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Subject: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliad - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box. rss

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Mark Chaplin
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SOLID AND CONSISTENTLY ENJOYABLE.

I've played this game with many different groups and players; basically every combination of gamers you could imagine. Sometimes the initial rules explanation doesn't grab some of the huddled masses, but that's okay, because the game can punch its own weight, and also I'm a crap rules explainer.

When Iliade fires up, most fears are put to rest (unless you're a dedicated student of Homer's work). Yes, I have read the book that this is loosely based upon - a great work, obviously, filled with interesting stories and vivid descriptions (long-shadowed spears springs to mind), and also huge monolithic slabs of text. Most of the protagonists have scenery-chewing dialogue - what else do you expect of gods and heroes? - for instance:

"Zeus, greatest and most glorious. lord of the dark clouds, dweller in heaven, grant that the sun should not sink and the darkness should not come on before I have thrown Priam's palace headlong to the ground, blackened in the smoke, and burnt its gateways with ravaging fire, and ripped Hektor's tunic on his chest to tatters..."
or
"If ever I have built a shrine that is pleasing to you, if ever I have burnt for you fat-wrapped thigh-bones of bulls and goats, grant this my prayer."



That's all very well. Great stuff, but you don't need to know any of it to enjoy this set-collecting diet-CCG card game. You really don't. You're fighting a series of consecutive sieges with armies with troops that have horsehair brushes/crests on the top of their helmets, until somebody collects a set amount of VP [takes a breath]. All this is done under the watchful gaze of the omnipotent gods. Incur their wrath at your peril.

Glorious artwork and theme reflecting the Trojan war is plastered all over the cards and the other good-quality game components. Some care was bestowed upon this small production and it shines through; after myriad plays, my set of army cards are still in fine condition.

The gameplay is a wonderful blend of screwage and brinkmanship: you have to decide which battles to fight and how hard to press your luck, especially in games with 4+ players. If a battle is turning ugly, you also need to have the skill to decide when to cut your losses and quit, licking your wounds and regrouping for a later conflict - a quality you will have to master to win.



Some strategies take a few plays to become evident, like most card games, and the same could be said for deciding which goals to aim for points-wise. The difference in the two types of siege is also quite dramatic; I really like the sudden death gameplay of the Medusa sieges - very heart pounding if you're close to winning.

Iliade plays swiftly straight from the tiny box, and is also quick to learn, once players get to grips with the icons on the cards; though they are considerably easier wrap your gamer-brain around than Race for the Galaxy.

The game structure is different for 2 players, but this does not detract from the enjoyment of a 2-player battle one whit. In fact, I would argue that the strategy involved in two-player duels are subtly more involving than larger scale skirmishes, in a manner that brings to mind Poker. A handful of cards are debatably more powerful, or more useful, with two: the Trojan Horse cards are a prime example of this. Another asset of this cardgame is that it scales smoothly from 2 to 6 players, with no discernable wobble or sweetspot - all matchups are frantic and jolly good fun.

After a mediumweight time-investment of plays, about 100 games, I can say with some assuredness that my eagerness to play this game has not diminished. In fact, my respect for Iliade builds upon each playing.



My distilled thoughts:

THE WOODEN HORSE:

1. Simple and elegant system.
2. Easy-ish rules.
3. Quick-to-learn iconography. That works!
4. Swift to play.
5. Strategic and tactful gameplay.
6. Scales brilliantly.
7. Very portable.
8. Simple victory conditions.
9. Awesome 2-player filler game.
10. Great multiplayer game.
11. Nice 2-type conflicts: Medusa and Thanatos.
12. THE brinkmanship game.
13. Can be played as two teams competing.
14. Nice theme.
15. Enjoyable card counting (if you like that kind of thing).
16. I can't think of many things wrong with Iliad.

THE MYSTERIOUS ELEPHANTS:

1. Not always a great theme-to-card fit.
2. How many giant wooden horses!?
3. Not much like the book, or the movie Troy for that matter (while we're on the subject of the film Troy - which got a big pile of hate - I absolutely loved the film. The battle between Achilles and Hektor is the greatest weapon fight ever put on film. I believe it beats any lightsaber duel, and certainly destroys my other favourite, the Châteaux melee in Matrix Reloaded).

9/10.


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Andrew Brown
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
Thanks for the review. I love to see someone who has played the game more than 2-3 times writting a review. I would love to hear more though. I don't really know much about how it plays. I don't feel like I know what depths you have experienced that bring you back to this game again and again.

Cheers
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Andy Van Zandt
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
It's essentially a trick-taking or ladder game, where you're trying to have the highest value in cards (strongest army) at the end of the round. There are 2 different modes (battle types), one where you play until everyone passes in turn, and one where if you have the most at the beginning of your turn, you win the round. Which mode you're in is randomly determined at the beginning of each round.

the big difference is the card's special abilities. the cards can attack each other- you can have troops ride on elephants to protect them from attacks, or hide in a trojan horse so that people can't see their value, or form phalanxes for added value/protection, etc.

definitely an underrated game, in particular because it does scale well at different player quantities.
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Henrik Lantz
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
Good review. I had the game, played it twice, and then quickly sold it. I thought the game was far too rules-intensive and hard to explain. I do not agree at all that the game is quick to learn. For me this had a big rules bump to get over and the people willing to go through all the rules for a rather short card game are few in my gaming circles. We play Twilight Imperium III and all sorts of other complex games, but Iliad struck me as more unintuitive than most.

Saddens me a bit that the game didn't work out for us though. I like the idea of a card game with a lot of punch, but this one did not work for us.
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Anders Pedersen
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
Bolger wrote:
Good review. I had the game, played it twice, and then quickly sold it. I thought the game was far too rules-intensive and hard to explain. I do not agree at all that the game is quick to learn. For me this had a big rules bump to get over and the people willing to go through all the rules for a rather short card game are few in my gaming circles. We play Twilight Imperium III and all sorts of other complex games, but Iliad struck me as more unintuitive than most.

Saddens me a bit that the game didn't work out for us though. I like the idea of a card game with a lot of punch, but this one did not work for us.

Wow! For me it has been the exact opposite. I have played this game with many different groups and everybody has caught on fast. It's actually rare for someone to even use the reference sheet, after the first round.
Understanding how to play the game well, is something different. Usually people need to play a whole session before grasping the subtle strategies.

This is indeed an underrated game. It is fast to play but very tactical. Knowing when to withdraw from a battle and when to press on, is of key importance.
The team battles are quite fun as well, and offers a different playing experience to the game.
The only thing I disagree with the OP on is the 2-player version. It didn't work for me, it felt too random.
But otherwise this is a highly recommended game.
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Aaron
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
I own alot of games but this is the only game that my friends have consistently hated.

I enjoy it and find it very original but if your friends wont play it with you there is no point in keeping it.
 
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Henrik Lantz
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
dbc- wrote:
Bolger wrote:
Good review. I had the game, played it twice, and then quickly sold it. I thought the game was far too rules-intensive and hard to explain. I do not agree at all that the game is quick to learn. For me this had a big rules bump to get over and the people willing to go through all the rules for a rather short card game are few in my gaming circles. We play Twilight Imperium III and all sorts of other complex games, but Iliad struck me as more unintuitive than most.

Saddens me a bit that the game didn't work out for us though. I like the idea of a card game with a lot of punch, but this one did not work for us.

Wow! For me it has been the exact opposite. I have played this game with many different groups and everybody has caught on fast. It's actually rare for someone to even use the reference sheet, after the first round.
Understanding how to play the game well, is something different. Usually people need to play a whole session before grasping the subtle strategies.

This is indeed an underrated game. It is fast to play but very tactical. Knowing when to withdraw from a battle and when to press on, is of key importance.
The team battles are quite fun as well, and offers a different playing experience to the game.
The only thing I disagree with the OP on is the 2-player version. It didn't work for me, it felt too random.
But otherwise this is a highly recommended game.


I think part of the problem might be that we learned the game from the rules. It is probably easier being taught the game by someone who knows the game well.
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Andy Van Zandt
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
the rules layout is decidedly sub-optimal, yes.
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Ryan M
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
I agree - I found the game very unintuitive. Saw some promise, but just wasn't worth the time to dig. Friends liked it less than I did, anyway.
 
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Mark Chaplin
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
killjoy00 wrote:
I agree - I found the game very unintuitive. Saw some promise, but just wasn't worth the time to dig. Friends liked it less than I did, anyway.


I guess you shouldn't check out Race for the Galaxy then.



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Ryan M
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
Actually Race is one of my groups favorites. Yes, we all found this much less intuitive than Race. And Race seemed to offer a bigger payoff in terms of strategy, depth and enjoyability, in less time per game.
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Mark Chaplin
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
killjoy00 wrote:
Actually Race is one of my groups favorites. Yes, we all found this much less intuitive than Race. And Race seemed to offer a bigger payoff in terms of strategy, depth and enjoyability, in less time per game.


Ah, well. To each their own.



 
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Jonan Jello
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♫ As the masters rot on walls ♫ And the angels eat their grapes ♫ I watched Picasso Visit The Planet Of The Apes ♫
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Re: Yugblad's Quick-Fire Review of Iliade - an Immense Card Game in a Teeny Tiny Box.
Yugblad wrote:
The battle between Achilles and Hektor is the greatest weapon fight ever put on film. I believe it beats any lightsaber duel, and certainly destroys my other favourite, the Châteaux melee in Matrix Reloaded).


Mark, I own the DVD and wasn't too impressed with the movie. But I do recall that fight scene. Yes, it was impressive. Achilles' fighting style was elegant. I need to re-watch Troy.


Cool review, by the way. I'd like to try this game some day.
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Peter Rabinowitz
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Yugblad wrote:
(while we're on the subject of the film Troy - which got a big pile of hate - I absolutely loved the film.


I'm not the only person to love this film?
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Mark Chaplin
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kc2dpt wrote:
Yugblad wrote:
(while we're on the subject of the film Troy - which got a big pile of hate - I absolutely loved the film.


I'm not the only person to love this film?


Yay!

It also boasts some lines of memorable dialogue:

It's too early in the day for killing princes.



 
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