Recommend
72 
 Thumb up
 Hide
14 Posts

Antike Duellum» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Antike Duellum: How Less Is More rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Don D.
United States
Miami
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is the latest (and perhaps the last?) review in a series of reviews I have written on games that made my Essen Bought Games List. I have played Antike Duellum twice (both times with two players ) and I have played Antike four times, though the most recent of which was a good four months ago.

Disclaimer: Many of my reviews have evoked very strong reactions from readers - both good and bad- and before I begin this review I want to make two things clear: First, I usually refrain from appending qualifying phrases like "in my opinion" to what I write, however virtually everything I write is subjective-even if it may read as a statement of fact. Second, I have very clear tastes in games and styles of games- I encourage all readers to browse my profile to see what my 'gaming personality' is to put what I write in the proper context.

On to the show...

General Conclusion Antike Duellum is an excellent two player rendition of Antike and an excellent two player game in its own right. Now that I have played every game on my Essen list, I will be ranking them all. Antike Duellum will make a major jump up on that list.

What is different between this and Antike?

I prefer reviews that focus on analysis and opinion rather than regurgitate rules and components, but I do think it is useful to highlight some differences between this and Antike. I will follow each with a brief analysis of what that does to the gameplay.

1. There is an extra step added between a player's supply of armies/galleys and the board...Recruitment. Before a player can deploy units to the board, they must first be recruited from the supply to the player's recruitment box by selecting the know-how action space and paying 1 gold per soldier and 2 gold per ship.

I very much like this addition to the game. It adds to the programming-ish feel that the Rondel can have to it. There is now one more step to account for when engaged in a desperate fight for the upper hand with military and a misstep or miscalculation in your 'program' can be incredibly costly and even lose the game for you.

2. There is only one step to each know-how (the advanced versions have been removed).

I suppose this was done to make room for the recruitment aspect of the know-how space -or perhaps for other balancing issues that arose during testing- but I don't particular care for the removal of the advanced techs. It reduces the tech tree aspect of the game and greatly increases the likelihood that both players will be playing with substantially similar 'powers'. I think the game is better when players have meaningfully different strengths and weaknesses. I won't comment on whether or not the game would be better with the advanced techs left in because, as I said above, it could have been removed due to some balancing issue discovered in playtesting. I am only comfortable saying if it was possible to leave in the advanced techs while also keeping a good balance and the recruitment step, I wish they had done so. This would have upped the ‘civ’ feel to the game and, more importantly, increased replayability.

3. Costs for building cities and temples are increased by one coin per like thing adjacent to the new building site.

This is an interesting little wrinkle that does three important things in the game: One, it forces players to plan more carefully when founding cities and placing temples. Two, it makes it more difficult to 'specialize' early on. Three, it adds a tactical incentive for aggressive players to build close to one another as the first mover increases the costs for the subsequent player in building.

4. There are "event cards" - which aren't really events as much as special cards that players can collect throughout the game whenever they lose a city and/or when their opponent gains a VP. The cards may then be kept in hand and played as a one-time use later in the game.

I like the powers granted by the cards and the nifty moves that they enable throughout the game. While they are relatively minor, they do frequently give a tiny boost that is enough to get a player over a large hump he or she would have otherwise not been able to get over. What I do NOT like about the cards is that they are an artificial catch up to the leader mechanism. If someone is getting the snot beaten out of them in a game, let them get the snot beaten out of them. I don't care for the game handing them a tissue to wipe the blood of their nose and catch up. Maybe I am biased since I was the one beating the snot out of others both times, but I would actually dislike this part of the game even more if I was the one getting manhandled- I dont want your pity, Mac! The compromise for me that would have reconciled my dichotomous view on these cards would have been that they are still in the game but must be purchased somehow.


There are a number of other differences, but those are the three I felt most worth discussing.

What is bad about this game:

I endeavour to achieve SOME minimal amount of balance to reviews by forcing myself to include at least three negatives and positives. Sometimes it is tough to do and that is the case here with Antike Duellum.

thumbsdown The game can overstay its welcome. Both games I played we ended without actually finishing. What happened both times- and I think is fairly likely to happen frequently- is that it became clear that, barring a major misstep, a particular player's victory was inevitable. The problem both times was that the player's victory, while mutually agreed to be inevitable, required going through a program and series of moves that could take as long as 15-20 minutes to see through. Both times we agreed to end the game and declare a victor without going through those motions.

thumbsdown At the time I am writing this review, I cannot think of anything else to complain about. I did say a couple of negative things in the preceding section so I will let myself off the hook here and end with only one actual thumb down.

What is good about the game

thumbsup RULES! They are clear, concise, and leave no questions unanswered. While it is disappointing that this is something worth mentioning as a positive as it should be a given, it is more and more often not the case. If you are familiar with Antike, you will be up and playing within five minutes. If you aren't- maybe 15 minutes.

thumbsup Almost no randomness which means that the player who played best will likely win. The only randomness that could potentially impact the outcome is the randomness that comes from the order of the event cards coming out and which ones happen to be available for a player to select from when the game allows him or her to select one. I am not willing to make a definitive assertion on the likelihood of that happening at this juncture, but put a gun to my head and the answer is that the randomness in the cards is highly likely to make the game longer or shorter but unlikely to change the game's result. As an aside, the cards themselves likely do add to the game’s length.

thumbsup The game FEELS virtually identical to Antike. I like Antike. 'Nuff said.

thumbsup The game trims off some of what is potentially problematic in Antike by trimming off the extra players. In Antike, being adjacent to a weak player or two can potentially be enough for a player who played subpar to win anyway. That ain't happening here- no way, know how (Oh yeah, I’ve got Antike puns!)

thumbsup The game is brutal. You must embrace the particularly vicious aspects of a two player game to succeed if facing a player who is also willing to embrace it. While in a multiplayer game a war of attrition likely just means that the involved players are ensuring they will not win, in Antike Duellum its "BRING IT!". During both games a fairly tense military conflict broke out and in both times I assessed the state of the game to be such that I had the positional and logistical advantage with producing new units...so I was perfectly fine running around the board blowing my units up 1 for 1 with my opponent's. Massive casualties were incurred by both sides, but that was perfectly cool with me because I could regroup quicker and stronger. In fact, this brutal aspect of the game is so important that I would say that my willingness to engage in such mutual destruction is what won me both games.

thumbsup The game is tense. Both players are fighting and scrambling to scoop up victory points, many of which can only be scooped up by the first one to do it. What is required to outmaneuver your opponent in these VP races is careful planning based on both a short-term (2-3 turn) strategy and long-term(4+ turn)strategy. This requires players to build a suitable program of actions on the rondel, it usually rewards players who are able to be efficient and maximize, and it also requires players to appropriately assess the value of retaining resources relative to advancing farther on the rondel to reach different actions.

Brief Detour- Polis
An easy and obvious comparison right now is Polis- another two player WAR-O featured at Essen. Both games are a combo of action selection, civ building, and conflict both military and other. While Polis is a good game, Antike is a great one. Polis is, at a surface level, deeper and heavier than Antike. However, when broken down and stripped away, what you see is that Antike is a more streamlined, less random game that is more sharply focused on clever tactical play and strategic usage of the available actions.

Final Thoughts

Antike Duellum is better than Antike. The changes add more than they take away while also retaining much of the same feel as Antike has. It is a more brutal and tense version of Antike. When you are playing, it will feel like a desperate tug of war is going on...eventually one player's feet will slip and the tide will be turned. The game must be knocked down a notch for its likelihood for ending anticlimactically, that is not nearly enough of a knock to drop this out of "great" status.

At the end of the day what you get is a low-complexity, high depth game that puts you on a brutal and tense ride. When you say low-complexity, high depth to me, you absolutely have my attention. Antike is not a game that will challenge the players. What it is is a simple construct of mechanics that allows the players to create the challenge for each other. And the challenge that they can create is a fantastic one. It is, therefore, easy for me to like this game immensely.

My Rating:

BGG Rating: 8.5/10
69 
 Thumb up
2.33
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jean Gagnier
Canada
Montréal
Québec
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dond80 wrote:

I prefer reviews that focus on analysis and opinion rather than regurgitate rules and components, but I do think it is useful to highlight some differences between this and Antike. I will follow each with a brief analysis of what that does to the gameplay.


Oh, yes. And thank you for providing a most excellent one.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Angel Garcia Perez
Spain
Malaga
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dond80 wrote:
Polis is a good game, Antike is a great one.




Polis is a GREAT game
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Reid
United States
Brooklyn
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dond80 wrote:
The game can overstay its welcome. Both games I played we ended without actually finishing. What happened both times- and I think is fairly likely to happen frequently- is that it became clear that, barring a major misstep, a particular player's victory was inevitable. The problem both times was that the player's victory, while mutually agreed to be inevitable, required going through a program and series of moves that could take as long as 15-20 minutes to see through. Both times we agreed to end the game and declare a victor without going through those motions.


As a counter-point, I was prepared to concede my first game about 2/3 of the way through. However, I did not, and ended up coming back to win. I'm not sure if my opponent made one of those "major missteps", or if I simply misread the board.

Anyway, not to take anything away from Don, but I'd strongly encourage most people against conceding early in your first few games at least. Give you and your opponents chances to make those missteps and learn from them. It's easy to manage a small empire in the early goings of the game. The logistics and management of an end-game empire & army is significantly more involved. So even if, up until the endgame, you haven't made any mistakes yet, that doesn't mean that you won't make any during the most complex phase of the game.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Reid
United States
Brooklyn
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dond80 wrote:
2. There is only one step to each know-how (the advanced versions have been removed).

I suppose this was done to make room for the recruitment aspect of the know-how space -or perhaps for other balancing issues that arose during testing- but I don't particular care for the removal of the advanced techs.


I'd also appreciate more advanced techs. However, one other significant rule change from Antike is that armies no longer need an extra "move" in order to siege cities. I do like that streamlining as it removes one area of awkward fiddliness from the original, but it also made movement more powerful. Could be that was a reason advanced techs were left out.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Don D.
United States
Miami
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
jasonwocky wrote:
dond80 wrote:
The game can overstay its welcome. Both games I played we ended without actually finishing. What happened both times- and I think is fairly likely to happen frequently- is that it became clear that, barring a major misstep, a particular player's victory was inevitable. The problem both times was that the player's victory, while mutually agreed to be inevitable, required going through a program and series of moves that could take as long as 15-20 minutes to see through. Both times we agreed to end the game and declare a victor without going through those motions.


As a counter-point, I was prepared to concede my first game about 2/3 of the way through. However, I did not, and ended up coming back to win. I'm not sure if my opponent made one of those "major missteps", or if I simply misread the board.

Anyway, not to take anything away from Don, but I'd strongly encourage most people against conceding early in your first few games at least. Give you and your opponents chances to make those missteps and learn from them. It's easy to manage a small empire in the early goings of the game. The logistics and management of an end-game empire & army is significantly more involved. So even if, up until the endgame, you haven't made any mistakes yet, that doesn't mean that you won't make any during the most complex phase of the game.


I should clarify that the point in the games referenced in my reviews was father along than 2/3. One was while I had 7 and the opponent five and the other was at 8 and 6. Also, in both cases, the victory was a mathematical certainty given each player making the best moves available for the remainder of the game (certain because no possible event cards would change the outcome). It would have just ended up a repeated cycle of iron, arm, move, iron, arm, move. A cycle that both players agreed would demonstrably end in a particular way.

I would not advocate calling the game at any point sooner than what I described above because Jason is absolutely correct.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Filip Cam
Belgium
Kontich
Antwerp
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Agree with almost everything you say. That games usually end with one player conceding is normal - think chess.

My one problem is with the event cards, which add the only element of randomness to this otherwise zero-luck game. Random not only because you shuffle the cards, but because some are much stronger than others. Having a catch-up mechanism for the losing player is good and adds a bit of strategy - you may want to postpone scoring a point to prepare for the blowback - but it could easily have been a non-random thing. E.g. when a player's city is destroyed, let him "salvage" 1 or more resources instead of taking a card, and when a point is scored, give the other player 1 or more coins. This would achieve the same results without breaking the elegant zero-luck aspect of the game.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Reid
United States
Brooklyn
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
krommenaas wrote:
My one problem is with the event cards, which add the only element of randomness to this otherwise zero-luck game.


They don't bother me terribly, and I actually do like the cards and prefer them as rewards over a resource boon. Part of me does wonder, however, if I'd like the game better if all of the cards were available instead of a random 3. Or even if players drafted personal pools of cards at the start of the game that they could choose from during the game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Federico
Italy
Val di Non
Trentino
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
jasonwocky wrote:
krommenaas wrote:
My one problem is with the event cards, which add the only element of randomness to this otherwise zero-luck game.


They don't bother me terribly, and I actually do like the cards and prefer them as rewards over a resource boon. Part of me does wonder, however, if I'd like the game better if all of the cards were available instead of a random 3. Or even if players drafted personal pools of cards at the start of the game that they could choose from during the game.

The cards themselves are nice, but they're a bit too uneven for my liking.

For example: it's devastating to banish a player's only fleet at the beginning of the game when he gets his first VP by buying Moneta on Scientia (or anyway taking the card then and using it as soon as he builds the fleet). He falls behind in expanding and it will take either a couple of inefficient moves or long enough for him to return on Scientia and then also on Militia to get another fleet. Controlling the seas is a huge advantage for expansion!

The productions cards are extremely powerful towards the endgame. In a 7-7 or similarly close game where you're racing for Navigators/Temples having a double production card can make a big difference (almost 1 lap of the rondel).

Other cards, like destroy one wall, are almost useless. Walls themselves seem to be a bit weak, I'm usualy happy when my opponent gets that card, as most games I don't even build any.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Reid
United States
Brooklyn
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Fede__ wrote:
For example: it's devastating to banish a player's only fleet at the beginning of the game when he gets his first VP by buying Moneta on Scientia (or anyway taking the card then and using it as soon as he builds the fleet). He falls behind in expanding and it will take either a couple of inefficient moves or long enough for him to return on Scientia and then also on Militia to get another fleet. Controlling the seas is a huge advantage for expansion!


I won't argue with you that they're uneven & often only situationally useful. However, I'm not sure they're quite as swingy as the above implies, for two reasons.

First, in this exact situation, if you're worried about getting your fleet banished the solution is not to score any VP until you can absorb the shock. Both players can adjust their tactics to account for cards that are already on the display, which is one of the things that I like.

Second, I don't think that the loss in this situation is as heavy as I hear you saying it is. The game doesn't require a mad rush of early expansion. In both of my games that I won, I won with significantly smaller empires than my opponent. e.g. In my first game, the winning VP was scored when I finally built my 10th city (my opponent, in contrast, had scored for 20 cities long ago).

EDIT: See, what I just did there was assume I know something about this game's strategy after only a few plays. Take my observations with a grain or more of salt.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Filip Cam
Belgium
Kontich
Antwerp
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You don't just lose the ship, you also lose the actions that allowed you to buy that ship. In the early game, wasting a few actions can be fatal against a competent opponent. Now this is all okay imo, but I liked Antike's zero-luck aspect so much, and I feel Duellum would be better if it had it too. Still a fantastic game though.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt N

Pennsylvania
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You can always throw in low randomness as a negative, even if you don't personally consider it a negative. That usually goes hand in hand with difficult to learn (although whether a game like Chess is difficult to learn varies by definition). I could also consider a lack of support for more than two players to be a potential negative. Being overly balanced in a review is rather painful though.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fedor Ilitchev
Canada
Ottawa
ON
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It seems to me that something like the catch-up cards are a necessity in this kind of game. Otherwise, it would probably be very difficult for the player that is behind to catch up - especially in the case of having lost a temple. This is just an intuition but its easy to test - try playing without the cards.

I also agree with the op when he says that the game would have been immensely better with 2nd tier technologies.

I recently played my first game of it and would have appreciated a greater differentiation between the two sides.

For the record though, I didn't really enjoy this game that much. It was too dry and slow for me to really enjoy.

I'd much rather play Summoner Wars or Command & Colors or any number of great abstracts. Those games just have more energy to them. I will give this another chance though - maybe it will come into its own with repeated plays.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pierce Ostrander
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb


dond80 wrote:


Disclaimer: Many of my reviews have evoked very strong reactions from readers - both good and bad- and before I begin this review I want to make two things clear: First, I usually refrain from appending qualifying phrases like "in my opinion" to what I write, however virtually everything I write is subjective-even if it may read as a statement of fact. Second, I have very clear tastes in games and styles of games- I encourage all readers to browse my profile to see what my 'gaming personality' is to put what I write in the proper context.

I prefer reviews that focus on analysis and opinion rather than regurgitate rules and components, ...


Don,

This is the first of your reviews that I have read. Well done! I plan to go see what else you have reviewed and have a look of the subject interests me.

Your opinion about "what makes a good review" and your "disclaimer" are what make your reviews... good.

Thanks,

Foob
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.