While I was in Poland last week I was lucky enough to play a demo of the upcoming game "Anno Domini 1666" by Wargamer.pl at the By Fire & Sword tournament.
I knew very little about
this game beforehand, I had seen some artwork and minis posted on the facebookpage but no info on what it actually was. So while Konrad from
Wargamer.pl showed me the rules of the game I also took the opportunity to ask
about the theme, concept and planned release.
The story and the
background of Anno Domini 1666
Anno Domini 1666 is as the
title suggests set in 1666, but in an alternate universe where historical and
fantasy elements blend with those of literary characters such as the Three
Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas with the Polish heroes of the Trilogy by
Sienkiewicz just to mention a few.
The story of the game is
that the holy German emperor dies and elections for a new German emperor are
being held in Vienna. Countries from across Europe send their envoys, spies, diplomats
and military retinues to Vienna to ensure that their favored candidate wins the
election. The skirmishes played in the game are "illegal" cloak and
dagger actions where small bands from different countries clash on the streets
of Vienna to secure various objectives. Those objectives lean towards
bribing important people, extraction of secret documents, securing prisoners
and not so much towards just plain killing the opponent.
Too much loud shooting in
the streets, acts of violence and overall chaos will attract the attention of
the city guard, which will show up and end the game/scenario if that happens,
with both sides dispersing to avoid arrest.
Tabletop or boardgame?
The demo I played in
Wilanow, Warsaw, was played on a board. Konrad told me that the beta release
will have 4 different boards for download along with the rules - and the game
was presented as a boardgame because it is easier to demo. But the game is
supposedly playable as a regular skirmish game. The board used at the demo used
1" squares and the rules that we played were geared towards a boardgame
set of rules, with distances being measured in squares, special movements etc
being affected by board features.
Personally I would favor a
boardgame approach if enough maps and scenarios are released as I felt it was a
mix between Malifaux and a very good boardgame/miniature game hybrid.
There will be several
factions, such as French, Poles which will most likely be split in two sub
factions of loyalists to the crown and those of prince Radziwill, Spanish,
Cossacks, Ottomans etc.
Each faction will be made
up of named characters (heroes) which have individual stats, special rules and
gear - and henchmen who are regular troops such as dragoons and who play a support
role. Konrad said each side should have roughly up to 10 models per game.
Characters have very
flavorful profiles and rules that make them stand out from the henchmen, for
instance the lovable drunk and rogue Onuffry Zagloba is a poor fighter but still
provide your side with multiple benefits. His special rules includes "call
me uncle" which means that he has been drinking with several of the
opponents on the night before, the result is that several opposing characters
have a hangover and slightly decreased abilities, and they cannot willingly
target Zagloba unless he attacks them. He can also draws extra cards each turn.
Beside the faction specific models and characters there will be mercenaries,
such as thieves, soldiers etc that you can hire for your warband.
There are no dice involved
in the game, instead results are generated by a deck of regular playing cards.
Basic rules use cards of the 4 suits and values 2-8 as well as a red and a
black joker. Players have small hand of cards at the start of the game, and can
refill their hand or draw randomly from the deck when performing attacks or
actions that require passing a certain test. Attacks in the game are based on
the character skill level with a certain weapon, for instance "Sword
fighting: 3" to which you add a card value from your hand or the deck.
Player make opposed "rolls" by revealing cards at the same time and
the highest result wins and wounds are dealt.
There is finesse to this
however. First of all wounds and damage can be affected positively or
negatively depending on the suit of the card played. Some gear prevents damage
if certain suits of cards are used, other items such as weapons maybe do extra
damage if clubs or hearts are played. Second of all, all characters have a
number of wounds, when they drop below a certain level of wounds their
attributes suffer. Furthermore the characters that are skilled swordsmen come
with "parry" abilities. This in particular I wound to be a great
addition as it gave the game a bit of sword fighting realism and also made
close combat more exciting.
In Anno Domini 1666 if you
manage to beat your opponent by scoring a higher result then an opponent with a
parry token (max 3 per turn from what I saw) can spend that token to deflect
your blow if he flips a card that is equal to or higher than the difference in
combat results. Say your opponent lost by 4, then he needs to flip a 4 or
higher card to successfully parry and deflect the blow. After a successful
parry both fighters continue their melee by revealing new cards. You can go
back and forth until someone fails to parry, runs out of parry tokens or passes
the opportunity to parry.
Firearms are very deadly,
but take 2 turns to reload, which makes them a tactical element to be used at
the right time (and distance) for full effect.
The full rules will
supposedly include the possibility to throw furniture and objects such as
bottles and mugs at your opponent.
Konrad also told me that
the game will have factions divided into "light" and "darkness",
the former will be able to use prayer while the latter will be able to use dark
magic. Magic and spells will also be using cards to play spells, but you will
be required to prepare casting of spells by playing cards in a specific sequence
rather than just snap your fingers and throw fireballs at the enemy. I am very
interested in seeing how this will be done rule wise as it was not shown in the
demo, but I thought it sounded promising.
The rules were easy to grasp and kept simple, but without being boring. Most of what you needed to know to play or for reference was printed on the unit cards and weapons/gear cards.
The game was first shown
and demo'd at the Wilanow By Fire and Sword tournament, but Konrad said that
core rules along with maps/boards, and unit and item cards will be available
for free download soon as part of a "beta phase". Wargamer.pl wants
to see what people think of the product before they decide how to proceed and
go into production.
There was talk about a
possible Kickstarter, that warbands will be sold in faction boxes with 7-8
models in each covering named characters + a couple of henchmen (for the French
for instance it would be the 3 musketeers, D'Artagnan and some kings
musketeers). There are some 40+ models sculpted at the moment, with more on the
way. At the moment they are being cast in metal, Konrad would like to have them
in plastic but that would require manufacturing them in equally high quality as
the crisp metal castings are. "Worst case scenario" they will be in
metal and maybe resin only.
I look forward to the beta
phase of the game with the downloadable releases. From what I saw and heard
this could very well be a big hit as it blends a bunch of very good tabletop
and boardgame ideas along with a (at least to me) very appealing setting.
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