Have you ever wanted to revisit Wonderland? Maybe jump down the rabbit hole and explore the forests and cities that make up the magical land Alice found herself in when chasing the white rabbit? Maybe you’re intrigued by a possible conversation with a vanishing cat? Or a large, very obstinate caterpillar? Maybe you like celebrating your birthday on every day other than your actual birthday? That sounds like a lot of parties, honestly. Maybe you like being chased by the Queen’s guards, as they try to take off your head? Well, i doubt you’re into that last one, but the rest sounds pretty fun.
In “Alicematic” by Japanime Games, published by Manifest Destiny, we all get to revisit Wonderland! And not in a weird way, like when Johnny Depp revisited the chocolate factory. This is Alice in Wonderland, but completely ANIME! Yes, the art is 100% anime inspired, taking me back to my days waiting every day after school for a new Dragon Ball Z episode to be dubbed into English, only to be disappointed when they would start back at episode 1 because they hadn’t translated the next episode yet! Well, that’s another story.
“Alicematic” is a 3-5 player, area control game, surprisingly, where players take control of a group of Alices’ from different realms who have been summoned back to Wonderland by the Queen of Hearts to help fight a horrible creature called a “nothing”. Just forget about how the Queen was trying to kill Alice before, and it kinda makes sense. Right?
When we come in, the “nothing” has been destroyed by the Alices’, but there are now tons of Alices’ who all want to take control of Wonderland. The Queen of Hearts has divided them into groups and is allowing them to fight for control of Wonderland. I had no idea cute little Alice was so…violent? Maybe the Queen rubbed off on her just a bit? Wherever she got her aggression from, she’s definitely a ton cooler at this point.
When I mention Alices’ from different realms, I mean really cool realms too. Like Knight Alice, Emperor Alice, Death Angel Alice, and Valkyrie Alice. I mean, Alice is all of a sudden a total beast. I would absolutely watch this anime.
The game has a really unique card slot mechanic, where players each have 5 card slots that they can place cards in. Each card is a different Alice, and each slot gives you certain abilities. So depending on how you want to approach the game, you can summon Alices’ in the slots that correspond to the abilities you want to level up. These abilities help you to take over different parts of the board, and gain the advantage that you want. Players take turns, and on their turn they can both place a card in one of their card slots and take over one area of the map. After 14 rounds, players gain points based on areas they control and Alices’ they have in their card slots. Most points wins.
To be honest, I was originally confused by the game. I didn’t understand how this could be an area control game. When I think of area control games I think of games that take 10 hours, have strong military type color patterns, and lots of dice rolling. This game has none of those things! The game takes about an hour, has very bright colors, and zero dice rolling. Sounds like a better way to do area control doesn’t it? I couldn’t agree more.
I like the game; I like that it is simple. Area control games are fun, but they are most often too time consuming for most people, and have a high learning curve, giving advantage to any players who have played the most. This drives away most players who are either new to gaming or just want a fun experience as opposed to an intense experience.
Let’s look at the highlights and lowlights of the game:
Art: If you like anime, you will love the art in this game. The cards are all different versions of Alice, supposedly from different realms. Each Alice is unique with unique abilities. I also like that the the abilities correspond to the type of Alice that the card represents. This is very cool.
Length: Each time I play, the game runs consistently for about an hour.
Mechanics and Replay-ability: As mentioned earlier, the card slot feature is a great, unique mechanic, that lets players customize their abilities based on how they want to earn points in the game. Meaning that players can always have a different style when they play.
Cushioned PVP: An interesting rule in this game is that you can’t take over an area that is already owned by another player if that area connects to a city that they control. This comes into play quite a bit and forces players to find unique ways to play around each other instead of constantly stealing from each other. This can be a positive for those groups who don’t like to be actively aggressive against each other.
Round Marker: This game is played over 14 rounds and the only way to keep track of the rounds is to have some paper and a pen. You can look at the amount of cards you have placed also, but I feel that an actual representation of how many rounds have been played would be helpful.
Card Quality: More than one person I played with mentioned they felt the quality of the cards (the paper) was sub-standard. I personally did not notice this, but I felt it was worth mentioning.
As you can see, the highlights outweigh the lowlights in this game. Alicematic is very fun, turns are fast, and you can spend all of your non-turn time admiring the really cool art on the cards. Playing the game is relatively easy, there is very limited reading involved, and the rules are pretty simple. The instruction manual even includes a chibi comic including Alice, which is really fun.
This is a great game for anime lovers and people who want a simple game with unique mechanics. I don’t see myself playing this game every week, but I can see myself bringing it out as an easy starter game for anime lovers. And no, I don’t just mean my Asian friends! Well…maybe I do.
I take my hat off to Japanime games for taking two things I love, games and anime, and mixing them together like a good PB and J.
That actually sounds really good right now…
Anyway, I look forward to seeing more of their games in the future.
Play on boys and girls.