2-4 Players -- 12+
designer: Brian Lee
publisher: Tango Books -- ©2000
list price: $24.99
play time: 30 minutes
Four simple board games with a Greek mythology theme.
In many ways, this would seem inferior to a board game that comes in a box -- it is, after all, a book. However, how many boxed board games have wonderful three-dimensional gaming appeal? Very few. Most games lie flat on the table and we either move small pegs or meeple around the board, or we play cards. In either case, our games are generally flat.
One of the first things you might notice about this book/game is that when you open it, the board games inside make use of the pop-up technique to create unique boards. Towers that must be climbed or rooms that must be navigated or even labyrinths that must be surveyed. There really are some nice, albeit simple, designs here.
The artwork is fair. It is not outstandingly stunning, but it is also not cutesy or cartoony -- something I would worry about in a book of this sort.
Upon opening the book, you will note that all the game components that you might need in order to begin playing are included. A spinner is attached and movement counters are shaped tag-board figures unique for each of the four games. There is also a storage pocket built in to the book so that you never have to worry about where all the pieces are.
A very nice additional feature is the inclusion of velcro tabs to hold each pop-up page in place. Without these tabs, the pages would surely be closing while trying to play.
As already mentioned, the artwork is fine. It is well detailed and each board is busy with art and patterns. This is certainly nicer than a plain white background. It is not so busy, though, that we lose sight of the path. It is well-balanced in this way.
The pop-nature is very attractive. This really is what makes this game/book worth playing. It turns a simple movement game into an attractive movement game.
In addition to the pop-up structures in each game, there are a variety of flaps to lift throughout each board. The only things missing that you might find in non-game pop-up books are wheels to turn or tabs to pull. It actually would have been relatively easy to incorporate these into the game, which might have added to the game play itself. Of course it probably would have been a horrific cost to manufacture the additional items.
One other aspect that must be taken in to account is the book's size. While the book itself is larger than an ordinary hardcover book, the board feels small and cramped when trying to play. Players must sit close together. For a two player game, this was not a problem, but for a four players game, it would feel very crowded.
The game play is where this book falls short. Really, with all the grandeur and attractiveness, this is nothing more than a simple move-around-the-spaces game. Spin and move the appropriate number of spaces. Some spaces send you backward, some propel you ahead, but you have no control over any of the action.
One bit of variety is the Minotaur game. In this game, one player is the minotaur, who moves about, trying to capture the other players. Once captured, the other players are out of the game. The minotaur wins if he captures all the other players, they players win by avoiding the minotaur and being first to arrive at their destination. The minotaur has a definite advantage by being able to move in any direction, while the players must move along their pre-destined route.
My thirteen year old son and I played this and we completed all four games in about 40 minutes.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS:
One factor that must be included with this game is the educational factor. Being a book of Greek Myths was definitely a selling point for me. I've always liked studying the various myths and I remember buying this (many years ago now) because I thought it would be a good way to introduce my children to some mythology.
Now, with the best-selling Percy Jackson books, I don't have to worry about my children learning mythology, in fact, as we played this, my 13 year old was telling me who each of the characters were.
Personally, I'm not a fan of movement and luck oriented games, so this would rate,at best, 2-1/2 out of 5 stars. However, it is clearly not a game geared to a 51 year old gamer. It is geared toward a younger generation. If you are looking for simple games to play with your children, this is a very nice alternative to the mass market board games found in big box stores.