The word theme in the world of Tabletop gaming can mean the difference between a title getting a second glance at the FLGS and it being passed by in lieu of other, more “desirable” games on the store shelf.
The conversation around theme versus mechanics/gameplay is one I won’t be having in this review today. I will say however that theme does often factor into my purchasing decision making if I’m being honest. I’ve tried to get better over the years, as there are a lot of games out there where their curb appeal might be lacking, but if you give a chance, the experience of playing that same game would be very rewarding.
That to say, new to retail is the latest game from CMON and Eric M. Lang, ANKH Gods of Egypt, sits squarely into the theme sold me category, as I’m a sucker for Egyptian theme games. ANKH is what is being called the final chapter in the Lang trilogy for CMON, with Blood Rage (Viking theme) being the first chapter. Which was followed with Rising Sun (feudal Japan theme). And now we have ANKH to finish out this “trilogy” as it were.
I historically haven’t jumped on the CMON bandwagon simply due to the value factor that always exists in my brain when looking to add games to the library. Real, perceived or otherwise, CMON titles can quickly get up there in cost. So factoring that in and knowing how often one might think they would get said title to the table, value always comes in to play for me when looking to buy.
But, I had store credit at my FLGS and I love the Egyptian theme, so fuck it my brain said.
And that’s ultimately how I ended up with a retail copy of ANKH. So let’s dive in shall we?
CMON has forged a reputation that their titles have top notch pieces included, not to mention their miniatures. It’s literally in the title of the company acronym, so one would hope that at the very least, miniatures is something CMON games do well, if not great.
ANKH comes with a fair amount of pieces, but not an overwhelming amount. On the surface, the game can look like it’s a heavier game than it actually is, but more on that later.
The box has two molded clear plastic inserts to hold all the miniatures included. Which is always a nice touch. Also inside, the game comes with a pretty hefty rulebook and a separate scenario book, that is used to set up various games of ANKH. It has scenario setups for 2 players and up.
One thing of note, ANKH does not have a Solo play variant.
In ANKH, players take the role of one of five Egyptian gods, looking to gain the most devotion in order to gain dominance over your fellow players. The game’s timer is what’s called the ‘Event’ track. The event track is controlled if you will by the action board (confusing I know). See here is how it works.
On a player’s turn, they can take up to two actions. There are 4 actions in the game, Move figures, Summon figures, Gain followers and Unlock Ankh powers. They are listed in that order on the action board. When taking an action, you move the marker for that action to the right one space and then resolve the action. If moving the marker moves it into the last space on that row, you have now triggered an event, and you move to the event board to resolve the new event. If not, the player may take a second action.
When taking a second action, you may only choose actions that are below the first action taken on the action board. So for instance, if you took the “Gain followers” actions as your first action, you would only be able to take the “unlock ankh powers” as your second action, as it is the only power below it on the action board.
Gaining devotion is done through events. Specifically, conflict events. While this might not seem initially like a lot of opportunities to gain devotion, we found that players were able to gain enough devotion in order get out of the red area of the devotion track.
Because as seem on the event board, by the third conflict (in a 3-5 player game) the last two players on the devotion track become merged into a single god, thus making those two players essentially co-op for the rest of the game. They will either win together or lose together. And by the fourth conflict, any players still in the red area of the devotion track are removed from the game.
My wife and I both agreed that Ankh has the look of a heavy game, but in reality, it’s quite simple in what players actually do on their turns. The complexity comes from figuring out the choices you want to make and in what order to execute them to create maximum efficiency for every turn taken.
Is Ankh a game you should add to your library? That’s not a question I can answer except for myself. Is Ankh a game that is worth your time? In short, yes. As an area control game, it adds just enough variation into the mix to make the games replay ability pretty high. Not to mention the fact that there is already a ton of expansion material out for the game.
So from a support standpoint, there is quite a bit already available to give you hours upon hours of gaming fun. Granted this is all based on a single play, with only 2 players. But I don’t think my opinion would say too much based on future games.
The biggest downside to Ankh is it’s price point. It’s steep entry cost wise for some players I’m sure. But I feel like from a value perspective, Ankh is worth it’s cost. So I’ll be looking to add kickstart expansion pieces in the near future. And I’ve already started 3D printing out monument pieces to replace my cardboard ones.
Overall, Ankh is a welcome addition to the library and we look forward to many more games in the future.
As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!
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