Aton is an abstract strategy game with a "pasted on" theme about controlling Egyptian temples. The gist of the game is trying to figure out how to make the best use of your 4 cards you are dealt each turn.
The game board consists of 4 temples, the Kingdom of the dead and a VP track (made up of scarab beetles which I think is a nice little touch). Each player has a deck of cards, which are numbered 1-4. Aside from there numerical value, these cards serve no other function. Each player also has 39 wooden disks (identical to those in Caylus) representing their priests, a VP marker and a white disk, which when used (only once per game) allows the player to trade in a set of cards.
At the beginning of the turn each player is dealt 4 cards from their deck. These cards are placed face-down each into one of their 4 Cartouches, each of which has a special action. As a rule the higher the card value the better, so the key strategy is to figure out which cards to assign to each Cartouche.
When each player has assigned his cards, they are then revealed and each Cartouche is resolved one at a time starting with Cartouche 1.
Cartouche 1: The player who played the highest value card gets VP's equal to 2x the difference of the 2 card values.
Cartouche 2: This serves 2 functions. 1) Player Order: The player of the lower value card plays the rest of the turn first. 2) Removing opponent's priests from the temples: Card Value -2 = # of opponent's priests to remove.
Cartouche 3: Denotes which temples you can remove opponent's priests and which temples you can place your new priests (see next step). For example a card with a value of 2 lets you place/remove priests in temples 1 and/or 2.
Cartouche 4: Card Value equals the number of new priests you can place.
Where to place priests? Within each temple there are different squares to play your priests. 1 square can accommodate 1 priest:
Yellow: if you control all yellow squares in all 4 temples you win.
Green: same as with yellow
Black: During a scoring (see below), 8 VPs go to the player with the most priests on black spaces.
Blue: Whoever has the most priests in temple #4, that player gets 3 VPs for each blue square occupied (there are 4 total, one in each temple).
Bonus +1 and +2: Either 1 or 2 VPs are awarded during a scoring (see below).
A scoring is triggered at the end of any turn in which the Kingdom of the Dead fills up. There are 8 squares here. Whenever a priest gets removed (Cartouche 2 action) or if a player cannot play all the priests he allocated in action 4, these removed/surplus priests are each placed in 1 of these 8 squares. When filled, scoring will occur at the end of that turn, then the priests are returned to the players.
Temple 1: Majority player gets VPs equal to the difference in number of priests between the 2 players.
Temple 2: Majority player gets 5 VPs.
Temple 3: Majority player gets VPs equal to the number of his own priests.
Temple 4: Majority player gets 3 VPs for each blue square he occupies (see above).
Black square scoring: see above.
Bonus +1 and +2 scoring: see above.
Each player then reomves 4 priests, 1 from each temple. (Remove from highest temple(s) instead for every temple unoccupied by that player so a total of 4 priests always gets removed).
End of Game:
The game ends immediately if:
1) a player occupies all squares in a temple, all of the green squares, OR all of the yellow squares.
2)a player gets 40 VPs
The game ends at the end of a scoring if a player gets 40 VPs
My overall Impression:
Theme: 8 Even though the theme really has nothing to do with gameplay, I like it nonetheless, especially the scarab scoring track.
Mechanics: 8.5 Very clever, unique gameplay
Rules: 9 Easy to understand, though the point of the game may take a couple reads before things click into place. Overall the rules are clear, brief and well-written.
Strategy: 9.5 There is a luck element with regards to what cards you draw; the main strategic element is where to play your good cards and more importantly, where to play your bad cards. Also remember that once during the game, you can trade in your white disk for a new set of cards.
Asthetics: 8.5 The board is of nice card stock and is very ornate. I like how it is constructed as puzzle pieces. The bits are wood. My only minor gripe is the red and blue colors. I would have picked a different combination if I has my druthers. The cards are of nice quality too.
Overall Fun Factor: 8.5 Despite the fact I don't like abstract games that much, I really enjoy Aton. At least it has a cool theme even though it may not be relevant to the actual gameplay. It has very unique mechanics which I find refreshing. It doesn't take too long to play, and it is small enough to make a great travel game. Though it is still fairly new, it seems like it would have a high replay value (which is usually one of the advantages of an abstract strategy game). I whole-heardedly recommend this to people looking for a small yet crafty 2 player game.
- Last edited Thu Mar 1, 2007 2:47 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Jun 10, 2006 7:47 pm
Thanks for that review. I've never had faith in the Queen's line of games but when I saw Aton and Robber Knights - I was really tempted to get them...and now I'll just have to!
Good review! I am curious though if you or anyone reading this have played Dynasties by Jolly Roger Games. I would like to know how close this game is to that, cause that is what I first thought of when I heard of this game.
Yes, I have seen several positive comments on Dynasties (including some of your's) and have been tempted to buy it.