This will be my second article on Hellas – the first part of the History of the Ancient Seas series. In the initial material I presented the main rules, victory conditions and general flow of the game. Today I would like to briefly discuss how that title looks in practice – simply by going through couple of session reports I had pleasure to play. Important note: the game is not published yet and should soon hit the crowdfunding platform.

But before we jump into the After Action Reports, a few sentences about the game itself – you can find that introduction also in below video material.

PS. For all willing to back the project on Kickstarter, here is the link:

The Game

Brief game description:

In HELLAS, the first instalment in the History of the Ancient Seas game series, you will lead one of the great City States – Athens or Sparta. Your goal is to become the leading empire in known world. To achieve this, you will need to build armies and fleets to increase your military might, expand trade routes, conquer islands and provinces, develop your military skills, economic efficiency and culture, while always keeping an eye on the wealth, happiness and stability of your people.

The heart of the game system is the action cycle: The players choose one of the eight possible actions (kind of roundel mechanics). Actions chosen by a player can’t be chosen subsequently by the next player. The number of possible actions is limited each turn.

Peaceful or conflicting coexistence – that is truly your decision! You can expand your empire by leading your people to war. But war is costly and the outcome is uncertain. You can lead your empire to the golden age of civilization by keeping the peace and bringing stability and wealth to your people without following the path of war. Offer terms to aggressive enemies to distract or delay them, but always be prepared to defend your empire.


Sessions Report

My opponent in that game was Kuba, with whom I pretty often play various wargames. We rolled for the sides, and I got privilege to command Spartans while Kuba was in charge of Athens. This was our first session with that game and the expectations were high!

As always, you can click on any of below images to enlarge it in the new window.

Also, bear in mind that I played prototype version of the game – the final one will be definitely more polished one.

First Session

The full map of the Hellas. You can see Sparta and Athens in left and central part, plus Asia Minor to the far right. Also, bear in mind you can sail to Sicily (far left). The set-up is confrontational as both players start closely but on the other hand you have plenty of space to develop economically.
Exactly the same set-up but with close-up on both factions. You have some flexibility how the initial trade posts, hoplites and navies will be placed so each time the start is slightly different.
As mentioned in the rules description, the most important part of the game is action phase, driven by a form of a rondel. The most important things to remember are that you cannot perform same action as opponent just did, there is max three actions of one type per turn with maximum two of them performed by one player. That creates really interesting strategic situations.
Situation mid-game – my economical development was mediocre in comparison to Kuba but I managed to take the all important Corinth Isthmus plus increase the stability.
Well, being already in Corinth the decision was pretty straightforward – let us raid Attica! So I did and was so successful that Athens quickly found itself in complete disarray. At this moment in time we realized that some of the move and combat rules were slightly wrongly played by us, so seeing the imbalanced situation on the map we decided to immediately play second game. For just finished one, we agreed tentative Spartan victory 🙂

Second Session

Set-up of our second game – we now were fully aware of those small nuances when choosing where to put the initial trading posts – especially which resources will have influence on combat value as well as which sequence of actions can prevent opponent from reacting. Kuba played that first part of the game perfectly, taking over Corinth before me!
Situation mid-game: after a lot of fighting I finally took over the Isthmus of Corinth – I think Kuba was one action away from building Fortress and entrenching himself for good. As far as economical development is concerned I was not so much behind this time, exploring some of the terrain in East and Aetolia.
OK, I am so close to Attica and Athens – let me build some more forces and try my luck. With proper sequence of actions I was able to destroy the Athenian fortress but not take over the City itself (you need to build the trade post). But the basis for raids as well as undermining the economy & stability of Athens were laid.
Situation at the map when we concluded the session: Kuba really had to put all his resources in regaining the Attica while I was free to explore further and broaden my economical empire. The gap was growing and my raids continually undermining the stability of once great city state of Athens. Here we called that game off – this time, with decisive Spartan victory.

First Impressions

That was really fun playing Hellas. We probably focused much more on War aspect of the game than we should – well, that is definitely our habit – but the economic dimension is equally important here. Let me share now my initial impressions about this position and what I think about it:

  • I am history buff, and everything which touches Ancient Era, be it Greece, Rome or Persia is of great interest to me. And the theme is pretty nice and deep in that game – especially in Technology Tree and possibility to travel to Asia Minor and Sicily. You can feel that you actually play Ancient Greece.
  • The action mechanic is very cleverly designed – only 3 actions of particular type per turn, no possibility to repeat what opponent just did and maximum 2 actions of same type per player. That creates fantastic strategic dilemmas, tension and ability to influence what the opponent can do.
  • Even though components are not the final ones, I am glad publisher went with wooden cubes and large map which easily accommodates all the pieces.
  • There is some counting involved – in your income, in number of particular type of resources you have, provinces, islands, etc. You really need to keep this up to date in every moment of the game which sometimes can be tedious. Still, I think this is just as much as I can take so I am fine with it.

To sum up, I enjoyed game pretty much. There are still some areas for improvement which I shared with designer and developer – in the end this is a prototype but a very advanced one. What is more, there are two more games in the works in the same series – for 3 and 4-5 players. I think the system can shine even more with more players!