Liga: Hexemonia preview with some designer’s notes

hexemoniaDesigner: Fabio Attoli
Publisher: Pendragon Games Studio
Players: 2-4
Time: 45 minutes
Ages: 13+

Rules will be soon available on Pendragon Game Studio web-site

Once upon a time there was hexes: every game with the ambition to be something more than just Ladder & Snakes has to have hexes. Than started the “German Revolution” but games like Settlers, Kings & Things, Keythedral and Twilight Imperium show us how hexes – big hexes – can be used successfully not only in simulation/wargames. Now big-hexes are again “a la mode”, at least in the entourage of Italian designers, if you think excellent recent games like GodZ or Hyperborea.

No surprise if a new publishers and an almost novice designer decided to offer a real tribute to the hexes with Hexemonia release, an hex-based game settled during the era of the mighty Greek’s City State, somewhere between the 8th and 6th Centuries BC.

Hexemonia is a game of resources management and wars and in this article we will preview it with the help of the designer, Fabio Attioli, and the publisher, Andrea Vigiak … have a nice read!

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[Liga] How much do you think the theme is important/relevant in Hexemonia ? Actually It looks like a typical Euro game with cubes and actions.

[Fabio] I know that Ancient Greece is an overused theme, but it suited the idea I had in mind. The city-state is perfect, building the other elements coherently around it came naturally. I must also say that the artists chosen by Pendragon made a wonderful job.

Hexemonia is a consistent game. You have to score points to win and to score points you have to expand the territory of your city state both with production and wars. You also get points for gold you are able to accumulate in your capital and for getting myth hex. To get points hexes has to be active that means having on top the needed resources.

How hex are activated is the first real innovative idea of this game. You have 3 different resources, gold, citizens and oplites, that can move between your hexes but you an hex to be active (usefull) need to have at least the needed resources. So The Fleet need 1 citizen, 1 oplite and 2 golds and the Grazing Land just 1 citizen.

During the turn you take an hex from a 4 hex face up line and a second hex or a resource. You can than play any amount of hexes from your hand moving on it the needed resources from hexes already on your city-state. You will build up your territory around a 3 hexes starting area. Finally you can take one single action: produce (from all the active hexes) or reorganize your resources (strategic action) or take a special action (special hexes show special actions) or attack an enemy hex.

Attacking involve the use of oplites and citizens in a number exceeding the cubes on the attacked hex plus the value of the fortification hexes around it. If the attacker win it takes the attacked hex and all the gold on it. Defending citiziens and oplites are killed during the battle and an equal amount of attacking ones.

[Liga] How much is important the military aspect ? Is it possible to win just building a production engine ignoring wars and battles ?

[Fabio] I wanted to join a managerial game with expansion maneuvers that could damage others’ resources while strengthening one’s own. To win avoiding wars and battles, a lack of warmongers in the game is needed.

Defending one’s own resources is crucial. If one wants to play a defensive game, he needs anyway to invest into war-oriented resources and hexagons. All in all, you can choose not to enter a war, but you
have to organize your defense.

In the game there are 4 different kind of hexes including Myth hex with special actions. How your city-state is built around the Acropoli is really important and different hexes will offerer different strategies.

[Liga] How much the randomness in the hex-tiles draw influence the game ?

[Fabio] Little influence. A player has the possibility and the freedom to carry out many choices.
It’s an intuitive and easy to learn game, but also really deep and possible gaming strategies are tempting also for the experienced gamer.

Of course the first player can choose the hexes to take but the last one can take a final attack without fear of a counterattack.

[Liga] Does the turn order affects the game ? According to the play-tests being the last to play before the scoring can be an advantage ?

[Fabio] You hear it often: “if we only had another round…” or “if it ended while I had…”. In Hexemonia the endgame is delicate, but predictable. All players can organize themselves to face it.

To play hexes you need to allocate resources but without productive (chora) hex you can’t produce resources. More hexes will make a better production engine but, of course, you need to keep resources to make hexes active.

[Liga] Is Hexemonia a game where the leader with the better “engine” will be better turn after turn or there is a way for chaser to catch up ? Why ?

[Fabio] In Hexemonia, overproduction can become a handicap. You need a constant balance in order to defend your wealth without being too tempting for an opponent, and the situation can quickly turn over.
Moreover, during the initial actions it is possible to obtain resources to play the hexagons you already have in hand.

Finally there are advanced rules involving revolts that can hurt players gathering too much resources.

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Now some questions for Andrea Vigiak the publisher. Andrea is a close friend and a well known Italian gamer. He was in the Lucca Comics and Games best of show committee and we worked together organizing ModCon (Italian gamers con existing before PLAY). Andrea was also one of the best Italian Battletech and Mechwarrior Dark Age players. Finally I can remember an epic way back from Essen with our camping van: Andrea was driving into the San Gottardo tunnel and we were almost without fuel since the gas-station before the tunnel was broken. We got enough fuel just to cross the pass and than Andrea drove with the engine turned off downhill until the first gas station. I think driving the 6 meters long van in this situation was thrilling like controlling the Millenium Falcon in the asteroid belt.

[Liga] Andrea, why to you decided to start a company and which are Pendragon’s goals ?

[Andrea] As usual there are several reasons behind a start up company. Opportunity, an unusual overlap of similar and completing experiences, and the persuasion that we could compete on the Italian and international market with our experiences. Of course we are a really little project, we will proceed step by step, starting with the rich and interesting Italian’s authors new gaming offering and evaluating good international products that can satisfy Italian’s gamers market.
At the beginning the target are casual gamers, but we are already planning to attract the always demanding experienced gamer.

[Liga] Pendragon will attend Essen and Lucca Comics & Games to present Hexemonia. Do you plan to attend also other fair/festivals like Nuremberg or PLAY: The Games Festival ?

[Andrea] As you can imagine, we need to confirm our projects, those two initial step will say if we are on the right path. Both Nuremberg and PLAY are on our next evaluation business plan, but we are focused on Essen with our German partners at the moment, and of course Lucca where we will met our future customers.

[Liga] Do you decided to publish a game from a new designer instead of recruiting a well-known. Why ?

[Andrea] As You already remarked Fabio has already published a quite successful game, and was looking for a publisher for a second one. We intercepted his needing, and noticed that his original intuition had prospective.
He found that our editing and testing was useful and really interested into. The feeling since those first steps was great, cooperative and efficient, so I suppose he was involved in the growth of the game more
than just publishing it with a big player, and resolved to bet on us as well as we did on him.

I’m just waiting for the printed version of Hexemonia to play it and offer a detailed review. I really hope this game could keep the promise and rise Pendragon in the circle of the good publishers.

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About Andrea "Liga" Ligabue

Andrea "Liga" Ligabue is a game expert contributing to many games related international projects including Gamers Alliance Report, WIN, ILSA Magazine and Boardgamenews. Member of the International Gamers Awards Committee is coordinator of Play - The Games Festival and founder of the project Ludoteca Ideale.
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