“There is no great genius without some touch of madness” Aristotle
With Lords of Hellas it is obvious that Awake Realms is not a company to rest on its laurels. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign which saw them bring ‘This War Of Mine’ (TWOM) from its original video-game beginnings into the board game world, Lords of Hellas launched even before a single box of TWOM had been shipped. And it took a staggering £1.72million in funding, from almost 12,500 people!
Not too shabby from a small company operating out of Poland.
It’s not, however, difficult to see why they are achieving success. Their games are huge in scale, ambitious in scope and delicious in their eye-catching beauty. They have sumptuous boards, great components, and miniatures… a ton of miniatures, some of which, certainly in the case of Lords of Hellas, are not so miniature.
Lords of Hellas - The Game
Lords of Hellas is described as 'a fast-paced game set in the Dark Age of Greece'. 1-6 players choose and control a unique hero and compete with one another for ultimate glory. It looks like there will be something to suit everyone’s taste here - classic Territory Control, Resource Management, City-Building, Commanding Armies, building Monuments to the Gods, adventure-style Monster Hunting and Quests.
Each player’s Hero will have unique abilities and starting rules. They will have opportunities to grow during the game, by enhancing skills such as Leadership, Strength, or Speed. They can gather artifacts, collect the Gods’ Blessings, or gather an army around them.
This gives the intriguing possibility of developing different strategies to drive you on to victory. Assess your strengths, hide your weaknesses, forge your own path.
There will also be a number of routes to victory. Not everyone needs to pursue the same goals: one player might decide on claiming as many areas as possible. Another might build a great army to fight monsters, whilst another may be interested in currying the favour of the Gods or building monuments, whilst another might choose questing as their route to ultimate glory.
Whilst that might suggest a certain asymmetry in gameplay, I have the feeling that one player’s goal will definitely impact on another player’s strategy, and that interaction will be unavoidable, for good or bad depending on the strategy you choose to employ.
As with all Kickstarter campaigns, there were stretch-goals, and oh boy Lords of Hellas had a Hellas a lot of them! (Sorry!) – Heroes, Monsters, mini-games within the game, component material upgrades, additional boards, dozens of card-sets, box-organisers, tokens, cubes, dice… it is easy to see where the money’s going.
Hopes for the Game
Now it is a universal truth that more isn’t always more! Without playing the game and all its myriad expansions it is difficult to gauge, simply from photographs and promotional blurb, whether every element will hang together to make it an unforgettable experience, or whether hubris will rear its ugly head.
I sincerely hope it is the former.
I recently interviewed Marcin Swierkot, founder and owner of Awaken Realms. His desire to create immersive, beautiful, challenging games with replay-ability is evident in his obvious enthusiasm. The way he speaks so affectionately (and knowledgeably) on everything board game-related, and in particular anything involving his “babies”, is a joy.
Lords of Hellas is being shipped in two waves: Core Boxes first then Stretch Goals & Add-ons approximately six months later. This strikes me as a good move. I know TWOM suffered from backer-disquiet at delays in shipping, and slippage of promised delivery dates. It seems they have learned lessons from the feedback-burn, and are making good choices with their latest venture.
Backing Kickstarter games is a bit like being stuck in a traffic-jam – once you’re in it just whack up the radio, switch on the air-con, and wait it out. I’m not stressing about late delivery. What I want is something that makes the wait worthwhile; something that is crafted with love, and care, and a lot of thought and attention.
Lords of Hellas promises all of those things! and if TWOM is anything to go by, the wait will be worth it.