Antihero was one of my favourite games from this year’s Rezzed - it combines a few things that I love and does it superbly. It’s a digital board game with fog-of-war vision, a Victorian aesthetic and a simple aim - murder, steal, and child labour your way victory. Published by Versus Evil and developed by Tim Conkling, Antihero tasks you with becoming a master thief and saving London from your opponents.
Antihero is turn-based, but there’s a lot to do each round: the master thief has to scout buildings and roads, stealing gold from the revealed buildings and using that gold to buy other units. The simplest of these are urchins, small children used to work buildings to earn resources. The two resources are gold used to buy units and gas lamps for upgrades. The buildings usually give one resource per turn with one urchin, and then another effect with three urchins.
The other two units, which work in tandem, are the gangs and the brutes. Brutes can either block the path of your opponent or join with a gang to give it more health. Gangs can deal damage to kill opposing gangs or brutes, and level up when they kill. Gangs can also evict opposing urchins from buildings, allowing you to cripple your opponents supply.
The upgrade page only allows you to perform one action per turn, but there is a lot to choose from. Aside from the three trees which upgrade the different units and unlock new ones, you can also purchase a victory point with a bribe. These cost more each time someone purchases one, but they are expensive so saving up could mean you don’t get any upgrades for several turns. Playing Antihero reminds me a lot of classic strategy games, where you need to have a flexible approach for any chance at victory.
Victory is achieved by holding enough victory points. These can be gained in a number of ways; the aforementioned bribes are the easiest, although there are missions in game - usually to kill someone or steal something - which will reward you, and certain buildings will bestow a victory point when worked. The number of points required is variable when setting up the game, which is a great way of controlling the length of each match.
While there is a single player mode, the main meat of the game is in the multiplayer. There are two different types of multiplayer: “asynchronous” which lets you take your turn whenever you are free and your opponent receives a message when it is their turn, and a live mode which activates turn timers and is played out synchronously. You can also run a local multiplayer game, but this is relatively limited because Antihero only supports two players.
Antihero is set to release in July for Steam, with a mobile release coming shortly after.