Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

Ankh: Gods of Egypt

[Title]

Author:
Eric M. Lang

Publisher:
Cool Mini Or Not / Asmodee
2021

No. of Players:
2-5

EVALUATION
based on a prototype

[Complexity]
[Design]
[Interaction]
[Strategy]
[Evaluation]


G@mebox author Dorian Feuerbaum writes about the game:

The third part of a trilogy. For me, this is always a certain gamble, can the work come up the high expectations, or - what one at least hopes - can it keep the level of its predecessors? In movies and video games you are offered one thing above all else, more of what you know. Franchise thinking certainly doesn't help here. But of course, fans are to be satisfied and target groups to be reached.

It works the same way with board games, but we rarely find direct successors in this hobby. In the case of Ankh, this is also true, but nevertheless Ankh was considered the grand finale of a good Eric M. Lang trilogy at CMON. At that time, Mr. Lang was still the head of game development, now he is a freelance game designer. Whether this change had a direct influence on Ankh cannot be proven, but rarely has he faced so much criticism for a design decision. We'll get to those later, but first here are some facts:

Ankh: Gods of Egypt was published in 2021 by CMON and in Germany by Asmodee. It can be played with two to five players and has a stated playing time of 90 minutes. I would agree with the classification as a medium heavy game so far, the playing time is quite possible with a well-rehearsed play session after a few games, but in our games we always ended up with about 120 minutes. For the design Adrian Smith, the leading artist of CMON, was called in again, who convinces with a coherent and overall clear design.

[Ankh: Gods of Egyp]

Click on image to enlarge!

Thematically, we find ourselves in Ancient Egypt again and take on the role of one of the five gods included already in the base game. Only one god can rule over Egypt, which of course can only be us. By cleverly positioning our units and taking over monuments, we secure victory points in the conflict phases in order to leave our fellow players behind.

Mechanically, Ankh is a very simple area control game. In player order, we must perform two actions. There are four bars, which directly represent a matching action. However, we cannot perform the same action, or an action from a bar above the selected one. We move the corresponding bar marker one position at a time and perform the action in each case. If a marker lands at the end of the bar, the game progress is advanced. Various events are thus triggered, dividing the playing field into more sections, allocating monuments to the triggering player, or activating conflicts.

[Ankh: Gods of Egypt]

Click on image to enlarge!

In the respective areas, the superiority of the forces is determined and, if necessary, turned upside down via battle cards, which are the same for all players. The cards are only returned to the hand by another battle card.

A slight asymmetry is present with the gods, as each god has its own ability.

The game ends as soon as a player reaches the end of the glory bar (victory points), all other gods have been forgotten due to too few glory points or all events have been carried out.

In its entirety, this creates a very luck-free gameplay.

So much for a rough game overview. However, the most exciting and divisive mechanic in the boardgame community is the merging of the gods. Starting with three player sessions, the last two players are merged in the last third of the game and act as one deity with one action each. Points-wise, both players now end up at the level of the last player and receive various disadvantages and advantages for the rest of the game. In general, however, the merged god becomes mechanically more powerful than before, since the players stagger their actions and thus both perform the same action. In addition, both of the gods' abilities are now available to the merged players.

[Ankh: Gods of Egypt]

Click on image to enlarge!

How was the mechanic received in our group? Generally positive and refreshing at first. It adds a new dynamic to the genre and rewards players who include or at least consider potential merging in their strategy. And that's how this mechanic should be viewed. If you ignore the game's development and allow yourself to be surprised, this can quickly lead to frustration.

So, for whom is Ankh recommended? Fans of Area Control who...

  • ...want fresh elements
  • ...prefer streamlined basic mechanics
  • ...like fancy material

Ankh should be left out if...

  • ...a second Blood Rage or Kemet: Blood & Sand was expected
  • ...well-balanced games without asymmetry are important
  • ...area control games with a long and epic playtime are preferred

In our round Ankh was very popular and could also convince by the solid variability (scenarios) and unusual but clear game design, so that it found a firm place in our collection. If only trilogies would always end so fresh and exciting...


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