Fiat Lux!

Review of board game Lords of Creation by Pevans

No, I'm not talking about the old Avalon Hill generic role-playing game: this Lords of Creation is a board game produced by Manchester-based Warfrog (don't ask me, I just review 'em). The theme of the game is that the players are Gods, creating a world and populating it with people to worship them. Being the good old-fashioned sort of God of course, each player strives to have more worshippers than his/her fellows. Which means almost continuous warfare between the various peoples on the world.

Production Standards

The box artwork depicts a bunch of Gods in the process of playing the game - though the box itself is on the flimsy side. Inside are the thick card board, a deck of cards and lots of die cut playing pieces. The pieces come in two sizes: larger ones representing different sorts of land and smaller ones for each player's worshippers. There are two sets of rules - a nice touch.

The game starts with the bare board and the land counters face down. In turn each player picks up a land counter and lays it on the board. This continues until the board is full - the world has been created. It will be a patchwork of forests, hills, grassland and islands as well as uninhabitable seas, mountains and deserts. My tip is to build 3-5 hex areas: anything larger is vulnerable to attack and anything smaller isn't worth it. This is the world which the players now populate.

Populate!

Each player already has a hand of cards, each depicting one sort of habitable land and with a number on it. It allows the player to put that number of his/her pieces onto a square of that type. Each turn players select a card from their hands and place them face-down on the table. When all have chosen a card they arc revealed and players take their turns in the order of the cards: highest value first, ties being broken on the type of land. A high value card thus not only lets you get a lot of people onto the board, but also gives you first crack at the available spaces.

Each player puts the appropriate number of people into an empty land area (or one already containing that player's pieces) of the appropriate type and moves and fights. Players can move their pieces as far as they like, as long as they stay on the same type of land and at least one piece is left on each area. Attacking is done at any point in the turn: the player who's moving can attack adjacent pieces.

Fight!

Combat is dealt with fairly simply: the attacker rolls two dice, the defender one. If the defender beats both of the attacker's dice (individually), s/he wins, otherwise the attacker does. This is clearly weighted in favour of the attacker. Whoever loses the fight loses a piece and the attacker can move in if the area is now empty and is of the right land type.

The sting in the tail is that if the attacker rolls a double at any time, his/her turn finishes. So while the advantage is always with the attacker, the more you fight the more likely you are to bring your turn to a premature end. A clever balancing mechanism.

Civilise

The final thing a player does in his/her turn is to civilise someone. All pieces played on to the board arc barbarians. Once a game each player can civilise any one piece on the board, and once each turn s/he can civilise one piece that is adjacent to a civilised piece (represented by a man with bowler hat and umbrella rather than club and shield). Civilised pieces cannot attack or move. But civilised spaces score double at the end of the game (ah, the benefits of organised religion!). In the early stages of a game, you will often find players civilising other people's pieces. This is a good defensive move, preventing an attack being launched from that particular space. Later on it becomes more important to civilise your own pieces to build up your score.

The final twist to civilising things is building altars. Each player can build one altar a turn, which is worth three points at the end of the game. However, the altar replaces a counter, so building one does leave an area more vulnerable. Hence, one tends to find altars starting to be built towards the end of the game, and usually in secure areas.

Finishing

At the end of their turn, each player picks up another card. The game ends when all cards have been played or if two identical cards are played when there are no more to be picked up. This sudden death finish prevents the end being predictable - another clever touch.

Overall, this is a rather different strategy game. The situation is so fluid that for much of the game you're trying to establish beachheads or leave markers. Only towards the end, as everybody's pieces become more and more civilised, can you actually begin to plan with some predictability. There are lots of clever touches in the rules, which show the designer's experience - and awareness of how hobby games-players play. A final one of these: there are lots more land counters than needed, so the world you create is bound to be different every time. Well worth trying.

Warfrog produced a revised, second edition of the game in 1998. There were some changes to the rules and components, but the major difference is that this edition is in colour, with higher production values.

Lords of Creation was designed by Martin Wallace and published (in the UK) by Warfrog. It is for 2-4 players and takes 2-3 hours to play. Pevans rates it 7/10.
This review was originally published in Games Games Games 92, June/July 1995.

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Page created 11th October 2001. Last modified 24th June 2005.
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