The game board consists of tiles representing city-states, colonies and diplomatic positions. The player markers represent either talents or citizens and control of the board is determined by area majority.
The players take turns to select actions from a common mancala style action board. They pick up the action markers in one action space and drop them one by one in the spaces of the actions they wish to take, paying a cost equal to the number of action markers already in there.
The actions can broadly be divided into four groups:
Acquire talents, either directly through taxes and levies or indirectly through import of resources that can later be exchanged for talents.
Invest talents in buildings, providing action benefits, or diplomacy, providing war benefits.
Turn talents into citizens, either to consolidate existing city-states or to expand to new city-states.
Use citizens to attack other players or defend against the Persians.
The more citizens a player gets to the board, the more talents he or she may generate but the greater the risk if the Persians invade.
0.95: First edition
0.94: Maximum/minimum diplomacy level new war triggers, players may share the same diplomacy level
0.93: Talent at start of turn to speed up game, political level starts at 0 to make Persians dangerous in the beginning, all player loss changed to last player victory
0.92: All actions limited to 1 execution only, Export Action upgraded to 3-X resources. Trade action changed to 2 talents/other resources
0.9: No talet at start of turn to make talents more scarce, no jump over opponent citizens to make action less reachable
0.8: Resource values linked to availability, resource types linked to city-states, building take-over removed
0.7: "Blocking" action markers added to allow planned action paths
0.6: Influence level and most buildings added to victory conditions instead of 1 per influence payment/building, war marker added to track peace
0.5: Same action multiple times removed, Greco-Persian War triggered by positive or negative political levels
0.4: Action Defend replaced by Maneuver, Greco-Persian War triggered by political level exceeding maximum or minimum level
0.3: 1 talent+1 resource production in Hellas, 2 talents in Ionia
0.2: Action board grouped like "fat cross", resources traded in unique sets only
0.1: Greco-Persian War triggered by action Defend, no starting citizen in colonies, resources traded in similar or unique sets
The complete rules are available in the PDF file to the right. In the following sections, I will describe how they came
(Lack of) first-mover advantage mitigation
Many action-based games mitigate the first-mover advantage by giving the first player less starting assets or by giving all the players the same amount of turns. However, the action system of Politeia made this unnecessary. Since each action has one action marker from start, the first player can only take one action. The second player will have an opportunity to take two actions (by taking the action markers from the action taken by the first player) and/or taking one action for free (by dropping action markers on the vacated action). The third player will have even more opportunities. Any remaining advantages are likely to be mitigated by the players themselves through the many opportunities to bash the leader.
Last mover advantage mitigation
Similarly to first-mover advantage, the last player to act may have an advantage by taking the last action in the game. In a way, this is as it should be as timing of the game end is also a game skill that should be rewarded. However, this is made less powerful by the fact that the game ends when a player is unable to take any more talents rather than when a player takes the last talent. This means that the player gets a smaller advantage from her last action since the (non-available) talent is not counted. Again, a player with good timing will plan for other advantages of her last action.
Talents vs Resources
There is a trade-off between Tax (liquid talents) and Import (non-liquid resources) as well as between
risk (close to Persia) and non-risk (far away from Persia). Ionian city-states offer the former while
Megale Hellas city-states offer the latter with Hellas city-states inbetween. This must be balanced
to make the options equally attractive. The table below compares the total talents in the hand
after 1-6 turns using Tax (2 talents per turn from Ionia), Produce (1 talent+1 resource from Hellas)
and Import (1 resource from Megale Hellas).
Since the players start with no Tax area and only 1 Import area, it is assumed that the 1st turns are spent
acquiring Tax and Import areas respectively and that one turn is spent exporting resources.
(Unlike other city-states, colonies can be shared by players
so 2 colonies are not uncommon.) It is also assumed that up to 2 resources can be used per turn (Export or Build),
giving them a value of 1 talent each.
Tax (2 talents)
Produce (1 talent+1 resource)
4 (2 res used)
8 (2 res used)
Import (1 colony)
Import (2 colonies)
Import (3 colonies)
It shows that liquid assets (talents) gives a steady average of 1.33 while non-liquid assets
(resources) can pay off more if you can delay selling them. The safer and quicker return of the former must also
be weighed against the higher risk of losing the city-state to Persia. Of course, the figures
will be affected by current action costs, number of city-states acquired by the players etc. but
adapting the strategy to those conditions is part of the game.
The purpose of two political levels for the players (Hellas and Persian) is twofold.
First, it allows them to compete for attack strength along two dimensions. With only one
dimension, one player would always have advantage over the others. Second, it serves as a
double-edged sword. The Hellas political level gives advantages against Persian citizens while the
Persian political level gives advantages against Greek citizens. Which should you choose? It
depends on your strategy!
How about the Hellas/Persian political levels then? Apart from the thematic purpose, they also add a
disruptive element if the balance switches too much in either direction. Too much peace is likely
to increase the military level and trigger a war with Greek victory while too much war is likely to
decrease the political level and trigger a war with Persian victory. Both cases calls for smaller armies,
the first to bring down the citizens to a level where the players dare fighting without losing too many
citizens, and the second to bring down the citizens to a level where the players cannot fight.
In both cases, the decreased
military level (due to removed citizens) is compensated by the increased political level, bringing
one of the two levels to a positive value and preventing a new war from erupting immediately.
A good victory condition is something that is fulfilled by playing well, not something that is a
mean in itself. A condition like depleting your talents first or build as many buildings as possible
would only encourage specific actions on behalf of others. Instead, the victory condition should
encourage what the game is about: develop an economy (talents) that increases your power (citizens). Talents and buildings are good
stepping stones but they all serve to bring more talents and eventually citizens to the board.
Thus, the winner is the player who has got the most citizens into play when the game ends.
But by counting citizens on the board, players taking actions that remove their and opponent citizens
would suffer double, first by losing productive citizens and later by getting a lower score. Instead,
I the victory condition is checked backwards by counting talents not yet turned to citizens (still in
stock or still on the hand).
Why not an elimination game then? Partly because I prefer avoiding elimination games and partly
because the game is so balanced that elimination victories would be hard to achieve. Instead, the
inevitable depletion of talents serve as a good ending point.
Rules (Draft) (Video)
Rules (Draft) (PDF)
... and Rejected Rules
Addition of secret strength
The current battle rules are predictable - you know if you will win or lose.
One option would be to allow the players to secretly spend talents to increase their strength.
This was rejected partly because I wanted a predictable game and partly because it was against
the fundamental game economy: acquire talents to acquire citizens.
Greco-Persian War as an action
Initally, the Greco-Persian war was triggered by a player action. The idea was that a player
could choose it if he or she would be relatively better off from it. However, since this action
also had a cost, it was rarely chosen so the war got another trigger instead.
The idea of being able to drop more than 1 action marker on the same action for multiple
(but gradually more expensive actions) sounded intriguing. However, it created a "chicken race"
where a player clearing an attractive action was likely to see it full again when in turn again.
No more than 1 action marker on the same action opened for more tactical action play.
One of the first rules simulated "building on top of others' achievements" by allowing
one player's building being taken over by another player and turned into a monument. However,
the kingmaker risk was deemed too high and the building action changed to a simple race.