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Achroma is sure colourful but is it just another pretty card game?

Updated: Jan 26, 2023


The Achroma - The Warriors of Wishwell box stood upright on a wooden desk - Photo by Chris A @DOALG
Achroma - The Warriors of Wishwell - Photo by Chris A @DOALG

Summary

Players: 2+ player

Ages: 8+

Game Time: 20 - 30 mins


Across the Five Realms, the ravages of a dark energy called Achrom is spreading, diminishing the magical life force called Chroma.


Help shape the future of the magical realms in Achroma, a beautifully illustrated fantasy card game for two or more players.


Deploy cards to gain, drain and steal your way to victory in this fast, fun, tactical card game.



At the time of writing, there are 245 Achroma cards to collect, with a new release every three to four months. Each Achroma release contains 60 unique and collectible cards in four rarities: Legendary, Rare, Uncommon and Common.


DOALG were privileged to be donated a copy of The Warriors of Wishwell release, and this review is only based on that release having not played any other.


A collection of beautifully illustrated Characters, Actions, Locations and Objects of Power; there are six pre-constructed palettes (decks) across three factions. The heroes and villains make use of the gameplay abilities like SHIELD WALL and RAGE.


As well as being a standalone game, Achroma: The Warriors of Wishwell is fully compatible with Achroma: The Curse of Curdle Hill ; Achroma: The Siege of Draco Temple and Achroma: The Fall of Flutterby.


Gameplay

You can learn how to play Achroma by checking out the official rules here (www.achroma.cards/how-to-play-achroma), but let's crack on with the review.


During a game of Achroma, you'll spend shards – the life energy that keeps you alive.


Players take it in turns to deploy and battle with their characters, equip them with objects of power, harness vital locations and unleash different combinations of actions, doing this will enable them gain, drain and steal shards from their opposition. To win, gather 30 shards in your bank or reduce your opponents' banks to 0, simple enough?


Achroma uses some pretty unique terms, which threw me off at first, but after a few rounds I soon got to grips with the game.


Although it follows the Canvas format typical of an Achroma game, The Warriors of Wishwell brings unique abilities, keywords, dynamics and lore. Let's explore some of the key terms.


Canvas :

This is the area on front of you on the table where you play / deploy your cards. These can be characters, locations and equipment. Make sure you leave space for your Palette, Shard Bank and Dregs (see below). Use a playmat at your discretion, but if you value cards and like to keep them pristine, sleeve them too.


Palette :

This refers to your deck of cards. Each deck must consist of 30 cards. You can customise the decks using any of the Achroma expansions, but you must adhere to these guidelines:

• No more than one Legendary card

• Up to four Rare cards, but no more than one of each rare card

• Any number of Uncommon and Common cards, but no more than two of each card

• All cards in the palette need to share the same realm symbol in the top left corner of the cards (see below).

Symbols of the Achroma Card Factions, from left to right Draco Planum, Norso Planum, Salum Planum and Spirata Planum
Achroma Card Factions - Care of Realm Runner Studios

Shard Bank :

Each player starts the game with ten shards in the bank. Players spend these shards to play cards from their hand. Deployed Achroma cards have abilities that allow a player to gain, drain, and steal shards from other players.


To keep track of your shard bank, you can use the free Achroma app for iOS and Android, but tokens or dice also work. You need to be careful with what, when and how you deploy cards as you need to find a balance that doesn't leave you exposed to your opponent.


Dregs :

Your dregs are where your erased and discarded cards go. Each player has their own and they should be face up.


So now that we've got to grips with some of the terms, let's take a look at how a game of Achroma runs. It plays over a series of player turns, each consisting of five steps that must be completed in order (I'll go through each of them in order below). Play is passed clockwise to the next player once those steps are concluded. Randomly select a player to take the first turn, or use the app to randomise for you.


1. Start Step - Draw / Trade

In the start step players may do one of the following: Draw or Trade. To draw, a player takes a card from the top of their palette into their hand. To trade, a card is discarded from hand and is sent to a player's dregs. The player then adds that card’s shard value (the number of filled shards in its hex) to their Bank.

The Rabid Dog card shown with labels identifying its different components; top: Card type; left (top to bottom): Realm Symbol, Card Name, Strength, Gameplay Ability, Card ID; right (top to bottom) Effect, Hex, Lore.
Achroma Card Antatomy - Care of Realm Runner Studios

If playing a two player game, the first player should skip their first start step and go straight to the attack step.


2. Attack

During the attack step, each character on a player's Canvas may make one attack against a character on another player's Canvas.

To attack, a player selects one of their characters and then declares their target. Attackers and defenders deal shard damage to each other at the same time equal to their strength, which is displayed in a circle at the centre of their hex.

For each ‘point’ of shard damage a card takes, its shard value (the number of shards in its hex) is reduced by one. When a card is reduced to zero shards, it’s erased and sent to its owner’s dregs.

If a character has any attached Objects of Power, the objects of power add their strength to the character’s. Objects of Power also take shard damage, and do so before their attached character does. If an object of power is erased, any remaining points of shard damage is carried over and applied to their attached character. If a character has multiple attached Objects of Power, their owner chooses in which order they take shard damage.

Characters and Objects of Power that survive an attack but have shard damage, remain damaged until the active player ends their turn, as more damage could be dealt from further attacks and actions. A deeper dive into the Attack step, along with some examples can be found here (www.achroma.cards/attack-rules).


3. Deploy

During their turn, players can deploy up to three cards, by placing them face up on their Canvas and reducing the shards in their bank equal to their shard value.

Characters, locations and objects of power may only be deployed in your Deploy step.


Although actions can be played any time during a player's turn, not just in the Deploy step, they still count towards three three card total for each turn.

Objects of Power can only be deployed by attaching them to Characters on the canvas. Players show the attachment by overlapping the cards.

Some cards have a gameplay ability that activates when it is placed on the Canvas. If the gameplay ability has the keyword ‘ACTION:’ before it, this ability triggers and concludes just once, immediately after deployment. Otherwise, the ability is considered to be in play every turn the card is on the Canvas.


4. Resolve

In the Resolve step, some cards allow players to gain, drain and steal shards. To resolve, players check the top right corner and the abilities of cards on their Canvas. [+1] - gain that many shards in the bank. [-1] - drain that many shards from another player. [±1] - steal that many shards from another player. [Ø1] means Prevent. Prevent allows players to stop a number of shards leaving their bank each turn. As the target of a drain or steal, players can choose which shards to prevent leaving their bank. A successful prevention protects players from losing a shard and stops the player who targeted them receiving one.


Note that you can’t drain or steal from another player’s bank until they have had their first turn.


5. End Step - Draw/Trade

In the End Step, players can Draw or Trade, just like in the Start Step.


When a player completes their End step, the player’s turn ends. All cards heal to full shard value, then the next player begins their turn with play continuing in this cycle until there is a winner.


These simple steps offer a quick game, usually in under 30 minutes. On your first playthrough, I would suggest allowing 15 mins to learn how to play. The mobile app really helps with the admin for this game, as it connects to your opponent's app and add / removes from the shard bank automatically (avoids accidental mistracking of scores). Whilst the app does have a few minor glitches, they generally can be overlooked as it gets updated and patched quickly.


Production

So this is where I can really offer an insight to this game, as it was originally the production quality of the game was what grabbed my attention. The artwork for this is STUNNING, it has a very much Studio Ghibli-esque style, which should appeal to a large audience. Some of the rare and ultra rare cards have been treated with UV spotlight gloss, which I prefer to the FULL foil look that Wizards of the Coast employ with games like Magic: The Gathering. This art style really talks to me, and I for one prefer this look. I wish more Trading Card Games (TCGs) and Collectible Card Games (CCG's) looked like this. I really fell in love with Achroma from the beautiful artwork, and the gameplay is the icing on the cake.


Cards from the Achroma The Warriors Of Wishwell release: Vast Volitarus, Rabid Dog, Darnacusk, Conjurer Otrix, Hex Clunker, Magus Elite Detective,  Cara Curdle,  Tenebris, Von Ruthro House,  Draco Fledgling,  Nue and Occultist Shaman
Card Art - Care Of Realm Runner Studios

Conclusion

​So, let's break it down for you in our key areas:

Replayability

Highly replayable, even if you don't customise the decks, each game is different depending on each player's hand, tactics and strategy.


Production Value

I really love what Realm Runner has done with the cards, they are a great stock and I really like the overall matte finish. Others prefer linen finish and full fancy foils, but this unique finish and approach to the look is what makes Achroma stand out!


Theme

This in not so unique BUT has mas appeal, and the images and art really evoke the story behind Achroma, I would love to see Achroma become a TV series as I love the theme so much!


Complexity & Rules

Not overly complex, but a few tactical decisions with the rules left me guessing about what I could do during my initial playthrough, but a few followups online and a release from Realm Runner with some rules updates soon cleared up a few things (however an actual rulebook is always nice).


Uniqueness

I could say it's not unique because it's a card game about summoning creatures, soldiers and monsters to the table. However, it's how the theme and design have been applied that makes Achroma unique in its own right. The world is what has mass appeal and I can't wait to see what else Realm Runner has up their sleeves.


Value

The value of this is what makes it interesting, two complete decks per set. NO BOOSTERS appeals to me (do not release boosters Realm Runner, PLEASE!!). Players can customise their decks but EVERYONE has a level playing field just like a Living Card Game (LCG)! £24 is very reasonable - click here if you want to buy Achroma: The Warriors of Wishwell - First Edition and try Achroma (https://shop.achroma.cards/products/achroma-the-warriors-of-wishwell-first-edition).


Achroma's biggest issue is that there are so many TCG, CCG, LCG in the marketplace. I’m a fan of card games and I’ve become a fan of Achroma for sure, so with that in mind many CCG fans could overlook this charming and frankly brilliant game.


There’s a friendly and committed community Discord helping Achroma to grow, which you can check out here (https://discord.gg/PjtFt5c3pn).


Realm Runner Studios (https://www.realmrunnerstudios.com/) the designers of Achroma have nailed it in my opinion. They are planning to release new decks on a regular basis, with plans to allow card trading and build a tournament scene both off and online, which I am fan of.


We were invited to the opening of the Achroma bricks and mortar store in Poole, Dorset UK. Situated at Dolphin Quays but due to timetable conflicts we couldn't attend. We wish the best of luck with this release.


A D6 die face showing six pips each pip the head of DOALG's Ink the imp

We will be watching Realm Runner Studios closely for future releases.

There’s a lot to like about Achroma and it deserves our top score. Go ahead and try something different that looks so good. Every gamer should have a deck (or 2) on their gaming kallax shelf.



Your DOALG Founder

Mr Chris

Why not take a look at the Lets Play Achroma video below :


Please note that since we published this review changes to the game have been made - some minor rule changes 24-01-23 we’ll all be playing an improved version of the game – saying goodbye to the Attack and Deploy steps and saying hello to improved PROTECTION and POISONOUS. These updates do not affect our review.


From my initial look at the changes to certainly flows better, if you have played both rule sets let us know in the comments your thoughts.



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