It seems fitting that the very first board game review to grace the pages of SFBook examines one of the richest of worlds within the fantasy genre. Discworld is simply a magical series, imagined by one of the finest authors to ever put pen to paper; that knight of the realm Sir Terry Pratchett.
It therefore seems somewhat inevitable that a boardgame would be made that features this flat world riding as it does on the back of four giant Elephants, transported through space by the giant star turtle Great A'Tuin.
The game specifically concerns that sprawling (some would say lurking) city of Ankh-Morpork where the Lord Vetinari - distinguished leader of the populace - has gone missing. This absence results in a power vortex with a number of different factions clambering to be the first to take control of the chaotic city.
Each player takes a card from one of these factions, a secret personality that has a specific victory condition which is unknown to the other players, adding an extra dimension to the game. Everything is played out on a big board of the city Ankh-Morpork with each player trying to take control of the various areas, placing buildings and minions by picking up and playing out one of the 132 unique cards each turn. Many of these cards have a choice of actions and you can decide to carry out some or all of these, a few even allow you to pick up and play a second card within the same turn.
The quality of the various bits that make up the game is exceptional, all of high quality and durable materials that will take some punishment should you have younger or more heavy handed people in your household (or indeed group of friends). The artwork is as excellent as you would expect from Josh Kirby inspired art while fan's of the series will see many of the Discworld's characters make an appearance such as Sam Vimes, Ridcully, Captain Carrot, the History Monks, the Librarian, Corporal Nobby Nobs and even my personal favourite Death himself.
The game is quick and easy to pick up and moves along pretty fast which prevents that feeling of the game dragging on as can happen with some games. The idea of each character having a different victory condition is simply inspired and means that each game is pretty different. Playing as the different characters really does make a big difference to what happens, matching the abilities of each personality while the strategy involved in trying to figure out the other players objectives is highly entertaining, trying to out think them and as the game progresses things get much more intense.
The use of cards to move the game along replicates the feeling of Discworld quite well and you don't have to be a fan of Pratchett or to have even read any of the books to enjoy it, it also means a pretty shallow learning curve and you can just about pick it up as you go, by the end of the first game you will be an expert.
Above all Discworld Ankh-Morpork fits in perfectly to Terry Pratchett's universe with high re-play value, a depth of strategy and bags of fun, highly recommended.
Written by Antony, 19 October 2012.