The renegades, the idealists, the iconoclasts and the oppressed youth of the vampire world.
To your typical Camarilla vampire they are a bunch of Brujah biker-wannabees who have nothing better to do that run around burning shit. Hell, they're barely any better than the Sabbat.
The Anarchs book turns this stereotype around.
Admittedly, I have owned this book for a while and it's spent a lot of time sat on the shelf amongst the other dozens of WW supplements I have bought and never used. Last week though, as our last chronicle came to a close it was suggested that we give the Anarchs a go, for a fresh perspective. This made me take the book down again, re-read it and see if there was anything good in there.
First of all, the obvious stuff:
There are a bunch of Clan splats, with White Wolf again stating the obvious. "Tremere Anarchs have a hard time from their Clan." "Caitiff Anarchs are pretty common."
Despite this, there are a few nice gems in there. The opening paragraph for the Caitiff page is very amusing, and the quotes for each clan regarding their outlook on Camarilla and Sabbat are characterful, if stereotyped. The artwork is black and white, to the usual scratchy standard of WW. Nice if you like line drawings... The most characterful artwork on the splat pages is probably that of the Tremere Anarch - he's running away.
Then there is the "new kewl powers".
Combination disciplines appear aplenty, and for the most part these are uninspiring and dull. You get the feeling they put these in for the people who aren't happy unless a sourcebook has new rules in it.
Then there is the obligatory dull bit:
The history of the anarch movement is explored, from the two Uprisings to the fall of the Anarch Free State. This is okay stuff, but doesn't help you run a game.
The world is broken down country by country telling you exactly what the anarchs are doing in each country. This is irritating, because it gives you too much information (because there are so many damn countries) and too little information (because you get five lines about the country you are running your game in) at the same time. Also, it's all frankly uninspiring and unimaginative. In the UK, it's Camarilla territory. In the Netherlands they're easy going. In Germany, they've been shaking up by reunification. Gods, we're paying for this stuff?
There are quick "mini-character sheets" for Anarch style characters, from Barons to Sweepers to Demagogues to Bikers. Personally I find this stuff not very useful - Vampire has never needed a monster manual.
Then there is the good bit.
The chapters dedicated to the nightly existence of Anarchs are the most useful. How do you maintain a Haven when you are on the move? How do you fight the Elders without them kicking your ass? How do you play games of politics when your enemies hold all the cards?
This is where the Anarch book begins to shine. The book then goes on to discuss mood and direction in an Anarch chronicle. This is surprisingly useful stuff when you are starting an Anarchs chronicle. The big themes I have found most useful are those of Survival, Defiance and Paranoia. 2 games into the Chronicle and the players are already not sure who they can trust, who is watching them when they hunt and how they are going to survive the next few weeks. After years of cushy lives in a Camarilla chronicle they are having to go back to the basics of feeding, finding havens and dodging the authorities.
This section alone makes the book usable.
My advice: buy the book if you want to run an Anarch game or play in an Anarch game.
If you just play Vampire and Anarchs aren't central to the plot dont bother, there's not much new here.
If you're looking for new rules and new powers, look elsewhere.