Hera and Zeus board game
by Tom Warin
Hera and Zeus
Board game manufacturer:
Number of players:
An attractive, well-designed and balanced strategy game that offers more depth than you might expect out of such a small box. If you’re looking to step up from simpler games in the Rio Grande/Kosmos series, then this would be a good purchase. If you prefer more casual games, then this may not be right for you.
This is a card game for two players, representing a mythological battle between Zeus and his wife/enemy Hera. The aim of the game is to find the hostage that the other deity has captured (Hera has taken Io and Zeus has taken Argus).
Each side has a deck of forty three cards representing a variety of mythological creatures such as Medusa, Pegasus, Pandora and Pythia. Each player also has a figure that represents their deity.
The field of play consists of up to three columns for each player, up to four cards deep. The columns face each other. At the start of the game, each player has one card in the first position of each column.
Each turn, the number of actions that a player can take depends on the number of columns they have cards in. An action consists of either drawing a card, playing a card face down onto the playing field, challenging a card, or playing a mythology card.Cards can challenge each other if they face each other from the front row of a column. Both cards are turned over and the lowest valued card is discarded (there are special rules for special cards such as Medusa and Pandora).
Mythology cards have different powers. For example, Pegasus can challenge straight from a player’s hand and can challenge cards on the front of a column, or even the other player’s hand. This makes Pegasus useful for scouting. Pythia can spy into your opponents hand. Sirens can seduce a discarded card over from the other side over to your side.
Hades can bring discarded cards back from the dead. Persephone can be used to retrieve Pegasus cards from your discard pile. Dionysius can shift the positions of cards on your side of the playing field around.
Hera and Zeus board game ends if Io or Argus are challenged and discovered. If a player cannot use all of their action points, they lose. If a player has no cards on their side of the playing field at the start of a turn, they lose.
Although it comes in a small box, there’s more strategic depth to this game than I can cover in a short review. It plays out like a mixture of Stratego and Age of Mythology, using the mythology powers can give immediate benefit, but makes that card unavailable for the playing field.
The cards placed at the start of the game are important, as is the decision on what to do with your hostage card. There are no guaranteed safe spots on the playing field, but cards in your hand are also vulnerable to Pegasus.
Pros and cons
This is one of the most complex two-player games from Rio Grande/Kosmos that I’ve come across. There’s a fairly steep learning curve to get your first game going. Most players will learn by playing, as the impact of the mythology cards isn’t clear until you start using them.
The upside to this depth is that as long as you remain interested in the concept, there are plenty of strategies to explore.
The art is very attractive and the cards are of good quality.
Hera and Zeus board game has never really made it into regular rotation in my house, which is a shame. It’s a good game, it’s well designed and attractive, but it will take a while playing it before it becomes a “pick up and play” title.
For a couple of strategy fans, this would be a worthy addition to your collection, but if there is an unbalanced interest in strategy and fantasy in your house, then it may not hit the spot.