For now I played the game twice (4 Players) and we had the heck of a good time
This is my first review of a game on BGG- please don‘t blame me for my english
Iliad comes with
3 Victory Tiles (Agamemnon, Athena & Poseidon)
110 very nice cards with
- 21 Victory-Cards (Triremes :1-3 Points, Cities 1-3 P & of course the incredible Helena 5 P)
- 6 Heroes
- 8 Oracle-Cards
- 75 Army Cards (Hoplites, Archers, Elephants, Chariots, Catapult, Balista, Big Troja-Horses, and obstacles)
The artwork is very good, it‘s a pleasure to look at the cards and their quality is also good.
Aim: The game lasts until one player at the end of a battle gets his 12th Victory-Point.
Each player at the beginning gets 12 army cards. After each battle one only gets 3 new cards - sometimes it‘s better to loose a battle than just to use alll your cards to grasp only 1 or 2 or even 0 victory points.
When it‘s your turn, you have three options:
- play a card from your hand
- activate the ability of one of your cards you‘ve already played
- pass (=quit the batttle)
- Hoplites: Strength-Points from 1-4 if they are played alone. But one can build a phalanx - this means, you can ad a hoplite card with a lower strength on a hoplite card you played in a previous turn. The Strength of the Phalanx is the number of cards in the phalanx multiplicated with the total strength of the phalanx (eg. a phalanx consisting of the cards 3 + 2 +1 has a strength of 18 ((3+2+1)x2).
- Archers: In a turn you lay down your archer in front of you. In a following turn instead of playing a card out of your hand you can choos to destroy a archer card or a hopplite card (in a phalanx only the weakest hoplite-card!). If you do so, your archer is also discarded!
- Elephants: Elephants have no strength, but can take up to two cards of hoplites and/ or Archers, who double their strength riding on a elephant. A Archer placed on a elephant can attack the strongest card of a phalanx. If the elephant is killled by a Balista, place the cards, who were on your elephant one by one in your army (no phalanx possible)
- Chariots: The Chariots (Strength 3) are the only cards you can play directly out of your hand to destroy an archer or a hoplite unite of one of opponents (weakest card in a phalanx).
But you can just lay them down in front of you and use their special power later. Chariots are discarded, when they were used to attack an enemy card.
- Catapult: You can use a catapult that you have played in a previous round out of your hand to destroy an obstacle, balista, a TrojaHorse ore another catapult. The catapult is discarded afterwards.
- Troja-Horse: You can hide as many Units in a Troja Horse as you want. If the Horse is destroyed by a catapult, the units inside are placed one by one in your actual army (no phalanx possible). If the Horse is not detsroyed by the end of the battle, you may and will put the hidden hoplites together to form a phalanx, to get a maximum of srength.
- Obstacles: If you have placed obstacles in front of you, no chariot may attack you.
- Balista: Balistas placed in your army may destroy any elephant or a chariot and are discarded afterwards.
I hope the descriptoin of the cards shows a bit, that there is no really safe place in these battles, and that there‘s a lot of room for bluffing, when you start by playing a balista or archers.
With the maximum of 12 randomly chosen cards of the ones dicribed, you will fight one battle after the other. Take randomly 3 cards after each battle. Not more than 12 cards are allowed any given time/player
In Iliade, and this adds a lot to the game, there are two different kind of battles. Up to 6 normal Siege (Thanatos-)battles and 2 Gorgone-Battles (I call them so because of the oracle card). Every round one of the 8 oracle card is revealed and determines the kind of battle, that will take place.
Thanatos-Battle: The battle rages until every player has passed his round. This means, if you pass a round the battle for you has ended, except that the cards you played might still be discarded by other players attacks. A player that passes adds the most powerful hero to his army, that still is available. Heroes have a Stength from 1-6 (1 to number of players) and can not be destroyed!
If no one wants to play any more cards, the player with the most strength chooses one of 1-4 (number of players -2) Victory-cards available for each battle.
Then the player with the second highest strength chooses his Victory-Card and so on. The looser of the battle has to take the Thanatos-Card, which will subtract 1 or 2 victory points from his total.
Gorgone-Battle: In a Gorgone Battle theres only one winner, the Player who, at the very start of his turn has the most powerful army. Only the winner takes a Victory card - that‘s all that happens after a Gorgone battle (no loosing points)
The winner of any battle takes the Agamemnon - Tile which adds 1 point to his total of Victory-Points. After each batttle Agamemnon joins the winner!
The Helena-Victory-Card ist the most precious, it‘s worth 5 points.
The Player with the most City-Victory Cards gets Athena (+2Points)
The Player with the most Trireme-Victory Cards gets Poseidon (+2Points)
If no player reaches 12 Points after the 8th battle, the winner is the player with the highest total of Victory-Point.
Iliade is a very tricky game. First of all you have to watch not to run out of cards. Except three (you take three after each battle) every other card you play is a card you‘re surely gonna miss in the next battle. So the card management will be very important. And there also the importance of the Archers, the Chariots, Ballistas and the Catapults - they allow you to use 2 turn / card, that means you don‘t use your card as fast as the others.
Every card you play must cause a maximum of troubles for the other players: Will he attack my elephant with this balista or the oter player‘s? Against whom will he use his archers on that elephant - against me - but he knows, that i‘m not interested in the Trimere-Victory- Cards but in the City-Victory-Cards - as I‘m in front he still might want to harm me.
All the questions like: May I trust him? will arise. Find the right ansawers!
And when you quit the battle, you never know what they will do to your troups....
Another essential thing will be not to loose any battle because of the Thanatos-minus-points. And if you have to loose a battle, so it‘s better just to pass than to use card after card you will miss during the next battle. Don‘t waste any cards in a battle you‘re going to loose anyway.
And you can never be sure of your own strength, there‘s always a archer on an elephant that threatens your phalanx, there‘s always a balista, that can shoot your elephant or your chariot. So give everybody a good reason why the‘d better attack the other player instead of you. Politics are very important in this game.
And there are the Gorgone-battles, they‘re very special, because one has to keep track of the strength of every player still in the battle, and harming the leader may just give victory to another player.
As the rules are very simple, the game get‘s his complexity from the interaction of the players - Bambi-Eyes may be very very helpful!
To the end of the game, there might be some kind of King-maker effect. Two players will be in front and finally the others with their playing of the cards will have a great influence on who might win the game. But if you managed your cards wisely, this effect won‘t be very important, even if it is still here.
We had a great time playing this game, and I can recommend it to anybody who likes some tough fights and decisions.
Playing time: 1h (If there are players who have to check all possibilities every time it‘s their turn, it will last much longer)
Ther‘s also the optional rule to play in teams, I did not try. I think, if you play in teams, you have to be 6 players - two teams could (?) become a matter of the better cards.
Iliade probably plays best with 5-