Tim Conkling and Versus Evil’s Antihero is a turn-based strategy game set in a city Queen Victoria would love – aside from the mean streets that she would surely disavow. At the helm of your own burgeoning Thieves Guild, you assemble a posse with one goal in mind — rob everyone blind. Be it by stealth or skulduggery, you fight to dominate the darkness, and pilfer your way to the top – and this How to Play guide will help you do just that.
Of course, it’s never that simple. You’re not the only ne’er-do-well out in search of profit and power. Rival Guilds, ruthless gangsters, and corrupt nobility revel in the chaos, and they consort to cheat anyone in their way. The race to dominate the underworld of the Industrial Era is on, and whether you steal, bribe, or stab your way to glory is completely up to you.
During a turn of Antihero, your goal is to expand your Guild’s influence over the map by any means necessary. To do so, you’ll need to have a firm grasp of certain key elements of gameplay.
There are two types of currency that you’ll be stealing, earning, and spending in Antihero: Gold and Lanterns.
Gold is primarily used to buy units. The easiest way to earn this particular resource is by burgling buildings on the map. It can also be earned by infiltrating certain Businesses that will provide you with Gold bonuses every turn. Lastly, you can kill for Gold, as every slain enemy unit will drop money after their death. More advanced units can be very pricey, so it’s crucial to balance the money you spend on muscle and utility against the money you earn doing dirt.
The second type of currency, Lanterns, is used to buy upgrades. Specific districts produce lanterns every turn, so you can increase your reserves by infiltrating these areas. They can also be stolen, and even earned passively if you take the Lamp Lighters upgrade. This might be a smart investment, as upgrades are a one-time expense, and the benefits they offer can’t be taken away from you. Lanterns can also be spent on certain victory conditions, which we will get into later.
Quick Tip! If you decided not to buy an upgrade one turn, you can instead take Charity. Charity allows you to choose between gaining four Gold or two Lanterns instantly.
Every time you spend either currency on a unit or upgrade, the price of a subsequent purchase goes up. This means that every time you spend Lanterns on an upgrade, you will have to spend the asking price plus one next time around. It’s a similar story when it comes to money, but this “tax” is only incurred when buying multiples of the same unit. Be sure to diversify your investments!
With very few exceptions, there is no one way to win a match in Antihero. In fact, not only are there a variety of paths to victory, but success on each map typically requires a blend of different approaches. The first player to reach the necessary amount of Victory Points wins the game. There are a few ways to score these points:
- Assassination: neutral targets (cloaked in purple) will populate the map over time. Most of them are simple Thugs, which are unmovable, save for killing them. Others, however, are high-value targets — lords and ladies who have it coming to them. If you kill them, they grant you a Victory Point. Every time one is killed, the next one to be spawned has more health.
- Blackmail: As is with most buildings, Churches can be upgraded by adding Urchins. At three Urchins, Churches will grant you the Blackmail Victory Point. The maximum amount of Blackmail is limited to the amount of Churches on the map.
- Bribe: There’s one special, non-upgrade use for Lanterns — bribes. Buying a bribe will immediately grant you a Victory Point. Starting at five Lanterns, they get increasingly expensive. Only a total of three can be bought between both players.
These types of Victory Points are available in every game, no matter the map. There are also map-specific ones to keep in mind as well. In many cases, you won’t actually be allowed to win unless a certain amount of your Victory Points are map-specific.
Your main unit is the Master Thief. During the campaign, that will either be Emma or Lightfinger, who are exactly the same besides their appearances. Master Thieves can scout through hidden streets and reveal units. They can burgle buildings for money and lanterns. They can also scout buildings so that they can later be controlled. Under the right circumstances, they can even kill foes.
Quick Tip! Knowing when to upgrade your Master Thief’s offensive capabilities versus just investing in a Gang early can be a very important early decision.
Master Thieves dictate the pace of the game, and they are basically the linchpins of each strategic endeavor. At the end of every turn, they return to the safety of the Thieves Guild, so they can’t be killed. However, they aren’t the only important unit to keep track of.
- Urchins are your go-to for turning Businesses into profit machines. Starting at three Gold, they infiltrate Businesses, skimming off resources for your gain. However, they can be evicted from Businesses, in which case they are lost to the streets again.
- Thugs are hired muscle used to block road tiles and occupy certain objectives. They cost three Gold and start out with one health, which can be upgraded with Lanterns. After two turns, they disappear back to the bar to continue drinking.
- Gangs are the offensive versions of Thugs. They can attack enemies and evict Urchins, gaining a level every time they do so. You can choose what they get better at after each successful action, so they can eventually do more damage or yield more gold from each kill. Gangs cost three gold, and their health can be improved by having Thugs join their ranks. Unless you have the proper upgrade, you can only have one gang at a time.
- Saboteurs rig Businesses with traps to keep out enemy scouts and attempts to evict its infiltrators. Traps last two turns, and when an enemy stumbles upon them, they are stunned for one turn. Master Thieves lose all remaining actions, while other units stand exposed in the streets, ripe for the stabbing. Once a Saboteur’s job is finished, he runs away — but for three Gold, they can be a real lifesaver.
- Truant Officers can evict everyone in a Business at once. When you really want to shut down enemy operations in one fell swoop, there is probably no better way to do so. At eight Gold, they are quite pricey, especially given that they’re a one-time-use.
- Assassins are incredibly deadly, doing a whopping six damage to whoever is unfortunate enough to face their judgement. They are great for knocking off well-reinforced gangs and taking down targets to quickly gain Assassination Victory Points. Use sparingly, though, as they cost eight Gold apiece, and can only be used once before dancing back into the darkness.
All units are only available after their corresponding upgrades are purchased. Good news, though! After every upgrade is purchased you get a free unit to get you started. This is great for when you want to weigh your options regarding higher cost units, when you may only need one throughout the course of a map.
You will spend most of your time in Antihero running in and out of buildings. Dark buildings can be burgled for Gold coins. Most can be burgled twice, but the second visit will yield less coins. Buildings are often assorted and zoned by color-coded districts, which denote the sort of Businesses that are in them. Businesses must be infiltrated by Urchins in order to receive their benefits, and they require three Urchins to get their fully upgraded bonus.
- Banks: Yellow Districts hold Banks. Banks will net you one Gold piece per turn when infiltrated and three Gold per turn when fully upgraded.
- Churches: Grey Districts contain Churches. When infiltrated, they will reward you with one Gold piece per turn. When fully upgraded, it will grant you a Blackmail Victory Point for as long as you control the Church.
- Estates: Purple Districts are home to Estates. Estates house valuables that you need upgrades to steal. When properly equipped, Diamonds and Masterpieces can be pilfered for big Gold and Lantern bonuses. From time to time, Estates might be occupied by neutral Thugs.
- Orphanages: Blue Districts house Orphanages. When infiltrated, it provides a one Gold discount to all Urchin purchases. When fully upgraded, it gives Urchins the ability to evict enemy Urchins from Businesses.
- Trading Houses: Green Districts are where you’ll find Trading Houses. Upon infiltration, you’ll gain one Lantern per turn. When fully upgraded, you’ll make two per turn.
- Strangefellows Pub: Brown Districts shelter Strangefellows Pub. When infiltrated, you gain a one Gold discount to the cost of Thugs. When fully upgraded, Thugs and Gangs gain a health bonus.
The chances of you having a significant presence in all types of building on any given map is slim. Pick a couple of Businesses to exploit, and work their strengths into your strategy.
Quick Tip! Evicting just one Urchin from a Business is enough to cancel a fully upgraded bonus. If taking away a Victory Point or just hindering their production is a goal, a Truant Officer might not always be the answer.
- Scouting far and wide as fast as possible can really make controlling the movements of the enemy far easier in later turns.
- Infiltrating a Trading House should always be your first move. You can’t do anything without Lanterns.
- Sometimes, building towards one particular type of primary Victory Point is a good idea. For example, invest in Daggers and Gangs if Assassination is something you’re going to chase. Look for Orphanages if controlling Churches for Blackmail is your main goal.
- Get into the habit of scouting Businesses that are occupied by the enemy with the last of your Master Thief’s actions. This helps avoid losing precious productivity in the event of a Saboteur trap.
- Gangs are incredibly useful, but are also super vulnerable to other Gangs. It’s hard to protect them, so know that the longer the last, the bigger the target on their back becomes.
- Action economy is king, and there are few better upgrade options than adding more actions to your Master Thief in order to get the most out of every turn.
- If there are special Victory Points to earn on a level, it’s probably in your best interests to make them your primary focus.
- Multiplayer is almost identical to single player, but the game updates you when your turn is up via email — like old school, long distance chess!