Gameruman: Mythic Battles Pantheon Review
Hera grew tired of Zeus’s infidelity and decided to do something about it. She freed the Titans from Tartarus. This started a second war between the God and the Titans, one which changed the face of the world. Olympus is in ruins, monsters and men of myth roam the Earth and the Gods are dying….
Mythic Battles: Pantheon is a Kickstarter exclusive game from Mythic Games. MBP was initially planned as a retail release but the sheer volume of content in the box would have made that ridiculously expensive. So, sadly, it because a Kickstarter exclusive.
For the TL;DR version skip to the Conclusion
Opening the box
Specs on the box
- 1 – 4 players
- 60-90 min
- Ages 12+
The game comes in a huge box with quite a few expansions too. Sadly, aside from the vacuum formed plastic to hold the models there is no insert to speak of. This means packing up is a chore. I have decided to find an alternative method of storage for this game.
You can tell that the rules are a translation into English. My writing skills have much to be desired and even I could pick up spelling and grammatical errors. Luckily, it’s not an in-game problem. The rest of the components themselves are insanely good.
The cards are all full art, with no writing on them apart from the names. The art is gorgeous. I find myself just staring at the cards and pouring over the details on the board, it’s very pretty. The miniatures are simply stunning. The details are crisp, the mold lines are so small that you can easily be forgiven for missing them entirely.
I think this game is worth the price for the components alone. (Not the current eBay prices though!)
These are regular (MtG) sized cards so sleeving the game is not difficult. I normally use the cheaper sleeves but everything in the box just feels premium so I splurged and bought the premium sleeves too. No regrets there.
Mythic Battles Pantheon has you take control of one of the Gods from Greek Mythology who is trying to regain his immortality. You will need to battle other gods and heroes of legend as they’re striving to do the same.
You can easily spend over an hour just reading through all the background information supplied in the rule and scenario books and on the unit dash boards. Then you can marvel over the art and simply find yourself playing with the toys as you re-enact battles you saw in the movies or previously read about. The theme is spot on and permeates the whole game. Each map feels like you are play in a different place. The units behave like you would expect them to. I tip my hat to the effort that went into getting that right.
Setup varies depending on the type of mission you are playing. There are 2-4 player skirmishes and scenarios. You can play free for all games, team games, solo or full blown campaigns. Depending on which one you choose you may have your forces predetermined or you can draft them.
I love drafting and this mechanic is very interesting here. Not only do you get to select the units that you like and which you feel synergise, but the game play is card driven. So while you are drafting units, they give you cards for your deck that you use in the game itself.
There are reasons for wanting a bigger or a smaller deck of cards. You could field a force with a lot of utility, which lets you manipulate your deck, or one that can both dish out and receive a lot of punishment, but leave your hand at the mercy of the luck of the draw.
As with most games you start your turn by drawing a card, this will usually either be a card which matches one of your units or an Art of War card. You can opt to pass your turn in which case you simply draw another card, that’s not bad especially if you don’t want to use any of your units just yet and need more options. Otherwise you need to activate your units.
Each turn you can activate a single unit by playing its card. This allows them to move, attack or pick up Omphalos tokens scattered around the battlefield. These are the first of two win conditions. Your Deity needs these to regain his immortality so you need to either have Him move to them or have your units bring them back to him. Then you need to activate your Deity so He can absorb them. First side to absorb four of these win the game (unless it’s a scenario with specific win conditions).
The Art of War cards is where things get interesting. These are used in various ways. You can spend them to power your units special abilities, like having Zeus throw lightning or use Medusa to turn enemies to stone.
The other ways make the game more interesting. These are once-per-turn abilities that you can perform with them.
You may discard an Art of War card to:
- Activate a second unit in the current turn
- Draw 2 cards from your deck
- Search your deck for a specific card
- Call in reinforcements, only regular troops though not Heroes and monsters
Everyone gets at least three Art of War cards, but can gain more by drafting the correct units.
Just having the card system adds a tactical layer to the game which just makes it more interesting than a regular skirmish game. In one game a friend moved his Amazons to the top of a rise near the center of the board. This game them extra offense and extra range on their attacks. They dominated most of the board and created a nice little no-go zone for the rest of us. It was only after then game was over that we realised that until he re-shuffled his deck, Nick had spent 2 of his 3 Amazon cards just to get them there, so they could only have attacked once!
As I mentioned earlier one way to win is by winning the race to collect Omphalos. Collecting these gives you an extra card, straight to your hand. These cards can be used like any Art of War card or you can remove the card, not the Omphalos, from the game to heal your Deity 1 health. It’s a nice way of showing Him getting stronger by collecting them.
The other win condition is to have the last Deity standing. On paper it sounds like the race is the easier option to follow but in practise, so far, it feels pretty evenly balanced as there are lots of ways to block units and prevent them from getting to the Omphalos. This means you need to be able to adapt and look for opportunities.
The hype was real.
Usually, with miniatures based Kickstarters, you find yourself getting a lot of useless/not-often-used content. In this case everything is useful and I’m regretting I could not afford more. Not because of FOMO, but because I will actually use everything!
The models and components are arguably the best I have seen in a board game yet. Yes I call it a board game because minatures is pretty much all it has in common with a regular skirmish game. Drafting and deck/hand manipulation are hallmarks of board games not wargames.
Mythic Battles is a great blend of the 2. It’s very easy to learn with clear and concise rules, but it has the depth of a wargame. Those tactical and strategic decisions which leave you agonising over which one to make, it's all there. There are a few queries which can arise when you have a game with units that have such variety of abilities, but it is easy to come to a solution and not interrupt the flow of the game.
It's a great package. I hope that there will be another KS for a re-print so that more people can enjoy the game that I am having so much fun with. It's hard to fathom that I actually had my dining room table covered by the same game for 3 days straight! I only packed it up when everyone else got fed up of eating on the couch :P
I highly recommend getting a copy if you can or save up for Mythic Battles: Ragnarok (Norse Mythology) which should kick off in 2019.
How does it play solo?
Solo is very good. Most games have a single way to play solo, via a bot or table or deck of cards or something but here things are different. Thus far I’ve tried two different solo scenarios.
The first was a puzzle in which you need to determine the best course of action through a maze of hazards. The second was a scenario where I had to save a village from a rampaging Hydra. Each mission had a different AI to play against.
I find having different solo modes very refreshing.
Can I play this at a braai?
You can, but you may not want too. I know that I would want to stay by the table and watch every move that my opponents make but then I would burn the meat as I'm not watching the fire. I am making plans to invite a friend over for a 2 player campaign and having a braai while we are playing. The plan there would be to slowly smoke some ribs which should take around 5 hours or so. That should work.