Sometimes we like to take a minute to step away from videogames and play a good ol’ fashioned board game. Ubisoft has partnered with Cryptozoic Entertainment – the makers of The Walking Dead board game and the Adventure Time: Card Wars game among many others – to bring the Assassin’s Creed franchise to the tabletop realm. The result was Assassin’s Creed: Arena – a strategic game of cat-and-mouse that pits 2-4 players against each other in a race for kills. Take on targets or other players to rack up Victory Points as you move across the rooftops of Constantinople, avoiding passing guards. Play as Templars from Assassin’s Creed: Revelations like Shahkulu (the Renegade), Odai Dunqas (the Guardian), Oksana Razin (the Vanguard) and Anacletos (the Gladiator).
The Gist Of It
There’s a reason (beyond the idea of cards assassinating each other) this game is designed for players over 15 years old. It’s very high-risk, high-reward and has a lot of rules. They’re all pretty easy to grasp quickly, but there might be a few questions right off the bat. This might be a walk in the park for some of you board game aficionados, but for those of you who are big fans of Assassin’s Creed but are relatively new to the world of tabletop games, a quick breakdown may come in handy.
To start each turn, an Event card is drawn. Sometimes this card will affect the entire board. Sometimes it will be just for you. Sometimes it will be an ongoing card that affects all players until the next ongoing card is drawn. After following all the specifications of the Event card, you’ll take your turn. You have three basic options: Move, Hide or Attack. In your hand you’ll have Action cards that tell you how many spaces you can move, or how many damage points you can deal in an attack. You can also hide where you are and draw a few extra cards. You do not have to move and attack in every turn.
You can use one card to move and if you land on a space with a target or another player on it, you have the chance to attack (unless there is a guard nearby, but I’ll get more into that in a minute). If there is no guard and you land on a target space, you can use as many attack cards as you need to kill your target and claim your Victory Points. See below for the PvP aspect of the game.
Your cards are your life. You can carry no more than 7 in your hand at a time (unless an Event card says otherwise) and when another player attacks you, they can hack away at your life and force you discard cards. Lose all your cards and you have to start back at your home square. Unlike when you attack a target and can use as many attack cards as you need, when you go after a fellow player, you can only use one attack card. There are certain cards that will allow them to defend themselves and even launch a counter attack. Once a player is defeated, the winner will claim one Victory Point, unless the player he or she killed had more Victory Points, in which case the winner get two.
Watch Out For Guards
As you move across the board you’ll need to avoid the patrolling guards’ line of sight. Crossing their path means you must discard one of your cards (which, again, serve as your health). You cannot attack a target if a guard is nearby, so you’ll have to take them out first, even though you receive no victory points for doing so. Once a guard is “dead” it will be removed from the board until an event card respawns it.
Victory Points and Treasure
Should you find yourself in possession of treasure, you will need to head back to your home square as quickly as possible. Once you reach your “base” the treasure is yours and counts toward your Victory Points. However, if another player kills you en route, you will drop the treasure and it becomes free game.
The board is divided into sections, with the outer section containing the most target spaces and easiest guards, and the inner sections containing less spaces and tougher guards. However, the rewards of the inner sections is worth the risk. Though the spaces on the outer edge of the board may be easier to access, they often cost you more attack cards for less Victory Points. The outer buildings do not start the game with targets on them; these targets are placed in accordance with Event cards. The game is over either when one player racks up 15 Victory Points or all the Event cards are spent.
But Wait, There’s More!
There are many nuances and bonuses to get into that I haven’t mentioned, but some of those are really better left for when you have the cards in front of you and can consult the full guide for a clear understanding. Pre-order Assassin’s Creed: Arena now at Cryptozoic Entertainment’s official store. You’ll be able to buy the full game on February 26 for $50.