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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #109: By Jove

If you've never played By Jove, and chances are you haven't, your life is that much the poorer. This is a game I loved as a kid. Not liked. Loved. It tapped into the deep well of obsession I had for Greek mythology, reading D'Aulaire's over and over again, Picard's youth translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey, Bulfinch's, anything else I could get my hands on. I knew all the gods, all the titans, all the heroes - this decades before Rick Riordan monetized myth in the YA marketplace. So when By Jove shouldered into the world in 1983 when I was eight years old, it was as though the gods had heard my prayers.

Oh, the game itself is pedestrian enough, a sort of Hellenistic Monopoly with perils to vanquish and quests to complete. You try to collect heroes to help fight on your behalf, from Perseus and Atalanta to Theseus and Hector. Gather gold coins and outlast your opponents seeking to do the same. There are side quests into the labyrinth of the Minotaur and to earn the Golden Fleece. In the latter, there is an ill-fortune space, the Land of the Lotus Eaters, where you basically miss a turn under the influence. To this day, if some cups have been drained, my brother or I might make a passing reference to being trapped on that space...

I still adore the artwork on the board and the stand-up cardboard hero markers, just as I still have all of those myths etched in my soul. Some things never leave us.

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