Theme&andn’What is it?
If Indiana Jones, deck-building, and worker placement had a baby…
…It might just look like Lost Ruins of Arnak.
The Lost Ruins of Arnak…
…is the 2020 big box release from Czech Games Edition.
The publisher describes it as follows:
On an uninhabited island in uncharted seas, explorers have found traces of a great civilization. Now you will lead an expedition to explore the island, find lost artifacts, and face fearsome guardians, all in a quest to learn the island’s secrets.
Lost Ruins of Arnak combines deck-building and worker placement in a game of exploration, resource management, and discovery. In addition to traditional deck-builder effects, cards can also be used to place workers, and new worker actions become available as players explore the island. Some of these actions require resources instead of workers, so building a solid resource base will be essential. You are limited to only one action per turn, so make your choice carefully… what action will benefit you most now? And what can you afford to do later… assuming someone else doesn’t take the action first!?
Decks are small, and randomness in the game is heavily mitigated by the wealth of tactical decisions offered on the game board. With a variety of worker actions, artifacts, and equipment cards, the set-up for each game will be unique, encouraging players to explore new strategies to meet the challenge.
Discover the Lost Ruins of Arnak!
I’ve been looking forward to this game since deck-building and worker placement are two mechanics my game group enjoys.
Lost Ruins of Arnak served both those mechanics well.
This game blends deck-building and worker placement in a pretty even balance.
The deck you generate is kept tight, with a unique mechanic of putting acquired cards at the bottom of your draw deck which causes them to get into your hand more quickly. When you shuffle & move cards from your play area back to the draw deck, you put them at the bottom — beneath anything you’ve received in the previous round. I really like this mechanic — it cycles the new cards more quickly and gets them into play. The other mechanic that I found innovative and thematically sound was the market that slowly changes from heavy on Items to heavy on Artifacts as your archeologists trek further into the jungle and, presumably, away from shops.
The worker placement aspect is also tight — you’ve got only two meeples (archeologists) to place. However, there are lots of OTHER things to do on your turn (as free actions) that keeps you involved in the game even when both your meeples are out. When a player explores a new site and reveals a Guardian, the new site becomes a worker-placement destination for all players — and any player can attack the Guardian in that site until it is defeated. When a Guardian is defeated, you gain Victory Points for the end-game and are granted a boon — a one-time use bonus — from the Guardian.
As new site tiles are revealed, the worker-placement aspect expands, making player’s choices more confounding. It’s a delicious brain puzzle.
There is also a Research track which provides bonuses, upgradeable assistants, and other goodies to archeologists willing to discover something and then write about it in their journal — a nice thematic touch. The way this mechanic is realized is that each player has two tokens — a journal and a magnifying glass — in their color on the Research track. Their journal token can never be higher than their magnifying glass token on the Research track. There are rewards (Victory Points) for the player who gets highest on the Research track, and they might even find the Lost Temple (which awards, as you might expect, more Victory Points).
Lost Ruins of Arnak keeps the action light and easy, even though this is a Euro game through-and-through (everything, eventually, comes down to Victory Points). There is a little bit of analysis-paralysis for those that are prone to it.
I received a prototype copy of the game for this preview. The components are 3d printed, the cards seem to be made of plastic, and the board appears to be wrapped with vinyl onto which the game graphics have been printed. All in all, a very nice prototype copy. However, that doesn’t talk about the quality of the produced game. I know that the cards in the production copy are linen-finshed, so that’s different. Another notable difference is the production components are not 3d printed and feel a lot nicer in your hand.
Indiana Jones-style adventure in the deepest jungles.
The artwork is very well executed. The art is evocative, colorful, and thematic. The iconography is clear and makes sense after just a few minutes. The game provides reference sheets that appear complete and thoroughly explain icons.
The cardboard components of the game are well thought out. For example, when an archeologist explores a site, a site token is placed there. I thought it was a nice touch that the site tile has a little cut-out shaped exactly correctly so it does not cover the worker placement icon. When the Guardian awakens, its tile fits appropriately over the site tile. Nice attention to detail.
The game board has two sides with slight differences in travel costs and a different Research track. This adds variety to the game, which is already good because of the number of cards available.
The few negative things I have to say about Lost Ruins of Arnak are as followss: the game feels like multi-player solitaire, it will generate analysis-paralysis in some folks, the game is a table hog, and it just doesn’t feel quite long enough. In all my plays, we’ve wished for one more round to really get our plans in action. Perhaps that will feel less-so after some more plays.
I read that in the design of the game, it was deliberately shortened to this length to prevent it from dragging. I suppose I’d rather wish for “one more round” than wish for “please let it end”!
If you’re old enough to see Indiana Jones…
…you’re old enough to play Lost Ruins of Arnak. The game box says “12+” but I expect that younger gamers could play it with a little adult guidance.
An enjoyable mix of two mechanics.
Lost Ruins of Arnak successfully mixes worker placement and deck-building, and adds a bit of innovation to both. If the theme appeals to you, I think Lost Ruins of Arnak is a sure-fire hit for your game night.
Thanks to Czech Games Edition for the prototype copy.