“Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that will be told among men hereafter.”
–Homer, The Iliad
Before history began, before the Roman Empire was born, even before the Parthenon sat atop the Acropolis of Athens, was the Age of Heroes. In those days, the boundary between gods and mortals was much thinner, so thin that the greatest of mortals could enter the gods’ halls upon sacred Mount Olympus when they died. To do so, a hero needed more than divine parentage or glorious deeds. A hero needed illustrious renown: his or her story had to become a legend that would endure forever. In Elysium, you have a chance to craft for yourself such a story and gain entrance to the halls of Olympus.
Elysium is a game of card drafting and set collection for two to four players, designed by the team at Space Cowboys. Over the course of five Epochs, your and your opponents recruit heroes, acquire artifacts, and undertake heroic quests in order to forge spectacular Legends. The player with the most victory points at the end of the Epochs wins. Some of your divine achievements in the world above may provide you with victory points, but it is your legends in the world below, in Elysium, that confer the most victory points and allow you to join the immortal gods in their eternal home.
Life After Death
Throughout the whole of Elysium, you are looking towards how your deeds will be remembered and how they will create legends after your death. What advantages you might earn during your life are of secondary importance to those Legends.
Every card belongs to both a level (1, 2, or 3) and a family: Athena, Zeus, Hades, or another god. You can create legends based on either Levels or Families. Level Legends are composed of cards from the same level, but different families. They can contain between two and five cards, and the first person to form a Legend of a specific level gains a bonus—for the moment. If you build a three-card, four-card or even five-card Legend of the same level, you then steal that bonus. Family Legends contain one card from each level within the same family, for example, three Hermes cards, or three Apollo cards. A bonus also goes to the first person who completes each family’s Legend, as well as the second person to do so, but the second bonus is not as large as the first. Of course, every Legend you complete is itself worth victory points.
How, then, do you make a Legend? In each of the game’s five Epochs, you draft cards into the Domain of your player area. These cards represent deeds you have performed, gifts the gods have given you, the famous sites you have visited, and even monsters you have fought. Once you have cards in your domain, you can then transfer a few of them down below your game board into your Elysium. The number of cards you transfer depends on the quest you have chosen for that Epoch, how much gold you are willing to spend, and the powers granted by the cards you have acquired.
At the beginning of each Epoch you will fill the center of the playing space with ten cards. Each card belongs to a certain level, and as said above, is affiliated with a certain family. Each also offers you a unique power and bears an activation symbol which tells you when and how often that power can be used. You begin an Epoch with four columns, which limit what cards you can take and how many actions you can perform. Players take turns acquiring cards, with every card requiring that you possess certain columns in order to take it. You must also spend a column for every action, so that over the course of an Epoch your pool of columns shrinks and limits which cards you can take.
For example, to acquire the enchanted and unbreakable shield known as Athena’s Aegis, you need to have both a gold and a green column available. If either is already spent, you cannot take the card—and the Aegis is well worth both. It gives you gold whenever you take or transfer another card in Athena’s family, and does so as long as the Aegis remains in your domain—the symbol of a snake eating itself on the left side of the card represents an eternal or permanent ability.
Although the Aegis requires that you have both a gold and green column, you only spend one column, of any color you want, to take it. You could spend your red column, your blue column, or another, depending on what columns you might need to take the next card you want. If none of your available columns match the requirements for any card, you pick an available card and turn it face-down to reveal the portrait of a Citizen. These anonymous mortals lack power in your Domain. In your Elysium, however, they count as wild-cards which you can use to fill out your Legends.
Fantastic armaments like the Aegis do not by themselves make you a hero or demi-god. In every Epoch you need to choose a Quest that will give your Earthly achievements shape. Quests offer gold, transfers to convey your cards down to Elysium, and sometimes victory points. The Quest you choose also determines the playing order for the next round. But each quest demands that you have a certain color column available: the first quest requires the red column, the second requires a blue column, etc. Therefore, one of your four columns in every Epoch will go towards acquiring a Quest.
Once all players have used all their columns, it is at last time to write your Legends by transferring cards from your Domain into Elysium. Each card you move down requires one transfer and an amount of gold equal to the card’s Level (Citizens cost two gold). The gold pays Charon, whose eternal work is to ferry souls down to the underworld. The lyre-shaped transfer represents the songs that make your glorious deeds, brave allies, defeated monsters, divine gifts, and enchanted weapons immortal. Once in Elysium, you can attach a card to any Legend in progress, or begin shaping another.
Divine Powers and Divine Families
The Ancient Greek pantheon included twelve Olympic deities, along with Hades and Persephone who together ruled the underworld. In Elysium, eight of these gods serve as the heads of divine families. Which family a card belongs to is important when creating Legends, of course, but the presence of these divine familes also affects many other aspects of the game. Just as the Olymapians each controlled a different sphere of earthly existence, so each family shapes gameplay in a unique way.
As we saw with the above example of Athena’s Aegis, every card in Elysium possesses a different power. Some grant you gold or victory points, others enable you to transfer cards or negatively affect your opponents. Each family offers a specific set of such powers, based on what the god at the head of the family controls. The cards in the family of Athena, goddess of wisdom and patron of Athens, have powers that benefit all players. Those in Zeus’s family offer victory points in addition to whatever you earn through your Legends. The cards of the trickster and messenger god Hermes enable you to steal from other players and cross the boundary between Domain and Elysium. If Apollo’s family is in play, you can look ahead using his Oracle to see the cards of the next Epoch. During setup, you choose five of the eight families to use for the game and combine their cards into a single deck. Numerous combinations of five Families are possible, ensuring a constant variety of powers in operation and providing a fantastic range of strategic options.
Card powers do not all operate the same way. Most of them can only be used while a card is in your Domain and only during the card drafting phase, but not all. Each card boasts a symbol indicating how its power works:
You must use the power at the exact moment you take the card.
You can use the power at any moment you choose, but only once.
You can use the power once every Epoch.
You must have at least one other card boasting this symbol in your Domain in order to use this power, but you can use it once every Epoch.
The power is always in effect.
You can use the power when you transfer cards, as long as this card is in your Domain.
The card must be part of a Legend in Elysium in order for you to use its power.
As you are creating Legends down in your Elysium, several powers are likely at work in your above-world Domain. Therefore, in choosing which cards to take you should consider not only how a card fits into your developing Legends, but what it can accomplish in your Domain. As you write Legends, you may want to leave some cards in your Domain so their powers can keep working for you across the Epochs. Or you may spend your first Epochs focused on using these worldly powers and turn towards your posthumous Legends only as the game nears its end.
What will you do in your quest to achieve immortality? Will you serve Ares, the god of war, and ride a chariot towards bloody victory? Will you make your name as an artist and prophet, making offerings to Apollo and courting the muses? Or will you turn your attention to craftsmanship and innovation as the god Hephaestus did and seek his divine aid in your workshop? There are as many possible Legends in Elysium as there are constellations of heroes in the sky. What glorious deeds, incredible powers, and sacred objects will you write into your Legends?
Announcing a Brand New Expansion for T.I.M.E Stories12 Apr 2018 | TIME Stories
Preview Another Case from Carlton House and Queen’s Park21 Mar 2018 | Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Announcing Three New Unlock! Adventures26 Jan 2018 | Unlock!
Preview a Case from Carlton House and Queen’s Park5 Jan 2018 | Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Estrella Drive now available for T.I.M.E. Stories30 Nov 2017 | TIME Stories
Announcing Ten New Puzzling Cases For Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective16 Nov 2017 | Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Rules07 Dec. 20152.7 MBLearn More