Archon (Commodore 64) is the Retro Game of the Day for 23 May, 2016

Years before Battle Chess gave us baked in battle animations to liven up a game of chess, Archon: The Light and the Dark gave us a true battle chess variant that featured all sorts of fantasy creatures on a chess-like board where squares shift between light and dark, giving creatures of that alignment bonuses in an actual battle that you get to control to gain victory over a contested square.  In other words, just because you attack a square, unlike chess, it doesn’t mean you are going to win it — you will have to fight for it with abilities unique to whatever character you control.  Some use melee attacks, some area of effect attacks, and many use ranged attacks, be it magical or weapon-based.  Each side also has a spellcaster that is able to cast various spells that affect the game, such as summoning a temporary creature to fight for them and resurrecting a defeated creature. Victory comes whenever you completely wipe out the other side or gain control of all five power points, one on each side taken by each side’s spellcaster and three in the middle column.

It’s not only a very fun board game but a very fun action game as well, given that it takes more than strategy to win the game, but good reflexes as well.  It also helps knowing which pieces attack which way and which enemies they are best at defeating — a creature with an area-based attack may be able to easily defeat melee characters, but might have more of a problem against ranged attacks where they can be baited into attacking and are vulnerable for a short time to the other player (each attack has a short cooldown before that attack can be done again).

A fairly decent update, Archon Classic, is available on Steam, and does fairly well at imitating the original, but if you need a true Archon fix, fire up the Commodore 64 and fight.

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