By Jove (1983)

By Jove! I love this game. It isn’t really even tangentially related to RPGs, but it’s my feed and I will digress every once in a while if I feel like it, OK?

By Jove is a Greek Mythology-themed hack of Monopoly. “But Stu,” I hear you say, “you’ve spent this whole week being grumpy about old-school game mechanics. How on earth can you love a hack of Monopoly, the worst board game ever inflicted on the American public? It has dice-based movement, for Pete’s sake!”

That’s a fair point you make, Hypothetical Commenter. First off, let me say: I’ve not actually played By Jove since I was wee. There is a pretty good chance it is painful. However, I’ve re-read the rules and they include some clever things like getting lost in the Labyrinth, questing for the Golden Fleece and fighting monsters with heroes you gather on your journey. Those things still seem fun.

Two things really fix this game in my mind as an object of affection. The first is that it is an educational game, meant to introduce kids to Greek mythology and, in my case, boy did it ever. The box includes a book of myths tied directly to those depicted in the game. I suspect my parents got me this game because I was already interested in mythology, but that little book fueled the fire, particularly the one that burned for monsters. And monsters are a big part of my early D&D interest, so maybe this isn’t so far afield, at least personally, as I made it out to be.

The second thing is the board. Just look at that thing. It is gorgeous. And mysterious! I love how it creates an actual physical space within the abstraction of the board – look at how the stairs lead into the Labyrinth, for example, or the way the three spaces to the right of Hades are connected. And the monster illustrations are great, simple takes – I particularly like the Minotaur, the Sphinx and Medusa.

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