2-4 players, Competitive-Cooperative, Card Driven Greek Battle Royale w/cheese
Designer: Benoit Vogt
Artwork: Georges Clarkenko, David Demaret
Publisher: Monolith, Mythic Games
Note: Review of 1.5 version Core box with Pandora’s Box Kickstarter extras
Overview of Gameplay
Mythic Battles: Pantheon is the epitome of epic Greek God battles. In this game players will be drafting from a rather large collection of different Greek Gods, monsters, heroes and regular troops. Once those are all selected you begin the placement of miniatures on which ever battleground (board) you will be partaking in. Once the setup is complete, which to be honest is quite a large chunk of the game, players will take turns drawing a card from their constructed deck of whatever miniatures they selected and then playing a card one at a time (up to two a turn) which activates that particular miniature on the board. Activating a miniature entails taking either a couple simple actions like moving, attacking or claiming those delish red crystals. OR you can take a single complex action such as moving a bit further than normal (running) or your god can absorb those tasty little red crystal morsels.
Once your turn is over the next player does the same thing all in an effort to either destroy the opposing Gods OR collect 4 of those scrumptious red crystals, (they have a wild name that I just KNOW I’m going to misspell but here goes, “Ompholus”). So for a player to win just collect and absorb 4 of those delectable crystals OR wipe out the opposing gods. Easier said than done to be sure considering the amount of crystals on the board. There are only enough for ONE player to collect all four so it would be in your best interest to control a couple at least. Good thing your regulars can also pick them up and carry them around, although, that makes them a luscious target…..
Above average component quality for sure here and a torrential butt-load of miniatures and options. There were four plastic inserts to contain all the miniatures there are so many. The plastic they used to make them is more stiff which does keep them from that annoying warp that you see sometimes with minis spears and swords. The sculpts are overall nice and unique and decently detailed. There are a few of the larger miniatures that lack detail such as the Cerberus one but it’s not terrible by any means. The cards have a slick feel to them and can be pretty slippery however they don’t feel thin or cheap.
The two included double sided game boards are wrapped on the edges to prevent warping and look amazing. The character boards for each God, hero and monster are all a good thickness and have this interesting little way of tracking their stats. You have to affix this plastic tracker to the front and place these tiny little rubber pegs in the back portions to hold it on the board. I’m torn on how I feel about these. On one hand they are a pretty neat way to keep track of your health and stats per character but on the other hand those tiny rubber pieces are a beast to handle and get to fit into the tiny holes. It basically just adds to setup time at the beginning as you don’t really have to mess with them again during the entire game.
There are a plethora of random tokens included as well that are all pretty normal card board quality. Oh! Also cannot forget the trees and pillars! These were more of a happy surprise for me than anything but there are a bunch of cardboard 3 trees and pillars that can be put together to use as terrain for the different environments. This adds a bit of strategy to the game when used but of course they don’t have to be. Even more surprising is that they included some actual plastic pillars if you would rather use those instead of the cardboard ones.
I kinda touched on this a bit already but this game has an incredible amount of stuff included. And not like just a bunch of random tokens (although it has some of those as well), but all the different playable characters to choose from is just awesome. There are so many options and corresponding thick cardboard player boards to go with each. The game truly gives you a vast choice of how you want to build your team with every game.
HOWEVER with all these miniatures there was one thing in particular that I think could improve the game. Colored bases to differentiate the teams and characters. Even if playing just a 1 vs 1 game sometimes it can get a bit confusing when all your characters clash with the opposing players characters in the same space. Granted they all have different sculpts BUT some of them look very similar such as Leonidas and the Hoplites where it’s mostly just the way they are holding the spear. Also there is the problem of not enough space on the individual areas. A player playing with Cerberus can easily take up an entire area leaving zero room for other units so you need to remember they are actually in his space whilst standing next to him in a different space.
Not a big fan of the storage here. It’s basically exactly like how CMON games packages their stuff and it’s just not the best for easy put up and take down. Inside each box is another large box holding the miniatures in a clear plastic holder but nothing is marked and it’s not exactly easy to see where stuff belongs. So expect to spend a lot of time trying to find the correct spot for each miniature if you take a bunch out during play. There is a clear plastic side holder for the cards as well which is nice but no real area to store all the punch tokens so you will need to bag those up and probably stuff them in with the miniature boxes. The boxes are also pretty big so expect to take up quite a bit of space on your shelves.
Visual Appeal /Theme
At first I was thinking this was a pretty basic God vs God Greek battle game but then I read the little opening story bit in the front of the manual and have to say I am impressed with how they have woven the gameplay into the story. How Olympus has fallen and shards of the Gods power has fallen to Earth and they are much weaker than before which is why one of the victory conditions is to collect those sweet little red crystals as they represent the Gods power. Also I like how it also states that the Underworld has opened and all the long dead heroes have returned which explains how you can play as basically anyone in Greek Mythology. In any case I’m super impressed with the theme here.
Visually the game is pretty good with all the cards and player boards having illustrations for all the monsters and heroes etc. Some of it looks geared more towards the adult audience but overall everything looks interesting and very detailed.
So I really hate to always be nagging on specific things from companies or individuals but Monolith (the publisher) really has some trouble with their rulebooks. As of the time of this writing I own three of their games which I believe is basically all of them except for maybe one? Of those three games, Conan, Batman Gotham City Chronicles and now this one, this game is the easiest as far as a gameplay perspective goes. Basically after setup you draft your characters, create your deck of cards based on your drafted characters and then take turns drawing a single card and performing some really easy actions. This game is MUCH easier to understand when it comes to the board layout and terrain effects than Batman. Also much easier to understand and better balanced than Conan. BUT this rulebook SOMEHOW makes it much, much harder to figure this out, especially the setup.
First of all there are not nearly enough picture examples in the rulebook. There is no section at the beginning showing the list of components the game comes with so good luck understanding what all those different colored tokens are meant to do. One of the most confusing parts for me personally was trying to figure out the difference between Drafting and Constructed play when building a team. Both options literally say the EXACT same sentence at the beginning and the remaining words do nothing to point me whether I need to be playing one or the other. My mindset was that Constructed play was some pre-built option they had listed of particular units but of course there were not listings. In other words the first time I set the game up to play, it took FOREVER. Luckily since I had dealt with Monolith games before I knew that there was the entire other book of scenarios that I needed to use in conjunction with the main book in order to complete setup.
There are multiple parts in the rulebook that says to reference something that is further along in the rulebook that I haven’t even read yet which leads to a ton of flipping back and forth which is never good. Also there are entire sections that say useless things referencing even more separate sections. Guys, this game is EASY to play, I mean it’s one of the less complex games I own and yet these rules make it seem so much harder.
Now all that said I do appreciate the index in the back of the manual AND the scenario book is pretty easy to use and understand. That one has full colored pictures of laid out in easy to understand rows based on player counts. It also has the information laid out for any special rules or situations for some of the scenario based maps if you would rather do those instead of a typical skirmish. I can say I had a lot of fun doing all three of the scenarios I tried. Also the game does include some REALLY nice full page laminated player reference sheets which have a listing of all the different abilities and icon references. These things are lifesavers and SUPER helpful.
Player Interaction/Fun Factor
Tons and tons of player interaction here regardless of which way you play. If playing a skirmish game you will be in direct conflict with the other player and if playing a team’s game you will not only be in conflict but will need to work directly with your buddy to coordinate attacks and protect each other. The scenario maps add yet another layer of interaction as one side (or both) may have pre built and setup units with unique rules to go with each. Missions to go through and even a small campaign game that can be played that builds off each past game.
I can say I had an immense amount of fun playing this game, heck even during the drafting phase which takes up a large chunk of time. Right from the beginning players take turns picking and choosing which God to plays as along with a specified amount of other units based on a number that is determined based on the amount of players. For example for a 2 player game each player has 18 points to utilize when picking units. Some units cost more than others based on their strength and abilities so you have to decide which is the most important based not only on what board you play on, but also based on what your opponent chooses. Since you take turns you can kinda get an idea of the best unit to try and counter what the other player may have picked. Or if the map you are playing has a lot of huge ledges and rocks that can only be reached by climbing units, you might want to add a couple of those.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
So the game can be played by up to four players either a 2 vs 2 team’s game or an all-out 4 player battle royale. You can also play a 2 player 1 vs 1 skirmish style and there are also some scenarios that are marked to play solo but you would still have to control the opposing force. The 3-part campaign game is meant to be played with three players but can be modified to play with two by leaving one of the factions out.
Personally the 2-player game is where it’s at with Mythic Battles: Pantheon. The amount of strategy that you can focus on and the area of the board that you have available to you is outstanding. Also it’s worth noting that players REALLY benefit from knowing the capabilities of their opponents minions. And the replayability this game has is insane. The sheer amount of characters that you have to choose from is just incredible and the combinations of characters that you can create to form your team AS WELL as the four completely different boards to play on that offer vastly differing setups with the environment.
Positive Final Thoughts
This has become my Go-To battle skirmish game. If I want to play a game where me and another player sits down, creates a unique team and battles it out, I will choose this one every time. I mean of those I own the only one that even comes close is Star Wars: Rebellion but that one is a little more abstract and offers a different game play experience as you’re not really battling it out per say. The look and feel and immense replayability will keep this one in my collection for sure. Not only that but once you get past the rulebook, the game really isn’t that complicated. With the included player reference sheet, you can easily whip out turns lickity split.
Oh and I nearly forgot to mention the battle dice! When battling the attacker rolls a certain number of dice based on their strength, rolls of 5 basically explode (can reroll to add a higher sum) and you can discard dice to add +1 to other dice. For each summed amount equal or greater to the defenders uhhh defense you score a wound. For regular troop each wound removes one of their minis from the board, for each hero, monster or God each wound will drop that little plastic tracker on their board down a notch, WHICH will make them weaker and weaker. I just love the battling and whole system they have created here with the minis and boards.
Negative Final Thoughts
The rulebook. Far and away the worst thing about the game overall with its omitted and unclear rules and strange layout. The lack of any explanation of what all those colored tokens do. And the one other thing that I feel is more of a personal gripe than anything, the lack of colored bases for the minis to differentiate between players since all the minis are that same color of gray.