Disc World Ankh-Morpork
In a distant world, and far from what you know to be true. There is a dusty littered-filled city full of inconspicuous characters roaming dimly lit streets, and each seemingly planning their secret lives as if no one is mindful of their actions. This is the City of Ankh-Morpork, people live, and function in their hazy scattered dreams seemingly marching to the drum beat of an invisible master. Staring down from above like an overlord to these ancient streets you influence the habitant’s lives. You may try to control their movements but other invisibles will deny your will in and the battle begins for these twelve divergent districts.
As your eyes follow every little ally and flowing river, your mind would want to quickly race to the thought that this is just another area control game. You would be wrong into thinking this but as you ponder other possibilities, your thoughts are interrupted by someone asking “Is this like Risk” Uttered quietly from the person sitting across the table. This game seems foolishly easy to win at first glance. Too often the game ends before you realize you’ve lost, but still your play and are caught in a dance of every changing complexities. Controlling a district only offers a small reward. Control many districts may make winning easier, but often not necessary to finalize a win of a game.
The Twelve districts: The number of each district is simply there for the random events, and the dollar amount is the price you have to pay if you have a card that allows you to build. Building isn’t easy because you have to have a minion in the district, and there has to be no trouble.
- The Shades: Allows you to place trouble makers
- Dolly Sisters: Allows you to place an extra minion for $3
- The Scours: Once per a turn you can discard a card for $2.
- Dimwell: Allows you to place an extra minion for $3
- Nap Hill: You $1 from the bank.
- Longwell: You $1 from the bank.
- The Hippo: You $2 from the bank.
- Dragon’s Landing: You $2 from the bank.
- Isle of the Gods: You can pay $2 to remove a trouble marker
- Small Gods: when you are affected by a random event pay $3 to negate (This is a late game benefit since only one two events happen in the early game.)
- Seven Sleepers: Makes the most money at $3 a turn.
- Unreal Estate: Allows you to draw an additional card then discard one card.
Two luck driven elements of the game:
The cards you draw can determine how well you play sometimes, and you may find yourself waiting for a specific command while your progress looms in the balance. You can keep playing cards, but drawing cards sometimes doesn’t get what you need like a build command to put a house on the board of the district you have been trying to own. Of course specific cards are never too far away, and so this is only a small inconvenience. Smart game play allows you to befuddle your opponents while you wait to achieve what you want to happen.
Cards have symbols on them to dictate actions. There is handy player-aid to guide you for the first few games, and then they become second nature. The trick is that there are only five cards per hand and you must play one card a turn (but like cards in deck building games there are some that allow you to play more than one a round). Cards are played once, and then go into a discard pile. In some rare cases they can become untombed and played again. The only rule of thumb is that you must do the actions from left to right and you may or may not choose to do every action of the card (the only action you must perform is the random event). Some cards have text that gives it specific special abilities that may break rules and some cards are simply useless like the “salted nuts”.
The other is the Event deck which is totally random. The events only happen when a card dictates such. There are 12 different random events. They all spell disaster in one way or another for different elements and players of the game. You can bring down a fiery dragon to destroy one district on the board being determined by the roll of a 12-sided die. Trolls and Demons can also inhabit the city, or there could be many mysterious murders. My favorite of course is when I was playing with my hometown group in La Crosse, Wisconsin (Shout out! Holler!) I was playing with my friend Bill Johnson and I played the “Bloody Stupid Johnson card”. It was amusing to watch his face to think that I had just made up such a card, until I got to show him the actual text!
The hidden agendas adds a level of suspense to the game, and the fact that you still have to be considerate of total points too in case the game is called early. This is a fine point that has to be clearly explained to new players. Three personalities (Lord Selachii, Lord Rust, Lord de Word) are area control and the number changes with the number of players. Chrysoprase is a money oriented agenda, Dragon King of Arms is a trouble placement agenda, Lord Vetinari is getting minions in so many districts, and Commander Vimes goal is to have the cards run out so he becomes the master of meddling causing the game to run it’s course.
I love the duel stacked cards; a regular Martian Wallace concept of making you play out a set early set of cards, and then a late game set cards (The only problem is if people make mistakes, and then forget the stacks duel nature and shove the cards into the wrong area while you cringe and remind them the deck is divided into two colors green and orange). There is no clear path to any one action; in order to build you must remove trouble. When you move a piece in you cause trouble. You can only take out another player’s minion if there is trouble in the district. Of course the cards with text can break any of these rules, and then the game continues.
It really doesn’t play as well as a two person game. I have played many times as a two person game and it is fun, but really there isn’t enough card interaction to stop many of the goals to win. One goal in my opinion is practically unattainable in a two person game and should be removed with the other suggested cards (Personality card Chrysoprase, and The Hubert and Cosmo Lavish from the draw pile) is “Commander Vimes” because I feel it would be practically impossible to go through the entire deck with just two players. More people means more cards, more cards means more possibilities. In every way this game is meant to be played at full capacity and is at its finest, a four person game.
A Four person game is when this game is in its prime. It has been a universal hit with almost everyone I have played with and tends to surprise more than often. At first not knowing the books I had hoped for some flavor text to give a small introduction to this land filled with rich characters, but watched Martian explain in a Spiel interview his dislike of flavor text due to it’s enjoyment as a one time event by nature.
Another great testament to the game is that many of the players who came away from the game wanted to go back and reread the books, or read them for the first time. All the art work on the cards captures the tremendous love and attention that Mr. Wallace gleamed from the books.
Game winning possibilities tend to happen fast and sneak up on you so be very wary. When I was out to exact revenge I found myself losing before I could even cause the trouble I was planning. I suggest that this game is certainly worth a try , and you should go and cause trouble at your local game store by picking up a copy.
~ Kevin Wenzel