Anima is a fantasy based narrative around which has been hung a roleplaying game, miniature game, and non-collectible card game. It’s manga based, but the games combine elements of both Japanese and western-style game mechanics.
The RPG includes 20 classes, d10 combat, a range of magic, ki, and psychic powers and so on. The card game includes 110 beautiful cards and plays for 2 to 5 players. and the mini game is a skrimish war game with gorgeous minis that plays in about an hour.
I’ve been playing Anima rpg for about a couple years (since first being released in Spain), mainly because one of the GMs in our group insists. I agree the book itself is beautiful, but the game is a horrible mess. A setting that makes absolutely no sense with a set of rules poorly thought-out makes for a rather bad game.
There are different subsets of the rules to deal with combat, magic, ki and the like, with absolutely zero coherence between such subsystems, it looks like they took chapters from different game systems and put them side by side without bothering to make them into a single coherent system.
There are tremendous unbalances (Ki is useless compared to Summoning, yes, even in combat; characters with high Initiative rule the combat field because if you attack first and hit your opponent you deny him the chance to attack this round, making heavy-armored characters useless; oriental-style weapons like the katana are a zillion times more powerful than their western counterparts, making these useless; etc).
And there is little to no space for character customization, once you choose a class the development path for your character is fixed, so that two characters of the same class and level are equal to a 99%; this is an evil that most rpgs have left behind since the days of 1E D&D.
As a whole Anima feels amateurish to me. It doesn’t appeal to the seasoned rpg crowd because the rules are a horrible mess, and I don’t see it appealing to casual players because of the anime setting, because the rules are too convoluted for such players to grasp easily.
Now if I could only convince this GM to forget about this game and start GMing Star Wars again…
I agree the Anima RPG is plagued with poor presentation and some bad rules design in a few conspicious places. However, I think the rest of your comments are exaggeration:
“There are different subsets of the rules to deal with combat, magic, ki and the like, with absolutely zero coherence between such subsystems…”
This is not true. The systems are similar in many ways with around 20% differing with each subsystem. This 20% difference is IMO intended to ensure that magic, ki and psychic abilities feel different to each other.
“There are tremendous unbalances”
I disagree. There are some powerful options but on the whole the game is good at providing balance across a very wide range of powers and creatures.
“characters with high Initiative rule the combat field because if you attack first and hit your opponent you deny him the chance to attack this round, making heavy-armored characters useless;”
Whilst initiative is very important (I would argue that that is in genre) there are ways around it and allow the use of heavy armour.
“And there is little to no space for character customization,”
This I totally disagree with. The clases influence costs in the points buy system, but there is incredibly flexibility within each class, let alone the flexibility from having 20 classes.
My home group played Anima RPG for a solid year, and my dislike for the game grew with every session. Although the original poster’s review is a little over simplified, I feel it is basically correct. The game is unbalanced to an annoying degree (and not unbalanced appropriately like a Star Wars RPG). Consider ranged weapons. If you face an opponent with a ranged weapon like a short bow, you are automatically at an 80% penalty to block, the same as if your vision were completely obscured., and the ranged attack always goes first of course. So a small group of poor bandits will always dominate a group of melee-ranged warriors despite swords being all over the main book’s illustrations. Also, the deadliness of combat (not a bad thing by itself) w/o tokens rquire PCs to be mini-maxed and rules-lawyered to an extreme just for a fair chance of surviving what the game considers a fair combat encounter. We tried using the pre-gen characters, and none of them could be even useful. What specific rules are the worst?