - at any time - control five regions with temples on it, or if you are the first player who has slain three monsters. And finally a fourth victory condition is activated after the completion of one of the three God monuments. As you will assume, there is more than one strategy to win the game...

So, let us first see what you get to reach your aims: At the beginning each player chooses one of the well-known heroes (Heracles, Perseus, Achilles or Helen). Each hero has his own special ability and a starting bonus that slightly alters the three attributes (leadership, strength and speed) of the hero. The current value of each attribute is recorded in an army board that is placed on the button of the Hero board. The same army board is also used to build a priest pool of the hero and to record which special actions the player has already carried out. Thus making it a kind of control area for your hero.

But battles can't be fought without an army, and so we are equipped with plenty miniatures for Hoplites and Priests too. However, we are only allowed to start the game with two of these Hoplites and - of course - our Hero in one single region of the board. It is not even certain, that we take control of that region, because the strength of our army must reach the populations strength. And when you learn that this population strength varies between 2 and 5, and each of our Hoplites has only a strength of 1, you will know that it is not a matter of course that you will take over the control.

If however you think that your Hero will help you controling the area, you are wrong. Only one hero, Achilles, can contribute to the army strength. Heroes have other obligations in Lords of Hellas, as you will see later on. First let us go back to what you can do in your turn. Each turn starts with regular actions. These actions can be performed in any order, but each regular action can only be chosen once. Of course, there is the hero movement to move your hero miniature from one region to another. The same applies to your hoplites. Both actions are limited by your current level in speed and leadership respectively.

Another regular action is to send one of your available priests to a monument, where he or she worships the divinity. As a result, your prayer will be heard, and your hero will increase an attribute. Depending on the current state of construction of the monument there will be also more advantages. Finally you can use one of your artefacts as a regular action, at least if you have one.

Now, after the regular actions, you can exactly perform one of the available special actions. With these actions you can recruit new Hoplites in regions you control with a city, build temples in regions with a shrine, march all of your Hoplites from one region to an adjacent one, hunt for monsters in the same region of your hero, and usurp a region, if you have a corresponding glory token. You see there are a lot of different choices. But each of these actions can only be chosen once(you mark a used action on your army board), until any player decides to use the special action 'build monument'. At the beginning of the game, there are only the three monument foundations for Zeus, Athena and Hermes on the board. And with building monument action, a player chooses one of the monuments and places the next element to it. As a result, the monuments grow in hight, an impressive sight. Additionally, this action serves as a reset for the special actions, so every player takes back his used action markers from the army board again. Also, all priests on the monuments are returned to their owners.

But the build monument action also triggers a monster phase, in which all active monsters on the board randomly attack the region or move to another regions of the board. Finally, an event card is drawn, which either opens a new quest, where heroes can proove why they are called heroes, evolves monsters that are already on the map, or introduces new monsters to the mythical world we are in.

Let's now focus a little bit on the battles of Lord of Hellas: for both kind of fightings, against monsters and opposing Hoplites, you use the same combat cards. The upper half of the card is used for the fight against the monsters, while the lower half is used for the fight against our fellow players. Each monster comes with its own monster tray that shows us several places, where we can wound the monster. But each place is also associated with a special type of weapon, thus you need the right combat cards to wound the monster. A monster only dies after the last wound symbol has been hit, and only then the hero gets the whole reward. Of course a monster can strike back, when you fight against it. Although a hero cannot die in Lord of Hellas, a wound significantly weakens him or her, because one of his or her attributes is decreased to one.

A battle against other players is carried out as soon as a player sends Hoplites to a region with Hoplites of another player. Maybe you still remember that each Hoplite counts as one strength, so the more Hoplites a player has in the region, the higher his chances to win the battle. But the battle is influenced by combat cards too. Beginning with the defending player, each of the opponents can play combat cards to increase the strength of his army. But beware! The more powerful a combat card, the higher the casualties you must take in your own army. An excessive use of power cards might even end up in a pyrrhic victory, with no Hoplites of the winner remaining in the region.

Although Lord of Hellas is not a difficult game, it is impossible to go in all details in this review. All rules are quite simple, but still they are deep. And they feel to be perfectly right. There is so much going on, that you are quite thankful, that there are not more details like region bonuses or something like that. The manual gets along with 14 pages, and after the first half of your first game, you should have no more problems with the rules. But still the game is extremely insensitive and electric.

What's really fascinating in Lord of Hellas are the different ways to win the game. The game completely feels different whether you establish a mighty army to control more and more regions, or you work your way out to be a monster slayer. But it is never possible to completely disregard one discipline of the game. The limitations in the choices of the special actions forces you to recruit and march from time to time, even if you rather would like to hunt. But on the other hand, it is more than necessary to watch out what your opponents are doing, and a stronger army has never hurt one...

And this brings us nearly to the end of these review. You will have noticed that I love this game. But what's really brilliant: the game comes with completely independent rules for a solo play. A whole campaign book let's you fight against a Persian invasion. Monsters become more powerful in this variant, and lots of random events modify the game. This solo variant is one of the best solo games I've played so far.

All in all, I can only raise my hat to Adam Kwapinski, the auther, and Marcin Swierkot, the game developer. And of course to AWAKEN REALMS, because the game is really brilliant concerning the game material and the illustrations on the cards, trays and board. It doesn't always have to be COOL MINI OR NOT, when you think about miniature games. Thumps up and a G@mebox Star from me!

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Copyright © 2018 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany