After a Saturday full of sports activities (Matthew's soccer game - he scored 5 goals! - and Jacob's football game), I sat down with the boys around 5pm to start a game of Age of Mythology. Jacob and I had both read up on the rules so we dove right in and started. I played the Egyptions, Jacob played the Greeks, and Matthew played the Norse.
One mistake was choosing a playing surface that was much too small (that was my fault - I wanted to catch the end of the Iowa - Arizona State football game so we set up the card table in the family room). Setup took a decent amount of time, mostly sorting the building tiles. I had Jacob run upstairs to get our box of small Chessex d6 since I knew the 7 or supplied with the game would be way too few.
Everyone picked up the game very quickly - I think the game is very approachable for kids in the 7-10 range. Both Matthew and Jacob had played the computer game extensively so knew the cultures and different creatures, and that certainly helped. Jacob's familiarity with Puerto Rico didn't hurt.
I preached to the boys before the game started to not go for each other's throats - their brotherly competition tends to hurt the game dynamic. Rather than forbid attacking each other (which wouldn't make sense), I made it clear that if they focused on hurting each other, it would only help me.
Thinking that Matthew and Jacob would focus on building up their armies, I opted for a build and advance strategy. Matthew opted for a strategy of building some of the fewer stronger mythological creatures (namely trolls), while Jacob started bulking up on the cheaper mortal creatures. As expected, Matthew came out swinging and Jacob and I had a hard time handling his myth creatures. I worked on getting to the second age as quickly as possible so that I could recruit a hero to bring down his trolls. In addition, I built some buildings that would amplify my resource production, anticipating that I would be able to race ahead towards the end.
Matthew quickly gathered six victory points by winning battle after battle. My resource production advantage in addition to the storehouse (allowing me to keep more of my resources at turn end) allowed me to start building a formidable, diverse army. That still didn't stop Matthew from winning more battles against me - this kid has amazing luck. In one case I rolled 11 dice and didn't get a single 6; he rolled 3 and got two 6's.
In the end, I won the game by having the most buildings and largest army - I think I had 15 victory points, Matthew had 8, and Jacob 3. Nobody built the wonder - the game ended due to exhaustion of the victory cubes.
Impressions across the board were very favorable. I would expect Jacob and Matthew to put Age of Mythology at the top of their list right now, and we can't wait to play again. There has been much criticism of the combat system, but we didn't mind the chaos. My biggest complaint about the game is the odd combinations of bits in the games. Why include 6 player boards, but only provide parts for a 4 player game? Stay tuned for more impressions as we get more playtime in.