So when is a miniature game not a miniature game?
It's not a trick question.
For the answer you only need to look at the game Mythic Battles from Iello.
Mythic Battles has two forces manoeuvring on a game board using cardboard game pieces.
Right off the bat the game, by designer Benoit Vogt, begs for miniatures.
A gamer can appreciate the cardboard pieces keep game costs lower, and that helps attract a greater range of players, but moving an actual three-dimensional game piece just adds to the aesthetics of a game like this.
In terms of theme Mythic Battles draws on a rich vein.
The rule book does a nice job of capturing the flavour;
"Write your legend in the blood of the fallen! Enter the legendary age of Mythic Greece, an era filled with heroes and fabulous beings. A land where the Gods dominate the destiny of mortals from atop Mount Olympus, their sacred home. Wars are nothing but pawns ready to be sacrificed.
“As a general in Mythic Greece, you are at the head of an army totally devoted to your cause. No matter your motive; unquenchable thirst for power and riches, glory, or bloody revenge ... Your path will be littered with the bodies of those who dared stand against you. You will mercilessly crush any obstacle keeping you from your goal. Your enemies, mere mortals, heroes, or even divinities, will bite the dust. The earth will be red with their blood, and songs of victory shall be written in your honour. Your name will be famous throughout the known World and even beyond.
“You are a fearsome warrior trained in the art of war. Your military strategy will make you renowned. Your legend will be written on the battlefield with the clash of steel and will be borne by the cries of agony from your adversaries. You will easily triumph ... unless you someday cross paths with a warrior worthy to stand against you."
But fluff aside, what is game play about?
"Mythic Battles enacts epic battles between two armies from Mythic Greece – and sometimes, up to four armies can face off on the battlefield," again from the rule book. "The players take on the roles of the Generals leading these armies. Each attempts to lead his troops to victory by routing the enemy.
"To do that, the players create their armies using Unit cards, and wage war by strategically deploying their tokens on the battlefield. To claim victory, each General will have to use his Units as best he can, by activating them at the right moment and by using their Talents intelligently."
The game relies on both cards and dice in game play, something which seems to be a trend in gaming and certainly works in combination solidly here.
Game play is rather straight forward, and the rule set has a great way for players to grow into the game.
"The Stelae of Destiny is a Mythic Battles campaign for two players. It is designed to allow new players to progressively familiarize themselves with the various game mechanics,” from the rule set.
"During the campaign, the armies of Hades and Athena will face each other over the course of nine battles.
"The faction that wins the most battles will decide the fate of the city."
To have a small campaign where players are introduced to various in-game mechanics and situations over a short series of encounters is ideal for novices to pick up game play quickly. The game designer gets a big pat on back for this.
Mythic Battles, as a game franchise, is also doing a great job of keeping things fresh.
The basic game launched in 2012, and 'Expansion I' hit in 2013, and 'Expansion 2 - Tribute of Blood' is up for current year release.
Now dozens of games, in fact most, these days, release expansions. They are like sequels in movies and series in books, but still it's great to see regular additions to keep good games we like fresh.
Overall Mythic Battles, allowing two-and four-player (team) play, and game times of about an hour, with solid, of not fancy components, and expanding rule sets, really is an excellent game if you like battlefield confrontations.
Check it out via www.iello.info
-- This review appeared previously in Yorkton This Week newspaper