Lords of Creation

A boardgame by Martin Wallace, published by Warfrog, UK
These comments copyright 1998 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated May 7, 1998

(Review coming later ... I hope! Basically, a very fun game, with overall sound mechanics, only marred by being too long and having an endgame problem, both of which I address in the variant below. Please don't be put off by the next section, with deals with problems - the game is very good, with some easy tweaks.)

Problems with Lords of Creation as it's written:

  1. The game takes too long. Some people play with using only half the deck, which we tried, but one of our players felt that was too short. The Mount Olympus variant (below) should be somewhere around 1.5 hours.
  2. The board is really too big, at least for the first half of the game - there's not enough interaction. The variant below addresses this directly.
  3. You can't tell Grassland from Hills terrain easily - more than one player in our game marched blithely between terrain types. (I suspect this is a problem from the printer, as the cards are actually easy to distinguish - the hills have a lot of yellow in them on the cards, but none at all on the tiles - they're the same light green as the grasslands, alas.) The variant below fixes this by getting rid of Grassland! I needed to get rid of some tiles and cards anyway, since I'd shrunk the board.
  4. The ending is anticlimactic - the last person gets to count everything and make fairly easy adjustments either to take the lead or play kingmaker. This is fixed by a random ending after everyone's turn - not notification of the ending before the turns.
  5. The play of the game doesn't make you feel like an omnipotent deity, which at least one player felt was wrong for a game of this title. This is addressed with player-induced catastrophes.

Here's the variant, first draft, open for critiques. It's called:

Lords of Creation: Mount Olympus variant

The Board
The full board has 91 spaces. Use only the inner 61 in this variant; the outermost ring is Desert.

The full game has 108 tiles. Remove the Grassland tiles (24), 8 of Sea tiles, and two each of Mountain and Desert tiles. (If you wish, you can turn these upside down and place them in the outermost ring of hexes during the Creation Phase to prevent players from accidentally placing tiles there.)

The full game has 110 cards. Remove the Grassland cards (30). Use only one "5" Grassland card.

Shuffle the 72 tiles upside down. Each player draws three. Shuffle the 80 cards. Deal out 15 cards without looking at them. Add the one "5" Grassland cards to these 15, shuffle well. Place them beside the board. Place the remaining 65 cards on top of these 16, and do not shuffle again. Deal each player 7 cards. Place one of the removed Mountain tiles in the center hex of the board - this is Mount Olympus, where the players, as deities, dwell. (If you have a miniature 3D mountain to place here, that would be even better!)

The Creation Phase
As normal, except you choose one of your three tiles to place, you may not pass, and you should draw a replacement tile after each play. Do not place tiles in the outer ring of hexes in this variant. You may hold three tiles at the end of the Creation Phase - do not return the held tiles to the box; retain them for use during the game. (Exception: players hold only two tiles in the five-player game - those with three tiles left when the board is full should discard one tile each.)

The People Phase
As normal, with two exceptions:
  1. do not draw new cards after the card-play phase - each player draws one card only after all players have taken their complete turns this round; and
  2. you may play a tile instead of people during your turn - see Tile Play, below.

Tile Play
On your turn, you may play a tile instead of bringing people onto the board. This represents your ability as a deity to reshape the world and cause natural disasters and catastrophes - most likely to worshippers of other deities, of course ... There are certain conditions to tile play:
  1. You are limited to three tile plays the entire game (two in the five-player game).
  2. You can only use a tile to replace an existing tile. The tile replaced must match the terrain type of the card you played - the new tile, however, can be of any terrain type, even the same. (Note that this means Sea, Mountain and Desert tiles cannot be replaced, as there are no cards matching these terrain types. Tiles of these types may replace existing tiles, however.) In addition, the tile replaced must be a number of spaces from Mount Olympus equal to the value of card you played. That is, spaces are considered to be in "rings" of hexes surrounding Mount Olympus. Playing a "1" allows you to replace only a tile adjacent to Mount Olympus; playing a "2" allows you to replace only a tile in the next ring out, etc. (Exception: playing a "5" allows you to replace any tile of that terrain type on the board.) (View an ASCII illustration or a GIF file illustration of legal tile replacement.)
  3. Any people on the replaced tile must immediately move to an adjacent tile (and no further) if possible and legal by the rules of movement, even if the replacement tile is of the same type as the old tile. Islanders may cross one sea hex to move to a different island. An Altar on the replaced tile is destroyed. If there is no legal move for the people on the tile, they are also destroyed.
  4. A player may defend a space by playing from his hand a card which would allow him to play a tile in that space himself. That is, you may cancel another player's card play if you have either an identical card, or a "5" of the same terrain type. This card is in addition to the card you played earlier in the round, and has no other effect than to cancel a tile catastrophe. In this case, the player attempting to play the tile must discard the tile and may not play another one or add people this turn. He may still take his normal turn, however, of movement, attack, conversion, and/or altar building. Defending against a tile catastrophe permanently reduces your hand size - only draw one card at the end of the round as normal.

Ending the Game
The game ends as soon as the Grassland card is drawn - this is "sudden death" - no further turns take place!

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