Aton Is Fun for Two Players
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Aton is a two-player-only game, based in ancient Egypt, that provides multiple paths to victory. You can win Aton by taking control of an entire temple with your counters, by occupying all of the yellow squares or all the green squares in all four temples, or by scoring 40 points.
Each player gets a deck of 36 cards with values from 1 to 4. At the beginning of each round, you draw four cards, and assign each to one of the four cartouches along the edge of the board by placing each of them face down in one of those “slots”.
When both players have finished assigning their cards, they simultaneously turn over the card each placed on his first cartouche. If your card is greater, you score double the difference.
Then compare cards on the second cartouche. This card determines which player gets to play his remaining cards first (lowest number goes first), and how many of his opponent’s tokens he can remove. You can remove two of tokens if you play a 4, one for a 3, and zero for a 2. If you played a 1 on your second cartouche, you have to remove one of your own tokens. There are special rules if you play the same number here as your opponent.
The card on your third cartouche determines which temples you can place tokens in and which temples you can remove your opponent’s tokens from.
The card on your fourth cartouche determines how many of your tokens you can place that round.
Any removed stones are placed in the Kingdom of the Dead, the 8 spaces along the bottom (in the picture) of the board. If the Kingdom of the Dead is full at the end of the round, a scoring round is triggered. Scoring methods vary from temple to temple.
If neither player reaches 40 points after the scoring round, play continues with another round. If at the end of your turn you have met one of the winning conditions, the game ends.
How Much Do I Like Aton?
It’s not often that I find a 2-player-only game that I (we) really like. I had traded away my first copy of Aton and soon after regretted doing so. (Ever done that with a board game or a video game? Yeah, I thought so.)
So in a recent math trade at Board Game Geek, I received another copy of Aton to add to my collection. As of this writing, I haven’t had time to play it yet, but it’s right up there at the top of my want-to-play list.
I think you’ll like Aton as well, especially if you like the agonizing type of “programming” that goes into deciding which cards to put into which slots.