Athlas Kickstarter Preview

[This post is not a review, but a preview for a game currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. Game rules, components, and art are all subject to change from the prototype version I was sent.]

Athlas is a game that I was very excited to try out from the moment I saw the art. The more I read about the game, the more I thought it was the kind of game for me.

In Athlas: Duel for Divinity, players face off against each other as they use different custom built avatars, or Alphas, to fight to obtain relics and prove they are worthy of godhood.

One of the most interesting parts of Athlas is the character creation. After players agree on a Summoning Point total, they each take their deck of 170 cards, and create 3 "Alphas." These Alphas are essentially templates - copies of which will be summoned onto the battlefield to attempt to be the first to open the portal to Athlas.

Each player has 9 genus cards - which are the basic building block cards for the Alphas. These come with a few innate abilities, but the fun really begins once players start customizing and building their Alphas. Most of each player's 170 cards are equipment, abilities, or spells which can be assigned to Alphas. These can be things like weapons, superpowers, or magic abilities that will help each Alpha achieve the player's goal of victory.

The Alpha genus cards as well as any equipment, ability, or spell cards assigned to it come with a summoning cost, however. So that each time a player brings a new copy of the Alpha onto the battlefield, she will be getting closer and closer to the summoning point limit players agreed upon before beginning the game. So players really have to decide what kind of game they want to play. Should they load up their Alphas with lots of powerful abilities and weapons, knowing they won't be able to summon to many to the battlefield? Do they go with a swarm approach and build smaller Alphas with less power, but who cost less and can be summoned multiple times per game? Does a single minded Alpha team stand a chance? Is a more balanced team not min/maxed enough? Should the Alphas be fast, nimble, slow, powerful, ranged, melee? All of these decisions need to be dealt with by players as they go through their decks of cards to create their Alphas.

A few of the Divine Intervention cards available in the game.

Players also build a deck of 4 Divine Intervention cards. These cards can be played at almost any time, and can have a powerful effect on the course of the game. The catch with these cards is that they must be played in the order the player chose to put them in at the start of the game. If a player finds she really wants to play her third card, but hasn't played her first card yet, she can do so, but the first two cards will have to be discarded with no effect. So again, careful planning in how players build their decks is important.

My super Spell Binder had extra health, health regen, and a bunch of awesome spells...and "only" cost fourty-four points to summon!

Once the construction phase of the game is complete, players will summon copies of their Alphas to the battlefield and activate them in order to acquire and hold 2 of 3 relics that are on the board. Combat in the game is diceless and, in fact, not randomized in any way. When a combatant uses an action to attack another combatant, stats and bonuses are compared and damage is assigned. Combat itself is fairly straightforward, but with all of those awesome power card in play, keeping everything your and your opponent's Alphas can do is where the challenge lies.

The game ends when one of the players controls 2 relics at the beginning of her turn. The player wins!

Athlas is a very engaging game with beautiful artwork and a lot of interesting decisions and customization options to play around with. I am someone who loves video game RPGs, and Athlas definitely gave me the feeling of getting to "level" up my characters as much as I wanted - without any grinding. A lot of the fun of this game is in being able to create your 3 fighters the way that you want, and then getting to see if the strategy you planned for when you were spec'ing out your troops does what you thought, or crashes and burns.

The best thing I can say about Athlas is that it reminded me of a slightly heavier, much less random version of Summoner Wars. If that description sounds appealing to you, I think you should absolutely go back this game! It has already funded, but only has 3 days left, so don't wait!

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