Updated: Apr 12
If you were expecting John Travolta or Olivia Newton John then move along, there's nothing to see here. Greece Lightning is a roll & move game from WizKids where 2-4 players are racing to be the first to complete two laps with their trireme. You're rolling dice, so there's inevitably a high luck quotient but players have more agency than you might expect because you have some choices over the route to take, you can buy re-rolls and there's a push-your-luck element over whether or not you use all three of your dice.
The game is played on a modular circular board made up of 12 wedges. Players will be collecting additional wedges during the course of play, and these are laid on top of the starting wedges, altering the circuit. When you collect a wedge, you'll want to place it so that it either eases your movement or hampers the movement of your opponent(s)... This adds a potentially interesting aspect to Kathleen Mercury and Mark Sellmeyer's game design but we found in our plays that the wedge changes seldom made as much difference as we had expected.
Players each have three dice: two standard six-sided dice and a custom die with numbers 1,1,2,2,3,3. The custom die is your 'navigation die': your base movement for the round. You additionally roll a standard d6 but then you have a push-your-luck choice of whether or not to roll the other d6. If you choose not to roll it, then you take as your movement for the round the sum of your navigation die and standard die. If you opt to roll the second standard d6 and you roll a number equal to or more than your first d6, then you add the total of both dice to your navigation die. If, however, you roll a lower number with your second standard d6, then you only get to move the distance on your navigation die. Players start with two fish tokens, and you'll get to pick up more as you progress around the board. These can be spent to buy re-rolls but you will also need them to get past Hydra symbols on the board, which otherwise end your movement.
Marked on the board with a lightning icon, there are 'favour of the gods' cards that give additional boosts or benefits, tho' just a handful (around 1 in 5) impose a negative impact on the player that draws the card. A few involve 'take that' actions, such as stealing a card or a fish from another player. As with the fish, wedge and ship icons (which add three to your movement), you collect the benefit whenever your trireme passes over an icon, so you're likely to collect several rewards in most rounds. You can't just amass them, however. You're ordinarily only allowed to hold a maximum of three fish and two cards. If you pick up more cards than you can hold onto, you'll need to decide which ones to keep.
Greece Lightning is a very accessible light race game that can be played and enjoyed as a family game and one that can be introduced to non-gamers. It's attractively presented, with art by Anthony Coumoyer. The game plays quickly, not least because players each have their own set of dice and you're encouraged to go thro' the roll and select process simultaneously. With this simultaneous rolling, our Board's Eye View plays of Greece Lightning mostly ran to around 30 minutes. Much of the excitement comes from the push-your-luck choices over whether or not to roll that second standard d6 and of whether or not to spend fish to re-roll. We also liked the fact that the player in last place took the 'golden fleece' first-player marker and doubled their navigation die roll: quite literally a catch-up mechanism!