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Subject: The Definitive Two Player Antike Variant: Using Half the Map rss

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The half-map variant (first proposed by Tim Taylor, and subsequently modified and improved by other BGG users), is probably the best and most popular of all the two player variants for Antike. Here's a definitive guide to the current form of this variant. You can also download a printable file with this information here.

THE HALF MAP VARIANT FOR 2 PLAYERS

Revised Setup

Half Map: Use only half of the map (either on the Orient side or the West side of the board). This roughly preserves the type of resource distribution found in a four player game.

Starting Cities: Use the starting cities suggested in the five scenarios I have suggested below.

Less Leaders and Temples: Instead of using all the Ancient Personages, remove 4 Kings, 2 Citizens, 4 Generals, and 3 Navigators, using only the following:
8 Scholars
5 Kings (instead of 9)
4 Citizens (instead of 6)
3 Generals (instead of 7)
2 Navigators (instead of 5)
Remove 6 Temples, using only a total of 14 Temples (instead of 20).

Revised Rules

Victory Conditions: The winner is the first player to acquire 10 Ancient Personages, or destroy his opponent's last city.

Revised Costs:
Arming cost: 2 iron per unit
Know-How cost: 6/3 (basic) and 9/5 (advanced)

Components

To minimize game space, the board can be folded in half, and a separate Rondel and a revised Technology Chart printed:



Rationale

The reason for these changes:
1. If you retain the original costs, military warfare becomes the only way to win, and technology is no longer a viable strategy. To ensure that there are multiple paths to victory, Arming needs to be more expensive and Know-How needs to be cheaper.
2. If you retain all Ancient Personages, the abundant supply means players are not forced to compete for the last Ancient Personage in a certain category. To generate the same tension that is present in a multi-player game, reducing the number of Ancient Personages forces both players to compete for the last available one (e.g. it is not possible for both players to get three Kings, creating the potential for a race to develop).

ORIENT MAP



Scenario 1: The Battle for Naval Supremacy (left side of map)
1. Phoenicians: Tyros, Antiochia, Melitene (alternative: Paphos)
2. Greeks: Dyrrhachion, Sparta, Messana (alternative: Athens)
26 cities (9 Gold, 9 Iron, 8 Marble), and 19 sea regions.

Scenario 2: The Arab-Persian War (right side of map)
1. Persians: Zadrakarta, Persepolis, Harmotia
2. Arabs: Saba, Adane, Punt
24 cities (8 Gold, 8 Iron, 8 Marble), and 14 sea regions.

NB: Player 1 is always the starting player.

WESTERN MAP



Scenario 3: Hannibal Heads North (left side of map - red circles)
1. Germanic Tribes: Colonia Agrippina, Castra Regina, Lutetia
2. Carthaginians: Carthage, Caesarea, Tingis (alternative: Tacape)
25 cities (8 Gold, 8 Iron, 9 Marble), with 22 sea regions.

Scenario 4: Asterix Takes On Caesar (left side of map - blue circles)
1. Romans: Roma, Ancola, Neapolis
2. Gauls: Brigantium, Toletum, Olisipo (alternative: Burdigala)
25 cities (8 Gold, 8 Iron, 9 Marble), with 22 sea regions

Scenario 5: The Greco-Persian War (right side of map)
1. Persians: Melitene, Cordion, Antiochia
2. Greeks: Athens, Sparta, Dyrrhachion
25 cities (8 Gold, 9 Iron, 8 Marble), with 14 sea regions.

A starting setup on the right side of the board with the Egyptians (Alexandria, Memphis, Petra) would be possible too, although it would be less aggressive game in the early stages, since a balanced setup would require both players to have their starting cities quite far apart. 

OTHER TWO PLAYER VARIANTS FOR ANTIKE

There are several other ways to play Antike with two players:

1. Bi-Nation Variant. Each player manages two independent nations.
Win condition: When one of your two nations has 9 personages.
Source: Official rulebook

2. Mega-Nation Variant. Each player has one nation each but uses meeples of two colours (i.e. potentially double the usual maximum of 25 cities, 17 legions, and 17 galleys per player), and three starting cities of choice.
Win condition: When your nation has 15 personages.
Source: Official rulebook

3. Extended-Map Variant. Play with an additional map (that also enables Antike to be played with 7 or 8 players), and the revised arming/tech costs suggested in the Half Map variant.
Source: Antike designer Walther Gerdts (MacGerdts)



4. Half-Map Variant. The main variant recommended in this thread.

Further Tweaking

Although this seems to be the best way to play Antike with two players (I have played it multiple times, and found it quite satisfactory), it is not beyond revision or improvement. Some possible tweaking or customizing to think about:
- Should the number of Navigators available be 2 or 3?
- Should the revised Know-How costs for advanced technologies be 9/5 or 8/4?
- What are the most balanced starting cities?
I look forward to further comments to help refine this variant!
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Bruce Gibson
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Thanks for all the work you, and others, have done on this. My wife and I have played this with the original two player rules but it will hit the table more with these, I think.
 
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I have made the essential material and information about this two-player variant available in a file for download here:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fileinfo/36332

A general observation about why the two player game of Antike may in fact be better than a multi-player game for some people: Antike does not have any randomness (unlike many other civ-type games) and theoretically is a pure strategy game. However, this does not necessarily mean that the best player will win, because the outcome can be determined by board position or the threats and aggression of other players (e.g. if you're sandwiched between two hostile and aggressive players). Some people don't like this, and some of the critics of Antike find themselves disliking the fact that strategic play can be trumped by your board position or diplomacy. I personally don't mind this (I love games with diplomacy), but I can appreciate that there are people who don't care for this. For them, Antike might even be best as a two-player game, because this variant eliminates the diplomacy and bad board position which some dislike about it: it's just two players head to head, and diplomacy and board position doesn't really come into determining the outcome.

If you don't like multiplayer Antike for the reasons I've mentioned, you owe it to yourself to give the two player version a try! (not to mention that the play time is under an hour).



Here's what the Asterix vs Obelix scenario looks like:

 
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Jesus b
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It sounds really interesting. I will try.
 
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Edwin Priest
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Played your variant yesterday using Scenario 4. WAY much better than the "official" two-player versions. Thanks!
 
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albo
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Thank you for the effort you put in this variant.
I tried it the other day and I also liked it much more than the official 2 player variants. However, I found that the gold/know-how strategy was overpowered. In average every player will get 4 Scholars, but 2 of any other kind of Ancient Personage. The know-hows are already critical to win, if in addition many more cards (victory points) are in play for this strategy, the best option to win is to accumulate gold and rush for the Scholars (even more so when the armies cost 2 iron).
I have tried a couple of changes that worked really well for us. Maybe you would like to try these changes:

Revised Setup
Use the following the Ancient Personages:
5 Scholars (instead of 8, the fifth is for the first player to get all 4 advanced know-how)
5 Kings (instead of 9)
4 Citizens (instead of 6)
3 Generals (instead of 7)
3 Navigators (instead of 5)

Revised Rules
Victory Condition: The winner is the first player to acquire 9 Ancient Personages.

Revised Costs:
Arming cost: 2 iron per unit
Know-How cost: 5 (basic, no Scholar card) and 10/5 (advanced, as original)

In summary, two changes: (1) you only get a card with the advanced know-how and the basic ones have the same cost for all players, (2) 9 points to win.

The competicion was great, even when used very different strategies.
Thank you again for all the different scenarios.

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Javier Adarga
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We found this revised personages set-up more fun, especially the 5 scholars. Not sure about the double arming costs... it seemed to make a military strategy less successful.
 
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Donald Walsh
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Also recommend reducing scholars. Actually after playing, I would recommend only 4 scholars, race to 9 total. Basically the 5th scholar turned a 3/1 split into a 4/1 split, a critical difference in a two player race.
 
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Cristian Mihaescu
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I would recommend only 4 scholars too:

Revised Setup:
Use the following Ancient Personages:
4 Scholars (instead of 8) - only for each advanced know-how
5 Kings (instead of 9)
4 Citizens (instead of 6)
3 Generals (instead of 7)
2 Navigators (instead of 5) - 6 seas, not 7!

Revised Rules:
Victory Condition: The winner is the first player to acquire 9 Ancient Personages.

Revised Costs:
Arming cost: 2 iron per unit
Know-How cost: 5 (basic, no Scholar card) and 10/5 (advanced, as original)
 
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Albarc wrote:
I found that the gold/know-how strategy was overpowered.

We have found this out to be true as well. The player who gains more know-how scholars has a huge advantage in two player games. I will try using a reduced scholar varient on our next game.
 
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jood shine
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tried this new variant and found it lots better..it realy worked and sorted out the gold advantage
 
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So does anyone have any thoughts on whether this can be adapted and will work well with Antike II?
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NuMystic wrote:
So does anyone have any thoughts on whether this can be adapted and will work well with Antike II?

I don't have a definitive answer to your question, but I do know that the ideas behind the half-map variant were what inspired Mac Gerdts to create the two player game Antike Duellum. If I understand it right, Antike II is effectively a multiplayer version of Antike Duellum, and thus it would seem that indirectly the half-map variant even played a contributing role in the genesis of Antike II. I suspect it shouldn't be too difficult to make a half-map variant for it as well.

See the introductory section of my review here for an overview of how these Antike games developed and are related.
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