21 November 2008

Anima Tactics I: The Basics

An overview

by Jason SmithAnima Tactics is a tactical skirmish game for any number of players.  Players all agree on what point value they want to play, and everyone builds a force of that many points using any combination of characters and advantage cards.  Each character is considered a “unit” unless stated otherwise, and is unique: a player is forbidden from choosing the same character twice in their army build.  A player’s draft revolves around one of two builds:  Faction or Organization.


Faction:  There are Light, Dark, and Unaligned Factions in Anima.  If you build your army in this way, all you need to remember is that Light and Dark units will not fight together.  Unaligned units are not picky; players may choose them with either Light or Dark units already in their build.


Organization:  There are currently five organizations in the game:  Empire, Church, Azur Alliance, Samael, and Wissenschaft.  If a character belongs to one of these organizations, they’ll have the appropriate symbol on their cards or simply say so in text.  The absence of a symbol or the word “Wanderer” implies that a character belongs to no organization.  An organizational build rules that with the exception of one Wanderer Option, all the characters in the army must be of the same organization.  A Wanderer Option usually consists of one wanderer unit, or possibly a team of wanderers (such as Kujaku Hime and Takanosuke).


It may be possible that a player falls short of the point total after choosing the characters they want.  That’s what the Advantage cards are good for.  For an appropriate cost, the player can add an equipment, power or plot card to their arsenal.  A player may only choose up to a number of advantage cards equal to the characters in his build. Equipment and Power advantage cards need to be assigned to a specific character until that unit is removed from play, and with rare exceptions, each character can only be assigned one card.  Plot and Team cards may be placed aside character cards to show that they’re affecting play, but not to be discarded if any specific character is removed.  Unless otherwise stated on the card, Advantage cards do not need to be revealed to your opponents until they’re used.


The Anatomy of a Character Card:  A character’s name, class (warrior / mystic / prowler) and organization should all be displayed neatly on the top of the card.   The Faction symbol appears as either a burst of light, the eye of darkness, or a simple gray circle in the upper left-hand corner.  The numbers - from upper left swooping down - represent Attack, Damage, Defense, Armor, Life Points, Resistance and Movement.


Attack:  This is the number you add to a 10-sided die to find your final attack result.  A competent attacker will have at least a 5 in this stastic.


Damage:  This is how much base damage will be dealt if the final attack result meets the defense number of the defending unit.  Anything higher than what is required on the die is considered threshhold damage - that is – an immediate damage bonus.  


Defense:  This is the character’s ability to get out of the way of harm.  If an attacker’s final result hits this number, base damage is dealt.  An average defense in Anima Tactics is around 9, so attacks usually favor the defender a bit unless special attacks are launched.


Armor:  Armored units get to subtract this number from the total damage dealt.


Life Points:  When these reach zero, the unit is removed from play.  Also, characters cannot have more Life Points than this maximum at any one time.


Resistance:  Add this number to a ten-sided die to resist malicious effects from opposing units.  Players need to exceed the effect difficulties to pass checks.  So a character with a 10 Resistance needs a 6 or better to resist an Effect 15.


Movement:  These two numbers separated by a slash represent how many inches a character can move when they spend for a walk or a run.  Each unit only gets one movement action per turn, either before or after their Active Actions.


Actions and the Action Bar:  The circles on the bottom left-hand side of the card represent the maximum number of Action Points a character can hold, while the ones filled in with blue show how quickly a character recovers their points from turn to turn.    

An average maximum is about four, while recoveries don’t normally go above three or lower than two.  This keeps Action Points tight enough where a characters can’t do everything they want in a Turn, but usually have to plan for things over a few turns.  Since every character in Anima Tactics is unique, they usually have special actions printed in the center of their card that make them original.  Of course, every character can perform the Basic Action Set for a cost:


Walk (1) – The character may move up to their walk value in inches.  They can make as many direction changes as they wish before stopping.  It’s worth mentioning the 2” free movement here.  If a character moves two inches or less, it will not cost any Action Points, although it does count towards their movement for the Turn.


Run (2) – The character may move up to their run value in inches in a straight line.  If they encounter any impassible terrain or other units, they must stop running. 


Attack (2) – A standard hand-to-hand attack using the attack value.  A unit must be engaged in hand-to-hand to launch a standard attack unless otherwise stated on their card.  A few special ranged units may spend two points to attack from a range, but it must state this as an innate ability on their card.


Charge! (3) – A character may move up to their full movement in a straight line on a Charge, but this straight line (referred to as the line of charge) must not pass through any other scenery or character bases.  Also, the unit must have line of sight to the base of the target or the charge cannot occur.  A charge grants the character a +2 to Attack and the choice between the higher of two rolled ten-sided dice.  Obviously this is a dangerous attack.


Seek (1):  Once per Turn a character may attempt to find hidden characters within their Control Zone (8 inches from the base).  If an 8 or higher is rolled on a ten-sided die, any and all hidden characters within the seeking character’s Control Zone are revealed.


Escape (1):  Characters engaged in hand-to-hand do not need to stay that way, but cannot break away for free.  An Escape roll at 6 or higher will disengage the character from hand-to-hand.  After this, movement points will need to be spent to get further away than 2 inches.


All the Actions above are Active Actions.   After they are performed - whether the character still has Action Points remaining or not - that character is turned 90 degrees to show they cannot perform any more Active Actions that Turn.  Sometimes it’s best to leave some Action Points on a unit to perform the two Basic Reactive Actions:


Dodge (1):   This is the most common Reactive Action to take.  Dodging characters add a ten-sided die roll to their Defense value to determine whether they’re hit or not.  Basic Attacks will often miss a dodging character, and will be on par with most special attacks.  Yes, dodging saves lives.


Counterattack (3):  This is a risky maneuver that some characters excel at.  A countering character first attempts a dodge as normal.  If after this, if no damage was inflicted (whether this was because of a miss or just because of high armor) the character rolls an immediate counterattack using their base attack value and applying a –2 penalty to the strike.  The former attacker may dodge this counter, Action Points permitting.


Special Actions on characters will list an Action Point cost, a type in parenthesis 

( Ki / Magical / Subterfuge) a description of what’s happening (Attack, Special Dodge, Special Counter) and whether or not it’s reactive.  Distance Attacks will be clearly marked with a range in inches, otherwise most special attacks can be assumed to be hand-to-hand.  As always, special text overwrites any of these basic rules.  Within all the Special Actions that characters have lies the true excitement in Anima Tactics.  Each character acts as a switchboard of actions, specializing in what they do best.  Whether it’s backing up their team members or leading the offensive in a symphony of combinations and rapid strikes, no game is quite the same.

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