Herakles is an adventure game for 2-4 players based on Greek mythology. Each player takes the role of a greek hero, and must complete adventures to build the most impressive legend around their hero. The game has simple, euro-style mechanics, but draws on Greek myths and legends to create a thematic experience.

My starting point with Herakles was to create a character driven game. Usually, my games take inspiration from a story or a situation, but are heavily driven by the mechanics, with theme as an afterthought. While this often creates interesting games, it rarely creates a personal game- the choices people make don’t reflect their personalities, or create a narrative for each player.

I started by researching the myths surrounding Herakles and other Greek heroes, and let those guide the mechanics of the game. The original myths can be vaguely divided into the people Herakles encountered, the great deeds he did on his journeys, and the 12 labours. Mechanically, this translated into temporary boosts to your hero, permanent boosts to your hero’s stats, and core objectives for the game.

An early version of the prototype, in two player mode.

The game started as a simple set collecting prototype based on these three card classes. Then I added mechanics for player interaction, and then the additional abilities. Eventually, the game evolved to include a tableau-building element, where each card in your tableau represents an adventure or a challenge completed by your hero. Developing the idea in this way worked well- it was much easier to keep adding interesting mechanics to a boring game than to remove mechanics from an overly complex one.

The key turning point for the game was implementing the player interaction mechanics. Players choose the action they want to do this turn, but other players can try and outbid them by overpaying for the card. Much like in Scythe, the combat is not the focus of the game, but there’s a constant threat of being attacked.

The game is still in early development, but is progressing well. One of the major blocks on progress is finding enough players to test it. I mostly play games with two players, so my designs tend to mirror this, and this is the first time I’ve made a game which is intended to work best with four players. Hopefully, with enough testing, this could turn into something interesting.

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