Mythic Battles: Pantheon has the best dice system for a skirmish boardgame that I’ve experienced to date. In fact, even though I’ve only played a partial game at Gen Con 2016, and a bare-bones pre-production beta copy that the publisher sent to me, I can say that Mythic Battles: Pantheon is one of the most fun skirmish boardgames that I’ve ever played. If you are a fan of Greek mythology, and you like chucking dice, then Mythic Battles: Pantheon is an absolute no-brainer.
The Kickstarter for the game went live a few days ago and, judging by the fact that the game has already raised over $560,000 at the time of this writing, I’d say that I’m not the only one excited about it, and for good reason. First and foremost, the game has absolutely beautiful miniatures. While the miniatures shown off at Gen Con were all exquisitely detailed resin, many of the pre-production copies that I’ve been playing with are early hard plastic samples, and Mythic and Monolith have done a great job translating the intricacies of the resin miniatures into hard plastic. Even though they do lose a bit in translation to hard plastic, the miniatures are still impressive looking and fun to play with, and many of the Gods stand a towering 65mm tall.
Mythic Battles: Pantheon’s story picks up just as the conflict of Gods is beginning:
The Titans have escaped their prison in Tartarus to wreak havoc and devastation upon the world. Seeking revenge on their jailers, they attacked the home of the Gods – Mount Olympus itself! The battle was long and closely-fought, but in the end the Gods were victorious. Even so, the battle cost them dearly.
The surviving Gods are greatly weakened and have lost their immortality. The only way to regain this power is to assimilate the energy stones called Omphalos. The first to absorb enough of this energy will become the new ruler of the Gods, and can create a Pantheon in their own image.
Mythic Battles: Pantheon gives control of a single God and their armies to each player, and the gameplay itself is card driven. Each unit has a certain number of activation cards associated with it, and you simply play the activation card of the unit that you want to activate, assuming you have it in hand. Each unit can perform two simple actions, such as move or attack, or a single complex action, such as run, and the board is separated into zones, so movement and targeting are both accomplished easily.
You will also draw Art of War cards throughout the game, which are also added to your deck based on the units that you draft into your army, and each player also begins the game with 3 Art of War cards in hand. The Art of War cards can be used in various ways, such as allowing a unit to perform a particularly powerful ability, to draw 2 cards from your deck, or to search for any one specific card from your deck. The Art of War cards are an excellent luck-mitigation tool, and it’s almost always the player who makes the best strategic use of their Art of War cards that comes out on top.
The other luck-mitigation factor, and the coolest part of the game, is the way that dice are used in combat. I’m already a sucker for games that have an exploding dice mechanic, but Mythic Battles: Pantheon takes the already excellent mechanic and tweaks it into something special. The dice used are all six sided, with faces that range from totally blank to 5. When you roll, usually any dice showing a blank result are loss immediately, while any dice showing a 5 can be re-rolled, with the re-roll added to the original 5. This means that each die can actually roll anywhere up to 10, which is necessary because many of the tougher units have armor values greater than 5.
What really makes this dice system special is that you can discard any die that rolled a number in order to add 1 to any other numbered die. For example: if you roll four dice, and get two 2’s and two 4’s, you can discard the 2’s in order to spin the 4’s up to 5’s, thus causing them to explode. There aren’t really any complexities to the system, and you essentially always want to spin dice up into 5’s if you can, but this system just feels really, really good. The combination of exploding dice, plus the ability to alter the dice that you’ve rolled makes the game feel much more involved and interesting than most standard dice mechanisms out there.
Heroes, Gods, and Monsters have their health tracked via trackers, and their vital statistics change as they take damage. Smaller units track health via the number of miniatures in a squad, and many of those units gain bonuses as long as they are at full strength. While the game is a race to gather and absorb Omphalos, more bloodthirsty players can also win by killing their opponent’s God, and the game can quickly turn into a dirty, knock-down-drag-out fight to the finish, which is just fine with me, as the combat system is so much fun.
Between the excellent card driven play, and the awesome dice combat, I’m struggling to come up with anything about the game that I don’t like. Really, the only thing to lament is the fact that we won’t be able to get our hands on a finished version of the game until December 2017, although that delivery date does seem likely based on the state of the game’s production:
The estimated delivery date for Mythic Battles: Pantheon is December 2017, but please keep in mind that this is only an estimate. Also note that due to logistical restrictions in different regions, some backers may receive their pledge rewards before others. We will be doing our utmost to avoid these situations and, in the unlikely event that we are unable to deliver the game, we will be refunding pledges in full.
Due to the fact that the core box of Mythic Battles: Pantheon is 95% complete as we head into this campaign, and that we have already signed agreements with many of those in charge of production, delivery and distribution, we have no reason to suspect that this eventuality will ever occur. We’ve successfully delivered Conan (only the three expansions and the campaign are not delivered yet, they are in production now and the estimated delivery is March/April 2017).
There is only one pledge level for Mythic Battles: Pantheon (the early bird pledges all got snatched up within minutes of the Kickstarter launch), but for $99 you can snag the base game and quite a few unlocked stretch goals, many of which are labeled as Kickstarter exclusives. All signs point to a bevvy of future stretch goals being revealed as well, based on what we saw at Gen Con.
The campaign also features a few add-ons that are available outside of the core pledge. The first is a smaller $15 dollar add-on featuring Oedipus (the original bad ass mother-f*cker) and a Sphinx. Another $15 add-on called the Hell Judges features 3 miniatures—Rhadamanathus, Minos, and Aeacus—and the largest add-on for $45 has 15 different miniatures as well as another board. The Oedipus and Hell Judges add-ons are going to be entirely exclusive to the Kickstarter, and the larger Haphaestus expansion lists a future retail price of $69, but for those people who snag it at the reduced Kickstarter price it also appears to come with 4 exclusive miniatures that won’t be part of the retail version.
With over 20 days left to go in the campaign, it’s going to be exciting to see what else unlocks for this already excellent game. My first hand experience with the early hard plastics makes me extremely confident that the overall product is going to be absolutely top notch.
What do you think about Mythic Battles: Pantheon? Let us know in the comments below.