Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Kosmos Two Player Game Series - Hellas by Franz-Benno Delonge.

As far as I'm aware (and I'm too lazy to double-check), Hellas is the only one of the Kosmos two-player games akin to a (very simplified) miniatures wargame, as each player controls a group of cute little Greek Soldier and Ship pieces and the players fight for control of cities.

The first person to control ten cities wins the game.

So how do you play? The two players start by building the board. Going in turn, each player picks a tile and places it either adjacent to the base Dolphin tile or next to two previously played tiles. Each tile depicts water, land and one city. Water must touch water and land must touch land, so there are some restrictions on proper placement. On each tile you place, you drop one of your Greeks and one of your ships. There are also three decks of God cards, each giving you benefits in a particular aspect of the game. You start the game with one card from each deck. Once each player has placed four tiles, the game begins.

On your turn, you have three options. Option 1 is "Burst of Strength" where you get three actions (or four if your tiles have more Temples than the other player) in any combination. Actions are either playing a Greek or Ship to the board or drawing a God card.

Option 2 is "Voyage" by drawing a new tile, placing it according to the rules above, spending an adjacent ship to pay for it, and placing a Greek on it to claim ownership. This allows you to expand your empire.

Finally, you can "Attack" one of your opponent's cities  from adjacent tiles over either land or sea. If attacking by land, you need only surround the city with an equal number of Greeks to wipe out the defenders and move your guys in, substituting any ships there with yours. If attacking by sea, you have to have one more Greek than the defenders. Either way, the loser is wiped out.

Carol attacks!

During all of this, God cards can be played to affect the outcome of your actions. Some let you Voyage or Attack twice in a row, some allow you to attack an enemy city with fewer Greeks or throw your ships into the battle to support your troops, some allow your Greeks to retreat rather than be destroyed in a battle and some cancel God cards played by the other player.

When we started, the first thing I did was beef up my cities and fleets using the "Burst of Strength" action. Carol followed suit and so we quickly developed equal defensive zones. Then we both "Voyaged" for a couple of turns to discover new cities.

At the point where we started attacking each other, the God cards started coming into play.  Faced with a stalemate, God cards can quickly turn the balance of a battle one way or another. Unfortunately, because of the large number of Greeks we had in the area, as soon as a city would change hands, the other player would attack and retake it.  We went back and forth for several turns, each of us losing gobs of Greeks and winnowing down our forces.

Finally, Carol took control of nine cities and was poised to win. Unfortunately for her, I had a stronger hand of God cards and was able to attack two of her cities in one turn, going from 8 to 10 cities and winning the game. We both underutilized the God cards, which are clearly the key to winning the game. I realized that a little earlier than Carol and so was more prepared.

End of game

Final scores:

     Bob      10
     Carol     7

Coming up:  A summary of the first ten games! Then, we become African merchants in Jambo.

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