As a recovering League of Legends player, Guards of Atlantis II was a bit of a tough sell. My friend promised me the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA)-inspired board game was hands down the best translation of that frenetic, competitive spirit into a tactical skirmisher. To my surprise, he couldn’t have been more on the money.
Unfortunately, Latvian studio Wolffdesigna produced precious few extra copies during its first crowdfunding foray in 2020, which left Guards of Atlantis II in a constant state of high demand among big box hobbyists. Their second campaign, running now on Gamefound, offers the best chance for curious players and frantic collectors to get their hands on a reprint with revised rules and a few new collections of playable heroes.
Guards of Atlantis II is everything it says on the tin, but also quite a bit more. The fundamental design tries to emulate modern MOBAs as faithfully as possible: two teams of two to four players face off on a roughly symmetric map, battling to push their forces into the enemy team’s base and clinch victory; there are lanes (or at least zones) full of minions doing factional battle while the players duke it out with a suite of unique abilities; players earn gold by killing minions or each other and spend that to level up their kit.
While the game may look complicated, the basic rules are a breeze to learn. Most of your decisions will come down to positioning and smart use of resources - players choose one card per turn and reveal them simultaneously, then resolve actions according to initiative values. Each card can be used to move around the map or fend off attacks, in addition to the normal knifing and magic. Dead heroes are resummoned at their team’s base and can run off to rejoin the fight at a slight delay, but if the enemy team clears enough minions, the board resets and moves one zone closer to their walls.
According to Wolfdesigna, not much has changed inside the core box, but the rulebook has been edited to include the most recent errata and a host of formatting tweaks to improve readability. The largest substantive difference comes with the hero packs, as the designer has increased the roster of available loadouts to 32 - seven come included in the base game, while the rest come in five batches of five heroes, each.
Guards of Atlantis II’s crowdfunding campaign, which will run through May 25th, separates the new hero packs from the base game so that returning players can purchase them separately without ending up with two versions of the core box. All rewards are expected to begin shipping in October 2024, and Wolffdesigna does not currently expect to send the board game to retail afterwards, relegating it once again to secondary market scouring.