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Subject: Initial thoughts and review rss

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Sam
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I woke up this morning thinking about hoplites, and monsters, and Heracles. I had lost, just barely, last night and kept running through alternative strategies in my head. Could I have focused more on hunting monsters? Maybe just build some temples, draw lots of combat cards, and go hunting? Argh! But then I'd have to build monuments to reset my actions every few turns and without an army to defend them I'd let another player swoop in and steal a Monument victory!

This game is surprisingly good. And I say surprisingly because anyone who has followed Kickstarter games knows the reputation these miniatures-laden games have; all style, no substance. You get sucked into the art, the minis, the expansions, and when the game finally ships it turns out to be rubbish and you never play it again. I was expecting the same thing here. Sure, I backed it and put a pretty penny into it, but as the months went on, the dread set in. Of course, I'd be conned yet again by a glitzy theme and the promise of plastic.

But, this game is surprisingly good. It's well-balanced, the multiple victory conditions mean players have options, and when one avenue closes another opens up. In the aforementioned game, the player who won completed a monument and consolidated his forces to defend it, leaving open several temple regions. I went from hopelessness to being able to execute a blitz capture of 3 temples in one turn for a surprise victory. But just before I could the third player smashed into my forces and wiped out a region because I was unwittingly standing in the way of his victory.

There are a couple mechanics that really make this game special. My favorite is that each region has a latent strength required to control it, from 2 to 5 hoplites. But once a region has been controlled by a player, if they leave it empty it only takes 1 hoplite to take it from them. This means you are always having to balance forward progress with shoring up your flanks. It means that abilities that allow you to sneak behind enemy lines and recruit troops are very powerful and can shake-up a stalemate.
The other key mechanic is that each special action (your really good ones) can only be used once until someone resets everything by building a monument. This forces you to diversify as you can't just repeatedly hunt monsters, or recruit units; and that the reset can come at any time means there's an element of gambling involved. Do you think someone's about to build a monument after your turn? Well, maybe you'll get a back-to-back use of this power, what can you do with that?

I would recommend this game, if you like area control, if you like shifting strategy and heavy player-interaction, if you like Inis, I think you'll like this too. Though it's not without it's faults.

The game is not as tight as Inis, there are more mechanics, more systems, and it can get a bit fiddly. With the need to reference the manual for clarifications between cards and rules. The manual could do with a reference or an FAQ, and some more exposition. One example that has confused multiple players: Achilles special power adds his Speed/Strength to your army power, making people believe he acts as a hoplite in other regards, like being able to defend provinces on his own. His special power could clarify that better.
To the game's immense credit though, I've screwed up or forgotten some major rules in games so far and we still enjoyed it.

Back to those copious miniatures, the company offered a service called Sun Drop which purports to pre-shade the miniatures. Unfortunately, the reality doesn't turn out so well. Rather than being pre-shaded, the miniatures look like they've been sprayed badly with primer. It's a stark black/white contrast, it's uneven, and it looks like rubbish. For those of you considering that option, save the money and just pass it up; plain miniatures will look better. I'm going to end up re-priming them just to cover up the Sun Drop. That doesn't detract from the playability of course, but for a game where aesthetics are forefront, especially where the sculpts themselves are so good, it matters.

One last note, I was disappointed with the games depiction of women. There are precious few female miniatures in the game to begin with, and the one's that are present display all the dated fantasy stereotypes. Boob-armor, lingerie instead of clothes, etc. I want to see female characters that look like normal people, I want them to have badass armor that actually looks functional.

Criticisms aside, this is a very fun game, and I'm looking forward to more play-throughs.
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Dustin Crenshaw
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perforin wrote:
One last note, I was disappointed with the games depiction of women. There are precious few female miniatures in the game to begin with, and the one's that are present display all the dated fantasy stereotypes. Boob-armor, lingerie instead of clothes, etc.


I do agree there isn't enough female models in the game. But you do realize a bunch of the guys are in little clothes too right? It's the artstyle they went with, and it's consistent.
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Sam
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Sure, there's plenty of bare-chested men, but it's not the same. Fighting bare-chested with nothing but a loose loin cloth and straps of letter is reasonably conceivable and not sexualized. Fighting in a bikini on the other hand... would you ever wear a bikini into a battle?
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Jason Peacock
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perforin wrote:
Sure, there's plenty of bare-chested men, but it's not the same. Fighting bare-chested with nothing but a loose loin cloth and straps of letter is reasonably conceivable and not sexualized. Fighting in a bikini on the other hand... would you ever wear a bikini into a battle?


I'd wear a Man-kini.
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Jason Parham
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perforin wrote:
Sure, there's plenty of bare-chested men, but it's not the same. Fighting bare-chested with nothing but a loose loin cloth and straps of letter is reasonably conceivable and not sexualized. Fighting in a bikini on the other hand... would you ever wear a bikini into a battle?


A guy wearing a loin cloth into battle is conceivable?

A loin cloth is no less ridiculous than a bikini.
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Sam
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This argument has been made countless times across the internet. Suffice to say, a great many people see the bikini-clad women of fantasy tropes to be fundamentally different than the over-muscular, shirtless men. If, for the sake of intellectual honesty, you'd like to seek out their arguments, then you can find them readily online, and in much better form than I could make.
For those of us who see that difference, this game is problematic. Still a very fun game though.
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zoran
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What argument has been made countless times? A loin cloth and a bikini offer the same amount of bodily protection. Why don't you show some intellectual honesty and admit it?
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Trent Y.
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Thanks for the review.

It's sad that some people will immediately and exclusively leap onto the part about women.
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stavros tsiakalos
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Goreyok wrote:

A guy wearing a loin cloth into battle is conceivable?

A loin cloth is no less ridiculous than a bikini.


Well, historically naked combat is a thing even if rare and sources not always reliable (though in the case of ancient Greece probably just part of the heroic art style and not actually a reality).
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Will Boothby
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perforin wrote:
One last note, I was disappointed with the games depiction of women. There are precious few female miniatures in the game to begin with, and the one's that are present display all the dated fantasy stereotypes. Boob-armor, lingerie instead of clothes, etc. I want to see female characters that look like normal people, I want them to have badass armor that actually looks functional.


*Shrug* I like "Boob-armor" and personally think it looks bad ass. I also think Conan the Barbarian looks bad ass too and he isn't wearing much either.
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Jason Parham
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perforin wrote:
Sure, there's plenty of bare-chested men, but it's not the same. Fighting bare-chested with nothing but a loose loin cloth and straps of letter is reasonably conceivable and not sexualized. Fighting in a bikini on the other hand... would you ever wear a bikini into a battle?


My only point was, saying one is more sexualized than the other is silly. Neither a loin cloth nor a bikini offer any protection in battle, so they are both sexualized equally.

For the record, the fantasy tropes presented in most games bother me due to the thought of ANYONE (Male or female) rushing into battle with a piece of cloth covering themselves as protection during melee combat; but, I choose to let it go as a function of the suspension of disbelief that is needed in so many of our entertainment ventures.
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Josh Worley
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SeerMagic wrote:
perforin wrote:
One last note, I was disappointed with the games depiction of women. There are precious few female miniatures in the game to begin with, and the one's that are present display all the dated fantasy stereotypes. Boob-armor, lingerie instead of clothes, etc.


I do agree there isn't enough female models in the game. But you do realize a bunch of the guys are in little clothes too right? It's the artstyle they went with, and it's consistent.


In Awaken Realms' defense, one of the stretch goal expansion factions (Lost City of Atlantis) is comprised off 100% females. Granted, it doesn't help any owners of only the base game, but it does help the male:female ratio.
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Martin Gallo
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Goreyok wrote:
perforin wrote:
Sure, there's plenty of bare-chested men, but it's not the same. Fighting bare-chested with nothing but a loose loin cloth and straps of letter is reasonably conceivable and not sexualized. Fighting in a bikini on the other hand... would you ever wear a bikini into a battle?


My only point was, saying one is more sexualized than the other is silly. Neither a loin cloth nor a bikini offer any protection in battle, so they are both sexualized equally.

For the record, the fantasy tropes presented in most games bother me due to the thought of ANYONE (Male or female) rushing into battle with a piece of cloth covering themselves as protection during melee combat; but, I choose to let it go as a function of the suspension of disbelief that is needed in so many of our entertainment ventures.
I recommend that you never research "Celtic Warriors" because it happened. Well, some of them did not even fight in loincloths. Body paint is less armor protection than a loin cloth!

Note that I think it is a tad silly, also. I suppose the "eye-rolling effect" might be some protection.whistle
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Trent Boardgamer
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Goreyok wrote:
perforin wrote:
Sure, there's plenty of bare-chested men, but it's not the same. Fighting bare-chested with nothing but a loose loin cloth and straps of letter is reasonably conceivable and not sexualized. Fighting in a bikini on the other hand... would you ever wear a bikini into a battle?


My only point was, saying one is more sexualized than the other is silly. Neither a loin cloth nor a bikini offer any protection in battle, so they are both sexualized equally.

For the record, the fantasy tropes presented in most games bother me due to the thought of ANYONE (Male or female) rushing into battle with a piece of cloth covering themselves as protection during melee combat; but, I choose to let it go as a function of the suspension of disbelief that is needed in so many of our entertainment ventures.


There are plenty of historical civilisations that had minimal clothing/armour even for warriors. Even many indigenous cultures warriors today still don't wear much more (yes only loin clothes are worn).

The argument only really has traction, if the male counterparts have obvious protective clothing/armour that for some reason the women are forbidden from utilising.
 
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corum irsei
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perforin wrote:
I would recommend this game, if you like area control, if you like shifting strategy and heavy player-interaction, if you like Inis, I think you'll like this too. Though it's not without it's faults.
Well, to me that sounds like I should rather get Inis than this

Judging from the current reviews and my first impression of 'style over substance', I think I can safely pass on this.

Thanks for the review!
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Orion Harrison
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If you want something super tight and tactical and mechanically elegant, get Inis. Lords of Hellas is like the variable victory conditions of Inis mixed with the area control of Kemet mixed with the adventuring experience of Mage Knight. One of these things is not like the other, and while it is a very exciting adventure/area-control hybrid, it does sacrifice a bit of mechanical fidelity to achieve the variety and adventure that it is going for.
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Jun Herng Tan
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perforin wrote:
This argument has been made countless times across the internet. Suffice to say, a great many people see the bikini-clad women of fantasy tropes to be fundamentally different than the over-muscular, shirtless men. If, for the sake of intellectual honesty, you'd like to seek out their arguments, then you can find them readily online, and in much better form than I could make.
For those of us who see that difference, this game is problematic. Still a very fun game though.


You knew this since the first day you backed the game and you still backed it. I have no idea where you are standing now...
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