About Me

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Seattle, Washington, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Age of Mythology

This is a little bit of an older game now (which makes me feel even older), but we recently blew the dust off of it. The results were surprisingly fun.

The game is based off the (also now old) computer game, Age of Mythology. However, there isn't really any connection beyond the name and some theming elements. While the computer game is in the RTS (real-time strategy) genre, the board game is decisively euro-style resource management.

Each player has their own board, in which they gather resources and possess terrain. The terrain is generic - mountain, hill, forest - and each tile of terrain comes with a resource type. When collect actions occur, those resource types determine what each player gets.

Also on each player's board is their city, or buildings, area. Resources can be spent on houses (which enhance production), or defensive buildings, or extra income buildings.

The overall goal of the game is to collect little red cubes, called victory cubes. This can be done either winning the first battle in a round, or meeting one condition at the end of the game: largest army, most buildings, or built the wonder (a tribute to the wonder victory in the RTS version).

Yes, an army can be built, but combat is as far away from the RTS version as possible. When attacking another player, a small selection of units are picked secretly from the other combatant, and once revealed, they attack in 1v1 combinations that results, more or less, in an overglorified rock-paper-scissors match. There is a dice pool mechanic here, so that even if player A has a rock and player B has paper, player A still has a chance to win.

When I first bought the game, I was a little put off at how different it was from the computer version. However, I've come to enjoy it quite a bit in its own right.

My favorite mechanic is the card deck. Each turn players get to perform three actions. However, their hand has more than 3 cards each turn. At the beginning of each turn, players can select "permanent" actions, such as Build, Recruit, or Explore. These are weak cards, but guarantee the player gets to do something he wants to. After picking those, the rest of the hand is filled out from the random action deck, which is a unique deck to each race in the game (Vikings, Egyptian, and Greek). These cards are all more powerful than the permanent actions, but of course might be drawn at a completely inopportune or non-useful time.

I really like gambling mechanics, and this one works well. Players inclined to gamble can sometimes execute a powerful win strategy, but of course at times will end up passing or performing a weak action because they can't use their cards effectively.

Probably the one carryover strategy from the RTS game is early resource production. It pays off to build houses and get terrain tiles as early as possible. The game is limited time (about 10 turns in a 3 player game) so spending the first 2 turns on heavy resource gain is most effective.

This game won't likely be everyone's go-to game to play, but it has some great positives for anyone that likes resource collection and management games. Anyone looking for the next Axis & Allies is better off looking elsewhere.

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