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CK Lai

So I’ve got 2 games under my belt. One was using just troops from 2 Starter Sets which aren’t even enough to play a Blitz Mode game (180 pts). But I went ahead anyway to learn the game mechanics.

1 day later, reinforcements popped up and I was able to field 2 full 180 pt warbands playing on a 2 x 2 battleboard. A brief after action report can be found here: Alkemy Battle Report

My brief review:

Alkemy is a true skirmish game with about 6-11 units a side in either Blitz and Standard Mode.

The sculpts are very pleasing to the eye, and ease of assembly is comparable to WoK’s pegs and slots. A few figures needed to have the pegs shaved before fitting, but nothing major to complain about. Painted figures found on the Internet show the figures will paint up very nicely indeed.

The Gameplay: Gameplay is very nice, and moves quickly with alternating activations per side with a small twist: some basic line troops need to be activated in pairs. This is indicated on their stat cards.

Players need to choose between several movement types in order to achieve their objectives: basic movement (but cannot enter combat); engagement (walk into combat); charge into combat (but no more movement after that) or running (but no combat).

Alkemy is more about Action Point (AP) management and shrewd tactical play. This may sound like heresy but for small scale skirmishes (around 10 or less minis) I might prefer this to even WoK!

AP management: most basic units get 2 APs, that you can spend in the usual way. Some elite troops get 3 APs. Heroes and named characters get 4 APs, thus making them feel really special! And the bonus is: if you have APs left over after your activation, you may either use them to react to an attack (more of this under Combat) or re-activate the miniature later on. Now, that is true tactical flexibility!

Magic: what is a fantasy skirmish game without magic? Alkemy comes with magic users and a unique rule: while the magic users (shamans) carry about some alchemical stones, but you need components corresponding to your shamanic affinity (earth, wind, fire, water) to activate your spells. You gains these components by “harvesting” them from the scenery.

Combat: This is where (for me) Alkemy really shines. You may again choose between several Combat modes (using Combat Cards) that you you a bonus and/or a disadvantage. The combat procedure also varies depending on Combat modes chosen.

Example: I charge into combat and I get 1 bonus attack die. I choose a Brutal Attack, that gives me added damage at the cost of poorer Reaction Rolls. This is important because my opponent can choose to either react with another Combat Mode (in which case we have to perform a Reaction Roll to see who attacks first) or a Parry (in which case I may porceed with my attack and then he rolls to see if he parries my attack with some bonus die rolls) or he does nothing (in which case my attack is unhindered).

The other genius bits about combat is: you normally roll 2 dice, with a max of 3 (bonus die). But you get to choose the best TWO die rolls and use those for your results. And while I’m normally not a fan of the “roll to see if you hit, then roll to see if the opponent responds, then roll to see how much damage you inflict” type of Combat, Alkemy neatly sidesteps all that.

The opposed combat rolls (via the Combat Cards) make you feel very involved in gameplay, even when you are not the active player. And damage is already calculated using special symbols on the dice that feature swords, axes and maces in addition to the normal 1-6 numbers. So one combat roll is all you need to see if you hit, and how much damage you do. Nice!

Special mention for the dice: you get 6 colour-coded dice in each Starter Set. 2 White (Normal health); 2 Yellow (Seriously Wounded) and 2 Red (critically wounded) with attendant reduction in combat and initiative and reaction capabilities. Not much record keeping is needed beyong keeping track of your HPs. Very neat!

Lastly, while you can play the “wipe out all your opponents to win” type of games, Alkemy is actually scenario-based, so you usually win by achieving your objectives. It gives a varied feel for the gameplay, as you can be down to your last mini while your opponent has more, and you still have a chance to win if you can meet your objectives before your opponent.

Finally, the pros & cons (for me, YMMV):

– very tactical gameplay, especially combat
– neat game mechanics that make game play flow smoothly, with little record-keeping
– nice minatures
– scenario-based games
– scalable gameplay

– Tough to get the original Kraken Starter Sets
– Rulebook in the Kraken Starter Sets has horrible printing quality and needs some clarification