Archon (Video Game)

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Pacman boardgame 75x75.jpg This is a /v/ related article, which we tolerate because it's popular or we can't be bothered to delete it.


Archon: The Light vs. The Dark was a vidya gaem on the Atari 800 that was ported to all the other 8-bit computers, eventually to Nintendo and other consoles. These days you can find it on your iPhone too. It looked like a game of Chess with fantasy creatures, and capturing pieces was resolved by an action minigame of the two units in an arena.

Attempts have been made to make it into a boardgame, with varying levels of success. This page holds info about Archon in the hopes that someone will make a boardgame that feels like the original.

Setup[edit]

Light starts on the left edge, Dark on the right edge.

The gameboard is a 9x9 grid, with 25 spaces light, 25 spaces dark, and the remaining 31 spaces would change in steps every other turn between light to dark in six steps (Light-0, Light-1, Light-2, Dark-2, Dark-1, Dark-0). 5 spaces were marked with as special points of power: one in the middle of each side and one in the centre of the board. Pieces on these spots were immune to spells, and would heal over time (at +1 health point at the start of the owning player's turn). Victory in the game is achieved by possessing all five of these spaces on the board, or by making your opponent unable to move.

The players have units representing the forces of Light or forces of Darkness. Each player has 18 pieces: a spell-caster, two champions, two hunters, two brutes, two flyers, two scouts and seven pawns. They are arranged in two rows along opposite sides of the board, as per Chess. The spell-caster always starts on the power point on that side of the board, the other pieces are arranged symmetrically. The alternating colour squares start as neutral, but will cycle towards the SECOND player's colour. (ie. If Light moves first, the alternating squares start at Dark-2, and will darken to to Dark-1 on Light's next turn).

Play[edit]

A player's turn is either

  • choosing a piece and moving it, which may start the fight mini-game if moved onto an opposing piece's space,
  • or using the spell-caster to cast a spell if that player's spellcaster is still in play and the spell has not yet been used.
Bonus to Health
Light
Dark
+7
+0
+6
+1
+4
+3
+3
+4
+1
+6
+0
+7

The units each have different movement range (described below), and some must navigate around other pieces while others may fly over. Pieces must end their movement in an unoccupied space, or in the same space as an enemy unit. In the latter case, this would start the combat mini-game. The pieces would enter an arena, with whatever wounds they had from previous fights, and each unit would get a bonus to health depending on the shade of the space occupied. If the space is absolutely dark (Dark-0), the Dark-side piece would enjoy a large bonus to health, while the Light-side piece would have no benefits what-so-ever. Whoever survived this combat would remain on the board, keeping whatever injuries it gained, while the other unit is removed from the board. This is similar to the Avalon Hill game 'Titan' (which one came first?).

The Units
Name Role Move Health Speed Damage Shot Speed Atks/second
Knight Pawn Walk 3 4 Normal 5 n/a 3/2
Goblin Pawn Walk 3 4 Normal 5 n/a 3/2
Archer Scout Walk 3 4 Normal 5 Medium 3/4
Manticore Scout Walk 3 7 Normal 4 Slow 3/4
Valkyrie Flyer Fly 3 7 Normal 7 Slow 3/4
Banshee Flyer Fly 3 7 Normal 1-8 n/a 3/5
Golem Brute Walk 3 14 Slow 10 Slow 3/5
Troll Brute Walk 3 13 Slow 10 Slow 3/5
Unicorn Hunter Walk 4 8 Normal 7 Fast 1/1
Basilisk Hunter Walk 3 5 Normal 9 Fast 1/1
Phoenix Champion Fly 5 11 Normal 2-10 n/a 3/5
Shapeshifter Champion Fly 5 * * * * *
Djinn Champion Fly 4 14 Normal 6 Medium 2/3
Dragon Champion Fly 4 16 Normal 11 Medium 1/2
Wizard Spellcaster Blink 3 9 Normal 10 Medium 3/4
Sorceress Spellcaster Blink 3 9 Normal 8 Fast 3/4
Air Elemental n/a 11 Normal 5 Medium 6/7
Water Elemental n/a 13 Normal 6 Slow 3/5
Earth Elemental n/a 16 Slow 9 Slow 3/5
Fire Elemental n/a 9 Normal 9 Medium 1/1

(*: the Shapeshifter will change in combat to be identical to the opposing piece, although it is still considered a "Dark" piece for the health bonus of the space they are fighting on.)

The Spells

Each spell can only be cast once during the game by each player. The player's spellcaster piece must still be on the board, and still able to move (that is, not suffering from the Imprison spell). Remember that pieces occupying power-point spaces and the spaces themselve may not be targeted by spells, nor the destination of a piece moved by a spell.

  • Teleport : Move one of your own pieces to any unoccupied space or space occupied by an enemy piece. The destination may not be a space with a power-point.
  • Heal : Remove all wounds from one allied piece.
  • Revive : Return an allied piece to the game board. The destination must be one of the eight spaces adjacent to the spell-caster.
  • Exchange : Choose two pieces on the board; those pieces exchange places.
  • Shift Time : change the direction of the colour cycle of the board. IE: If the next time the first player moves, the colours would change from Dark-1 to Dark-2, it changes from Dark-1 to Dark-0 instead. If the colour cycle is currently at one of the extremes (Dark-0 or Light-0), it will change to the opposite extreme on the next cycle instead. IE: If the 2nd player casts "Shift Time" when the board is at it's darkest black, at the start of the 1st player's turn the board will instantly change to the lightest white.
  • Summon Elemental : a random elemental (Air, Earth, Fire, Water) is summoned, and the player sends it to any opponent's piece to immediately start combat. After the combat, whatever the result, the elemental is removed. The elemental summoned the first time this spell is cast cannot be the elemental summoned by the other player when casting this spell.
  • Imprison : target enemy piece may not move until the board cycles to the owning player's colour. IE: if cast on a Unicorn, that Unicorn may not move until the board cycles to the lightest colour. The piece may still fight if an enemy piece invades it's space. If a spellcaster is Imprisoned, that player may not cast spells until the spellcaster is free again.
Winning

The player that has an allied piece occupying all five power point spaces wins the game at the end of their turn. If a player has no pieces left at the start of their turn, or the only piece remaining is under an Imprison spell, the other player wins.

Suggestions for Boardgame Play[edit]

  • Remove the Phoenix and Shapeshifter pieces, along with one Knight and one Goblin, and you have 16 pieces to a side. This will fit on a normal 8x8 Chess/Checkers board.
  • Make the health for each piece easier to keep track of, maybe by reducing the number of "hit" points. This would make combat more deadly, but bookkeeping otherwise may be awful.