Alicematic Review

Alicematic is a game by Kuro, published by Japanime Games. It is for 3-5 players. In this game, players will take control of one of the Kingdoms of Wonderland as they try to take over different cities and territories. They will need to summon the help of various incarnations of Alice if they hope to be able to unite the entire Kingdom under their control. In the end, the player that can control the most territories and summon the most powerful versions of Alice will be declared the winner.

To begin, the map tiles are shuffled together. The tiles are then set up randomly face down in a 9 – 13 tile pattern depending on the number of players. Once the pattern has been made, the tiles are flipped face up. Players choose a kingdom and receive the matching kingdom cards and territory markers. Players will then place their kindom cards in a row in front of them as shown in the rulebook. Their territory markers should be placed close by. The Alice cards are shuffled together and each player is then dealt 5 cards each. Players are able to then look at their cards and discard any that they like, redrawing back up to 5 cards. However they’re only able to do this once. The point tokens and resource tokens are placed in separate piles nearby. The first player is chosen. Beginning with the first player and continuing in turn order, each player picks an edge tile and places one of their territory markers with the captured side up, onto the city territory of that tile. Once this has been done, the process is repeated except that the last player starts first and continues in reverse turn order to the first player. Players are allowed to place a marker on a city that another player has already placed a marker on. It should be noted however that each city has a limit to the number of territory markers that may be placed there. Once this has been completed, play now begins.

The game is played over 14 rounds. Each round players will take turns completing two phases; politics phase and invasion phase. The first phase of a player’s turn is the politics phase. In this phase the player is able to play a card to one of their 5 card slots on top of their Kingdom cards. It can either be played face up as an Alice or face down as a commoner. If the player has no cards to play they will draw a card from the deck instead, skipping the rest of their turn. It should be noted that a card slot can not have more than 4 cards at a time. When playing an Alice, the player must first have Dream Power equal to the strength of the chosen Alice card. Dream Power is equal to the number of cards in the player’s yellow card slot. If the player doesn’t have enough power they can use resources to finish paying the cost of the card in a 1 to 1 ratio. It should be noted that Alice cards can not be placed into a card slot of a different color. The card colors must match. Once an Alice card is played, it’s power takes effect immediately. This is known as an Alice’s Megalomania. The card’s timing is noted in it’s text. It should be noted that Megalomanias do not combine, therefore if there are several identical Alices in the same Kingdom, they are only applied once. Commoners can be played instead of playing an Alice. These cards cost no Dream Power. Once played, the player draws a card. These commoners can be any color and so they can be played on any card slot.

The second phase of a player’s turn is the invasion phase. In this phase, the player is able to invade other territories and gain a invasion bonus. They can invade empty territories or cities as long as they still have spaces open. They can also invade any territory that is under attack by another player. These territories are those that a player can’t completely capture on their turn. To place it under attack, the player places their territory marker face down with the under attack side showing. On a future turn, they can capture it without having the full power to be able to take it. They can also invade territories controlled by another player as long as it doesn’t connect to a city that is controlled by that player. In this case, the player only receives half of the invasion bonus. Capturing a territory requires military power and food. Military power is equal to the number of cards in the player’s red Military card slot. It should be noted that the player is also able to use military resources to add 1 to their military power. Food is needed to capture territories on another tile. The amount needed is equal to the distance between the territory and the player’s closest controlled city. Passing through another player’s territory costs an additional food. A player’s food is equal to the number of cards in their green food card slot. They can also use food resources to make up for any shortages. If the player has both the food and military power to capture the territory, they can place their territory marker there and gain the invasion bonus. Different territory types give different bonuses. For more information on these, please check the rulebook.

Mystic forests are a little bit different. Usually a player can not pass through or invade one of these territories. However, if the forest is completely surrounded by player controlled territories, it may be invaded or passed through. However, only the strongest player can invade it, that is to say the player with the most territories around that particular forest. The forest’s invasion difficulty is equal to the number of territories surrounding it. Once taken, the player gains points equal to the same number.

The game continues until the end of the 14th round. Final scoring then occurs. Players gain points for controlling territories on each map tile, with the most territories controlled gaining the most points. They also receive points for having the most Alices in a card slot, as well as for any Megalomania effects. The players compare points and the one with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
The game comes with some great looking pieces. The artwork is really fun and light hearted. I especially like the look and designs of each of the different Alice cards. They’re so CUTE! Speaking of cards, each kingdom has it’s own set of cards for a player to stack their Alices and commoners on. I love the large designs on each one of these. Thematically they’re quite nice. The map tiles, territory markers, resource tokens and point tokens are all thick cardboard and are very sturdy. The territory markers carry over the same image as those on the kingdom cards. I do think that the iconography for the resource tokens is a little off putting however. While I can kind of tell what they’re supposed to represent, I think it could have been designed a little better and a lot clearer looking. The map tiles I wish were bigger so that we could get a better look at the really beautiful looking designs of the different territories. Other than that though, I think everything looks amazing. There’s a lot to like about this game. It’s simply adorable.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is quite large, but it only has 10 pages in it. There is a lot of great looking pictures and examples throughout the book. The first couple of pages gives you quick overview of the game in chibi manga form. There’s a beautiful large image of lots of Alices fighting with the story of the game beneath it, that I just love. The setup and phases of a player’s turn are all explained in great detail. The final page of the book covers several of the megalomania powers of the Alices. Overall I think the book does a great job of explaining everything. You shouldn’t have any problems reading through it and understanding.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
My favorite Disney movie of all times would have to be Alice in Wonderland. In college, I was a part of the Drama club where we preformed Alice in Wonderland. Over the years, I’ve collected several different versions of the movie in both live action as well as animated. I’ve also collected lots of memorabilia and even dressed up as the Mad Hatter for Halloween a couple of times. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of everything Wonderland. This game fits in nicely. It has a great Wonderland theme to it, but adds an area control, war game like atmosphere to the whole thing. It’s really quite unusual. I like how that there are so many different forms of Alice that help you in a different way. The game is quite simple to teach and is a lot of fun. You can quickly look at another player’s military power and tell if you can take a spot from them or not. I like how that you gain power by playing Alice cards as either Alice or a commoner on the flip side. It’s also good that you don’t lose your dream power each time you summon an Alice. I think that would have ended up being rather annoying. I think the scoring aspect of the game is quite good. I like that a player can still gain points even though they don’t have the most territories on a tile. It does have a bit of strategy but not so much that it’ll burn your brain or leave you in a state of AP. I think fans of area control games that like the manga style artwork will really enjoy this one. Overall, I like it and think it’ll fit nicely in the Wonderland collection.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Alicematic is an area control style game mixed with a war game based in a chibi manga version of wonderland. The game is average in terms of length of play. Most game sessions last around an hour, give or take. The artwork is great on everything, especially the cards. I love the manga style look of all the different Alice cards. Of course, original Alice is still my favorite. My only real gripe about the components would be that the iconography on the resource tokens is a little odd and could have been simplified. The game is quite fun and mixes mechanics quite well. Along with area control, there’s also a bit of hand management thrown in for flavor in this war game. I think thematically it’s pretty good and you do have at least a good feeling as you vie for control of the different cities and territories of Wonderland. I think that fans of Alice in Wonderland and the manga style should enjoy the artwork and design of the game, while players that enjoy a good area control game should like the mechanics. This is one that I would recommend trying out. I think it’s quite good. Now only one question remains, why IS a raven like a writing desk?
8 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Japanime Games at their site.

http://www.japanimegames.com/

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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