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Subject: Arcana: Two Level Game rss

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Buying this game today, I was looking for a simple portable game that can be played in short time. Turned out this game has two levels: easy and full.

Played a couple of games with my group. The first game started out very simple and leisurely. First bribe action was surprising and brought excitement. Two words: "immediately won". Nevertheless, the pace was slow. Players tended to stake friendlier districts. Not much action in the neutral zone.

We added optional rules to improve the second game: customized guilds, militia, Guild Masters, tactical discards, random events. There wasn't enough cards sleeves to use Objective cards, ouch. It was much more fun and felt more complete. The impression was that this game's stripped down to make it easier and accessible.

Our third game, we customized guilds, used militia, played all three Guild Masters each (we wanted more different guilds), have tactical discards. Random Events and Objectives cards weren't used. Stakes were reduced and picked to ensure balanced ratio (3:4:5). It was better than the second session. There was even some limited diplomacy and temporary alliance, promises made and backs stabbed. Maybe because we play Samurai Swords (Ikusa) quite a lot, it came naturally to us.

We plan on playing more, soon, and talk about adding guild abilities. For example: by including a Guild Master (or Guild Crest) into the decks, when Blades player draw and play that card, he can kill agents (remove from game). Thieves can steal Relics. Architects can destroy Locations.

What I like:
* Simple mechanics. Doesn't have to spend lots of time to learn. Can quickly start playing.
* Highly interactive. The more people to play (up to 6), the much better.
* Optional rules are simple to implement and really improve the game.
* Beautiful art! It was the box art that drew me.
* Highly portable. Contains only cards.

What I wish for in expansions:
* More diverse and divergent guilds. Abilities and handicaps exclusive to each guilds. Do not worry too much about power balance.
* Alliance, back-stabbing and intrigue mechanics to bring out the overall theme and add to gameplay.

All in all, this is a enjoyable game with lots of potential. Easy to learn and good for social gathering.
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Tomas Hejna
Czech Republic
Prague
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Is there anything you disliked?
 
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XehutL wrote:
Is there anything you disliked?

I wish each guild is more different.

It is not a problem when playing with casual players. They value simplicity more than themes.

With more serious gamer friends, we usually add a small modification. One Guild Master is chosen as usual (rule E). The other two are added to deck. They grant special abilities specific to each guild. For example: Thieves can steal (forces an opponent to discard a relic card from hand), Ferrymen can assassinate (discard an agent from hand).
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Italy
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I always play with Militia and Guild Leaders. (Your is an interesting variant; have you assigned a different ability to every guild?)

I build the stake pool with a ratio between personalities, relics and places, too.
I never play with objectives though, because it... I don't know... scoring feels more random.
A couple of times we played with the Event cards; a couple of others we used those as a timer, ignoring the effects.
Also for a shorter game I like piles of 10 or even 8 stakes, keeping the ratio between types in the pool.
Tactical discard I tried just a couple of times; it seemed "overpowered" to one of my friends. I would be interested in other opinions on how it changes the game.

(I played recently after a long time when we could not meet. I learned/remembered 3 things:
1. even the advanced rules are not hard to be taught to a gamer new to the game;
2. it's a great game;
3. I am not good at playing it, at all)

thanks for the review
 
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K____ wrote:
(Your is an interesting variant; have you assigned a different ability to every guild?)

We're still tweaking the abilities to find a good balance. At the moment they're:

* Blades - discard all opponents' militia in one district.
* Thieves - selected player must discard one Relic (if he has in hand) on his next turn.
* Usurers - search for a Relic card in deck or discard pile, immediately play it. Like Headquarter Location card but for Relic.
* Ferrymen - selected player must discard one Agent (if he has in hand) on his next turn.
* Fortune-tellers - can look at all cards (once) in one district where he has an agent.
* Architects - selected player must discard one Location (if he has in hand) on his next turn.

We don't normally use this variant though. Usually we just add: custom deck, tactical discard, militia and all three (yes we love them ) guild leaders.

K____ wrote:

Tactical discard I tried just a couple of times; it seemed "overpowered" to one of my friends. I would be interested in other opinions on how it changes the game.

We love tactical discard.

The more you add cards, the less chance you'd draw ones you need. Sometimes you want the points but don't like the card. Tuck it away safely.

K____ wrote:

(I played recently after a long time when we could not meet. I learned/remembered 3 things:
1. even the advanced rules are not hard to be taught to a gamer new to the game;
2. it's a great game;
3. I am not good at playing it, at all)

thanks for the review

Don't worry about winning or losing, just have fun.

You're welcome, it's my pleasure.

BTW, the art is amazing. There are times when my friend took his time to play his card. Looking at the graphic helps me waiting calmly.
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Aaron Shanowitz
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iseng wrote:

* Highly interactive. The more people to play (up to 6), the much better.

I've only played this as a two-player game, and I want to say that it works great that way as well. I don't know how it compares to having more players, but with two it becomes really important to take advantage of your face-down cards to try to bluff the other player into spending their high-value cards.

I always use the guild leaders, optional guild cards, militia, and tactical discard. The other optionals don't seem to add much to the game for me.

About tactical discard, I agree with iseng that it is very good. I wouldn't play without it. Like in most deckbuilding games it's always good to have the option to remove cards from your deck, and deciding which cards to keep becomes an important decision.
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-=::) Dante (::=-
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iseng wrote:
* Highly interactive. The more people to play (up to 6), the much better.


6? I thought this plays only up to 4? I also don't see any variants posted in the forum.

Do you play with any modified rules with 6?

Where do you place cards in a 6 player game since you can no longer just use the four sides around the card being bid upon?
 
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Tomas Hejna
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With a big table, you can use hexa-orientation for it in example...
 
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NuMystic wrote:
iseng wrote:
* Highly interactive. The more people to play (up to 6), the much better.


6? I thought this plays only up to 4? I also don't see any variants posted in the forum.

Do you play with any modified rules with 6?

Where do you place cards in a 6 player game since you can no longer just use the four sides around the card being bid upon?


With the Revised Edition, there are 6 guilds. So you can play with 6 players. The rulebook only mentions and explains how to play with 4 players, but it's easy to add 2 additional players.

For placement, like XehutL, we use hexa-orientation.

The player seats, districts and bidding cards around stakes are hexagon-oriented. It can be crowded but should be manageable.

Earlier we experimented with special guild abilities (see my previous post on this thread). But the more we play, the less we want to modify the rules. The location cards are already powerful enough that we don't want to add more special abilities.

We love playing this with 6 players. Really competitive and put you on edge. Everyone is keeping an eye on everyone else.

Start with 4 cards for each district when playing with 6 players (or 3 cards for teaching first-time players). Don't use Ducal Jubilee (just end game when Neutral/Central district is exhausted). This will prevent overly long play time and keep it simple.
 
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-=::) Dante (::=-
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Sounds promising!

And how's the downtime with that many players?

Also on average how long is a 6 player game? (with the adjustments you've suggested)
 
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Tomas Hejna
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It is hard to say - if all players go for central district/pile mainly, it can be played quite quickly, depending on the number of cards there (let's say 11 cards there with 6 players can take on average about 2-3 hours, if noone is slowing down on own turns too much). But if the central area is often overlooked, the game can take twice or three times as long...!
 
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-=::) Dante (::=-
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XehutL wrote:
It is hard to say - if all players go for central district/pile mainly, it can be played quite quickly, depending on the number of cards there (let's say 11 cards there with 6 players can take on average about 2-3 hours, if noone is slowing down on own turns too much). But if the central area is often overlooked, the game can take twice or three times as long...!



So 2-3 hours average when you factor in the occasional long and short games? What's the longest it's gone, and how often has it stretched close to that?

Thanks!
 
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As XehutL already mentioned, it varies.

My games have been quick. With regular players (8 cards for each district, customized guilds, guild masters, tactical discard) it took no more than 2 hours usually.

Last week I introduced Arcana to 5 new players. For first game we put 3 cards in districts, using basic rules only. It took one hour. For the second game, I put 4 cards in each district. It finished in less than an hour, about 45 minutes.

Down time is very short, about 2-3 minutes. You'd barely notice since you'd be thinking about strategy and ways to screw others. It's also quite intense and competitive. Even when waiting for my friend's turn, I'd pay close attention on which district he's looking at and wondering about his plans.

Fortunately there's no overly analytical players in my groups.

Actually what takes the most time is players trying to read the cards farthest from his seat.
 
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-=::) Dante (::=-
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Thanks so much for the additional feedback. Definitely push this much higher up my want list thanks to the potential for more players!
 
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Tomas Hejna
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I would "roughly" estimate playing time as 5minutes per card in the central Stake pile (or Event pile, if you play with them) plus about another 10minutes per each player... on average. With skilled players it could be less per card or per player.
Also, if you have some players with AP, count in their time twice or three times
 
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