Argonauts, designed by Lefteris Iroglidis (Persian Wars, Autokrator, Byzantio, & Gothic Invasion), Errikos Nikolaou, and Ioannis Stamatis, is a co-operative board game based on the Jason and the Argonauts mythos. Players control squads aboard the Argo and retrace Jason’s legendary quest for the Golden Fleece. Will your crew be able to navigate the seas, prosper in foreign ports, defeat monsters, and return with the Golden Fleece in hand and the Argo intact?
Interested in bringing the myth to life? Join the expedition now sailing on Kickstarter!
How to Play
At the beginning of each turn, rations are reduced by one.
The movement of the Argo is compulsory; it will always move forward one space. There are three types of spaces on which players can land: sea, ports, and encounters.
Sea Space: When the Argo lands on a sea space, players draw an Argo Event Card and resolve it.
For example: If the Thunderstorm was drawn, players would roll the d12 and compare the results to chart at the bottom of the card. If the result is 1-4, the Argo takes two hull damage. If it’s 5-8, the Argo loses two crew. If it’s 9-12, the Argo loses two rations.
Port City: When the Argo lands on a port city, players refer to its corresponding card and may perform two of the actions detailed.
Several different events can happen in each city.
- Trader: Allows players to draw a Merchant Card, which offers various goods in exchange for gold. Merchant Cards also offer equipment to put into the Argo’s cargo hold.
- Shipyard: Repair the Argo by exhausting a Sailor and spending one material per needed repair.
- Temple: Visiting a Temple allows players to spend money to earn Favor of the Gods tokens.
- Healer: Heal one Argonaut for the cost of 1 gold.
- Hearing: Players have the option to listen to the lord of a port to gain equipment. If they choose to do this action, they exhaust a Diplomat, roll a d12, and take their reward if earned.
- Exploration: Players can explore a port by exhausting a Scout and drawing an Exploration Card. The player then resolves the card according to the challenge presented.
Legendary Encounters: When the Argo lands on a legendary encounter, players find the related card and resolve it.
Legendary Encounters can be beat in one of two ways: Might Path (fist) or the Cunning Path (foot). Players would each choose one hero to enter into the combat, either of strength or of wits. The Encounter may also have an immediate effect, a victory condition, or a defeat condition.
In order to meet or beat the conditions presented on the cards, players may each use one Hero for their skill, class, or special ability.
When using a Hero for his or her skills, the collective sum of their abilities will be compared to the conditions presented on the card.
When using a Hero for his class, the player may gain additional actions in ports.
When using a Hero for his special ability, do whatever the card indicates. The special abilities can be very useful, so while it might be “expensive” to exhaust them only for their ability, it is often worth it. For example, gold might be hard to come by in the game, but Echion’s ability allows him to acquire goods for practically nothing. Nafplios’
ability reduces damage to the Argo, which could be the difference between a floating Argo and a sinking Argo.
After using a Hero in any capacity, the card is placed under the player’s Exhausted token, locking the Hero until a future turn. If there is already a Hero under the Exhausted token, that Hero is moved to Resting, and the just played Hero replaces it. Likewise, if there is a Hero in Resting, that card goes back to the player’s hand and the Exhausted Hero becomes Resting.
Example Legendary Encounter
Let’s say the Argonauts are fighting Talos.
The crew has the option of beating the Encounter via Might, which would require 8 Battle and 4 Stealth, or via Cunning, which would require 6 Mysticism and 4 Stealth. Given the cards in their hands, they decide to attack using their Might abilities. Hercules, Atalanta, Kastor, and Jason are all played. Their combined Battle skill totals 11 (Hercules 4, Atalanta 2, Kastor 3, and Jason 2), and their combined Stealth skill totals 6 (Hercules 1, Atlanta 3, Kastor 1, and Jason 1). As it stands, the crew easily wins the battle.
However, they don’t have any Favor of the Gods tokens, so they have to roll 1d12 and consult the gods chart on the board.
Someone rolls a d12 and consults the chart on the game board. A 2 was rolled, and Hera watches over their battle. Unfortunately, Hero does not like Hercules, so -1 is lost from each of the skills he used during the battle, bringing his totals down to 3 Battle and 0 Stealth. Hera is a fan of Jason’s, so he gains +1 to his Battle and Stealth, giving him 3 Battle and 2 Stealth. The crew’s totals to 11 Battle and 6 Stealth, which is easily greater than the needed 8 Battle and 4 Stealth needed to beat Talos. There is no Victory condition, so the crew simply rejoices in the fact the Argo didn’t need to lose 3 Argonauts.
The game ends in one of three ways:
- The crew of the Argo returns to Iolkos.
- The hull of the Argo receives four damage.
- The crew of the Argo reaches zero.
A Note on Difficulty
The draft rules that will appear on the Kickstarter page are set to “difficult”. The designers plan on including two more difficult levels: easy and normal.
- Easy: Players will begin the game with ample materials and extra Favor of the Gods tokens. Some of the more brutal events, i.e. Thunderstorm, will be removed from the game.
- Normal: Players will begin their quest with some starting materials and a few Favor of the Gods tokens. All cards will remain in the deck.
A Note on the Art
While the art in this game is incredibly pretty, much of it is not final. So far, the final art for the following Heroes have been completed: Jason, Medea, Atalanta, Castor, Orpheas and Hercules. Likewise, the final art for Scylla and Chrybdis, the Harpies, the Dragon, Symplegades and Talos is all done.
A fun note on the draft art: The prototype files I received had stills from the Jason and the Argonauts film, which I found to be incredibly amusing. While I’d be happy to see the cheesy visuals from the movie, I am more than pleased with the artistic direction the game has taken.
A Note on Stretch Goals
Stretch goals for the campaign will include 14 new cards: 8 Heroes and 6 Events. As stretch goals, they will be included in the pledge. After the Kickstarter ends, they will be available for purchase as a mini-expansion to the base game.
A Note on Mechanics
The point-to-point movement of the game shouldn’t deter gamers. The game is more than just moving one space at a time. The movement of the ship is akin to flipping an event card at the start of a new round; it simply indicates when actions take place. Could this element just as easily been an event deck? Possibly, but it wouldn’t really feel like an expedition now would it?
The real meat of the game is in managing the Argo’s resources whether it be the Heroes or the goods. Knowing when to play a Hero for his ability v. his skill, paying attention to upcoming encounters so that valuable Heroes aren’t exhausted at a pivotal moment, and making sure to take advantage of port visits to ensure the Argo is as fully stocked as possible are all key elements to a successful voyage.
While the game doesn’t officially have a storytelling mechanic, the purposeful integration of Jason and his legendary Argonauts encourages a rich storyline and experience. While I’m not suggesting you have to immerse yourself entirely in the game, I’m suggesting the game might make it hard for you not to pretend you’re aboard the Argo, setting off for fame and glory.
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