Thursday, August 21, 2008

Alkemy Review

Well having just recovered from Gen Con Indianna I have returned with a slew of new games (seems to be the trend every year) as well as a renewal in games that I already play! Moving on though on the last day of the convention me and my two friends stumbled on a game called Alkemy by Kraken Editions a French company with some lovely miniatures.

The Story:

Though i was not a fan of the Khaliman Republic (think Middle Eastern influenced cat people..) once i saw some "frog people" in the game I was almost immediately sold. The frog people actually belonged to a faction called "Aurlock Nation" which draws heavily from Native American imagery. Each newborn of the Aurlock Nation is placed underneath a totem which from that point on they will slowly grow up and take the path of their totem, their physical features will change to accommodate their new totem and their fighting style as well.

As luck would have it the Aurlock Nation sits on some of the most prime land that the other two factions (there are four factions out now, more on that later) would love to annex their lands. One of them is "Kingdom of Avalon" which are one of the two human factions presented (the other being the Jade Triad) in Alkemy. The Kingdom of Avalon are humans who worship this demonic entity which manifests itself as a tree which covers all their land. They blindly worship this demonic tree because if they don't they will be punished or killed. The tree's corrupting influence has some of the men slowly turning into trees themselves which they see as "gifts".

The Jade Triad has a Chinese/Asian theme to them they seem to control most of the Jin Posts, which are areas that are rich in minerals (which alchemists use for their potions..) so are one of the most wealthy factions. Last but not least is the Khaliman Republic as mentioned earlier they have a nod towards Middle Eastern influences, in Alkemy they are the emissaries of peace and reasoning between all the warring factions. The Khaliman's believe that everything is an art form waiting to be mastered from art, dance and even ways of war they seek out perfection in all their endeavors.

The Miniatures:

When I first demoed Alkemy the miniatures at a glance I had assumed were metal, but once I picked up the miniatures to examine the detail I was convinced they were resin. I was wrong on both counts obviously the miniatures are exquisitely done in plastic albeit a different kind I was told by on the Alkemy staff.

Barely any noticeable mold lines or deformities came in my Aurlock Nation purchases, which included Wave 1 starter box, Wave 2 troop box, Wave 3 alchemist and a con only limited edition miniature. Between washing and prepping the miniatures it took only about 5-10 minutes while watching tv.

Putting the minatures together was equally as fast, all the miniatures have pegs and slots which you slide the pieces into for a perfect fit every time. My only piece of advice is "dry fit" the miniatures before you apply any glue, once you apply the glue make sure to put them together fast as the connecting pieces are made quite exact so there isn't much time before it sets. I made this mistake and will have to put a small band of green stuff on a miniature or two. In retrospect it would have been easier to dry fit them into place and put a small amount of glue to seal the bond.

The Rules:

Inside the starter box you get rules, cards for your units, cardboard markers, a roll of measuring tape and 6 dice (two of each color: white, yellow and red). The rules span a few pages long the whole book runs about 36 pages long from cover to cover, the rules themselves running about half of the book. The rules are relatively easy to grasp especially if you have played any type of skirmish game.

Each miniature has Action Points which they can do a variety of tasks (fight, run, walk, shoot, gather elements for alchemical potions, etc). The game runs on opposed rolls adding or subtracting the appropriate stats. Every unit/character in the army comes with their own card telling you their stats, special abilities and a bit of the story on each card.

What made Alkemy unique from the games that I have been currently playing are a few things: First when you shoot with a ranged weapon you must first guess the range between your model and the one that is being fired upon. If you guessed right you get an additional dice to hit the miniature (you keep the two highest of the three). If you didn't get the right amount there is no penalty, you just don't get the extra dice for 'aiming'.

The second unique thing is when you go into a round of combat you bring out 5 combat cards, you and your opponent get to choose one (if the opponent has any AP left...). Then you both reveal the cards are Brutal Attack, Quick Attack, Normal Attack, Parry and Inactive. The cards have a "rock, scissors, paper" feel to them where certain cards counter or are more effective towards another card. The "inactive" card is the only one that does not spend AP, this is important because to defend yourself in combat (if you actually want to attack back that is..) you must have AP. This leads to some interesting strategies, do you want to go for a full out attack? or do you want to severely wound your opponent and wait for the counter attack?

Every stat card has a lifeline usually marked in white, yellow and red triangles. As your characters take damage they become less effective. Alkemy uses three different sets of die on the white dice you suffer no penalty. It is a regular d6 with the icons of a sword,axe and mace. Yellow dice there is no longer a 6 on the dice and the mace icon disappears. Well you can guess on the red there is no 5 on the dice and you are struggling just to get the axe icons.

Damage is done by who wins the opposed roll and you check the icons on the dice to see how much damage you actually inflicted. Obviously on white dice you are aiming to get 6's (mace icons) which deal the most damage to an opponent.


I am quite impressed by this up and coming game company the rules are very easy to grasp and allow for a variety of strategies. The miniatures are wonderfully sculpted and detail as I said above I almost didn't believe the staff member when he said they were plastic. Though no immediate differences stand out between the factions ( I have yet to get my first real game in...) i'm sure i'll log in the progress of the Aurlock Nation and I eagerly await the day that my Frog Totem Warriors gain their own faction!

If you want to read more about Alkemy visit the link below:

Alkemy by Kraken Editions