Ancient Games of Nations (AGON) is a collection of board games originating from different countries from bygone days. Interested gamers can download a full free version which occupies a single compartment with eleven more set to be accommodated by other board games from different regions represented as they become available for purchase. The free version provides an excellent representation of future games to come with origins that stem from Iraq/Asia, The Royal Game of Ur. The second game of the series available for purchase is Alquerque, from the region of Spain/Europe.
"The Royal Game of Ur" is the first game out the gate and it sets the bar very high. The objective of the game is to take your five pieces and race them across the board in the quickest way possible through a combination of the roll of a die and making strong, decisive movements with the resultant throw and the available places on the board. A player's movement is impeded by an opponent landing on your square and knocking you off the board; when a square is occupied by your own piece or when a player lands on a rosette square which allows the current player another roll of the die.
Gameplay is easily grasped with a descriptive and informative game rules sheet. Players can choose an AI opponent with degrees of difficulty ranging from 1-9 or they can choose to play against a human opponent for a pass-and-play game.
"Alquerque" is the second game and is available for purchase at $2.99. This is a board combat game closely related to the more widely-known game of Checkers or Stones. While the general movements are similar there are enough wrinkles in the rules to alter one's strategic planning and forethought making Alquerque uniquely its own.
There are no power ups in either of these board games and is more about starting from an even playing field and attacking each other "mano y mano". The intentional absence of the ability to upgrade within these games presents a more basic and primal style of play that is surprisingly, and refreshingly, welcome.
The animation and graphics are top-notch. The game is packed with stylistically lush backgrounds and an eye-popping attention to the intimate details of the boards and their pieces. The boards' responsiveness is exact to the touch with a system check in place that makes it virtually impossible to misinterpret your chosen move.
One of the more impressive aspects of the game is how the original soundtracks draw attention to each game's regional authenticity by using musical scores from the board games' country of origin. The songs beautifully marry the venerated, ancient roots with a modern vibe springing forth some of the coolest ambient grooves found in any game.
I cannot highly recommend enough the Ancient Games of Nations. Its straightforward and simplistic style of play makes the games accessible for all players, young and old. Yet, the unique gaming elements such as the gradual introduction of restrictive variations of the rules, imposed time limits, and nuanced cultural highlights factor into its growing complexity and entertainment value of play.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Polished and proud. The graphics give honor to each game's country of origin. Sound: - 5 - Rich, luscious ethnic grooves that will get your mind thinking and your body bumping. Controls: - 5 - Exact and responsive. Gameplay: - 5 - Intriguing and captivating. Overall: - 5 - Ancient Games of Nations serves as an exploration and exhibition of board games with a proud heritage and vibrantly, entertaining gameplay. Highly Recommended!
Playing Hints and Tips:
Although the games may have some striking similarities to more widely-known board games, it would be to your advantage to take the time to read through the game rules. The writing is instructive and compact and includes the nuanced differences which will greatly save you from some novice aches and pains given that there is no in-game tutorial.