Bored? Game! – Discworld: Ankh Morpork

Terry Pratchett – the godfather of humorous, alternative fantasy. His Discworld series is legendary, not only for its colourful cast of characters, the absurdity of the world itself, but also the sheer humour and joy that have secured Terry Pratchett a place in history. While not having much knowledge of his work I’m still extremely impressed by the sheer breadth of his accomplishments. Terry Pratchett’s work has led to several adaptations, one of which is Ankh Morpork, an RPG board game with a box blurb that claims you’ll be a Terry Pratchett fan after playing one game. With a game designer like Martin Wallace I was willing to believe it, so I sat down to play a game with my Dad, a big fan of Pratchett’s, and a few friends.

The range of pieces, character cards and general randomness lends the game a decent level of replayability.

The board game itself follows similar rules to others of its type. There are several ‘character cards’ which define what each individual player’s winning conditions are, as well as Area Cards and Random Event Cards. The board is divided into twelve areas relating to the Ankh Morpork of the books and each corresponding to numbers on the dice. Players populate the board with ‘minion pieces’ and buildings, and as they come into conflict with their rivals, ‘trouble markers’ also appear, which can limit what a player is allowed to do in certain areas.

Certain random events also create ‘troll’ pieces and ‘monster’ pieces, and to the game’s credit it does not make such events too complicated for new players to grasp. The basic premise is that in order to win, you need cards and pieces on the board in some secret combination, and once you understand this, the game can be a lot of fun. The range of pieces, character cards, and general randomness lends the game a decent level of replayability, although a big limitation is that only four people can play at once.

Where Pratchett’s work is truly evident is in the gameplay cards that players must use each turn. Each relates to some character or place in the Discworld series, and you can enjoy them even if you’re not a fan. The characters look zany and varied, and honestly the names are hilarious. Drawing a certain card can bring a good amount of laughter to a game that’s gone on a bit too long. The characters and art make the game genuinely charming, though this does not quite serve to make me curious about the series. There is no plot to Ankh Morpork, and so however funny the cards might be, they’ll most likely be forgotten by strangers to the series (and having the one Pratchett fan in your group point out each character they recognise can get really, really old).

It looks pretty and plays well, but there’s no depth comparable to Pratchett’s novels, as the game seems to advertise.

Having limited experience with both table top games and Terry Pratchett, I can still recommend Ankh Morpork. The instructions can be awkward to grasp at first, but are easy to learn by playing. I tried the game with my family, and we all had a good amount of fun. It was engaging, had an enjoyable level of strategy and was a lot less painful to play than Monopoly. However, just as newbies can grasp what’s good, we can also see what didn’t quite work.

The game should not have claimed to be an engaging look at Discworld, because it just wasn’t. Pratchett fans will enjoy seeing their favourite characters appear, but others will just enjoy the funny names and colourful designs, and then forget about them. Compared to other table-top games on the market, having a maximum of four players is also rather abysmal, and I felt that there was enough variation in the game itself to easily accommodate more players, even at the risk of drawing out gameplay. Overall, Ankh Morpork is engaging and simple enough to be enjoyable, but unless you’re a Pratchett fan you may find better value for your money elsewhere.



Beautiful visual design that brings across a bright and funny world

Replayability through changing winning conditions and sheer variance in cards

Easily grasped by newcomers to such games, with enough intricacy to keep experienced players interested

No elements of Pratchet’s world are made memorable by the game

Will only support a limited number of players

Designer: Martin Wallace
Publisher: Treefrog Games
Mechanic: City building
Number of Players: 2-4
Length of Game: 60 mins
Complexity: Medium

Buy it here






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