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ANACHRONISM

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(TriKing Games/The History Channel, 2 players, less than 30 minutes; Starter packs – $12.99 each)

 

Going back in time and playing “what if?” history is something that has appealed to people since forever! What if great warriors from the past met in combat against each other? A tantalizing question for which there is no definitive answer. But, in an unusual partnership between a game company and a cable network, TriKing Games and The History Channel have tried to provide one in Anachronism, a collectible card game spanning the centuries.

Anachronism, designed by Michael A. Brown with a development team led by Steve McLaughlin, comes in starter sets that provide two sets of warriors for players, a large battlefield mat, two six-sided dice and a 24 page rulebook. (Booster packs allow players to add other famous warriors from a wide array of cultures to the game.)anachronism

Each player begins with a set of cards comprised of his particular hero (for example, in the box pictured here, the heroes available are Joan of Arc and William Wallace) and “Support” cards. Support cards include Inspiration, Weapon, Armor and Special. All cards carry an Initiative rating used to determine who will go first in a turn.

Warrior cards quantify the strengths and weaknesses of that particular character. Attributes include a “Life” value (which, if reaching zero, signifies that character’s defeat), Speed (the number of actions allowed each turn), Experience (used as a tie-breaker as necessary), Damage (how many Life points an enemy loses with a successful attack) and an Attack Grid (showing the attack range). Cards in play can modify attributes for better or worse.

The battlefield is a large 4 x 4 “arena grid” with “home rows” of four spaces for each warrior. The dice are rolled and the LOW roller, places his warrior in one of the four spaces on his home row with the high roller placing his warrior in his choice of one of the four starting spaces in his home row. Now, each player places four supporting cards FACE DOWN below his warrior, from left to right, in the order he wishes signifying the start of the first round.

Simultaneously, both players reveal their LEFT most card. The player whose card has the higher initiative rating goes first.

On his turn, a player may perform as many actions as his speed rating allows. Actions include moving, attacking, using a special ability (labeled with the “Action” keyword) or that player may simply pass.

Warriors may advance on the grid but two warriors may not occupy the same space. Enemies are vulnerable to attacks provided they are within the “attack grid” (the range of the weapon being used as depicted on the weapon card). Attacks are resolved by each player rolling two dice. Any modifiers (due to cards in play) are applied. If the attacker has the higher total, it’s a hit and damage (equal to the rating of that weapon) is dealt to the defender. If a tie, the attacker still hits if he has the higher initiative rating. If doubles are rolled, a critical hit is scored doubling the damage (subject to any defensive modifiers)!

Once both players have completed their actions, the round is over and the next round begins. A player wins when either his opponent’s Life value is reduced to zero OR, at the end of the fifth round, his Warrior has more Life points than his opponent.

One of the strong points of Anachronism is that the starter pack gives you all you need to get right down to the action. Booster packs, while appealing accessories, are not required for play. Taking full advantage of the spanning ages concept, the game presents disparate cultures meeting on the field of battle very well, really capturing the flavor of the different times. This can be a two-edged sword, however. Because match up possibilities are almost limitless (and the line-up of new sets and boosters to tap into these variations is large), some warriors simply don’t match up well with others and this can unbalance the game. Also, initiative is a tie-breaker that can be a game-breaker if one warrior is always getting that edge. For the game to be at its best, the sides must be relatively equal in strength and potential. For that reason, there are certain restrictions (e.g., you can’t have more than one of the same card) to mitigate against tipping the scales too much against one side.

Anachronism is an ambitious undertaking in spanning the centuries of historical figures. If history fascinates you and playing “what if?” history fascinates you even more, then Anachronism is a game that is definitely for you. – – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

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Spring 2006 GA Report Articles

 

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