1-6 players, Competitive, Area Control Mythical Monstrosity, Expansions
NOTE: I also have the “Sundrop” wash effect on the miniatures to bring out the detail. The retail miniatures will not come with that effect.
It’s been a few months since I got all of the released expansions for Lords of Hellas and I have finally gotten enough plays in with them to give you all a nice run through of my thoughts on these sweet babies. Now there is a lot of stuff to go through with all these with four total expansions released: The Dark Ages, City of Steel, Lord of the Sun, Atlas and Terrain. The Lord of the Sun and Atlas are the smallest of the bunch basically just adding in a couple new monuments to build with some new features for each. The Terrain expansion is arguably the most valued expansion even though it doesn’t change anything at all in the game. In any case read on to get the skinny on each expansion and what each offers.
Purpose of Expansions
Each expansion has a different purpose depending on what you’re looking for here. The Dark Ages expansion (the biggest of the four) adds in a 5th player to the game and a host of additional materials, some of which change some thing and others that add some things. The City of Steel expansion (the next biggest) adds in a 6th player and some new abilities. The two expansions, Lord of the Sun and Atlas (both of which are basically mini expansions) just spice up the regular game by increasing the number of monuments you can use. Overall, there is basically something here for everyone depending on what you are wanting to add to the game. Finally, the Terrain expansion just adds in little miniatures of all the cities and temples that you can build in the game to replace the cardboard standees that are included. I’ll dig into the details of each below.
The Additions and Changes
Dark Ages Expansion
Let’s start with the Dark Ages expansion. This is a big box expansion which means the cost is a bit higher (basically the cost of a full board game) BUT you are getting SO MUCH stuff held within that it will drastically alter your game. Let’s run through the additional materials in the Dark Ages. The first and probably most noticeable thing that is included is the new gameboard. This is a very small section of board that sits right next to the bottom right of the regular board and includes three new land areas to control including Atlantis. Two of the lands have cities and one has an all new factory temple that can be built. This factory is something new for the game, it not only serves to go towards the temple victory condition but also whoever controls it also gains control of a specific monster called Talos. If you control Talos you can move him about and/or attacks regions during your turn. However, the other players can hunt him just like any other monster. There are also five other new monsters you can add to your regular repertoire of monsters, Siren, Cetus, Typhon, Python and Chiron which have their own respective miniatures and monster cards. Now those first four are pretty standard monster with their own unique abilities, however Chiron is in a league of his own. This dude adds in a slew of “training” cards which are placed in the Quest space on the board. Players can choose to “quest” for training with Chiron to gain new and powerful combat cards and he is still classified as a monster and can be killed like the others.
Moving on, there are three new monuments included: Poseidon, Hades and Hephaestus. Each of these can be swapped out to be used instead of any of the base game monuments, taking over their respective locations on the board. OR, alternatively you can place one of them in the already blank open monument space at the south end of the board. Doing this opens up that particular monument’s special abilities. Each monument comes with a double-sided card that details what each newly built level accomplishes, usually by increasing one of the three main abilities on the hero board, speed, leadership or strength. However, flip the card to use the special side which unlocks all kinds of interesting game changing abilities for the particular monument being built to the south. Poseidon adds in a whole new “Fleet” ability that adds in a fourth basic ability to each hero that is increased when you build up his monument. This allows armies that are in locations with a new “port” token to be even stronger. Hades also has a new basic attribute called, “raise”. This ability is used in conjunction with the new “resurrection” regular action which draws units from the new underworld board. This allows you to immediately place units in areas that you have a “gate of the underworld” token. I have to say that Hades is by far the most complex of the new additions in the game and using his monument adds A LOT to the base game alone. Finally, we come to Hephaestus who doesn’t add any new actions or attributes to heroes but just goes to work reforging your combat cards. Prayer at this monument allows you to select one of the new reforged combat cards to replace in your hand. This new combat card is much more powerful than the regular cards and can be used multiple times in a game as it just “taps” like a used artifact instead of getting discarded.
Beyond all that, this expansion also includes two new heroes to play as, Cassandra and Cleito. A new color for the added 5th player, purple with all the purple components for that hero. There are also various other additional items included like more combat cards and the Orichalkum and Constructs. These are special tokens added to each region with a city during game setup and act as special items you can collect with your heroes to charge up your artifacts or use the special construct cards that give extra abilities. There are also these “opportunity” cards that can be shuffled into the events deck that mix things up a bit by allowing ANY player to choose to take the drawn opportunity and gain the bonus listed but at a price…..
That’s basically it for the Dark Ages expansion. So, what do I think of this mammoth sized expac and all the goodness it provides? Well, I think it’s amazing! It’s pricey yes, coming in between $67 – $100 depending on where you buy from. But goodness gracious the amount of content you get here will add a seemingly endless supply of variability and replayability to your game for years to come. Using Poseidon alone opens up the game board much more with all the port tokens to allow your hero and army movement much more freedom from port token to port token. Of course, you can use all the new monuments on the board at the same time but only ONE of them can use their special abilities per game. And each monument is so different from the last that you will surely have a different vibe from each game played. I REALLY love the new factory temple that allows a player to control a monster. I think that is just a unique and neat idea and gives reason for players to try and fight over that location. Other than that, all the extra stuff is cool too with the new heroes and monsters. All of that is always welcome to really change up the variability between games as you will always experience a different variety of monsters with each game. The only real down side I have to this expansion is the board itself. It is pretty obvious this expansion was an after-thought as it just doesn’t look like it should be attached to the main game board. There is a thick solid line that runs around the edges of both boards and the sea lanes dotted lines don’t match up well with the other sea lanes. If you can get your hands on the epic playmat that includes all the expansions locations then that will take care of that issue.
City of Steel Expansion
Next up is the slightly smaller City of steel expansion. This one you can grab for about half the price of the Dark Ages expansion and its primary purpose is to add a 6th player to the game. That said, it does include a pretty sweet selection of items to go along with that. The most notably is the extra game board piece that sits right above where the Dark Ages expansion board piece sits. This board is about twice the size of the Dark Ages board and includes much more land area to explore with four new lands to conquer, one of which is the fabled city of Troy itself. Now, Troy in the game isn’t a “city” persay as there is no city on that land area that gives a bonus to defense, HOWEVER, there is a wall! This expansion comes packed with a rather large plastic miniature of a wrap-around wall that sits on the border of this land. Control of this land also unlocks some extra abilities for the controller such as an increase to the amount of combat cards held, each hoplite in Troy is considered “fortified” and when performing the recruit action that player can recruit 1 hoplite in each region of the new game board. Not a bad trade-off at all!
Other than that, this expansion also includes two new monsters, the Satyr and Arachne. A new hero to play as, Hector, with a new color of components to use for the 6th player, brown. There is also one other new addition to this expansion called the “Army Upgrades”. Each player color has a specific army upgrade card that they will take and each card is unique from the next. These cards have a total of three unique upgrades on them of which players will only be able to choose two during the course of the game. During a blessing card draft, usually when temples are built, you can choose to either take the blessing card OR instead take an army upgrade to enhance your armies in some way.
What do I think? I like it! It’s not nearly as expansive as the Dark Ages but at the same time it’s also half the price and really only aimed at those larger groups of friends who can get a 6-player game going. The Troy wall miniature is amazing and just goes to enhance the table presence even further in a game that I already consider the number 1 in table presence. New monsters are always welcome to add to the variability and to be honest I REALLY love the addition of the army upgrades. It’s a super simple addition to the game and such a nice choice to have if you don’t see a Blessing card that is helpful. The included hero, Hector, is all about the defense adding bonuses to fortified units. The downsides to this one is pretty similar to the Dark Ages expansion where the board just doesn’t look like it belongs. The water color is ever so slightly off when compared to the base games water color and the sea trails don’t align. The other big downside is that thing expansion only works IF you are playing at the 6-player count with the added board and area. Although you can still pop in the new hero and monsters to any player count.
Lord of the Sun Expansion
This “mini” expansion just goes to add another monument to your game along with a few new miniatures that work towards the new abilities it offers. You can usually nab this one around the $20- $30 dollar mark which is a decent price for all you get included. There is of course the new Apollo monument that can be built along with his blessing cards and artifact card. There are also 6 muse miniatures along with nine muse cards. If using Apollo as the extra monument to the south each player will start the game with a muse mini that just kinda hangs out until they earn their first Muse card. When a player sends a priest to pray at the Apollo monument, they can choose one of two face up muse cards which adds all sorts of different abilities to their particular muse. That muse mini is then placed in the same location as their hero. The muses also have one other powerful ability, the ability to usurp a land even if you do not have the glory token for that color of land! Of course, using this ability removes your muse and card from the board. You can also use the Apollo monument as a “simple” monument on the board instead of one of the original ones, but without all the muse abilities.
My thoughts? I think it’s neat but at the same time not needed. It comes with some neat ideas and extra minis and Apollo himself does look cool but ehhhhh I mean unless you are trying to collect ALL of the stuff for this game, this is one you could pass on. Dark Ages comes with three new monuments and a horde of other items to add to the game already. Now, if you plan on passing on Dark Ages then I would recommend this one just to increase the replayability of the different monuments. Personally, I’m also not the biggest fan of the fact that the muses can usurp a region without a token. Almost feels cheap to me. Their added powers are cool though….BUT….good gravy there are already SO MANY variable powers to keep track of in the game from your individual heroes to the blessing cards you can draw. Adding even more powers to the game pushes it to the point of overwhelming. I would pass on this one unless you plan on not getting Dark Ages.
This is another expansion in the same vein of the Lord of the Sun expansion. It adds a GIGANTIC new monument, a little board that sits atop the monument and a few other tokens. The difference with this particular monument is that you don’t actually build it up like the others. It also can ONLY be placed in the southern area of Messina and not used as a “simple” monument like the others. Because of that you won’t be able to use any of the expansion monuments special abilities when you use this one. So, this beast of a monument will hold up the small board piece, on which sits a plastic broken pillar token. This token will move along a numbered track as different thing transpire in the game depending on which of the two unique setups you do for him.
The first setup places five of those port tokens randomly around in certain regions. Each time a monument is built players can send hoplites (yes hoplites) to Atlas to sit in one of the six spots around his base. The player who has the most hoplites on the monument gains the Atlas bonus token which raises one of their hero attributes by one. They then get to draw 2 combat cards and add their strength, minus 1 for each hoplite on the monument. That’s how far the control token moves on that board Atlas is holding up. Once that token reaches zero, the game will end and the player who has the most hoplites on the monument is the winner. Another thing to note is that whenever a hero moves into the region with Atlas you can remove your hero from the board and move the control token backward on the track equal to your hero’s strength.
The other Atlas setup doesn’t add a new victory condition (thankfully) and has to do with some apples…In this variation you will be placing these golden apple tokens on the opposite side of the board Atlas holds. There are still the port tokens spread about and when a player does the hoplite movement action, he can send one of his hoplites from a port region to the atlas monument instead. If he does then he collects 1 golden apple token. Each time a monument is built any player with a hoplite at the Atlas monument also gains an apple token and the player with the most hoplites at Atlas gains an extra apple token. Now what do you do will all these delicious apples? Well, there are actually two different abilities these babies unlock for you. The first is that once per battle instead of playing a combat card, you can spend 1 apple to gain +1 army strength and then all used apple tokens are permanently removed from the game never to be seen again. OR, at the beginning of your turn you can remove 1 apple from the game to heal an injury on your hero or raise 1 attribute on your hero until end of turn.
Thoughts? Not a huge fan of this one. The Atlas megature looks cool and honestly that’s about all I like about this expansion. It’s gonna cost you the same amount as the Lord of the Sun expansion but I feel like you get so much less with this one. Yes, it’s cool you send hoplites to this monument instead of priests and the idea of how he holds up the little mini board is cool. That said, that board just gets in the way and can easily get knocked down if you’re not careful ruining the surrounding board state like some sort of cataclysm. The first of the two setups is just way too confusing with the way the control token moves around so I vastly prefer the apple setup. However, that mode is just so bland with the bonuses it gives seemingly minute when coming from such a mammoth monument. Bottom line with this one is a hard pass. I would go for the Lord of the Sun expansion for the same price if you are torn.
Now if there is one of the less expensive expansions that I would choose over all the others it would be this one. For around $17 to $25 this baby is a steal for what it adds to the game. Now, don’t get me wrong, this expansion doesn’t really ADD anything to the game other than table presence. But omg, the way this expansion brings the game to life is the most incredible thing I have seen in modern board gaming. This expansion comes with 14 city miniatures, 8 temple miniatures, 1 Delphi Oracle temple miniature and 1 Sparta city miniature. The terrain expansion just goes to replace all the cardboard standups of the temples in the game but also adds neat little city miniatures! These city minis have a little square spot in their middle that allows you to place one of your hoplites “in” the city mini to show that it is fortified. That is just the coolest as it not only prevents mishaps of hoplite jarring from the small space on the board but also looks thematic. Plus, when you have all those little cities on the board the game just shudders to life even more with all the hoplites, monsters and monuments scattered about. It is truly a beautiful thing to behold.
Final thoughts on this one. This would be my number 1 expansion purchase even before the Dark Ages expansion as this livens up the core game so much! Considering the low cost of the expansion and the way it improves the look and feel of the game, this one is a no-brainer purchase for me.
The Bottom Line
It’s a 50/50 swing on the expansions. I think Dark Ages and the Terrain expansions are FOR SURE worth the money and must buys. Dark Ages, even though pricey, adds so much extra content to the game to really ramp up the variability and replayability. Even though the extra board and Poseidon are primarily meant for 5 player games you still get so much additional content. And the Terrain expac enhances the table presence of the game to incredible new levels at a very reasonable cost.
I also enjoy the added content of the City of Steel expansion but its use is very limited to only 6 player games and even though the wall miniature is cool, it’s just eye candy and honestly would be MUCH cooler if they actually had spaces at the top to actually hold the little hoplites kinda like the cities do. I can only recommend this expansion if you plan on playing at the 6-player count quite often, otherwise it will probably just collect dust.
The last two, Lord of the Sun and Atlas would be my very last picks of all the available expansions with Atlas being my least favorite of them all. Lord of the Sun is a nice expansion if you just wanna add another unique monument to your collection. Atlas though……is pretty meh for me. It has its looks going for it as it DOES look awesome but other than that I am not a fan of how its setups work and find them overall, very boring.
SO, in summary:
Dark Ages = Must Buy
Terrain = Must Buy
City of Steel = Must buy IF 6 players, otherwise probably pass
Lord of the Sun = Pass
Atlas = Pass
Curious about my thoughts on the core Lords of Hellas board game? Clicky here.