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Number of Players: 2-6
Time: 60-180 Minutes
Game Type: Strategy/Task Completion
Gamer Type: Family/Casual
If you are anything like me, the Odyssey by Homer was one of the greatest stories of your primary school years. It was not a value-driven story. It was just a well-told story about an adventure by a group trying to get home. Honestly, it was really a good trade-off for school. In the beginning, you were taken somewhere you really didn’t want to go. Then you struggled to make it to the end. Finally, you got to go home, a better person for adventure. Even the imagery matches up, wanting things you cannot have (that will trap you), people acting like animals, and an all-seeing eye watching over your every move.
Manticore games captured this story and feeling in their game “Voyage Home -An Odyssey.” In this game, you act as the crew of Odysseus and are trying to make it home after the Trojan War. On the way, you need to partake of the adventures of the crew and try to get as many of your fellow sailors home to Ithaca as possible.
If you have not guessed by this point, Voyage Home – An Odyssey deals with one of my favorite stories from my childhood. The Greek and Roman myths are some of my favorite stories that teach values often overlooked in society today. Playing on this theme, VHAO has a deep story that makes players feel like they are part of the legends (8 of 10 for story).
When you are dealing with a story-driven game, you need to have good artwork to draw you in. One of the greatest problems with classic RPGs (Like D&D) was that if you did not have a good image of what the scene was, it was difficult to play. Good DMs often mitigated this problem, but good DMs are few and far between. When you shift gears from an RPG to a board game, the game itself is the DM. This means the game needs to provide vivid imagery.
In VHAO the artwork has that classic Greek feel to it. From the box to the board, Manticore games uses font, colors, and theme to keep the players in the game. The ambiance of this game is holistic with the goal of drawing you into the game. On a more technical note, the box is standard size, which makes it better for your shelves. The pieces all fit in the box, even after punching, which is nice, so it is a well-designed game in a well-designed box. 7 of 10
The mechanics of the game work very smoothly. The basic concept is that you need to collect your goals and have enough crew members at the end game. The randomizers for this game are cards and dice, so it does add the chaos element to the game which keeps it readily re-playable. Chaos is important in a game like this to give you the feel of the crew in the Odyssey. 5 of 10.
Normally for strategy, we look for the big four (offense, defense, rush, and engine building). This game has two of them. Normally, this would result in a middling score of 4-6 for strategy, but in the case of VHAO, this is not so. VHAO pits engine building versus speed in a battle royal to see who can get home first with the most crew. If a player rushes through the game too fast, then they may not have the crew to win whenever they get home. If they take too long building up their crew and stockpiles, then they may be too far behind when endgame is engaged. This is truly a balancing act, which earns a very strong score of 7 of 10 for strategy.
Novelty and Overview
There are a lot of historical games on the market. There are also a lot of games about myths on the market. The genius of Manticore games is that they combined the two. Drawing from two of the hottest genres on the market, Manticore has made a great family game that bridges the space between fantasy and reality. The Odyssey taught values in a fantasy environment, bringing real moral lessons (of the time) to bear through storytelling. Manticore archives the same effort through gaming. 8 of 10.
With an overall score of 35, this is a great mid-box game for your collection. Anyone can pick it up to play fairly easy, but the balance of speed vs. planning forces people to take many game plays to master. Also, the chaos (I know that cards and die drive wargamers crazy) brings some fun to the game where anyone can win or lose at any time. This is a good game that you should have, especially if you have teens who like gaming.