Anastyr – Stepping into the Heroes shoes

Heroes of ancient time

Throughout History when an exceptional threat appears, exceptional people rise to meet it. As the threat of Anastyr’s plan becomes more and more evident, a young woman, UNDRAAL the Daughter of the Wind, has dream visions of being the bearer of the reforged Amber Worldspear, fighting against Volkar, the ancient Chaos Dragon. Sensitive to foresight and a practitioner of the Art of the Winds, she decides, in agreement with the shamans of her tribe, to join the Great Caravan, a mysterious convoy that travels through Alboraan to assemble the lands greatest Heroes, to form the Companions of the Spear.

In the Caravan, her first recruit is PYRAH the Exiled, a fearsome archer rejected by her clan. She is then joined by SHADU the Voice of the All-Mother, a priestess who is intrigued by the mysterious Sylfae and who has felt the stirrings of Anastyr’s magical manipulations. On her travels, she meets KONRAD the Prince of the Blades, feared Warlord of the White Eagles tribe, who abdicates to join the Companions and their Homeric quest. She will save KHARAK the Renegade, a merciless killer, hunted by their own people. And finally, she recruits BRID the Stone Avenger, a hardened warrior who has personally suffered, flesh and blood, the threat embodied by the Dragons return.

This is a brief introduction to the Heroes of the Companions of the Spear, let’s check out how they will use iron and steel, and the mysterious Art, to rule the Adventure tiles.

Dashboard or character sheet?

Let’s start with game components. Each Hero has a personalized dashboard on which are noted all their characteristics, powers, Health point and Fury bars. There are also slots to place Technique cards used when building “combos”, which mount the Hero is riding cards, and for any Loot cards picked up during the adventure.

A Hero is defined by 4 Statistics, their class, a specific power and their combo list.

The stats are Combat, Defense, Movement and Art (primitive magic). Apart from Movement, the other three stats represent the number of dice rolled when a Hero tests the stat and each has a useful color for combos (see below): red for Combat, blue for Defense and green for Art. Movement represents the number of squares a Hero can move when activated.

There are also 4 Hero classes:

  • A Shaman masters the powers of nature, and the raw, primitive energy of Art. Their Art stat value is high and their Technique card deck mainly contains Art cards (green).
  • A Warrior is a formidable fighter. Their Combat stat value is high and their Technique card deck mainly contains Combat cards (red).
  • A Tank takes hits and uses their defensive skills to protect other Heroes. Their Defense stat is high and their Technique card deck mainly contains Defense cards (blue).
  • A Ranger is agile, cunning, and prepared to face any danger encountered on the battlefield. Their stats are balanced and the composition of their Technique card deck varies by Hero.

Each Hero can access 3 combos that create specific effects and require that Technique cards, a maximum of 3 are placed under the Hero’s dashboard, from left to right on the Hero’s Combo track to charge that Combo. There’s just one Combo Track on the dashboard, so a Hero can only charge one combo at a time. It’s all about anticipating your next step.

Technique cards are at the heart of the game mechanics. There are three types: Combat, Defense and Art. Each Hero has a personalized deck of 11 cards composed of 6 generic cards common to every character and 5 cards specific to their personality and class. The cards are used in several ways: to charge a combo (as shown above), help a nearby friend (there’s a reinforcement icon value on each card) by adding dice to their test, or simply to perform the action on the card. A Hero has just 3 cards in their hand and fills their hand only at the beginning of each game turn. It’s a precious resource.

Each Hero has their own Fury card. It represents a devastating attack that they can unleash when their Fury is at its maximum. The Fury bar is increased when a Technique card is used, each having a Fury value.

Health points are of course essential in this violent world. The Health point bar shows 3 states of health: Unharmed, Weak, or Critical. Each state has an impact on the character’s abilities. When a Hero reaches 0 health points, he is out of combat, removed from the game and replaced by a new Hero from the Hero pool. If this reserve is empty, the game is lost!

Truth is born from action!

As we said in the previous article, the game uses an Activation queue comprised of Activation cards representing the Heroes and their enemies. The initiative order is determined randomly at the beginning of the game by placing the Activation cards in the Activation queue. At the beginning of the Activation phase, if this sequence doesn’t work for the Heroes, it is possible to disrupt the queue sequence, using the Leader token. The Hero who uses this token can swap their Activation card with any other Activation card on the Activation queue. Be careful, this token is acquired by performing Heroic actions, but above all it is unique, and therefore precious. Only one Hero can possess it and that Hero becomes the focus and priority target for the enemy forces.

When it’s a Hero’s turn to act, they can perform 2 basic actions if the game is being played with 3 or 4 players, and 3 basic actions when playing with 1 or 2 players (in solo mode, the player plays both Heroes). A Hero can also resolve any free actions if the required conditions have been met.

There are eight basic actions. Let’s look at the most obvious (and least violent) ones first:

  • Prepare combo: A player tucks their Technique card under their dashboard in the area indicated by the Combo Track. These cards must be placed in the order required by the Combo you are preparing.
  • Focus: A Hero can increase their Fury bar (by rolling a die), or flipping their reroll token. Each Hero has an active re-roll token at the beginning of the game which allows them to re-roll all the dice in an unfavorable roll.
  • Heal: A Hero rolls the number of dice indicated by their Health state to recover Health points, or to remove a Critical injury card.
  • Interact: contextual action which is scenario situation dependent. It requires spending a Technique card of the required color.
  • Tame a creature: A Hero can try to tame a wild creature to ride it. They can do so cautiously, by spending a Technique card corresponding to the creature’s color, or less cautiously by making an Art roll, this Art roll action can provide that Hero a chance to win the graces of the mysterious Sylfae.

The next 3 actions require deeper explanation, as they often involve an attack.

  • Perform a Technique: This is somewhat of an obvious action. Play a Technique card and resolve the action described on that card. This can be a move, a physical attack, or a magical attack. Technique cards used in this situation affect the Fury bar. In addition, the card can then be tucked under the Heroes dashboard and added to the Combo track.
  • Maneuver: this action combines a move using the Hero’s Movement value with a Combat attack (an Art attack is excluded). The Combat does not target a miniature but a tile space. Depending on the Hero, some can only fight adjacent or nearby enemies (in the same space), while others have an attack with a number of spaces attack range. Once the target space has been determined, the Hero’s combat dice are rolled, and any bonuses (reinforcement from other Heroes, for example, or accumulated negative effects) are applied. The dice can be rolled again if the Hero’s Reroll token is active. Any hits are then distributed to the enemy miniatures in that space. Each time an enemy’s Defense value is equaled, it is eliminated. I’ll let you visualize Konrad’s great sword sweeps killing multiple Anastyr’s henchmen with the same blow.
  • Throwing an enemy: This is a special action because it is conditional on obtaining a Grapple icon during a previous Combat roll. A Hero, on foot, can grapple an enemy at the end of the combat sequence. To symbolize this, the base of the Hero’s miniature is placed so that it overlaps the base of the grappled enemy. By using the Throw action, the Hero will throw the grappled enemy onto a nearby or adjacent enemy. The thrown enemy is eliminated, and the target enemy is stunned. In addition to being a thrill to behold, this action is very useful to temporarily reduce the danger level of a boss and provide time for other Heroes to intervene.
  • And next up! free actions, of which there are four. They all have a pre-requisite condition, and each free action can only be played ONCE during a turn:
    Trigger a combo: If your Combo cards are at full charge, you can trigger the chosen Combo for free, discard the charged Combo cards, and apply the chosen Combo effects and wipe out many enemies in style. To summarize, during a turn, you can Maneuver, play a Combat Technique card, and trigger your Combo. That’s the best way to get your opponents’ bodies flying and piling up around you!
  • Trigger Fury: And if that wasn’t enough, you can also trigger your Fury attack if your Fury bar is full! The bar will then resets to 0.
  • Use a beast mount: Each mount grants you a specific free action (in addition to combat and movement bonuses most of the time)
  • Use loot: On the Hero’s board, if you have found a loot card that provides an action, you can use that action for free.

The massive inventory of possible actions recap is now complete. You can see that the Heroes are far above the average mortal and have quite a few ways to crush their enemies, see those enemies die before them and hear the lamentations of their women. (Conan Movie reference, for those not in the know)

Next article, we’ll check out how your enemies can resist your Fury and bring the Pain!

Until then, continue your devotions to the All-Mother.


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