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In a lost time between, the fall of Atlantis and the Great Flood, mighty kingdoms flourished across what would become Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Powerful, steely-thewed warriors battled monsters and invading barbarians in this untamed wilderness to carve a place for a thriving bronze-age culture. No, this isn’t another Conan game though you’d be forgiven for thinking so. It’s Anastyr, the latest offering from Mythic Games.

Alboraan, Anastyr‘s approximation of Hyboria, is a diverse land full of Neolithic beasts, vicious monsters, piratical raiders, and cannibalistic slavers. It is also a land of varied and thriving cultures, able to grow and expand since the defeat of Volkar, the dragon tyrant that once ruled all of Alboraan. Killed by an ancient witch wielding the Amber Spear, Volkar’s soul was then trapped in a magic orb and given to giants for safekeeping. But now the orb is missing, and the Dragon Queen, Anastyr, has declared her intent to revive Volkar once again. Fortunately a hard land makes hard people. A band of heroes is on the hunt for the shattered Spear, and they’ll put Volkar in his grave for good.

Mythic Games has really been living up to that name, with recent projects like Hel and Monsterpocalypse both reaching that fabled $1,000,000+ goal on Kickstarter. Can Anastyr, too, become a monetary monster of mythic proportions? If this were Vegas, I’d take that bet because this gamehas a lot going for it.

For starters, they’ve hired the perfect world builder and art director in the form of Paolo Parente. His Confrontation, AT-43, and Dust are each rich worlds unto themselves, so he definitely has the required scope of vision. He’s also the perfect artist for a world populated with furious barbarians. Take a look at his previous character art and you’ll find some of the beefiest, burliest proportions in the business.

Someone please explain to Kharak how winter clothes work.
Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

But this game isn’t all style. Anastyr, a cooperative skirmish game, still manages to stand out in that crowded field by incorporating a number of innovative mechanics. The core mechanics revolve around action economy. Depending on how many people are playing (1 to 4), each hero has 2 to 3 actions per turn. There are your basic ones like ‘Move and Attack’, but each hero also has access to a deck of Technique and Fury cards. Each technique comes with multiple attack and defense options, but they also help you build Fury. After all, what’s a barbarian theme without a little rampaging? Spend Fury points to play Fury cards which unleash devastating attacks! Even if you haven’t whipped yourself up into full-berserker mode, enemies still can’t rest easy. That’s because when Techniques are played in specific orders, they produce a Combo effect for a little added pain.

Speaking of combos, Anastyr took inspiration from more than just Conan. They also looked to video games, specifically the Golden Axe series. Like that venerable side scroller, the player map “scrolls” from left to right as players advance through a scenario. Once the left-most map tile has been cleared of figures, the right-most map slides left to replace it and a new tile is placed on the right.

But side scrolling wasn’t the reason we played Golden Axe. It was because that game let you ride on friggin’ sweet monsters! Alboraan is littered with such beasts. There’s your standard warhorse, which is fine. But why would you ride a horse when you could ride a hyeanodon? Or a wyvern? Or if you spring for the Solys add-on, you can even ride a giant red dragon. And no fiddly pegs and holes here. In addition to a standard pedestrian miniature, each hero also comes with a mounted form complete with pre-installed magnets for a firm grip and easy switch.

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It’s when you DON’T hear the thunder of hooves that you know things are about to get really bad. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

That same level of quality permeates all of the miniatures. The sculpts themselves are ferociously dynamic and original in their design, something anyone familiar with this company has come to expect. But Mythic went further. Thin blades on a miniature are the bane of any collector’s existence, somehow becoming permanently bent exactly 4.8 seconds after being removed from their packaging. Each of the models in this game, though, are made from 2 different plastics. The body of each miniature is made from softer PVC plastic while the weapons are made from much stiffer ABS plastic to make sure those swords stay sharp.

Neolithic parkour.
Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

The campaign lasts until May 6th and has already almost doubled its $200,000 goal. Like its characters, the price is a bit beefy with a $130 base, but with 74 detailed miniatures, gorgeous map tiles, and hundreds of illustrated cards, it’s well worth the cost. Plus with all of that animal riding, you’ll easily save that much in gas money.

by Zane Messina

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