ILIOS is a tile placing strategy game for 2-4 players that brings the aura of the Trojan War to your tabletop! Like Achilles and Ajax who would play board games between battles, you can challenge your friends to a battle of the minds trying to control, surround, and plunder the lands around the City of ILIOS, also known as Troy.
ILIOS is played on a 7 x 7 square board with tiles and disks. Following in the footsteps of Go and Othello, ILIOS has strategic depth and an element of suspense: will your opponent score on your turn? Plus, drawing tiles adds a random element that entices players of all skill levels.
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In Ilios, players will take turns deploying warrior tiles on to a gridded board. These tiles have white arrows on them pointing in which represents the direction of their attack. When a player places a tile, they put a disk of their colour on it and a disk of their colour on to any tile that is in the direction of the attack. If a warrior tile ever gets completely surrounded it is removed from the board. It is plundered by the player whose disk occupies it. Players score points at the end of the game based on the point value of the plundered tiles.
It is possible that multiple tiles may be surrounded on a turn and that your opponent can plunder even when it is not their turn.
At the end of the round the player draws another warrior tile from the bag. Then play passes to the next player. The game continues this way until there are no more spaces left on the board.
Battle Lines are Drawn
Ilios is very much a abstract war game, it has a very simple ruleset and is quick playing. There is a back and forth blend of attacking and defending, especially with two players. Careful and clever placement is a must in order to do well at the game. There is some randomness with the blind tile draw from the bag, but you have three tiles to chose from so any bad luck, whilst not mitigated, is reduced with the hand of tiles.
There can be some interesting combinations set up with players plundering multiple tiles at once. It can be advantageous to let your opponent plunder one of their low value tiles to set you up for a high value plunder in future rounds. Planning a few rounds ahead and manipulating the board in your favour is a necessity and there is a decent amount of enjoyment in pulling off these moves.
Ilios is a pretty neat game, it is quick playing, rules are relatively simple and there are some interesting choices and tactical decisions to be made. I did find it harder to learn the game from the rulebook for the complexity of the game. Maybe it was just the way my brain processes things but it took me a number of reads and tutorial video before I “got it”. Once I understood the game play is straight forward and not that hard to understand.
Ilios is part of the Playford Games Ancient World Game System. This is a single box game that comes with the components and pieces to play 25 other abstract games. I find the concept quite fascinating and I am intrigued to see what other games are part of this system.