Ever have those conversations that begin with, “Who would win in a fight…?” Me too. There are entire shows devoted to it on cable. They take famous historical figures, and pit them against each other in combat simulated by sketchy math and poor science. I say it’s much more fun to play Anachronism, and decide for yourself. Anachronism is a card game created by The History Channel for reasons I can’t fathom. I’m not going to argue against them, however, because they made a good game.
Each player creates a stable of historical figures, and equips them with assorted weapons and other gear, then sends them into one-on-one duels. The game itself plays more like the world’s fastest miniatures game than the traditional card game. Warrior cards maneuver around the 4×4 grid, trying to force their opponent into weapon range. Decks consist of four cards placed in player chosen order and brought into play one per turn. Combat is resolved through opposed dice rolls with modifiers from equipment and positioning. Damage comes fast and hard, most duels last 3-4 turns and take 5-10 minutes.
Quick card rundown to explain combat:
Agamemnon here is a warrior card, he’s Greek, and was played by Sean Connery in Time Bandits. More importantly he has an attack grid at the top of his card. The attack grid is the most innovative piece of this game. The arrow on the grid represents Agamemnon, with the point of the arrow representing the top of the card. Agamemnon can only attack targets in squares that have a modifier written in them. In his case he can attack to his left a +0, his front left at -2 or his front right for +1. Every person and weapon in the game has their own unique attack grid, and maneuvering yourself into a position where you can strike your opponent, but they cannot hit you adds a layer of tactics I’ve never seen put to use quite like this. Imagine if right-handed characters in D&D took penalties for attacking things to their left, it’d add another thing to think about in a game with already a lot to think about, but as a core mechanic it’s amazing.
If you see the packs at your Local shop I recommend picking up a couple. Inside is everything you need for that historical figure: their warrior card and all their gear that they would’ve used are right in the box, no randomization involved. If you’re lucky enough to see one, grab one of the starter packs to get two warriors, a play mat, and the full rules.
The cards themselves are beautiful. Every one of them has been run through some sort of shinyfication process, making every card look like a Premium Foil, and is printed on heavy duty card stock. These cards are not designed to be shuffled, and resist bending well, but if they bend, they’re really wrecked. I wish the game had caught on more — they printed seven sets according to the internet, but all stores in my area stopped carrying them around Series 4. Currently the Dead Game Shelf has packs, right next to the Lord of The Rings card game that came out with the movies. Maybe I’ll review that next on my dead game run.
Two things before I go, The Ninja is broken right out of the box, easily the most powerful default setup, possibly ever. The second is that the game encourages you to mix and match weapons and warriors. It’s not just whether William Wallace will beat Joan of Arc in a fight, it’s now who’d win if they swapped clothes!