Antike is a medium-weight civilisation game for 2-6 players involving resource production and area control. The game is set in the ancient world with each player taking control of one nation and attempting to gain victory points through expanding their territories, conquering neighbouring temples and advancing their technologies. The winner is the first to a set number of victory points determined by the number of players.
The game comes with a HUGE amount of small wooden pieces representing the legions, fleets and city control markers for each player, as well as markers to indicate the VP track, the actions on the rondel and which technologies have been advanced.
There are also a set of cardboard tokens for the different resources in the game (marble, gold and iron) as well as ‘joker’ coins that can be used in place of any resource. These are made of thick cardboard and serve very well.
There are cards in the game representing the different nations. These are of decent stock and are cleverly used to also indicate which provinces each player starts in and also who the starting player is. There are also card for the Vps which is a nice touch and gives a quick visual indication of which types of VP’s are still available.
The board is quite large and is double sided which is a definite bonus.
There are also some rules summary card included, although not enough for every player. This isn’t usually an issue though as players can share if needed.
The rules booklet is quite small but more than adequate. It includes good descriptions and examples where necessary and it’s not often that I’ve needed to go back and check on anything.
The game is essentially turn based with players each taking their turn starting from the first player and going around clockwise. At the beginning of the first player’s turn each round all players also receive one of the ‘joker’ coins.
Game set up - Each player places one of their city control markers on the three starting provinces indicated on their nation card. They each then place one player marker on the rondel and one on the VP track. Everyone then gets their starting resources.
Rounds - As mentioned, at the beginning of the first player’s turn each round, all player’s receive one ‘joker’ coin. Play then proceeds with the first player taking their turn and then passes clockwise around the table.
The actual turns are very simple, on the first turn only each player chooses which space on the rondel they wish to start on, with the options being:
On subsequent turns a player then moves his piece clockwise around the rondel to the space they wish to move to. Moving round 1-3 spaces is free but if a player wishes to move further round they can do, at a cost of 1 (of any) resource per extra space moved.
The actions involved with each space are mostly very simple. Gold, iron and marble mean the player takes from the bank a number of resources of the relevant type, dependent on how many cities or temples of that type they control. Know-how allows a player to pay gold to advance on the technologies tracks. Arming lets a player spend iron to build legions or fleets. Temple allows a player to spend marble to build a temple. Maneuver allows a player to move all of their legions and/or fleets on the board.
Players score VP’s in a number of ways:
a) Owning cities on the board
b) Controlling sea areas on the board
c) Advancing technologies
d) Building temples
e) Destroying other player’s temples
The combat system in the game is a very simple attritional one. When a player moves units into a region with another player’s units of the same type (legion or fleet) then either player may decide to fight and an equal number of each player’s units are removed from the board on a one for one basis. Conquering another player’s city is slightly more complicated in that you add up the combined strength of each army (legions plus fleets plus the defence value of the city) and if the attacker matches or exceeds the strength of the defender then units are removed as earlier and the city changes to the attacker’s control. Also, to conquer a city (or temple) a unit must have some movement left over which is not the case for general combat.
The technologies give players various advantages in movement, resource production and defensive city strength. It also works so that the first player to invent a technology pays more gold but earns the VP, whereas subsequent players can get the technology much cheaper but earn no VP.
Review of gameplay:
The rondel makes the game very simple and as such it’s quite easy for beginners to pick up. The only slightly more complicated thing is the conquering of cities and temples but it’s quite easy to get your head round once it’s explained or you’ve seen a demonstration. It seems like the game should last quite a while but the turns fly by and only slow down slightly when someone takes the maneuver action. Games are usually tight and there are various strategies to adopt for victory. The attritional method of combat means it’s usually beneficial to all the players NOT involved in the combat, the exception being when combat leads to player’s earning VP’s. In most games I’ve played it often comes down to it that the final few VP’s required must be taken by force as there are only a limited number of each type of VP.
I think Antike is an excellent game and although it doesn’t quite give the full Civilisation experience it is definitely an excellent Civ-Lite game. The rules are simple and straightforward and the game plays quickly. I’ve introduced this to many lighter gamers and it’s always surprised them how simple it is. The rondel is a great little innovation which adds to the simplicity and elegance of the game. It can happen on occasion that a winner is fairly obvious with a turn or two still to go but often the games are very close and can go down to the wire which makes it very exciting.
Well written review and I agree with many of your points that the game is much simpler than it looks, has a very nice mechanic, and can be interesting. However, after a few plays I really find this one to be one of the worst euros I've played in a while. It just falls so flat and dull. There is little "fun" in the game and you are really at the whims of your neighbors. If someone is left alone they seem to win. Greece has won the last two times I played because they were a bit farther out and no one attacked them, not because of any genius leadership. Phoenica was wedged between numerous powers and destroyed with little recourse. I am certain as people gained more expereince they would counter these basic tenants of the map but the game was not "fun" or tense enough to really warrant many more playings. In such a tough and amazing boardgame market it is hard to really "work" at a game that doesnt offer a tense, interesting, and fun experience from game 1 or 2. Now that someone has Shogun and Wallenstein in our group, I really see no reason to play this again.