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Olympos» Forums » Reviews

Subject: It's a good eurogame with a civ-lite feel rss

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Gabriel Kuriata
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I was observing Olympos here on BGG for quite some time before I finally decided to buy it.

Why?

The game had an average rating well above 7,40 - which is very good. But almost every single review was negative. On the other hand, there were very positive comments available with ratings.

Why?

It seemed to me, that after the game debuted, many reviwers rushed to trash this game and to express their disappointment with it, as well as the author (with the notable exception of a dead viking). Obviously Small World set expectations high.

So, is the game as empty as Kim Kardashian like someone wrote here, or at least good - which its rating implies?

How it works?
The game is very simple. You either expand your settlers on the board, or build "power ups" from a separate "tech-tree", which isn't really a tech-tree, but a random collection that rewards buing stuff from one, or two columns.

So you expand on the main board a bit like in Small World, but battle less. You also collect resources instead of points and you get power ups with these resources - a bit like in Mykerinos. You simply have more tiles to choose from.

There is no sense of development. You just expand and collect a set of power ups that just happen to suit you. If you focus on a specific column, it's easier to buy a "power up" that earns you points. It’s called “a wonder”.

Oh, everything you do consumes time units. As time goes by, you trigger random events, that either hurt or help you. A small bonus, or a small nuisance.

What you get...
It's all a matter of what you expect from this game. The game is very simple. Numerous power-ups, tiles, cards, small rules - may imply it’s a gamers’ game, but it’s not really. Power ups are generic and aren't that many to remember. There aren’t many combinations. You can spend less time on combat, move faster, swim faster. You can’t specialize really and say “I focused on corn”, “I focused on blue buildings” (like in Puerto Rico or Caylus).

Oikumene add-on adds A LOT here. Technologies available in the expansion motivate players to play more aggresively and explore more.

There are tactics here, because you have to observe what other players pick. You also have to know when to attack to grab some resources for yourself.

There’s also limited long-term planning possible, but sensible plans begin to form somewhere in the middle of the game.

For an example, if you pick a power-up that boosts your military power, it’s natural that you’ll expand on the board (occupied spaces grant points) and go for the end-game-scoring tile that rewards your military power with points.

If you pick a power-up that helps you swim for less time units, it’s logical to go for the Atlantis in the south and get more points for its spaces.

It’s close to Small World in this aspect, where a choice of a race forces a certain behavior. However, there are no obviously bad choices here (that I’m aware of) and random power-up disribution gives more combinations. It’s like Mykerinos on steroids. There’s simply more land and more power-ups here to choose from.

Depth

In terms of “depth” this game is above Yspahan or Mykerinos. Somwhere near Assyria, below Caylus or Sylla (from Ystari).

There are big things to remember (how power-ups work, how the time track works) and small rules to not forget (an attacked person receives a time unit, it must be spent immediately etc.). But in general, the game is clean and streamlined. Not like other Ystari's games, but it's okay.

How does it play with...

2 players: not recommended, boring - even though 12 areas are excluded from the game and 4 are occupied by “neutral barbarians”, there’s still too much room to feel any sort of tension. Players can develop almost independidly from each other. Even with limited area, players don’t feel the pressure to go for southern regions.
3 players: barely acceptable, so-so, with 12 areas excluded, there’s still too much room on the main board to force interesting interaction.
4 players: acceptable, good, 8 areas on the main board are excluded. Very good with the Oikumene expansion which forces interaction. However, the fifth player takes much more space than these four excluded areas. Therefore, this variant isn’t as good as the five player one.
5 players: best, only four areas on the main board are excluded from the game. The board is crowded, interaction/battles are inevitable. It’s even better with the Oikumene expansion. BGG’s rating may give 4 as the best option, but people tend to choose this probably because of downtime with 5. This really isn’t a factor, it depends on your playing group.

Additional notes about design

The game looks like it had three separate graphic designers.

There’s the horrible board - noisy, with too detailed icons.
There’re the tiles - okay, cartoonish, you can see Ystari’s hand here
Then, there’re the cards - painted, beautiful, brave, with adult flavors

Everything’s sturdy save for the “tech-tree” board, which is lousy. It should have been thick cardboard.

Conclusion

As I said, it’s all matter of expectations.

+ The game is quick, with five players it can be finished in 60 minutes, even less if you’re experienced in the game
+ The game is tactical and there are many interesting “power ups” to choose from
+ There’s some interaction and “battles” on the main board, which can be engaging

This thing is subjective: the game is “big” in terms of rules, box and options, but is “simple” in terms of gameplay or strategy. It isn’t as streamlined as other Ystari games.

This doesn’t have to be a negative thing, it’s a matter of taste and expectations. If you take away its small rules and flavors - it will become abstract (close to Mykerinos). If you add depth - it becomes much longer and perhaps too convoluted for its target.

Perhaps it’s a compromise, a good choice between demanding games such as Caylus or Sylla and light games - like Mykerinos or Yspahan? Not all people like too much strategy. They finish games like Caylus in anger, when they are 50 points behind an experienced player. Here, there’s plenty of stuff to do, there’s battles, tiles, cards - but you can go with the flow instead of making long term plans.

The key question is - what do you expect? Does the game give less than it promises? Hard to say, probably yes, a bit - probably mostly because of the amount of components, the “civ game” aspect, small rules.

But objectively - it’s still a good, tactical game, with some strategy and some "civ" feeling. After long consideration, I gave it a 7. It’s a good game.
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Shawn Allen
United States
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Thanks for this review! I have also noticed the sometimes-harsh reviews of this game and wondered why. The game provides exactly what you describe: an enjoyable strategy game with a civ-light feel. The technologies are fun to experiment with, the god cards add some spice to the game, and the whole experience is very satisfying. I actually have enjoyed the two-player game, though it would be great to see it with more. Thanks again!
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Marco Wong
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Thanks for the review! BTW, your 7 is based on the basic game, or with the expansion? I've upgraded the rating to 9 after expansion and the spielbox variant.
 
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Gabriel Kuriata
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It's a 7 for the base game. In theory, the expansion helps and it might be an 8 but...

- You'd have to pick "aggresive" power ups every game to motivate interaction (Atlantis goal, slavery)
- These powerups should have been included in the base game. Period.
- But not everyone can get the expansion. I got it from a local forum's user through barter.

So the base game is a 7 without the expansion. The game is an 8 when certain power ups are always drawn (they are chosen randomly with the expansion).
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-=::) Dante (::=-
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KEW GARDENS
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Lubi123 wrote:
Thanks for the review! BTW, your 7 is based on the basic game, or with the expansion? I've upgraded the rating to 9 after expansion and the spielbox variant.


What spielbox variant? Link?
 
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