BATTLEFIELDS OF OLYMPUS
If you are looking for some light game play for two, and you appreciate wonderful artwork which enhances the gaming experience, you need look no farther than Battlefields of Olympus.
Any review of this game has to start with a comment on the stunning artwork. The trio of Fred Dee, Ryan Slemko, and Shih-Kai Chang has created some wonderful works to depict the warrior era, which while not specifically stated by the game, is very reflective of the time of the Spartans. The game was actually released in 2008, by Canadian designer Peter Grant, and it's rather clear a movie like '300' was likely very much an influence in terms of the games look.
Battlefields of Olympus is a two-player card game, with the cards split into two different decks, one of warriors, and the other of cards which influence play in some fashion.
The cards are high quality, but have a sort of black border which may show wear if played a lot. Card sleeves are a good idea to keep these beautiful cards pristine.
Each type of card has its own unique, and well-rendered artwork, Some, such as the heavy infantry, or cavalry card artwork, would make a stunning print for anyone's game room. The only poor art is that of the ambush card, showing a sort of wolf-man attacking. It simply does not fit with the other cards that are so Spartan-like.
As for game play, Battlefields of Olympus is a straight forward battle game, that relies on a fairly simple rule set to provide a quick game where combatants play various warrior cards, at times enhanced by other cards, to battle for possession of land cards. The goal is to reach 16 points worth of land cards first, with each land card having a specific victory point value.
The warrior cards work by what is best described as a modified rock-paper-scissors mechanic.
For example spearmen die to most attackers, but they kill off cavalry. Archers are deadly against most forces, although heavy infantry with their massive shields overtake archers.
There are some tactical decisions within the luck of the card draw. For example, when a battle for a land card is initiated, players must decide which forces to commit to the fight and when it is better to hold forces for another encounter.
Obviously there is less urgency to battle over a land card with a value of one, where you are likely to throw everything you have to secure victory of a six-point land card.
Since a player has a maximum of four warrior cards in-hand at any one time, you need to gauge when, and how to battle well.
The fate cards throw the wild card aspect of war into the game. For example, the 'flank' card can turn a loss into a sudden win when played, while the opponent can counter with the 'surround' card to cancel the 'flank' action.
The strength of Battlefields of Olympus will forever be the artwork, followed by quick play, which makes it a nice filler game.
There is a planned expansion for the game, which could add some depth, which would be a bonus.
You can pick up this fine little game through the company website at www.smartassgames.com
Remember it's Canadian so that too is a bonus.
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper May 13, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada