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Subject: Why I love this game. rss

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Hera and Zeus is a perfectly balanced card game for two. Designed by Richard Borg it is part of the Kosmos 2 player series, published by Rio Grande Games.

In the game, Hera and Zeus, the king and queen of the Gods are embroiled in a feud. They have each taken as hostage the lover of the other and have called upon their allies of gods and monsters to protect their own captive while racing to rescue their lover.

Both players have a deck of 43 cards. Zeus are backed and edged with green, while Hera's are a deep purple colour. Most of the cards in the deck are creatures, designated with numbers 0-7 the higher the number the stronger the card. These are played face down on the table and remain until they are defeated. Some creatures also have a mythological (eye) symbol. These show they have some special ability. Some cards only have the eye symbol and can only be played once from the hand and are then discarded.

To start each player lays three cards face down on the table to designate three columns (the first ranks of the army). Throughout the game players add further cards to build up to four rows deep behind each column.

Each player has a choice of up to 3 actions with one action for each column controlled by that player, (with 4 actions if the Hera or Zeus card is in play). The possible actions are: 1. draw a card, 2. play a (creature) card to the table, 3. challenge a card (attack) 4. play a mythology card from the hand.

These actions can be taken in any order and in any combination up to the allowed number for that turn e.g. a) draw three times, or b) challenge, draw, draw, or c) challenge, play a creature, play a mythology card. etc.

The first rank of the creatures on the table are used to attack the column directly in front, whereupon both creatures are turned face up and their numbers compared, normally the higher beats the lower which is discarded, if the numbes the same both are discarded. Creatures with mythology symbols generate the strategy. Medusa (strength 0) cannot attack but will destroy any attacking creature other than the hero/amazon (strengh 2), Pythia (strength 0) destroys the Poseidon/Nemesis (strength 7) and Pandora (strength 0) when attacked, destroys both the column she is in and the one opposite.

These different abilities and strengths and the fact the cards remain hidden until attacked, (or revealed with a mythology card), gives an enormous capacity for bluff, and provides great tension to the game.

The mythology cards further add to the gameplay and each has a special one off ability: return a card from the discard pile (Hades), take control of the top creature of the opponents discard pile (Sirens), look at opponents hand (Pythia), move a creature in play (Dionysus), challenge or reveal a card on the table (Pegasus), or return up to three Pegasi) to hand (Persephone). Finally there is the Hera/Zeus card which is free to play prevents the attack of a column of your choice and gives up to four actions while in play, until it is removed by a Pegasus. This card has the potential to turn defeat to victory and rarely remains in play for long.

There are several ways to win the game: 1. finding the hostage, either by attacking or removing it from your opponents hand, or when it is removed from play by Pandora 2. Preventing your opponent from being able to use all his available actions (including running your opponent out of cards. 3. destroying all your opponents columns from the table.

The game provides the scope for several strategies and speeds of play. You can go for all out attack and with luck, and when going first, there is the chance of taking out your opponent on the second or third turn. Or you have the option to settle down for the long game defending heavily, dropping back to two columns in the hope your opponent will run out of cards first. Often there is the combination of the two, and your overall game plan may change several times throughout the game as you learn more about your opponents hand, or you draw influential cards.

For such a small range of card types, the game provides a satisfying number of combinations. Each card has a particular role with the potential to be devestating in the right circumstances.

The cards quickly become familiar, and as experience grows there is added depth of knowing which cards are in each deck, remembering how many of each type remains, and making educated judgements based on that knowledge.

The components are of great quality, beautifully illustrated cards, two wooden markers for Hera and Zeus, which aren't really essential for gameplay but add a nice touch.

The instructions are clear, well produced in an 11 page booklet with colour illustrations. There is also a short summary of the mythological characters used in the game which adds to the theme. In addition there are two small playing guides, which give illustrations of each card with summaries of the special rules which come in useful for the first few games.

The cards don't have any text, so to begin with it is necessary to refer to the playing guides. I think this is only a good thing: the cards are soon learnt, it means you aren't distracted by text, and additionally it renders the game entirely language independent.

Best of all, my girlfriend, loves it and never turns down a game. She is attracted by the strong mythological theme, the attractive artwork, and the depth of strategy. By no means a gamer prior to this game, she is the superior player and beats me a good 70% of the time. However, I normally put up a good fight and the defeat is rarely inevitable, and I always come away thinking there is something I could have done differently. This is a clear sign of a deep game with multiple choices and several levels of strategy.

This is a fantastic game, and a good addition to any collection. I give it 9/10
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Sifu
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My thoughts too. Thank you for the nice review.
 
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W M
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My first review. I'm glad you liked it!
 
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Rob Doupe
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archivists wrote:
Best of all, my girlfriend, loves it and never turns down a game. She is attracted by the strong mythological theme, the attractive artwork, and the depth of strategy. By no means a gamer prior to this game, she is the superior player and beats me a good 70% of the time. However, I normally put up a good fight and the defeat is rarely inevitable, and I always come away thinking there is something I could have done differently.


I'm in the same boat, buddy. Nice review.
 
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Stew Woods
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Great first review!

When my SO and I first played this game after trying quite a few Euros we were a little unimpressed, to say the least - "It's just like Stratego!"

Still, it was easy to pack up for a small camping holiday we were going on shortly thereafter so we took it with us. Lo and behold! After a few games under the stars we began to get increasingly into it.

Approximately 50 or so games later we were still going...though the record is decidedly not in my favour cry

Simple, addictive fun!
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