Welcome back to the world of tabletop (analog?) gaming my friends! I’m taking a break from video games to talk about a new board game, Greece Lightning by WizKids. It’s a racing board game centered around sea racing and, surprise surprise, Greek mythology. So, let’s dive in and talk about it!
Greece Lightning is a fairly simple game in concept. Two to four players race around a circular, constantly changing map, rolling dice to move and collect tokens, until everyone has done two laps around the board. There is, of course, more to it, but we’ll get to that when we talk about gameplay. So instead, let’s move on to talking about something else.
The presentation of Greece Lightning is…pretty good, honestly. The board/race course pieces are all of good quality with good art and design. The spaces are all spaced out a decent amount so they’re rarely ever obstructed by the tokens, and each of the special spaces are designed distinctly so that it’s obvious what’s what. The tokens are likewise well designed and distinct, if simplistic. The game has a small deck of cards (as in the cards are actually really small, though at thirty-six cards it’s arguably small in both ways) and they’re…boring in terms of design, honestly, but they’re easy to read they’re quality construction, so that’s what matters more.
And the dice…I know it’s weird to get excited about dice, but these are legitimately some of the coolest dice I’ve ever seen packaged with a board game. They’re all basic, six sided dice, but they just look cool. The eight standard ones are all a neat translucent blue, and the four special ones are a foggy crystal with the numbers written in a ‘Greek’ font.
Setting up the game is fairly straightforward. Greece Lightning uses a circular board, roughly the size of a small pizza, made out of twelve interlocking wedges. At the start of the game you take the twelve wedges that are labelled one through twelve (they’re the ones with green, blue, yellow, and red semicircles at the top) to make a circle, putting the central piece in the center so you don’t have a donut and the Starting Line wedge on top of one of the other wedges. Honestly the resulting board is a bit small for a game that’s meant for two to four people. It’s not uncomfortable to use, but I feel like it would be better if it was bigger. As it stands, this is something you might want to play on a coffee table rather than something bigger.
Once the board is all set up each player chooses a color, and are given the player board, the two ship tokens, and the wake token that corresponds to that color. They then each take one navigation die (the aforementioned crystal dice), two movement die (the aforementioned blue dice), and two fish tokens (not aforementioned).
The players then put one of their ship tokens on the ‘start’ spot on the Lap Counter, and the four cards labelled ‘starter’ are pulled from the deck and shuffled. Each player draws one and looks at the number on the bottom of the card. Whoever drew the card with the lowest number gets to pick which tier of the Starting Wedge they place their ship and wake tokens on, and then the player with the next lowest, and so forth. And finally the Golden Fleece token is given to the player who placed their tokens last. Now you’re ready to begin.
Greece Lightning is played in rounds. At the start of each round, all the players roll their dice, and whoever has the Golden Fleece goes first.
Dice rolling is…somewhat complicated. So let’s deal with that. First, you roll your navigation die, and put it on the hydra space on your player card, though you can spend fish tokens you’ve collected to re-roll. That done, you roll the first of your movement die, putting it on the movement space on the player card. Now, you have a choice to roll a second movement die, which can greatly increase how far you can move. However, if your second die rolls lower than your first, you’ll bust and have to scrap both movement dice (though you can once again use fish tokens to re-roll the second movement die). Once you’ve finished rolling, you total up the numbers on all the dice you have, and this determines how far you can move this round.
If you drew any racecourse wedges in the previous round (they’re represented by symbols shaped like the board wedges on the board) you place them on top of the already placed wedges first, then move your ship. As you move you’ll collect various pieces along the way. These can range from racecourse wedges to favor cards to fish tokens. The first can’t be used until your next turn, the fish tokens can be used immediately get safely through the hydra and Scylla whirlpool spaces, and the favor cards are used after you stop moving. If you don’t have any fish when you hit the aforementioned monster spaces, you must either stop moving or follow the zero fish path, respectively.
The favor cards have random bonuses on them, some of which target random players, some of which allow you to target specific players, and some of which hurt you. Once you’ve done all of this, the other players do it as well. Once everybody’s moved you determine who’s in last place, and whoever it is gets the Golden Fleece token. This continues until everyone has crossed the starting wedge twice. Whoever is furthest from the starting wedge wins.
All in all, this is a fairly fun, deceptively simple game. It offers a good mixture of strategy and chance, the randomized and custom nature of the board after the first turn offers a lot of replay value, and the gameplay itself is interesting, complex in the right ways, and not too slow, with gameplay lasting about forty-five minutes. I honestly do recommend this if you’re looking for a fast, simple, competitive game, particularly if you’re also a fan of Greek Mythology. Admittedly that’s just an aesthetic choice, it doesn’t impact the game, but it gives Greece Lightning a lot of charm.
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Images Courtesy of WizKids
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