My first Nerdnight of the new year and I had a chance to play the new-for-me Cyclades. When I first saw the box art I thought Mare Nostrum and felt a little worried. Don’t get me wrong, my group loves Mare Nostrum. So much so that I thought I might have some difficulties convincing them to play a game that’s like Mare Nostrum without them asking why we don’t just play Mare Nostrum. Fortunately this game is neither cosmetically nor functionally similar to Mare Nostrum.
Cylades is an abstract strategy game with a Mythological Greek theme. Players compete to be the first to complete two Metropolii. This is done by building one each of the far building types, or by collecting four Philosopher cards. Players can also conquer each others territories to gain control of their buildings including Metropolii.
The main gameplay activity is bidding on different gods. Each god allows a player to perform actions unique to the god as well as pay for the use of a mythological creature. If you want to build or attack with troops you must make a winning bid to Ares, god of war. The board is comprised of islands and sea spaces so in order to attack you must move your fleet into position, an action which only can be performed with the blessing of Poseidon. This gives plenty of notification to your enemies of your plans.
We played the game with 4 players. There are total of 5 gods available. When there are less than five players the number of gods available per turn is reduced with any unavailable gods guaranteed to be available in the next turn. There are two 2 sided game boards which make up the map. By changing which boards are used during a game the map can be sized to fit the number of players. The components are very nice. Each faction has a unique model for both infantry and fleet units.
My friends picked up the game quickly and we enjoyed our first play. We expect future games to be more competitive now that we’ve learned some of the initial strategies. We are looking forward to playing the game again hopefully with a full complement of five players.