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Subject: Hades Expansion and the Main Gods rss

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R. O. Schaefer
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I've done some analysis of the base game here.
I might write up some more details on the new creatures, heroes, magic items and divine favors after a few more games. For now I will keep it short and only give my initial thoughts about the strategic impact of the Hades expansion on the main gods.

Let me say first that I like all the expansion modules and I think that Cyclades + Hades is a superb game! I haven't played it much yet though - so take the following with a grain of salt.

I have the impression that the expansion is not only for variety but also for adjusting existing strategies. Obviously there is more appeal to fight for islands and sea spaces. Imho equally obviously Hades is not Apollo's friend. Here are some rules quotes:

Quote:

They then chose the islands on which they will start the game, starting with the player who won
the auction on the first God, and ending with one who took cover with Apollo (Coward!).


Quote:

During the preliminary “free positioning” round:
Is it possible to choose Apollo without first
having been expelled from another God?

If no player has taken Apollo yet, it is possible
to choose him directly. This means that
no other player can come to Apollo. However,
going directly to Apollo is usually not the
smartest tactical choice because your opponents
will be able to access the most powerful
Gods with cheap offerings.


Hero: Can you use the power of a sacrificial
hero when you are on Apollo?
No, being on Apollo is almost like passing
one’s turn.


I might be wrong here or go to far, but I think the designers wanted to bring the game even more to the intended direction of constant battles (both during bidding and on the map) and therefore have weakened defensive/money hoarding strategies.

Now a bit more specifically:

1) Apollo is significantly weakened due to:

- Module 1 (free placement)
In the base game you could use Apollo several times in a row at the very beginning to gain an income advantage without bidding at the expense of infrastructure (hoping that other players make the main gods not too cheap for each other). You could eventually lose an island in the meantime, but were compensated by Apollo's 4$ in this case. Now starting with Apollo will give you a disadvantage at both income and infrastructure.

- Module 2 (Hades)
Hades is completely useluss for a single island Apollo strategy until a potential finishing turn. Edit: You might get some income from a Necropolis though.

- Module 3 (Heroes & new creatures)
Heroes can't be sacrificed using Apollo. So there is no getting 4$ from Apollo/sacrifice Midas (pay 15$ for a Metropolis) combo for instance.

- Module 4: the divine favors
Obviously the favors give more appeal to bid on the other Gods. In the base game Apollo was stronger than Athena in the first rounds, especially when only few and expensive creatures were available. Now even Athena at the penultimate position might be worth consideration.

2) Zeus is weakened due to the following two rules:
- Temples do not provide a discount for the purchase of Heroes
- You cannot discard a Hero card through the Special power of Zeus

These look innocent but the second one is very serious, because you can't hoard money to dig deeply into the creature pile for finishing the game via Pegasus for instance.

In the base game you could carry out something like this:
- use Apollo for income -> eventually lose an island -> remain with a 4 square island -> use Apollo for more income (4$ now)
- use Zeus to build a temple and get as many priests as possible
- only once or twice use Athena and Ares to build a university and a fortress and to recruit some armies

If the other players play cautiously too without early Metropolis they can't attack you for a long time. So hoarding money and being aware of the dangerous Griffin, final turn could look like this:
- use Zeus to search for specific creatures
- build a second temple, dig for Cyclops, switch the temple for haven and build Metropolis
- optionally dig for Sphinx to sell all priests, philosophers, ships
- dig for Pegasus and attack another island with a Metropolis on it

You didn't need Poseidon at all! Digging so deeply is no longer secured (you might get lucky, but it's usually one shot and you will lose otherwise). Pegasus might still come up on top but then other players will be aware of it. After all Zeus lost quite a bit of his endgame power. Athena and Ares (Poseidon to a lesser degree) will take use of this during the very endgame. Despite all this Zeus keeps his power the most part of the game building up priests and using his power on creatures for attacking or defending purposes.

One Island strategies are still possible due to the heroes Perseus and especially Penthesilea (take care of the Manticore!), but you have to time their recruitment very well and your endgame threats become more obvious which is always bad in Cyclades.

3/4) Poseidon/Ares are strengthened

Hades might look like a strong rival, but I think that military infrastructure becomes more important now. You will need it both as defence against Hades and to use Hades effectively yourself.
Note that both Poseidon and Ares will always take their turn before Hades (for striking first against the regular forces of the Hades player or building up defence) unless someone uses a magic item to reorder the Gods.

Many sacrifice powers of heroes work well with a strong military infrastructure.

5) Athena is strengthened a bit

I've already mentioned how she is strengthened in comparison to Apollo and Zeus. More specifically it is more difficult to dig for Satyr via Zeus and steal an endgame threatening philosopher.


I'm sure there is much more to explore in future games. For now I will end with an advice to experienced players: Introduce all four Hades Modules at once! It's not difficult ruleswise and adds a lot to the game. Thanks Bruno and Ludovic!


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Guido Gloor
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I don't understand why this article didn't get more thumbs. I looked for it and started with the most-thumbed ones in the forums overview. Great writeup.
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James
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I couldn't agree more. I am still fairly new to the base game (but have ordered the expansion) so I'm not in a position to evaluate the strategy discussed here. Still, the comments here really "unpack" the value of the expansion and the base game for me and make clear the multiplicity of strategic options offered by both (now, I'll try to forget some of what I've read to try to rediscover them in playing).

The OP's original strategy article which he linked was also really useful; I'd recommend that as worth a read to any who haven't yet.

Thanks for both of these!
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I think a lot of people are catching up with strategy of the main game in getting this to the table and just are lagging, in a year's time, it will garner the thumbs it deserves. There is so much new out there that, at least for me, Cyclades Hades has taken a back seat. I was also waiting for the expansions from the BGG store and now have them on the way. So its my delay, but I had thumbed this a while ago. Just me comment on the relative thumb obscurity of the article.

I also think that a lot of people don't get just how good this game really is. They don't like combat or games with minis or something, but this is hard core Euro with some Ameritrash bits to make it shine. Its in the sweetspot of Euro strategy with AT looks. Couldn't be better IMHO. Though I suggest open money since its trackable. That comes from a lot of deep thought in the way 18xx players work and strategize. It seems like it would make for a weaker game, but what it really does is takes away some constant calculations you make (remembering money) and allows you to focus purely on in game strategy and winning. Games get much meatier (I would say meaner/cut throat) but people would take it the wrong way). I mean to convey the games get tighter in the raw pursuit of victory. Less wasted time on having to memorize things, now people who have a tough time at that, can play better, which makes for an overall better experience IMHO since you have to fight tougher opponents (and you have to learn to play better in response).

OK off soapbox. Love the game.

haslo wrote:
I don't understand why this article didn't get more thumbs. I looked for it and started with the most-thumbed ones in the forums overview. Great writeup.
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Stephen Sanders
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My main question is:

How does this address the Zues/Pegasus imbalance issue in the base game?

A great game wants to shine from the base game, but the nagging issue of this sudden victory condition seems to dog the game from really shining.

I know others have responded "why don't you position yourself to win the auction," for Zeus, but that is just my point. This is a narrow way to victory, and it is frustrating when you have positioned yourself to get that second Metropolis only to be outbid by someone who can take the "cheap" route to victory when the Pegasus comes out and then can buy himself the right card, and pounce on you, depriving you of a hard-earned Metropolis that switches to him for the victory.
 
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Guido Gloor
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caltexn wrote:
How does this address the Zues/Pegasus imbalance issue in the base game?

Yeah, if only somebody had responded to that already.

Oh, look what I found in the OP:

Califax wrote:
2) Zeus is weakened due to the following two rules:
- Temples do not provide a discount for the purchase of Heroes
- You cannot discard a Hero card through the Special power of Zeus

These look innocent but the second one is very serious, because you can't hoard money to dig deeply into the creature pile for finishing the game via Pegasus for instance.

Zeus "finding" Pegasus was never really a problem, but rather, Zeus looking for it with a nearly 100% guarantee of finding it was; it was possible to plan for using the Pegasus with Zeus, while the Pegasus is much more balanced when you can't plan for it.

There are other ways too, even though one only opens itself with the Cyclades: Hecate promo; there are more ways (Hades, some heroes) that allow you to move your troops about, thus the Pegasus is less dominating because it no longer is such a huge exception to the norm.
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Florian Flumontanus
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Quote:
Apollo is significantly weakened due to
...

Why don't strengh him by allowing him to buy creatures and use other effects? You know, Apollo is kind of pause but I think you should get at least the other possibilies as buying creatures and using heroes etc if you're already the very last in one round...
 
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R. O. Schaefer
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But you will ususally safe a lot of money using Apollon, especially later in the game when bids are high. Collecting money was very strong in the base game and probably not intended to be that strong. You will find more details in my op.

With sacrifice powers connected with money (Midas) it would be too strong to allow use of heroes I guess. Bying creatures might be less critical, because there won't be many at the time of Apollon player's move anyway. Still I think it was a good and consistent idea to weaken Apollon.
 
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