In the expanse of the Five Realms, a captivating saga unfolds as a vibrant life force named Chroma faces a rising challenge. The dark energy known as Achrom sweeps across the lands, seeking to diminish the brilliance and magic that colors the realm. With boundless optimism, creatures from far and wide rally together, determined to restore Chroma’s radiance and banish the ominous grasp of Achrom. A grand adventure as hope ignites, painting the world with a kaleidoscope of colors in Achroma!
Achroma is an evolving fantasy card game that is superbly crafted to capture the soul of players with its distinctive fusion of breathtaking art, sophisticated tactics, an ever-unfolding narrative & lore, and continuously developing gameplay. The game strives to be a game changer in an overcrowded space of extendable card games. As such, Achroma’s first impression succeeds in being truly striking and intriguing. But will Achroma live up to the challenge of standing out in the crowd?
It is worth mentioning that Achroma is an ever-growing world where every Achroma release revolves around a narrative setting, termed chronicle. Each chronicle takes place in one of the five realms of Achroma. They are complemented by Achroma card sets, game rules, lore, short stories, soundtracks, app updates, and more. Doing a rough sum, we estimated that you can collect 880 non-unique cards if you acquire all Achroma Palettes and expansions; the total number of unique Achroma cards currently available is 376 + a handful of promo cards and alt art variants; it is so many cards already are available, and others are to be released.
We were offered a sneak peek into the Achroma universe with an Achroma – The Siege of Draco Temple set containing two pre-made Palettes of 30 cards each, a mere 6.8% of the entire pool of Achroma cards. So we will share our limited but compelling first impression of Achroma, the card game, and examine the two palettes we tried.
Achroma is designed to be enjoyed by two to six players, best played with two, and suitable for ages ten or above. A game takes between twenty to forty minutes.
Delving into Achroma’s gameplay – a twist in the genre
We aim to provide a light high-level overview of Achroma’s main gameplay elements and discuss two of the six Palettes from The Siege of Draco Temple chronicle: Stone Waste Drakes – Tenebris and Denizens of Arcus Via – Entombed Elders.
In Achroma, you get everything you expect from a CCG / TCG game, although using flourishing terminology; Canvas is the play area. Palette is the deck. Dregs are the discarded pile.
Cards can be characters ready to battle; objects of power that enhance the character’s strength and abilities; locations that can grant abilities, provide access to shards, consume or drain shards from enemies or work as places of protection; and actions that are immediately discarded events that can turn the odds of the match. Finally, Shards are the unit of currency, a feature that introduces a welcome twist to the genre and underlies the game’s original and core mechanism.
Shards must be spent to play cards but also collected for victory. Start the game with ten Shards, run out of Shards and lose the game, or reach thirty Shards to win the game. At the beginning and end of your turn, you can Trade by sacrificing hand cards to obtain more Shards.
Achroma’s Lore – An epic tale of hue against darkness
The Achroma’s lore plays a significant role in making the game appealing. In the epic tale of Achroma, long ago, the world was united in harmony with neighboring realms, fostering a deep connection among all creatures and species. The event known as the Chromatic Bang showered the world with vibrant colors, accompanied by a remarkable surge of the magical energy of Chroma. Dragons soared with newfound fiery powers, witches and warlocks whispered ancient spells and mighty trolls reveled in unmatched strength, thanks to the fairies who painted creatures and their realms.
However, the harmony was shattered by the emergence of Achrom, a nefarious dark energy that ripped apart the world, fragmenting it into Five Realms. With this division, criminal organizations and alliances sprang forth, harnessing Achrom’s corrupting essence, manifesting itself as tar, ink, and pain. These shadowy forces granted their unscrupulous wielders forbidden magic, strength, and abilities. As a result, the era of vibrant Chroma gave way to the rising Era of Achrom, bearing grave consequences. Across the expanse of the Five Realms, the ravages of this evil energy, Achrom, spread like an ominous cloud, gradually diminishing the essence of magic and life known as Chroma. The story is not devoid of inspiration, however, for within this tale lies the promise of hope where courageous beings shall rise, colors will be rekindled, and the enduring spirit of Chroma shall shine brighter than ever before.
The concept of color is woven joyfully throughout the game’s lore and mechanics, playing a vital role in its enchanting setting, theme, and gameplay. Enter the wondrous world where Chroma, the magical essence of all things colorful, battles valiantly against Achrom, the brutal force of darkness devoid of hues. Immerse yourself in a dazzling spectacle of hues and join the epic clash between radiant vibrancy and monochrome void. Let the colors come alive in a realm where every shade holds the power to illuminate and conquer.
Reviewing and unveiling the complexity and sophistication of Achroma
To strike the right balance between playing & sacrificing cards, winning & losing shards, and collecting Shards to reach the game’s ultimate goal is an act of coordination and resource management that requires thorough planning and strategy. The game will quickly reveal that above its apparent superficial simplicity, there is a deep and hidden layer of complex, in-depth tactics that is intrinsically asymmetrical, dynamic, and heavily dependent on each Palette you build. It is a game that seems easy to pick and play, but it has some weight and complexity and is definitely hard to master. Unlike a Trading Card Game or a Living Card Game, though deck purchase options are randomly determined, and players are encouraged to create their own palettes, there are no booster packs and an endless hunt for rare cards. Gameplay, narrative, and features are meant to evolve over time as they’re influenced by the players using the Achroma app. The publisher Realm Runner Studios even encourages fan-made custom Achroma content creation in the form of fan art and fan-made cards.
It is a game that seems easy to pick and play, but it has some weight and complexity and is definitely hard to master. With so many default Palettes, now expansions, and unlimited ways of building custom Palettes, replayability shines. But, even though you stick with one Palette, this is not a game where the designed uncertainty or linear mechanics would make it dull when played over long periods of time. Rather the extreme opposite, the more you play, the more engaging and addictive it becomes.
The Stone Waste Drakes – Tenebris Palette is populated by Dragons and dragon-like creatures called Drakes. These creatures are tainted with the power of Achrom, and their strength is predominantly monochrome. Objects of power and actions protect or cause harm to your opponents’ cards that are carriers of the power of Chroma. Action cards that require you to sacrifice or discard cards from either yourself or your enemies’, are predominant. Locations can protect you against Chroma, allow you to discard and dig cards, or enhance your capabilities of gaining or draining Shards using the power of Dragons and Drakes. A highly offensive strategy is used in this Palette with strong creatures that can decimate your opponents. It is highly effective against Chroma-empowered cards. While it has strong creatures, it lacks effective locations and relies heavily on sacrificing cards in your Canvas. It is definitely a strong Palette, but that must be played with cautious and sound tactics. It is not an accessible deck to master, although it can be devastating depending on your opponents’ Palettes.
The Denizens of Arcus Via – Entombed Elders Palette is primarily vibrant with colors and diverse hues. It does contain only one card corrupted with the power of Achrom. While most characters have low strength, it does have strong objects of power that must be attached to this Palette’s characters to create mighty creatures. It also has some pretty impressive actions, like the Chromatic Extinction action that can erase all Characters or all Locations of your choice. The highest appeal of the Entombed Elders Palette is its locations. You can easily populate your Canvas with the most intriguing locations, empowering you with valuable abilities and helping you quickly obtain Shards and deprive or drain Shards from your opponents.
It was interesting to play these two opposing Palettes against each other. While at first glance, the Tenebris Palette seemed overwhelming and a big treat to the Entombed Elders Palette. We learned during various play sessions that depending on the player’s performance, even though these Palettes were completely asymmetrical, they were very well-balanced. You can win with one or the other based on better planning and tactics. We cannot say that one Palette is better; they require entirely different gameplay approaches. Used with wits and skill, the better player will have the advantage of whatever Palette they pick.
It is fair to question the longevity of Achroma, though. In the last three decades, hundreds of CCGs and TCGs were introduced to the market and went out of print, including games based on well-established franchises such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Ring, Harry Potter, and Warhammer, as just a few examples. Even popular games created by Richard Garfield, the original creator of Magic: The Gathering, were discontinued. One notable example is Netrunner, widely considered to be among the best, if not the best expandable card game ever released. Netrunner was followed by Android: Netrunner, which was also discontinued. Still, both games have a cult status and a following with a living community of devoted players.
As Achroma is not based on a popular franchise, it lacks an already existing fan base and must rely on its own merits to build its user base. However, the Achroma community is thriving. Recently, a Heroes gameplay format was introduced alongside the traditional Canvas format. There are 12 main pre-built Palettes, each of which now will have an additional 10 cards to be used to build a Heroes Palette. There will be 8 Realm Runners expansion boxes with 50 cards each. An Achroma choose-your-own-adventure game will be released alongside the Achroma Roleplaying Game. As you can see, Achroma is quickly becoming a full-fledged fantasy universe with a thrilling community of passionate players.
We score this review highly explicitly based on the Achroma - The Siege of Draco Temple's two Palettes we had the opportunity of trying. It is impossible to comprehensively review Achroma based only on what we have seen. Even though we barely touched the expansive universe of Achroma, our first impression is that it is outstanding, with novel game mechanics, incredible depth, high-quality cards, stunning, striking & original artwork, and compelling and rich background lore. Still, the question remains, can it endure the test of time? We hope it does because there is so much we want to see and explore in Achroma!
- Captivating narrative and lore
- Breathtaking artwork
- The game strives to be a game changer in an overcrowded space of extendable card games
- Lack of an existing fan base
- Potential longevity concerns
- While we praise the gameplay depth and complexity, it could be a drawback for casual players