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Subject: Zeus on the Loose - A Light Review (Children's Game) rss

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All of my 'Light Reviews' aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them. I feel that other reviews can be sought if detailed game mechanics is what you are after.

Summary

Game Type - Card Game (Children's)
Play Time : 20-30 minutes
Number of Players: 2-5
Mechanics - Card play, Maths Skills
Difficulty - Pick-up & Play (Learn in under 10 minutes)
Components - Very Good (Almost excellent but the cards did not feature matte finish)

Quick folks, Zeus has gone a little mad and is on the loose and heading up Mt. Olympus. From there he could do all manner of damage with those thunderbolts of his! Be the first to catch Zeus and all will be well and you will be the winner.

Ok like most games in the children's market, the theme is pretty light but at least this one is a little imaginative.

Components

Zeus on the Loose features 60 cards. Forty of these are number cards ranging in value from 1-10 (4 of each). The artwork for these cards is simple but effective as each number is a heavenly gold in colour and the background art is a series of wispy clouds, representing the heights of Mt. Olympus.



The other 20 cards feature other famous Greek Gods. The artwork style used is caricature
and it really helps to draw your attention to each one. I can only give these cards top marks as they feature some of the best artwork\graphic design I have seen for a children's card game. The God cards also feature 1 or 2 lines of simple text which outline their effect on the game.



The rules are very clear and allow the game to be learned in quick time. They are in full colour and even feature a short summary on each of the Greek Gods. It may sound redundant to many but kids love facts based on mythology and they could even be used in classrooms to spark mini-research projects.

The final component is the Zeus figure. Made of plastic, the depiction of Zeus is really quite cute (I can't believe I just used that word in a review). blush



My only reasons for not giving an excellent rating is that the cards could have offered a matte finish to help them last longer. Also given the younger target audience, a slightly thicker card stock would have been appreciated. But I quibble as they are very, very good.

Game Play

Each player starts with 4 cards and on each turn they must play 1 card to the discard pile (called Mt. Olympus). If a number card is played, its value must be added to the prior total of Mt. Olympus. For example if the total was 74 and you played a 9 card, you should declare that the new total is 83. If a God card is played, its effect is resolved (See below), which may affect the value of Mt. Olympus also. If the round is not concluded (See below) the player draws cards to return their hand to 4.

Concluding a Round & How to Win

A round will end when the total of Mt. Olympus either reaches or exceeds 100.

The Importance of Zeus

Ending the round though is only half the battle. The glory will actually go to the player that is in possession of Zeus at the time the round actually ends.

A player can capture Zeus (take the Zeus figure) if they ever make the Mt. Olympus total a multiple of 10 (20, 60, 100 etc). They can also take Zeus through the use of several God cards and they can take Zeus if they can play a card out of turn that takes the total of Mt. Olympus beyond 100!

Playing Cards out of Turn

This is only possible if you have a number card that is identical to the one just played by another player. If so you can play it out of turn and alter the total of Mt. Olympus in the usual way. If this makes the total go beyond 100, you can steal the Zeus figure before ending the round. This rule makes the game fairly strategic once the total of Mt. Olympus gets beyond 80. Each player must be very careful not to allow an opponent to sneak in.

Winning the Game

When a round is over, the player in possession of the Zeus figure will spell one letter from his name. The first person to spell ZEUS will win the game.

The Greek Gods

These cards add a bit of spice and unpredictability to the game play.

Athena - Skips the next player but keeps the total of Mt. Olympus the same. This can be a useful tactic if the total is approaching the 90's and you would prefer an opponent to play a card first.

Apollo - Allows a player to steal Zeus and the Mt. Olympus total stays the same.

Artemis - The same effect as Apollo.

Poseidon - This card will subtract 10 from the total of Mt. Olympus. Very useful if the total is high but you don't have the cards to control Zeus and end the round.

Ares - Changes the total of Mt. Olympus to 50. A good card to speed up the early play or it can be used as a defensive move later in a round.

Hermes - This God reverses the digits of the current total. If the total had been 82, it would change to 28.

Aphrodite - She makes the Mt. Olympus total round to the nearest multiple of 10. This is a cool ability from an educational viewpoint as very few games feature 'rounding'.

Hera - Allows the player to steal Zeus before changing the Mt. Olympus total to 99. This is risky as an opponent will win the round if they have a 1 number card. Of course if they don't and they can only make the total go up, you are gold!

The Final Word

Zeus on the Loose is not a new concept as games of this nature have been around for some time. However the blend of card abilities and mathematical skills featured is unique. Combine this with the wonderful presentation and Zeus on the Loose is a really refreshing addition to the line of children's card games on the market.

Is there enough here to interest adult players? Well not really. It feels fun and there are some tactics that can be discovered but there is really not enough here to interest adult gamers for any length of time.

Educational Benefits

As a teacher I am really happy to see a game like this for children. So often we see games that feature just 1 skill or mathematical concept (adding for example). But with Zeus, the designers have recognised that children are actually 'thinking individuals' capable of using more than 1 skill at a time. Zeus features adding, subtracting, knowledge of 10's facts, doubling skills and rounding.

Because of this diversity Zeus is best suited to the 9 year old and over market but like always the game can be modified for younger gamers. You could take out the God cards to focus just on the number skills for example.

Skills or understandings that can be utilised and developed -

d10-1 Development of number facts up to and beyond 100

d10-2 Addition skills for calculating the total

d10-3 Subtraction of 10 from a total (Poseidon)

d10-4 Place Value (Focus on digits - Hermes)

d10-5 The pattern of number and multiples of 10

d10-6 Rounding to the nearest multiple of 10

d10-7 Gaining a greater familiarity for the vocabulary of mathematics

d10-8 A basic understanding of Greek Mythology

For the above reasons I will be adding this game to my classroom collection.
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Bruce Oppenheim
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Re: Zeus on the Loose - A Light Review
Great Review.
My 7yo's love it. Educationally great for all the reasons you said! watching my daughters discover the concept of rounding to the nearest 10, puzzle over it, then delight in explaining it to my wife was a joy as both teacher and parent! They also both read the myth info in the gods in the rules avidly.

Can't recommend this game enough - educationally great, plus the components and art are perfect.
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Ryan Lennon
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Re: Zeus on the Loose - A Light Review
Hadn't heard of this game until recently and I agree - it's a great game for the target age group. I don't mind playing this with my kids at all.
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