- Michael Erb(merb101)United States
By MICHAEL ERB
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel
PARKERSBURG — Zeus, chief god of the Greek pantheon, is racing his way up Mount Olympus, and only you can catch him in time.
“Zeus on the Loose” by Gamewright is a card game for 2-5 players, ages 8 and up. Players “build” Mount Olympus by playing numbered cards, attempting to reach a total of 100 while holding on to the king of the gods himself, represented by a plastic figure. Each time you do, you get a letter, and the first player to spell Z-E-U-S wins.
Each turn a player lays down a numbered card or a god card, each time drawing their hand back up to four cards. Each numbered card played adds to the value of Mount Olympus, so if the value is 48 and someone lays down an “8” card, they call out “56.”
Other members of the Greek pantheon are represented by cards, and each grants a different ability in the game, such as changing the number order of Mount Olympus (from “56” to “65” for example), adding or subtracting values or replacing the current value with another. Most also allow the player to steal Zeus, and some only allow players to steal Zeus without affecting the total of Mount Olympus.
Without using a god card, players can steal Zeus any time they play a number that causes Mount Olympus’ value to reach an increment of 10. If you drop a “6” card when the score is 74, making the total 80, you grab Zeus. This also means if you get the total to 100 on your turn, you automatically steal Zeus and win that round.
Players also can play like cards on an off turn, and this allows them to steal Zeus as well. For example, one player lays down a “4” card. Another player who holds a “4” could automatically lay down their card, bumping the value of Mount Olympus up and grabbing Zeus. Playing a like card to get the total at or above 100 also gives you Zeus and wins the round.
Anytime the value of Mount Olympus reaches 100 or more, the person holding Zeus gets a letter and the value resets. Be the first to spell Zeus’ name and you win.
Ultimately Zeus will change hands multiple times during the course of gameplay, and the more players get used to the turn order and rules, the faster the game will progress. There isn’t a lot of sitting around and analyzing. In fact, you really want to keep the game moving quickly, giving people less time to do the math in their heads while you jockey for position and scheme to steal Zeus for yourself.
The average playing time is 15 minutes, so most groups will want to play more than once as the game is rather fast. There is a lot of mental math and number changes to keep track of, which is half the fun. If you aren’t good at math, this game will make you better, at least with smaller numbers.
There also is a fair amount of strategy in the game, especially as you near that magic 100. For example, Zeus’ bride Hera, one of the more conniving goddesses in Greek mythology, bumps the value of Mount Olympus to 99 when her card is played. That player also steals Zeus, instantly putting them in a position to win. But playing Hera almost guarantees other players will NOT be laying down any numbered cards, but more likely playing their own gods to change the value of Mount Olympus and steal Zeus for themselves.
Though very kid-friendly, “Zeus on the Loose” is fun and engaging for adults as well. This is a good filler game when you are waiting for other players to arrive or when you need a short but still entertaining game. The more players you add the crazier the fun, and since it supports up to five players, this is a perfect game for a family or small group of friends.
For more information on “Zeus on the Loose” or other Gamewright products, visit www.gamewright.com. For more reviews, visit my blog at http://merb101.livejournal.com, and check out my podcast at http://merb101.libsyn.com.
Contact Michael Erb at firstname.lastname@example.org
Edit: A review copy of the game was provided for this article.
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