Villagers looked at me awestruck. They have never seen before something like this . As i was holding sun disk between palms of my hands, I gradually extinguished it, until it quite disappeared. But only for a minute. These natives have never seen an eclipse and one must grasp this advantage for himself. I am now very well-poised to become chief priest. But I know, that there are others coming in my footsteps. Men and women with the same knowledge and skills as I have.
Being first here can be an advantage, but also not. On a high plateau in the shadow of the mountains, this is a place, where we can finally be close to Ahau god. It is also the only hiding around, which is main reason, why I came here. I can touch God’s shadow. Here, at the highest point I’ve ever seen and I adore it. And people around me..
They all could start worshiping new board game Helios instead of their God. It comes from stable of companies Hans im Glück and Z-Man Games, created by Martin Kallenborn and Matthias Prinz. Life was given to it by illustrations of Dennis Lohausen and all these men and women created together a very hot and sunny product.
Inside hot box with a view of the sun rising in the distant land of waterfalls, there is quite a pile of components. Most of them have cardboard nature and their list begins with large boards for players. These are ruled by large sphere representing Earth with hexagonal seats for resource land tiles. Rounded numbered route of the sun turns around the top and moon is lurking in the bottom, sharing its place with placeholders for action tokens.
Thus, we have directly told you about other two components – a hexagonal resources (bamboo, obsidian, etc.) and action tokens, which allow players to control the sun, build buildings or place new territories. Resources have also corresponding wooden tokens, but there are also transparent red stones of magic and white houses also made of wood.
But we must not forget town board, which again will belong to every player. Each depicts exactly twelve same buildings, which are players able to build during a game and earn points or other income. Eight characters also inseparably belong to the game and they can be hired and then activated. Each has two sides – inactive night and active day, when the sun is full of energy and only then are they able to provide their services to players.
At the beginning of the game, each of your opponents gets his pair of large boards – one circular with planet and the other one with his own city. Each player gets two tokens of Sun: one is placed on the first field of the Sun track and second directly on designated place on Earth. This is place, where Sun actually shines. Just below this sunlight counter, each player puts one landscape piece of his choice and places appropriate material token on it. Moon then should hold one mana stone.
Remaining resource tokens create piles by type, alwais in limited numbers, and also one additional pile with randomly mixed types (height based on number of players). In the middle of the table, all join forces to create three drawing piles of actions. They are split according to their back side to land, temple and buildings construction and sun movement. Players then reveal six from each of them into columns. Other tokens and pieces create piles nearby and need to be ready to join the game.
At the beginning of each round, players will alternate four times in choice of action tile from available platelets and immediately apply their effect. But they may always take only those tokens, that lie at the bottom of their column. They place it under Earth board, where are three color-coded positions for them.
It is possible to attach a new piece of land (or bonus token) on player’s planet, build a temple on existing land or construct a building on town board. Both building actions are easily accomplished by placing a wooden house to a position on one of the boards. While city building has clearly given price in box next to its illustration, temple demands increases with every built one under players color. He must always pay as much raw material (any) as he has completed temples in his possession.
Positioning a temple also brings profit. Player immediately gets as many stones as he has temples and places them on moon on his board. Building provides many different rewards, sometimes even improves sun movement as it circulates around orbit. Value beneath this round track will become interesting, if anyone chooses third action, that is allowed by tokens.
That is movement of the Sun, which is in the beginning in the middle of player’s territory. Only by using its rays, players can take advantage of their temples and produce resources. Yellow glowing blade is orbiting clockwise around all pieces, that player currently has on his board. This means moving sun token. Actual player can choose, how far the sun will moves, but only up to the maximum number of moves indicated by other sun token in the orbit. Once the movement stops, Sun starts to radiate rays on all adjacent positions.
Each empty landscape tile (without a temple or raw materials) will under influence of Sun produce new cube. Player takes it in corresponding colors from stock and places it on the token. On the other hand, enlightened temple feels under protection of the sun god and player gets one victory point directly for this, while another points for tiles surrounding it. Whenever Sun completes one circle around the player’s territory, he immediately receives five points.
Following phase allows to hire and activate characters. Here, players will finally use their mana stones, that are payed to be able to take selected person’s board. It still sleeps and to activate its powers, player must pay resources, which finally enable him to rotate character to its daily side. These figures increase players sun movement or profit of mana stones, but also improve the chances for gaining victory points, when end of the game comes.
At the end of each round, players will supply new landscape pieces, action tiles and starting player tokens goes around the board. Game ends after fourth round. Now is the right time for players to add up their victory points gained in the course of the game and raise them for end profit. Rewards are received for reaching edge of the planet, built temples and buildings, bonus tokens, characters and remaining mana. All this provides points. Player with the highest profit became new shaman of the tribe of the sun god.
Helios is at first sight a unique strategy game. And fortunately, impression continues even after you start to play, because you start to reveal decisions and paths, that game hides. A major decision is aways around construction of compact landscape, that can be well-orbited by solar disk. Layout itself and right combination of temples is main step to win. Basic, but only one of many.
Each piece can be placed in different positions, but its position is very important, as well as location of the temples. When the sun begins to go around, you can see its rays directed to right places. Players must have clear idea about their placement from the start and stick to their plan. But there is more roads to victory and are nicely intertwined, so its thankfully not a problem to change them during the game and you do not need to specialize all that much.
Helios is pleasantly difficult, but not overly complex, and could be ranked among medium board games. Everything revolves around movement of the sun, but many ways lead to its right steps. First of all, players need to get better movement. Someone chooses a building to do this, other goes with character. Yet despite this, the overall performance of individual turns of this strategic game goes quickly, because player chooses in fact only between three activities.
Also interesting is action selection, which brings to another decision. To get one action board, you can make other tile further down the line available to your rivals. It is always necessary to think of this. The player needs to think one or two moves ahead and build landscape not only in present. No decisions are difficult and time-consuming, so no one is waiting long for his turn. Maybe this fluidity is also one of the causes of overall excellent experience.
Game is pleasantly fast and takes about one hour, which further supports good feeling of the whole play. And all this is true not only for two players, when the game is also excellent, but even with a maximum of four. The gameplay itself remains excellent across all numbers. Only criticism can therefore be directed to property typical for many euro games – there is almost no contact between players and everyone just builds his own world. Only race for characters and action tiles stealing is there.
Whole game looks simply great. From the quality of components themselves through to innovation and overall design. Helios is very good looking game and you’ll have a better experience of the whole match because of it.
Helios is a moderately difficult game, that does not give beginners something for nothing. Satisfied with it will be above all experienced players, who enjoy great opportunity to get points in different ways. Everything is strictly tactical and follows original ideas. In addition, under rays of the sun, everything looks better, as you will find in the game. And maybe that’s, why Helios is so hilarious game.
Helios tells story of a distant land, where everything is governed by the Sun. Players will build not only the city, but also expand their territory and raise temples for their god. As time passes, solar disk orbits around their land and as its beam illuminates pieces, players gains special abilities. Everybody must combine a number of interesting factors, that reinforce each other. The game contains interesting paths to victory, all intertwined, yet keeping them not so complex so individual turns last short amount of time. Thanks to this quickness, whole game does not last longer than sixty minutes. So pleasant game time can be reached even with higher number of players. When building your civilization, everybody will play alone, but they will not notice it under glare of the sun. Helios is an excellent strategy game, that can be played in a short time, but offers heaps of fun even after repeated play.