Theme and What is it?
The setting for the game, Athens, is during the Persian war but before Pericles moved into Athens. Players play as the Leaders who founded the Delian league. Their role in the game is to help build up Athens to become one of the prosperous and resilient empires in the world.
PLAYING THE GAME
1. People Management Phase
The starting player rolls the 2 white people dice and the turn order die. The white people dice have icons for the upper class, middle class, and lower class. The icons rolled show the people tiles that can be saved from spending when performing the Action Phase.
The turn order die determines the turn order for each phase of the current round (clockwise or counter-clockwise). During this phase, each player receives 3 people tiles from the people bag. In future rounds, each player gets 1 instead and always discards down to 3.
2. Base Phase
The starting player chooses one base card that is still available. There are 7 different decks of base cards. Players will use them as resources needed for various actions.
Then, they take a worker from anywhere on the board to use during the Action Phase.
3. Action Phase
The starting player does one of the following two actions:
a. Flip over one of their base cards and place their worker on it. This gives the player VP along with more of that given resource.
b. Choose an action card and pay the required people tiles and perform that action by placing your worker on it. Players cannot perform an action where there is a worker or on actions card owned by other players.
4. Event Phase
Beginning with the starting player, each player may place their colored wooden cubes on an event card that is still face up. These events cards have color requirements.
Players can put as many cubes down as they like but only on the one card chosen. For every cube placed, the player receives the victory points shown on the space.
After each player has used an event, the starting player passes to the left and the phases start over beginning with that player.
The mechanics sound complicated but are straightforward. You are using your base cards to build up resources from the action cards. From these resources, you can collect victory points from events or other action cards. When a round completes, if all event cards are face down, then the game will end. If there are still event cards, the game ends after 14 rounds.
When looking at the box, the game did not immediately grab me. However, I enjoy Greek mythology and empire building so I was ready to play. Also, I was very excited to use the Essen promo playmat. It is just stunning.
Game Build Quality
Nothing was lacking with the game components. There are a lot of cards of different sizes. The quality of the card stock used for the cards is great and they are glossy. I like the look that the shine gives to the artwork. Other components included are the people tiles, which are thick and robust cardboard, colored wooden cubes and people dice.
I would like to commend the artist, Carolmind. The artwork is exquisite. Every type of card is unique and remarkable. The best way I can describe the artwork is that it looks like the artists sat down in the 5th century and sketched these drawings. This captures the theme of Athens well.
Athens is a lot of fun. If you enjoy empire/resource building, then you will love it. It is a simple mechanic. You start by gaining basic resources and use those resources to get better resources to gain victory points to win the game. There is not a lot of setup to the game. It is mostly cards you layout and then you play.
Age Range & Weight
The box for Athens suggests that it is for players of ages eight and above. The game has a lot of different opportunities and possibilities to gain resources and points. The strategy, in my opinion, is on the heavy side. I would move up the starting age to 10 and above.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I love strategy games like Splendor and Century: Spice Road and I felt Athens had that same feel although still different. It was a hit with the rest of my group as well since this is one mechanic we can all agree on it. Overall, the component quality and artwork presentation of the game supports the theme. I am happy to add this one to my collection and my group will play often it.