Who Will Be The One God of Egypt?
I can easily give CMON’s huge miniature-packed Zombicide and Marvel chibi Kickstarter campaigns a miss, so it’s good to see they still occasionally come out with a game like Ankh. Not that its a game lacking in visual impact mind you, packed as it is with wonderfully detailed unnecessary miniatures, it’s just a game that exists perfectly in one box without a ceiling-high tower of FOMO expansions.
But even if it was played with cardboard counters, Ankh would be a clever and rewarding game, and I think it’s one of the best things designer Eric Lang has done. It also succeeds in two camps – the simple-to-learn but hard-to-master rules and compelling area control play are satisfying for ‘serious’ gamers, but there’s also a plethora of fun special powers to satisfy those more excited by theme and atmosphere.
Interesting, well-thought mechanisms make this a worthy last instalment in Lang’s ‘mythic trilogy’ of games (see also Blood Rage and Rising Sun). Playing as a god of Ancient Egypt (and represented by a huge and beautiful miniature), you summon followers to your worship, build monuments, choose from among a range of special powers, and battle for dominance. A clever shared dashboard keeps track of player actions, and after a certain number of them special events like combat resolution are triggered; so rather than following a set sequence, the order of events on the board is determined by the player’s actions – as is the time the game ends. As that time draws near, you’ll have to be sure your devotion level is high enough, or you risk being forgotten by your followers, and in the most revolutionary of the game‘s mechanisms, in a game with 3 or more players the last two players on the devotion track are merged together to play as a team near the end of the game. This caused some controversy, but I think it’s a fun and original way of shaking up the gameplay as it comes to a climax.
Of course Ankh brings to mind the excellent Kemet (and there are similarities in the combat system, with its limited pool of battle cards), but for my money this one feels the more elegant of the two, and as an added bonus a number of different scenarios add variety to the gameplay. Here’s hoping we get more like this from CMON in future, though I can certainly understand the compelling allure of continuing to run successful Kickstarters selling truckloads of Marvel-themed miniatures.