Discworld: Ankh-Morepork Board Game Review
This last weekend I hosted a board-game and PC game LAN with a few friends. I had managed to secure my collectors copy of Discworld: Ankh-Morepork. The collector’s edition is only available from Treefrog Games in the UK, in New Zealand Mighty Ape is one of the best, thou it isn’t yet released here. Onto my review of the game (from those 6 or so games we played).
Martin Wallace of Treefrog Games has captured the madness that is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld nearly perfectly, the game is VERY well presented with the art on the cards and the board being of exceptional quality (apparently this is also how Terry Pratchett envisioned the characters and places), the collectors having the extra touch of no number 8 anywhere in the game, Discworld fans will under stand the significance of this. In our first game we played we really had to test out the gameplay a bit as it was rather unlike any game any of us had played before, requiring a slightly different mind-set. Eventually we discovered the rather backstabbing flavour of the game (We took our cue from an interview with Martin Wallace I watched about the game), treachery and subterfuge galore! This lead to great fun as generally winning outright took second seat to making your friends lose, our best moments all included a brilliant combination of cards to place yourself one step ahead while kicking your opponent in the groin!
The game is fairly simple to play, you have a secret personality with a victory condition to take control over Ankh-Morepork and each turn you play a card to attempt to further this aim and prevent anyone else from attaining theirs first. The best part about these victory conditions is that they must be achieved at the start of your turn (with the exception of Commander Vimes who wins if the card deck runs out first) meaning that convincing other players that you are someone different often becomes more important than outright going for your victory.
Each turn, as stated before, consists of playing a card, then making sure you have at least 5 cards in hand by drawing from the draw pile. Each card has some symbols on it telling you what to do, you also have a player reference card which is useful for reference initially on what each symbol does, but they are simple and after maybe the first game it will spend all it’s time flipped over telling you all the victory conditions and the building abilities. Some sample cards are depicted below, the green bordered ones being drawn in the first half of the game, the brown in the second half:
Each symbol does something different and an interesting rule (as you have to play a card every turn) is that all symbols except the random event symbol (the 8 pointed star) are optional so you could play a card and not do any of the actions on it, strange as it may seem I did this a few times just to swap cards. The random event cards as depicted below (with some area cards on the right) are fun in that they mess up the game indiscriminately, so you do not really want to play them, as they might hit you as well, but their other effects are sometimes worth the risk, or if you like chaos you’ll probably play them anyway.
Overall the gameplay is balanced, there are multiple ways to stop someone from winning; mostly winning yourself being the main one. With my group of friends the gameplay itself quite quickly took priority over winning as the game was that fun, then the surprise from everyone when someone got overlooked and snuck in a win. So I don’t know how the game would play with highly competitive people but with my semi-competitive group we had a lot of fun (every game giving us a chance to get back at the person who got us last time) and for me personally if I am having fun winning becomes only a nice to have at the end.
(I have skipped over the details of the gameplay mechanics as they are fairly dull and boring to explain, the sum of their parts is what makes the game).
This is a game I would highly recommend, easy to pick up and play and I would suggest you plan for at least 2 games the first time you play as we played 4 in a row in our first sitting and haven’t played less than 2 in a single sitting, the games ~1 hour time helps with this. Thou its short play time would suggest a filler style game, Discworld: Ankh-Morepork‘s theme, speed and general enjoyability place it in my staple games that I could quite happily organise a gaming evening around.