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Steve K
United Kingdom
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Aton (Queen Games, 2006) was designed by Thorsten Gimmler, who also designed Odin’s Ravens and Geschenkt. It joins Queen’s small box series of games.

Aton is a 30 minute, two player majority-control game in which the high priests of the two great ancient Egyptian deities, Aton and Amun, struggle for supremacy. Both leaders want their priests to occupy the crucial positions in the four great temples of Thebes.



Components

6 board tiles
72 small cards (36 for each player, values 1-4)
58 wooden pieces (blue/red, 29 for each player)
2 scoring pieces
2 white exchange pieces
1 set of rules

All components are language independent, but rules are German only. Rules in other languages should be available from the Queen Games website soon.



When assembled, the attractive 36cm (14”) square board comprises five areas: a scoring track, the “realm of the dead” (for removed pieces), two areas for the players to assign the cards to programmed actions and a central temple area.

Gameplay

The board’s temple area consists of four temples each containing 12 spaces. Each temple space can be occupied by at most one piece. Spaces are colored – blue, black, green, yellow, brown. Each turn, players compete to place their pieces in positions in four temples. Where these pieces should be placed is dictated by the game’s winning conditions and scoring rules.

Winning conditions: a player wins immediately if they reach 40 victory points (when immediate victory points are awarded during a turn), or if their pieces occupy all spaces in one temple or if their pieces occupy all yellow spaces in all temples or all green spaces in all temples. If there’s a general scoring, the game ends if either player has scored over 40 points, and the winner is the player with most points.

Scoring: At certain points in the game (see below) a general scoring occurs.

The player with most pieces in Temple 1 scores points equal to the difference in the number of pieces in that temple.

The player with the most pieces in Temple 2 scores 5 points.

The player with the most pieces in Temple 3 scores one point for each of his pieces in that temple.

The player with the most pieces in Temple 4 scores 3 points for each of his pieces on a blue space in any temple.

The player with most pieces on black spaces in all temples scores 8 points.

No players get points for equal influence.

Players also receive 1 or 2 points for each piece occupying brown bonus spaces.

There are icons on the board to help you remember most of these scoring rules, but you have to remember the scoring for the majority of black spaces.

After scoring, both players must remove one of their own pieces from each temple.

Turns:

Each turn, both players draw four cards (values 1-4) from their face down personal decks. Once per game they can discard all four cards and re-draw. They then need to secretly commit these four cards to four actions. When both players are ready, the cards are revealed in order:

1: Immediate victory points. The player with the highest card immediately scores points equal to twice the difference in card values.

2. Turn Order / Remove pieces. The player with the lowest value card will remove & add pieces first, before the other player removes and adds pieces. This card also determines how many of the opponent’s pieces you can remove – its the card value minus 2. If you played a “1” card, that means you have to remove one of your own pieces.

3: Select temples: The remove & add actions can be performed in any temple up to & including the temple matching the card value.

4: Add pieces: This card specifies how many of your pieces you can add to any empty spaces in the temples selected by card 3.

All removed pieces (and any pieces that could not be placed) go to the realm of the dead. When this is full (8 pieces) a general scoring will occur at the end of the turn.

Discussion

We’ve found Aton to work really well as a quick 2-player area control game with the card draw introducing a slice of luck comparable to tile draws in games such as Samurai or Tigris & Euphrates.

In the games we’ve played, we’ve started out with a broad strategy (maybe go for black spaces, maybe a majority in temple 4 and blue spaces), but the actual cards you draw determine what might be achievable this turn. Some turns are defensive - denying your opponent the spaces they seem to be targeting. Some turns are aggressive, some feel balanced. Sometimes the cards are lucky and you can achieve a lot, sometimes they’re not and you have to think how to achieve anything at all.

There’s a balancing act between having the ability to act in any temple (which requires a “4” card on action 3) and having the ability to add/remove more pieces. You’re also balancing the need to keep your high cards for actions 2-3 against chance of gaining (or conceding) up to 6 immediate victory points on action 1.

Our games have tended to be won in the second general scoring, though a couple of games have been close to ending early when a player came close to filling a temple.

An English-language version of Aton is mentioned as a future release by Rio Grande Games, but at the time of writing no specific date has been mentioned.

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Martin Villemaire
Canada
Ottawa
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Thanks for the great review! I added this one to my wishlist
 
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Steve+Jackie McKeogh
United Kingdom
Okehampton
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Queen Games have just informed me that they will be posting their rules in English on their website (their translation not mine) in the 'next few days', also in French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. As there are no other language dependent components this is good news. Queen's homepage is http://queen-games.de
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Steve K
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That's great news - I was assuming something like a 3 month wait (that's how long it seemed for the Essen 05 game rules translations).

I hope their English translation is as good as yours, Steve.

I've edited the review to mention language-independent components, and the imminent availability of translated rules.
 
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Chris Bailey
United States
Broomfield
Colorado
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GO ROCKIES!!!!!
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I just saw the english version at TimeWellSpent and reached for it but Dave said he couldn't actually sell it until Wednesday, May 31st. I'll be getting a copy then though.
 
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