Disclaimer: This preview is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by Button Shy to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Game: Anthelion: Conclave of Power
Publisher: Button Shy
Designer: Daniel Solis
Artist: Fabrice Weiss
Main Game Mechanisms: Area Movement, Action Selection
Number of Players: 2
Game Time: 20 – 30 minutes
Description: We’ve headed back to the Pocket Universe, and after years of fighting between the Liberation and the Dynasty, it has become quite obvious that no one is going to win based on military power or underhanded tactics. No, now it’s time to recoup and gain influence over some of the most powerful people in the galaxy – current allies, neutral adventurers, and even your foes – to create a powerful conclave that can help you to take control of the Galaxy!
Based on Button Shy’s hit game Avignon: A Clash of Popes; Anthelion: Conclave of Power is an action selection game where you’re trying to influence characters to come over to your conclave.
There are 5 cards that represent planets – the Liberation Base and the Borderlands on the Liberation side of the table, the Rogue Planet in the middle, and the Colonies and the Dynasty Capital on the Dynasty Side. Five characters, each with special abilities and a number of stars (victory points), are lined up on the rogue planet to start the game.
Then, the Liberation and Dynasty players take turns, starting with the Liberation player. On your turn, you take two of the actions (in black typeface) on the table – whether they’re on a planet or on one of the characters. You push and pull characters between planets, eject characters to the discard pile (and replace them with new characters), and try to get them over to your side.
There are also pink actions (which trigger while they’re still being fought over) and green actions (which trigger when they’re claimed by a conclave) to keep track of. You push, pull, and manipulate characters until a player has at least 10 stars in their conclave. Once they get their 10th star, their conclave has taken over the galaxy and they’ve won the game!
Review: First off, the rules for this were incredibly easy for us to understand. We never played Avignon (which this game is based on, but not a reskin of), and we were able to get a handle on the whole thing pretty easily. Thank you, Button Shy, for putting a lot of emphasis on making your games easy to learn – it definitely shone through in this game.
Another thing I loved about this game is just how smart the design is. Who would think that a game that is primarily based on the concept of pulling cards toward you and pushing them away from you would be so smart? It absolutely nails the “easy to learn, hard to master” element – one false move, and your opponent can get that 10th star from under your nose.
The art for the game is both fun and inclusive. There are male and female characters; people of color were also represented as well. I enjoyed that the “Ace” card seemed to be a nod to Kelly Marie Tran’s character, Rose, in the Last Jedi.
The game never overstayed its welcome, either. With my chronic pain getting a bit worse since it’s finally winter here in Virginia, I appreciated that the game stayed within that 20 to 30 minute time frame that it claims to have. I imagine that, as we get better at the game, it’ll go even faster.
In our games, the Liberation won a little more often than the Dynasty, but we couldn’t determine if it was first player advantage or if there was something else about it – it may take a few more plays to see if that’s just a fluke or if there’s actually something to it.
Anthelion is a worthy addition to the already amazing lineup of games that Button Shy has in their catalog – it’s an intelligent design filled with inclusive art and a fun and familiar space theme that any sci-fi fan can appreciate.
Kickstarter Information: Anthelion: Conclave of Power is coming to Kickstarter on Tuesday, January 8th. We’ll post the link here on this post and on our Twitter as soon as it goes live! Update: Kickstarter is live – click here to back this project!