Discworld: Ankh-Morpork Board Game Review
“Discworld: Ankh-Morpork” is a delightfully thematic game.
Prior to receiving a review copy of the “Discworld: Ankh-Morpork” board game, I decided to familiarize myself with Terry Pratchett’s fantastical Discworld book series so that I could have a frame of reference for the game. I opted to go with the first book in the series (“The Color of Magic”) and I found myself largely enjoying the whimsical and weird story. While the board game doesn’t include a ton of references to ‘Color,’ I can safely say that the game captures Pratchett’s imaginative creations quite nicely.
“Discworld: Ankh-Morpork” (which is created by Martin Wallace) is a 2-4 player game board, card, and token game. Players start out the game by setting out a foldable board of Ankh-Morpork which features 12 areas (The Hippo, The Shades, The Scours, Longwall, Dimwell, Isle of Gods, Small Gods, Dragon’s Landing, Seven Sleepers, Unreal Estate, Dolly Sisters and Nap Hill). After that, players choose 1 personality card at random which will provide information on how each player can win the game. Opponents must not be aware of the other player’s personality cards as it is meant to be kept a secret. Each player also starts with 5 cards from the green bordered deck and will proceed to draw cards from the combination green and brown bordered card deck comprised of 101 cards throughout the game. Each player must always have at least 5 cards in hand at the end and start of their turn. Last, but not least, each player also gets a handy dandy player aid card which gives definitions of each of the 9 card symbols as well as information about the city area cards and the personality card goals. Observing the personality card goals may help you determine what your opponent is trying to do to win.
As the game progresses, two additional 12 card decks will come into play. The first deck is made up of city area cards which are acquired whenever you place a building in an area first. The random event cards (which are almost always bad) may rear their head if you play a card that requires you take an event card. For example, The Senior Wrangler card gives instructions to play an event card, perform the action on the text, and play another card (in that exact order).
In terms of the gameplay, players will draw and play cards, placing buildings and minions in territories, acquire money and work towards their personality card goal. As with any challenging game, however, players will face obstacles like minions being removed from the board, the aforementioned event cards, trouble makers popping up, and problematic demon or troll pieces.
It should be noted that achieving the goal on your personality card is not the only way to win. If the draw pile runs out before a player meets their personality card goal, points from minions, money and buildings are added together. The player with the highest point total would then be the winner. There are specific conditions in the event of a tie, but you will want to consult the very well written instruction manual for further details.
At first, “Discworld: Ankh-Morpork” feels like a variation of “Monopoly,” but it soon becomes clear that this is a much faster paced and more eventful game than “Monopoly” ever could be. Right off the bat, I was drawn to the fact that there are a variety of winning conditions. Since you initially don’t know what the opponent(s) are doing, you have to strategize how to win while also observing the opponent’s every move. This makes for a very competitive and fun race to the finish game in which players can even play mind games with each other if they think they have figured out each other’s moves.
Another deeply impressive component to the game are the pieces themselves. With wooden token pieces, a meticulously drawn Ankh-Morpork board, and a large amount of illustrated cards featuring characters and towns, it’s clear that a lot of work went into this thematic game. This isn’t a cheaply produced licensed product which we so often see these days. It’s abundantly clear that Martin Wallace and company are passionate about Terry Pratchett’s world and they went all out to create a fitting board game tribute to his beloved work.
Summary: Fans of the Discworld series will fall head over heels in love with this game, but you don’t just have to be a fan to appreciate this game. The easy to learn game has wide appeal and massive amounts of replayability thanks to the work of acclaimed designer Martin Wallace. I certainly look forward to his follow-up Discworld game “The Witches” which is due in the coming months.
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