The big novelty of SPIEL DAS! at the SPIEL was the easy connoisseur game AEOLOS. The test tables were very popular there and at the following trade fairs. Initially located in space, the players are drawn into the world of Greek mythology. We tested the fast Kennerspiel.
The goal of all players is to win the favor of the gods and be accepted into their alliance. For this they have to convince in the competition organized by the wind god Aeolos and use the wind as best as possible.
In the island kingdom of Aeolos there are ports, rivers and temples that the players can navigate to in classic worker placement style. The "payment mechanism" of the action locations is unique here. The temples are the goals of the journey and are essential for victory.
The island kingdom of Aeolos
The compact game board shows the island kingdom of Aeolos with its ports, rivers and temples. The upper left is where the cards and the wind tokens are placed. The five different colored crystals are placed in the corresponding ports. Their number depends on the number of people. The Sail deck and the Favor of the Gods deck are shuffled and each is dealt three Sail cards and one Favor card.
All take the game board of their own color and place two ships and all buildings there. The remaining ships go into the general supply for the time being. With a bit of wind in the windsock, you can go out to sea.
Travel the sea
At the top left there are two printed "cards". There you play a sailing card in the first step of your turn. These are available in gray and purple and with three different symbols. If the symbols on the top two cards match, you get a wind tile.
The sum of both cards indicates the sail value. This tells you which port or which river space you can sail to. The value can be changed up or down by spending wind tiles.
In the second step you may move one of your own ships to a location with the corresponding sailing value. This can be a harbor or a river space. The temples can be reached via the river fields.
If you have not moved to a river space, you may carry out the harbor actions of the harbor corresponding to the sailing value. At the different harbors you can collect crystals, build settlements or ships, draw a new favor card, get wind tiles, move ships on the rivers for wind tiles or move the prophet to the next level, also for wind tiles.
The temples are located at the end of the rivers and can only be reached by taking the second-to-last action. The three levels that the Prophet can reach give instant victory points for different conditions and for reaching them before the others.
At the end of your turn you draw three cards from your hand again. Each settlement you build increases your hand size by one. In addition, you must now discard all wind tokens that exceed the maximum of five on the windsock.
Back on land
When the deck of sailing cards is used up for the first or second time, the game ends. If there are three or four ends, it is (partially) reshuffled. You collect a large part of the victory points in the course of the game by investing in the temples and by progressing the prophet. The third important source of victory points are the crystals. Here you get points for the largest possible sets of different crystals.
Also, score three points for each remaining favor card and one point for each remaining wind tile. If you have not used the bonus tiles, with which you can carry out a free harbor action or exchange five hand cards, you also get four or two points for this.
In the end, of course, the person with the most victory points wins.
A few small variations are included right in the box. This is how the Poseidon tiles come into play in the Poseidon expansion. As soon as all building spaces in a port are occupied, a random tile is placed in front of this port, which means additional costs, profits or both as soon as you want to enter this port.
The harbor actions can be changed with tiles. You can decide to "upgrade" individual actions for frequent players so that the game becomes more tactical or to randomly assign all ports to the sailing values.
With the neutral game mats, a little bit of asymmetry also comes into play. They give benefits when performing certain actions.
Number of people: 2 to 4
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 30 to 60 minutes
Long-term motivation: good
Genre: easy connoisseur game
Core Mechanism: Worker Placement
Authors: Arve D. Feeler, Guido Eckhof
Design: Marco Armbruster
Official Website: Aeolus
Year of publication: 2022
Cost: 50 Euro
Aeolus does nothing wrong. But it doesn't do much that's really outstanding. With a short playing time, it is a quick tactical game for two people in between.
The theme is really well chosen and visually great. However, one also senses that sailing was perhaps not the first form of locomotion. Moving the ships using the values of the sailing cards makes it seem relatively abstract in the end.
The rules are absolutely clear, except for minor details. At first it was unclear to us how often you could use the wind tiles in your own turn, since the hint that you could use them was found in several places without excluding the possibility of using them at several times. Since we were apparently not the only ones with this little problem, the answer from the author Arve D. Feeler was found on BGG, so that this was not an obstacle either.
Especially when it comes to the symbols and their understanding, the game is very successful. Here, language neutrality can be reasonably implemented in practice.
The material is just like the overall look: it doesn't do anything wrong without particularly standing out. On the one hand, the cards are an essential part of the game mechanics, but above all they feel somehow out of place visually and make the game seem more abstract than it actually should. It is positive that the game is relatively compact and does not take up unnecessary space on the playing surface.
Overall, the gameplay is very smooth. The individual moves are played quickly and there is not much waiting time here. The box says 60 minutes for a game, but for two you can easily get through in half an hour.
Unfortunately, with more people, the game quickly feels “too long”. It doesn't leave much room for advancement. The increase in the hand card limit through the buildings helps above all to be able to carry out the desired actions more likely.
It is relatively obvious that the race for temple slots is the most lucrative source of points. If the other players don't take their eyes off the crystals completely, fundamentally different strategies are difficult to implement successfully.
The Poseidon expansion and the asymmetrical game boards are a nice addition, but in the end they hardly add any new gameplay. On the other hand, the three tiles that can be used to change three harbor actions are really exciting. When drawing new favor cards, you can now choose from two and port seven is now effectively a wild card, allowing you to perform the action of another port if you are present there. This actually feels better as it noticeably lowers the luck factor.
Of course, there are still enough of these on the sailing charts. Here, the other players can quickly "mix up" everything, making it difficult to plan ahead for the next move, especially if the cards in your hand don't want to fit.
Aeolus is definitely not a bad game. The exciting movement mechanism is really a nice element that can always make you ponder. As a family game/easy connoisseur game, the game can definitely convince. Frequent players should not be so attracted by the clear distribution of points and the consistent feeling of the game.