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Greece Lightning

Published by WizKids, Greece Lightning is a snappy racing game with some push your luck elements, board manipulation, and just a whiff of take-that.

So take to your oars, put your backs into it, and race around the board while avoiding the hydra, leaping over your opponents, and earning the favor of the gods!

Gameplay

The race takes place on a circular board, created by putting together the twelve starting wedges in random order. You then place the starting line wedge randomly on top of one of these wedges. There are four paths around the board — each player selects a ship and places it on one of the four paths on the start line. There will be various points around the board where these paths will intersect and players can move from one to the other.

At the start of each round, players all roll their dice at the same time. First, you roll your navigation die, which can roll one to three. You may discard a fish to reroll it. Then you roll your first movement die (movement dice roll one to six). You then decide whether to roll a second movement die. You may discard a fish to reroll it. If the final result of the second movement die is lower than the result on your first movement die, then you bust and both movement dice are discarded for that round, leaving you with only your navigation die. Once you have finished rolling, you add up the total of all your dice: this number is your movement total, which is the number of spaces you must move this round.

Then players take turns, starting with whoever has the Golden Fleece token. While holding the Golden Fleece token, the result on your navigation die is doubled.

On your turn, you start by placing any wedges you drew on the previous round. You place a wedge on top of any wedge on the board, altering the paths. Different wedges may consist of a different number of spaces on each path or add or remove actions on spaces.

Next, you must move your ship forward on the board the correct number of spaces, resolving any actions depicted on the spaces you pass through. If you reach a space with another ship, you jump over it, not counting the space it is on. Actions include: gaining a fish (you may not have more than three), drawing a favor card and placing it face-down in front of yourself, drawing a wedge, or moving three extra spaces. If you reach a hydra space, and you have already moved more spaces than the number on your navigation die, then you must feed it a fish or lose all the rest of your movement.

If you reach an intersection, you may choose which path to take. If you reach a whirlpool, you must choose the path out of it based on the type it is. Some will number the exits 1-3 and you must take the exit that matches the number on your navigation die. Others have you choose an exit based on how many fish you can discard.

Once you stop moving, you then reveal what favor cards you drew. These will give you bonuses, such as extra movement if you discard it on a future turn or something more immediate such as allowing you to steal a favor card from another player.

After all players have taken their turn, the player who is in last place takes the Golden Fleece token. The game ends once at least one player has completed two laps around the board and the ship that is farthest ahead at the end of that round, wins the game.

Greece Lightning Components

Review

Greece Lightning is a speedy little racing game, with the wedges serving as a clever mechanism for altering the race course, both to help yourself and to set back your opponents. You need to plot out the best path, while taking into account the luck of the dice and how other players will set you back by laying out wedges to make your course worse. There are usually plenty of places where you can switch paths, but this can take up valuable movement. It might be necessary, however, if but someone’s thrown several hydras in your way.

You also have to consider when taking the long way might be worth it for the bonuses you can draw. The favors are particularly valuable, but the fish come in handy for mitigating bad rolls or giving you a second chance when you push your luck and bust on the second movement die.

The Golden Fleece serves as a nice catch-up mechanism that helps to keep everyone in the game. If you roll a three and that doubles into a six, that can really zoom you forward on the board, especially as this raises the number for when you have to feed the hydra as well.

Greece Lightning is the type of game that you want the right player count and the right type of players for. It’s best at a player count of three or four, with more wedges getting placed on the board between turns, more favors being drawn, more ships to jump over, and the fleece passing between more hands. It is also best with players who won’t over-analyze each choice.

The play time listed on the box seems a little off: we completed our games well under forty-five minutes. But this actually works in the game’s favor. It’s the type of game that you want to move at a nice brisk pace.

All of the components are nicely made, with attractive graphic design and artwork, and player aides printed neatly onto the player boards. This helps to track everything and makes learning the game easier.

Greece Lightning will often come down to the wire, with multiple players nearing the finish line on the same turn. It may be a little too luck-dependent for some people, but if you just dive in and don’t take it too seriously it’s an enjoyable racing game with a unique look and a really fun mechanism for altering the game board.

Pros: Good catch up mechanism, wedge placement is a fun way to alter the track, plotting your path each turn is enjoyable

Cons: Not a good fit for players who heavily analyze each turn (analysis paralysis), better with more players

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.