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Released in 1996 during the Collectible Card Game boom, Ani-Mayhem was noteworthy for being one of the two first Anime-themed CCGs and was the first multi-license CCG. Since the game was produced by Pioneer, in many ways it existed to advertise their own properties, which serves to explain the inclusion of some lesser-known series like Armitage III and Phantom Quest Corp.
The plot (as such) is that some kind of cataclysm threatens the anime Multiverse, and heroes from several universes must recover important artifacts in order to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. Unusually, Ani-Mayhem was designed with solitaire play in mind, though it can support multiplayer.
Types of Cards
- Characters (Purple): The most basic and important cards in the game, Characters are the "playable" heroes whom the player sends out to collect Items. Characters have a resemblance to those from Role Playing Games, with five stats, a number of skills, and unique character traits.
- Locations (Green): Representing the places the Characters must raid to find the Items, Locations can only be accessed if your Characters meet the listed Skill requirements. A few Locations (particularly those like military installations) have their own Attack and Defense, meaning the player can bypass Skills and simply brute-force their way in.
- Havens (Green): Havens are special Locations that function as the player's "home base". Only the player can access his own Haven, meaning it's a safe place to drop Items and Equipment. It's also where Bonked Characters go after they recover.
- Items (Brown): The key to the game, Items are important artifacts from the various anime universes. In order to win the game, the player must collect a majority of the available Items.
- Combat (Red): The game's Luck Manipulation Mechanic, Combat Cards are split in half; one side affects standard combat while the other affects Charm attempts.
- Disasters (Orange): The main source of conflict in the game, Disasters represent anything that gets in your way, including opponents, random events, etc. Disasters are divided two ways, into Combat and Non-Combat Disasters and Minor and Major Disasters.
- Power (Blue): A catch-all term for the cards that can be used to help you win the game. The Power Cards include Equipment (items that power up the characters), Enhancements (non-removable power-ups), Flash (similar to Magic's Instants), and Global (affect the entire playing field). As an aside, Equipment Cards had a unique brown-and-yellow border in the first two sets, but Set 2 made them blue to match up with the other Power Cards.
The series represented in Ani-Mayhem:
- Set 0: Bubblegum Crisis, El Hazard the Magnificent World (original OVA), Ranma ½, Tenchi Muyo (original OVA and Universe)
- Set 1: Ah! My Goddess (promotional cards only), Armitage III, Dominion Tank Police, Phantom Quest Corp, Project A-ko (first two movies)
- Set 2: Dragonball Z (covers through the FUNimation dub, with some later characters including Super Saiyans as extras)
The game had problems from the start, not the least of which was needlessly complex and occasionally opaque rules. Fans almost unanimously blame Set 2 for killing off the game, as the inclusion of Dragonball characters destroyed any semblance of balance; why bother with characters like Tenchi and Leona, who need two or three Power cards to be effective, when you could just use Goku instead?
In the end, Ani-Mayhem is generally viewed as little more than a footnote in the long history of Collectible Card Games, one of the many games that were rushed out after the surprise success of Magic: The Gathering and died a quiet death. Its main legacy is being ahead of its time with the concept of the multi-license game, a concept which would be pulled off with more success by the likes of the VS System and Universal Fighting System.
- Awesome but Impractical: Tenchi can be brought up to the level of a DBZ character, but it requires six separate cards, four of which are Items and all of which are rare. And this still leaves him deficient in some areas (his Health doesn't change and all his Energy goes into buffing his stats).
- Competitive Balance: As mentioned above, any balance went out the window with the introduction of Dragonball Z. Before that things were more even; though tech-based characters need Equipment to fight on equal footing with dedicated warriors, they make up for it by having better skill sets and nice unique effects.
- Distracted by the Sexy: If the player wins Charm Combat, they can make the Disaster hand over an Item, move, or attack either another Character or Combat Disaster at the same location. If the player loses, that Character can't participate in combat until the Disaster attacks them; if all your Characters get Charmed, the Disaster takes one of your Items and runs.
- Duel of Seduction: Every combat begins with one round of Charm Combat before the fists start flying (provided, of course, that the Disaster has Charm).
- Game Breaker: The Dragonball Z characters in general.
- Guide Dang It: The corrected rule books, and a few other instances. Some cards (such as the Jurian Battlesuit) were misprinted so that the Energy Cost had a plus in front of it, making it look like an Energy Bonus instead.
- Heel Face Turn: The Flash Effect "Bonk on the Head" can be used to turn a Combat Disaster into a character.
- Instant Win Condition: Collecting seven Dragonballs; not as difficult as it sounds, since there were Items like "3 Dragonballs".
- Joke Character: Farmer with Shotgun, whose only redeeming trait is that he gives everyone in his party a Movement of 4.
- Killed Off for Real: What happens when a Character's Health is reduced to negative its base value (I.E., if the Character has 4 Health, being knocked to -4 is fatal).
- Lethal Chef: Since the game includes both Akane Tendo and C-Ko Kotobuki, it was inevitable. There's a Disaster representing each of their..."meals", and C-Ko's will automatically join with Akane's to effectively turn the Location radioactive, destroying everything except the Location itself unless you have three Cooking skills present (or, alternately, you can remove Kasumi from the game to deal with it).
- Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Combat Cards, which affect both standard and Charm-based combat.
- Mythology Gag: The Movement icon is normally six arrows going in random directions, but for Ryoga Hibiki it was an arrow that looped back on itself, in a nod to his nonexistent sense of direction. Unfortunately, this lead to some confused players asking Upper Deck if it meant Ryoga could only move in a circle...
- Never the Selves Shall Meet: Averted; unlike other CCGs there are no specific rules against multiple versions of the same character. On top of that, there are multiple versions of Gohan in the game, meaning you can quite literally have a team of nothing but Gohans.
- Non-Lethal KO: If a Character is reduced to 0 Health, they're "Bonked" and leave play for a turn before being revived in their respective Haven.
- Purely Aesthetic Gender: Averted, certain cards and effects would target one gender or the other.
- Tactical Withdrawal: One can opt to run away from Combat, but doing so gives the Disaster a free attack.
- Taking the Bullet: Protecting, which adds half the protector's Defense to the protectee's for one attack. If any damage gets through the combined Defense, the protector takes half damage while the protectee takes full damage.
- The other being the obscure Anime Madness
- Attack, Defense, Movement, Charm and Energy, plus the hidden "Health" stat
- Rather infamously, the first edition rulebook's only note on exploring a location was "Flip over the first Disaster. Deal with it".