So last night we mixed it up a bit and moved 3 blocks down the street to Chateau Sloe. Jim, Nate, John S. and Spencer got together a little earlier than usual to play Martin Wallace’s new EuroWargame - Byzantium, while my wife played Chibi-Robo on the Cube and King Tut Tut tried to play Godzilla.
At 8 pm (yes, everyone was on time), we sat down to set up the board and digest the very dense rules. First off, this is the nicest looking Wallace game I have ever seen. The rulebook is in full-colour and the boards and bits are top notch. With a beautifully illustrated board, personal playing mats and woodens pieces (including wooden dice!) its a looker.
All said and done, the rule book is pretty well written with the majority of it taken up by set-up, special actions definition and combat / movement. We had four copies of the rule book (a must with Wallace) so it was pretty easy to get things down. I recommend multiple rulebooks when starting a heavy euro. It makes the game flow nicely.
Once set up, we took another hour and half to fully digest the mechanics with the lights clicking on about an hour and a half in, almost at the end of round one. As we got deeper and deeper into the game the smiles got wider and wider as we realized that this game was a very fine Wallace achievement. I think that some on “The Geek” get put off by the dense rule book and the odd mechanic of playing both the Byzantines and the Arabs. But it really really works nicely. Its basically a cube management game with special actions, a simple but effective warfare mechanic and one very special victory condition that everyone needs to keep an eye out for. In fact, Nate actually attempted to pull off the sacking of Constantinople by the Bulgars but we thankfully rolled 3 kills to stave it off.
Unfortunatley, we did not get to finish. At midnight we had almost finished round 2 but a winner was not determined. From what I could tell, it looked very very close with the victor to be decided in the final round.
I believe Byzantium has vaulted to the top of our must play again very soon list. Loved it.