Okay, and now my review of Guards! Guards!
Overveiw of all the components (picture taken from prototype).
Lets start with a quote from te rules to get in the mood:
‘It was early in the morning in Ankh-Morpork, the oldest and greatest and grubbiest of cities. A thin drizzle dripped from the grey sky and punctuated the river mist that coiled among the streets. Rats of various species went about their nocturnal occasions. Under night’s damp cloak assassins assassinated, thieves thieved, hussies hussled. And so on.” (Terry Pratchett)
In the heart of this wondrous metropolis stands the Unseen University. In the heart of the Unseen University stands the Library. And in the heart of the Library stands an Ape, although like most Orangutans its posture leaves a lot to be desired.
Currently, however, the curvature of his spine is the least of the Librarian’s problems. The greatest treasure housed within the stark, aged walls of the Unseen University is missing. His first worry is how he will explain to the Wizards Council that the Octavo has been stolen. Especially since, as an Ape, he has a vocabulary of one word, “OOOK !” But he fears more for the consequences that may befall the entire Discworld if the eight ‘Great Spells’ are not returned to their rightful place soon.
As word of the theft spreads through the streets and alleys, Captain Vimes of the City Watch assembles his men. “I’m sure you are all aware of my feelings on these matters, however it falls to us to ensure the spells are found and returned to where they belong. Nobody wants something that powerful to fall into the wrong hands. The Thieves Guild have denied any involvement in the theft and are offering to assist in finding the spells. The Assassins and Fools Guilds have done likewise. Even the Alchemists, possibly the only people to dislike magic even more than myself,
realise the danger we are facing, and have offered their help.”
“I have given you all instructions on which of the Great Spells you are looking for, and need each of you to work with one of the guilds to find out what you can, and get me those spells.”
IT’S THAT SIMPLE. …………
Or at least it would be if this wasn’t Ankh-Morpork. Pitted against the other players, who will be all out to return the spells first and will be just itching to use their new found Guild abilities on anybody who might get in their way, and the everyday perils of life in the busiest, most populated and least law-abiding city on the Discworld, things are never quite that simple.
Throw in trolls, saboteurs, cut-throat street sellers and an 800 pound set of luggage thundering around the city on hundreds of tiny legs. Here begins an action packed, fast-paced adventure through the streets of Ankh-Morpork in which the players will need all their wits just to survive the day, never mind retrieving the spells and saving the Discworld from looming destruction.
So now we know what it is all about, but how does the game work. At the start of the game you can choose which guild you want to work with. You can choose from, Thieves, Assassins, Fools or the Alchemist Guild. With the choosing you get your Guild Card on this card you can find your objective for this game, you need to bring five Spells back the first player to bring the five spells matching their guild card back is declared winner of the game.
We can start the game, your turn exists out of the following phases. Movement, Action and Effects.
The board exists out of hexes, from your starting space (the center of the board “The Unseen University”) you can start walking over these hexes, you are allowed to take six steps during your turn. Some hexes are actions on, some of them you have to end your turn on if you want to preform your action others you only have to walk through. For example for walking through your guildhouse you get three additional Ankh Morporkian Dollars. Another one, when you walk through a temple you get a chance to buy a “Curses & Cures” card which gives you spells to help you or curse your opponents. If you pass a Merchant you get the chance to buy items, such as swords or potions to equip your team with. Last one which you only have to pass by is a Watch House, you can give a “Wanted” team member to the watch to get the reward, but you loose the guy from your team.
Now the spaces you have to end your turn on, recruiting new members to your team, there are lots of places where you can try to convince people to join your team. Just end on one of these spaces to convince somebody to do so. You have a charm level on your guild card, roll a 8 sided die, add this number to your current charm level and see if the fellow has the same or a lower charm level, if you didn’t charm the fellow there is always the possibility to bribe the guy, just pay him off and he joins your team.
Some random characters (picture taken from prototype).
Second space you have to end on is a hospital, during play you can get the Pox, by touching an infected card or getting touched by another player who already has the pox. Your movement goes down to four and your charm level will be one lower than is used to be. To get rid of the pox get to a Hospital. Skip a turn to get cured, or pay for private health care and start your next turn as normal.
Last place you have to end on are the spells. If you end on one of these you can attempt a “Spell Run” and try to bring a spell back to the university. Later on I get back on how this works in more detail.
After walking and doing the actions of the space I mentioned above you have to preform actions on the card of the fellow who joined your team. On the character card there is mentioned how far the Luggage moves, getting runned over by the luggage is another way to end up in a hospital. Other actions on the card can be, getting money, getting the pox, adding points to your charm, guild or magic level. There can also be a “Fate” symbol on the character card you recruited, if so you have to draw a faith card from the faith deck and read whats on it. It can be a positive thing, but most of the time you have to pay extra taxes or dragons are getting summoned which you don’t want most of the time because a dragon blocks a part of the city so you can’t preform actions there anymore until the dragon gets scared away and other things you don’t want.
Dragon blocks the Thieves quadrant, you can also see tha green brought back three spells and white brought back two. (picture taken from prototype)
During your turn, you may preform extra actions which I don’t explain in to much detail but if you have a member of the Brethren Brotherhood in your team you can place him as a saboteur. If you have three or more members of the Brethren Brotherhood you can summon a dragon. During another players turn when that player moves within two spaces of your character you can use your guild abilities against that player. Fighting a dragon, you can ask other players to help you. Casting spells can happen during another players turn.
Watch out red, the luggage will almost run you over and your so close to green he can use his guild abilities against you (picture taken from prototype).
The characters who join your team have their own abilities. Your own abilities are charm, magic and guild, you need this abilities to charm people to join your team, to cast spells, to place saboteurs but also to bring the last spell back. The abilities of your team members will be brawl, toughness, streetwise an loyalty. Brawl an toughness you need to fight of the dragons or other players saboteurs. Streetwise, loyalty, toughness and brawl you also need to bring the first four spells back.
Your Guild Card, you keep track of how many spells you brought back and which ones and your ability levels of Charm, Magic and Guild. (picture taken from prototype)
How to bring a spell back, if you end your turn on a spell you can attempt a spell run, you send a group of your team members back to the university, if the make it over there ( you can be blocked by saboteurs) the group have to make it through the wizards challenge. The first spell you bring back your group of volunteers needs a Streetwise of at least 10, the second spell you bring back the team needs at least a Toughness of 12, the third one a Loyalty of 13, the forth one a Streetwise and a Brawl of 12, the last spell you have to bring back yourself and you need your own abilities of Magic an Guild to be at least 9. You always add up the total of your team plus one die roll.
The first player who brings back the fifth spell is declared winner.
This is a very brief description of the rules, there is some more to it but you get a global view of how the game plays.
I really love this game, its exciting from start to finish. The game is well balanced no player gets to far behind to give up hope. Its lots of fun to block your opponents by breaking up their spell runs, giving them the pox, using curses against them, use your guild ability against them or place a dragon in an area on the board where you don’t have to be anymore. But you always need to keep in mind to bring the spells back, don’t build your complete strategy on bullying other players, build your team and bring the spells back, otherwise you won’t win.
Looking forward to see the final version released.
The limited edition 2011 Discworld Convention plushies watching over the game! (picture taken from prototype)