The worlds of the Age of Sigmar are some of my favourite places to hang out.
Thanks to our friends at WizKids, I've now got another game exploring this marvellous setting.
The Rise And Fall of Anvalor, as the name might suggest, tells the story of both building and subsequent destruction of the city of Anvalor, located in Aqshy, the Realm of Fire.
In this semi-co-operative game, players take charge of one of several factions of Order- from the steadfast Dwarfs, to the conniving Dark Elves (now known as the Order Serpentis), and of course the poster-children for Age of Sigmar, the Stormcast Eternals.
The Rise and Fall of Anvalor is a tile-laying game, where players take it in turns to build the city, establish its defences, and eventually -and strategically-, trigger an invasion from one of three enemy factions. Tile placement is key, as it's never certain from which of the board's four sides the enemy assault will come from. Additionally, you can get bonuses from adjacent army tiles- even if they belong to an opponent.
The decision points in the game are plentiful, and make for time sensitive choices that really impact gameplay. Given that the resource system is driven primarily by discarding relevant tiles from your hand in order to play new tiles onto the board, you'll have to weigh up over and over whether it's best to build a structure to give you a permanent resource/bonus in a future turn, or to fly by the seat of your pants and lay down more transient military defences.
Over the past week, Good Games Brand Manager Jaime and myself both had a chance to give The Rise and Fall of Anvalor a whirl.
'I really liked exploring the different factions!' Jaime said. 'In one game, I was The Dispossessed (Forge Dwarves), and scored a ton of points just by building - I don't think I played a troop.'
In The Rise and Fall of Anvalor, there are Faction Buildings, and City Buildings. Faction buildings will grant a buff that only applies to you, but City Buildings have effects that apply to all players. Additionally, on the turn in which a City Building tile is played, there is a chance the enemies will rampage.
So why build City Buildings? They come with a high points bonus only to the player who actually placed the tile. Additionally, if you wait too long, and the board fills up before anyone plays a City Building, then you trigger an “Onslaught”- a wicked combat with many enemies attacking at once, and the inability to control when the assault stops!
When playing The Rise and Fall of Anvalor, I was often left having to think one or two turns ahead, paying attention to what my opponent was doing; were they playing buildings or troops? Where were they placing their tiles on the board? Had they played a City Building yet? If they hadn't, did I have enough resources to play a City Building and score points before we triggered an Onslaught?
At it's heart, The Rise and Fall of Anvalor is a snowball- it starts small, you make plans, but things escalate far faster than you anticipate. You're forced to think on the fly, make changes at the last minute, and do what's best for you.
And seeing as the primary way to score points is by killing invading enemies, sometimes what's best for you is to trigger an attack- even if it means your fellow players are not prepared.
'There was a great strategic element in what and where I defended.' Jaime said of the game. 'I would often leave lanes open in the hopes that an enemy would destroy my opponent's buildings - like Batman, I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you.'
As soon as you finish The Rise and Fall of Anvalor, the game is keen to be replayed. As Jaime and I discovered, finding the core strategy of one faction won't always properly translate to another. You can master the Order Serpentis, but as soon as you try your hand at the Hammers of Sigmar, you have to re-learn what is good.
On top of that, you'll face off against one of three different enemies, all of which have their own synergies and three unique difficulty levels. My favourite enemy to play against was the conniving rat-men called Skaven, who employ tottering leaders who bolster their otherwise unthreatening soldiers, and return to their deck to fight again when you defeat them!
Mechanics like that really made us feel the cowardice of the Skaven generals, as well as their overwhelming tide of seemingly endless rats!
Additionally, if you're like me and have a penchant for solo games, The Rise and Fall of Anvalor has a unique solitaire mode- Not to mention a different board for multiplayer games, allowing you to gear up the size of Anvalor to suit the number of players at your table.
There is almost as much to like about this game as there are components in the box. The Rise and Fall of Anvalor is a weighty treasure chest indeed!
While traditionally tile-laying games haven't gripped me, either aesthetically or strategically, I can happily say after a couple of games seeing just how deep The Rise and Fall of Anvalor can go, this game has made it into the regular rotation at my weekly board games night.
If you like working both with and against your fellow players, having to think on your feet and prepare for anything, or even if you just love the wondrous Age of Sigmar, then The Rise and Fall of Anvalor is 100% worth a try.
Hyped already and interested in picking up your copy? Head on down to your local Good Games store and let our friendly staff help you out!