Updated: Jun 29, 2020
This is a game from the same creative team that brought us Xerxes, which we featured on Board's Eye View around 18 months ago. In Rise of the Amazons, Harry Haralampidis and Lefteris Iroglidis turn their attention on Themiscyra, home of the Amazons of Greek legend, and Tony Tzanoukakis again contributes the eye-catching art.
In Rise of the Amazons, 2–4 players each take on the role of one four Amazonian characters: Hippolyta, Alcippe, Penthesilea or Antianera. Each has their own unique player board and their own special abilities. Over three rounds, players take turns to spend action points in order take various actions, almost all of which score victory points. Often, you'll be using your character's might and cunning to meet the requirements of 'event' cards. You'll need to do this to cover up spots on your player board that will otherwise score you negative points at the end of the game. The events (mostly monsters from the Greek myths) have their own might and cunning boosted by the values at your character's location, so you might want to spend some of your precious action points to move to a more propitious site. You may also need to spend action points to recruit additional Amazonians from the common pool so that they add their scores to yours. You can plant a flag to claim a territory, which means you'll get an extra victory point every time an opponent passes through. You can sacrifice to the gods to make use of that gods powers in the next round and there are actions involving visits to the various special buildings on the board. There's certainly plenty of options to choose between but you've only usually got 10 action points to spend for the entire round...
Although the basic actions (movement. battle, supply) cost the same 1 or 2 action points for all characters, certain actions are more expensive for some characters than others. We liked this counterbalancing of skills and abilities on the asymmetric player boards. They mean that you're likely to play differently depending on the character you choose. You're always very conscious that your action points are very finite, so Rise of the Amazons becomes something of a puzzle game as you strive to find the most effective and efficient ways of spending your action points and utilising your Divine Intervention cards to earn victory points. Failure to complete certain tasks during the game (including preparation for the Amazonian invasion of Athens) will hit you with negative victory points, so you always need to keep a weather eye on the penalties as well as the game's positive point-scoring opportunities. Rise of the Amazons lends itself well to solitaire play and the game comes complete with simple but effective solo rules that incorporate options for scaling up the level of challenge.
Some of our team struggled initially with iconography and terminology in the rules but we've been playing a preview prototype so we expect the various tokens to be more clearly identified in the finished version. Certainly, improvements have already been announced for the finished version f the game, including a two-sided board so that you can choose to play on a historic map of the Aegean. It does seem mildly perverse for Alcyon to use as the action points icon a symbol that is almost universally adopted in other games to represent victory points, but that is minor quibble. On the other hand, you are bound to be impressed, as we were, with the beautifully sculpted noble Amazonian minis.
Rise of the Amazons is live on Kickstarter now. Click here to check it out.