Diary #24 – This is SPARTA!


If I can get my players shouting that famous line from the film 300, I’ll know I’m doing something right. I’ve also been keen to simulate the second Peloponnesian War of 431 to 404 BC, and to make a small 2-player board suitable for conventions. These were all great reasons to design a new “Athens vs Sparta” board, and the result has surpassed my expectations.

I started with an unusual central motif: a landlocked city. With the additional limitation that Athens and Sparta should be different, the rest of the board made itself. I then distributed victory points (VPs) in such a way that both cities would have a choice of sensible early pathway across the board (artefact VPs are shown by Xs; barbarian city VPs are on Argos and and Kythira).


Balancing the late-game pathways was more difficult, since they are highly dependent on the players’ strategies. An opponent who has stretched themselves thinly presents a number of tempting, poorly defended cities, while an aggressive opponent is best countered by flitting between the artefacts. Some possible late-game pathways are shown below.


I’ve often said that the best way to improve game mechanics is by shrinking them; I didn’t realise the same would be true of my board. This two-player experience seems objectively better – shorter, sleeker, bloodier – than that of the full-size board. As candidates for Kickstarter stretch goals go, Atlantis has been blown out of the water.

I’ll be demoing Athens vs Sparta at the Birmingham Boardgame Bash on the 15th of September. I hope you can join me but, if not, why not check out my latest board game idea?

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