The objective of Iconoclasm is to form units. Not the first unit, not the most units but the last unit standing.
Victory by two units can usually only be achieved by another player's mistake so let's focus on victory by the last unit.
So you should simply deform all other units and then form your own? Well, that summarizes the overall strategy but it's
easier said than done. Let's start by looking at some unit basics.
The forming of units: Units are formed by groups of seven tokens.
The element of the most tokens in the unit gets to place the icon.
In case of a tie, the element of the most supporting element tokens in the unit gets to place the icon.
The deforming of units: Units are deformed if connected to other units with stronger elements, counted by tokens in both
This means that a unit has one of the following destinies:
The unit suffers no external clash.
The unit survives an external clash and the weakened element keeps the unit.
The unit survives an external clash but is taken over by the supporting element.
The unit is deformed by an external clash.
Let's continue by looking at what determines a unit's destiny.
No external clash
The earlier a unit is formed, the likelier it is that it suffers from an external clash. The first strategic guideline
is thus not to form own units early. However, if you half-way through the game find that an area is or can be isolated by
spirit tokens, you could form a unit and defend it to the end.
External clash with weakening
For a unit to be weakened and yet remain in your power, two conditions are required.
First, the number of your tokens and supporting element tokens must be higher than the challenging element's tokens.
A strong unit is desirable but difficult to obtain, not only because you have few tokens of each element to play but also
because the other players hardly will allow a unit to get too strong. However, bear in mind that tokens in the conflicting
unit also count. Thus, once a unit is about to be formed in your vicinity, you can either play to increase your tokens in
it by playing your or your supporter's tokens in it or to decrease the overall unit strength by playing tokens of elements different
than the ones already played. The second strategic guideline is thus to keep other units weak.
Second, and more difficult, there must be more of your tokens than tokens of the other elements.
Otherwise, you will win the external clash only to lose the unit to another element.
The third strategic guideline is thus not to have too many tokens of other elements in your units.
External clash with takeover
As discussed above, for a unit to be taken over, another element needs to become stronger than the icon element.
You can take advantage of this by "hanging around" the element you support in hope of taking over their unit after an
external clash. Why the element you support? Because then your element can support the unit and you want the unit to
survive. However, you must still consider the destiny of the unit. Can it be expected to survive an external clash
before the takeover? Can it be expected to survive an external clash after the takeover? The fourth strategic guideline
is thus to be a strong supporter in other units.
External clash with deforming
In an external clash, the weaker element and all its tokens will be removed. This is a disaster to the losing side and
should be avoided at all cost. If you have followed the strategic guidelines so far, you shouldn't have to be the victim
of an external clash. Instead, use this powerful mechanic to deform weaker units, starting with units of your opposing
element, since those are of least use to you. Remember that you can and should connect units belonging to
other elements to have them weaken each other before you step in. Be cautious though so that not other stronger units
are formed in their places. The fifth strategic guideline is thus to connect and conquer other units.
Weak and strong units
Let's conclude the discussion with an overview of what constitutes a strong unit and what constitutes a weak:
Strong predictable unit. Fire has 4 tokens and, if needed, support from 1 air token. Since fire has both a primary supporter (air)
and a secondary supporter (water), the fire unit can survive 4 external clashes before air takes over. This is unit
that fire should try to keep to the end.
Strong semi-predictable unit. Fire has 3 tokens and, if needed, support from 3 air tokens. Fire will lose the unit to air after
the first external clash (after which there are only 2 fire tokens left) but take it back after the second (after which there are
only 2 air tokens left. Thanks to water's support, the air unit will also be strong, so this is a unit that fire
may try to keep to the end with a well-planned last turn takeover.
Semi-strong semi-predictable unit. Fire, air and water all have 2 element tokens each and, if needed, 2 supporting element tokens (except water).
All three elements will take turns to take over the unit after external clashes, making it difficult to predict who will end
up with it in the end.
Weak unit: Fire has only 2 tokens and only secondary support. Even if the unit does survive its first external clash,
it will be taken over by water and not retaken again until another 2 external clashes has replaced both water tokens
(if it survives that long).
A final warning
A final word of caution. The advice so far have focused on forming units late. It may be tempting to save your tokens
on your hand until the last turns. However, this also means that the other elements will be stronger on the board. As long as
you can have their units deformed and the tokens removed, that's fine, but beware of the risk that an element gets a
Take for example the position to the right. If water fights fire first, she will win with 4 water vs 3 fire but be
weakened by having 1 water replaced by a spirit. This will make water and earth equally strong and result in earth taking
over the unit from water thanks to more support (ironically from water). A better tactic is to first let the fire
and earth units enter a clash (which fire will win with 5 fire vs 3 earth) and then take on the fire unit.
Iconoclasm is a game where every tile placed changes the conditions and demands new tactical decisions.
Nevertheless, there are five strategic guidelines that will help you to attain the last unit standing: