Katie takes us through the hit game Lost Ruins of Arnak!
Hey Everyone! Katie here. Today, I’m flying solo to review Lost Ruins of Arnak, an award-nominated game from Czech Games Edition. So how does this deck-builder, worker placement game play? Is it fun? Let's take a look!
You and your friends are explorers that come upon a currently uninhabited island. Explore ruins of an ancient civilization, find artifacts, and fight fearsome guardians!
This game is played over 5 rounds. At the beginning of a round, players draw 5 cards for the round and two explorer meeples. Within a round, players can take one of the following main actions:
1. Dig with an explorer at a site- Find tablets! Gold! Rubies! Other fun stuff! Worker placement is a fun mechanism!
2. Discover a new site- Use your explorers and some compasses to find new sites! You’ll find idols and other useful items, but you’ll awaken a guardian that you will have to appease…if not you get fear!
3. Overcome a guardian- Did you awake a guardian? That’s not good! You’ll need to offer some of your loot to them. You’ll get a reward for your bravery though!
4. Buy an item card- Spend some of that gold! Item cards will be added to the bottom of your deck. A fun twist on the classic deck-builder mechanism.
5. Buy an artifact card- Use some compasses! Artifact cards will eventually be added to your deck, but they get a free activation. Immediately! But you will have to pay a cost to activate them in the future….
6. Play a card- Play an item or artifact card from your hand. Activate the cool power on the card.
7. Research- Move your tokens up the research track in an effort to reach the Lost Temple! While this action costs precious resources, players receive benefits along the way, including assistants. Finding the Lost Temple gives you the opportunity to earn temple tiles during future research actions.
8. Use assistant- All assistants give a cool benefit once per round. Some assistants require you to use your action to get their benefit.
9. Pass- Can’t take any more actions for the round? It's time to pass and wait for your fellow players to also pass.
In addition to main actions, you can do any number of free actions. These include: using certain assistants, using certain item cards and covering certain spots on your player board to get resources. All free actions are clearly indicated by a lightning bolt icon.
At the end of the game, points are totaled. Points are earned from: purchased cards, progress up the research track, guardians appeased, points on idols, and uncovered spaces on the player board. Don’t forget your negative points from fear!
There is a lot to like in this game! The game components are well produced, especially the tablet, arrow and ruby resources. I enjoy the interesting twists on deckbuilding, especially adding newly-purchased item cards to the bottom of the draw deck; with so few turns, it ensures that the new, shiny card gets drawn soon! There are also a few animal-themed cards, which greatly pleases me! Overall, it is an enjoyable experience that is relatively easy to learn, has a good rulebook, and very clear iconography.
There are a few things that I wish were different in this game. My biggest gripe is that a player gets a random assortment of resources when they dig at or discover a site. Thematically, that makes sense, but can make long-term planning difficult. Additionally, leftover resources are not worth anything at the end of the game . My final, minor gripe is that the game does not have any unique player powers, which is just a missed opportunity.
This game also plays great solo! There are several ways to play. Included in the game are tiles that mimic a rival opponent's actions; this works well and provides a good amount of tension for the solo experience. Additionally there is a free app that a player can use to manage their rival opponent’s actions. Finally, there is a free online solo campaign that solo players can work through. I have not tried the online options, but I am intrigued.
Recently, an expansion has been released: Expedition Leaders. As the name suggests, all players get an expedition leader. Each leader has unique special actions/abilities and gives each player unique starting cards. I’ve played two of them so far and they really shake up the gameplay! The expansion also includes alternate research track boards and more item cards, artifact cards, idols, and dig site tiles. This expansion isn’t essential, but if you plan on this game a lot, I recommend picking it up at some point.
I greatly enjoy this game. The theme, components, interesting twists on deckbuilding, and relatively easy rules make this game an easy game to teach a wide variety of folks. It's one of my most played games in the last year. With the addition of the expansion, I think it will see even more play at my table!