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Subject: Two to Troy rss

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Mosse Stenström
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Porvoo
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Iliad was certainly a game I stumbled upon... Somehow it had completely slipped under my radar, even though I think I keep a pretty keen eye on what goes on in the boardgaming world. Having bought, and liked Citadels, I was on a cardgame-buzz. I liked the theme and it got good reviews/reports from gamers whos opinion I (...not always share, but nevertheless...) respect. At one visit to my FLGS Safe Haven it found a home with me.

I read through the rules with high expectations. Having just read the rules I was very afraid. Two things felt very wrong... I thought there were too many different troop cards. I could never figure out the differences between Catapults and Balistas - Elephants and Trojan Horses, it all felt very confusing. The other thing was the card turnover. I searched through the rulebook a few times... What? You don't pick up cards after you play them? And only three more after each siege? That either meant that you would (1) run out of cards quickly or (2) play very small armies in each siege. As I knew (at least) the first playing would be a 2-player session, I was even more disappointed when I read that the HERO- and ORACLE-cards weren't used at all in the official 2-player variant. My expectations weren't very high when we sat down with brother and fellow geek Jens for a test run.

I started strong, even though Jens was more aggressive. I was the first to pass in most sieges, meaning I had more cards than him after the very first battle, and throughout the game. I took a commanding lead picking high scoring city-cards. Jens got a few Triremes but was behind me in points. A few very low-scoring victory cards came up, and I saw an opportunity to exchange some bad troops cards. Jens got momentum and got tied with me, concentrating on his triremes, and eventually passed me.

Finally a high scoring city came up for grabs, and I knew Jens would win the game if he got it. I wasn't too worried, though, as he had fewer cards than me. It was to be a big final clash... We both started building phalanxes - Jens started with two 3-hoplite phalanxes, adding 2-hoplites to both. I had one 4-3-2-hoplite phalanx. I added a 1-hoplite to my phalanx reaching 40 points for my army. Jens also added a 1-hoplite to one phalanx to 28 points for his army. As he only had a couple of cards left I hoped he didn't have anything good so I passed.

He pulled out an archer unit and lined him up beside the phalanx. If he used it to wipe out my leading 1-hoplite unit my army would be reduced to 27 - one less than his army. Luckily I also had an archer. With this many cards committed (from both of us) I knew neither one would pass without having the stronger army as long as something could be done - and I was hoping he would run out of good cards first... I entered my archer unit - he attacked my 1-hoplite, and so did I. His army was reduced to 20 (two 3-2 phalanxes) and mine to 27 (one 4-3-2 phalanx). If only he had no more hoplites or archers - because all I had was a handful of ballistas and catapults...

He pulled another archer - I knew it was game over, so I passed, he killed my 2-hoplite reducing my 27-point phalanx to a mere 14 points - and there was nothing I could do about it...

Pass-pass and Game Over. I lost 15-9.

No, this clearly isn't a 2-player game... Having said that, it's not as bad as some people have insinuated. My initial fears were unwarranted. About three sieges into the game I had no need for the (excellent) player aid cards depicting the different troops and their powers. Just adding three cards after each siege is actually quite enough - as bigger armies would be overwhelming and wouldn't really add any tension. I'd say what's more important than winning the sieges is choosing which sieges to fight for and which to let go, saving cards. I would, however like to see a chance to exchange cards, say for example discarding and replacing up to two cards after each siege. For the simple reason that sitting with five or six catapults will ruin you game quite completely.

I look forward to playing this with 4 players as a partners game, and I do think I will play it again even as a 2-player game, because it's quick, and even though the theme is pasted on (as with almost all card games) the feeling certainly isn't. We both felt like we were lining up armies to battle Troy...
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Robin
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Quote:
the first playing would be a 2-player session, I was even more disappointed when I read that the HERO- and ORACLE-cards weren't used at all in the official 2-player variant.

This was my biggest problem with the game also. I have to agree that this is not a two-player game because too much of the game is taken out.

Nice session report.
 
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