- Genre: strategy
- Mechanics: deck building, worker placement
- Duration: The box says 30-120 min, really 60-180 min (depends on players)
- Player count: 1-4
- Released: 2020
- Age limit: 12+
You are leading an expedition to an island that no one has explored before. You’ll find ruins, interesting artifacts, new items, and all kinds of resources. Deeper in the jungle, there are large creatures protecting the island’s ancient treasures. You still want to be a successful explorer, and you won’t back down. Here, in short, is Arnak’s idea.
Each player leads an expedition consisting of two researchers. The game lasts five rounds, but a round consists of several turns. On their turn, players must perform at least one main action, and in addition, they can perform as many free actions as they want and are able to do. The main activities are, for example, playing cards, exploring ruins, sending an explorer to a location to collect resources, fight the creatures protecting the locations, and buying items or artifacts. Players get points from almost everything they do, and the player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
The game has a really wide range of different functions that players can do. I listed them in the previous paragraph. This makes the game interesting to play. It’s worth doing different activities, because if you focus too much, for example, on just exploring, it could be that your deck is bad at the end of the game, when you haven’t bought any new cards at all. In addition, all functions offer some nice benefits when doing them. For example, exploring new locations gives you idol statues, which can be used for free activities and are points at the end of the game. On the other hand, while progressing on the research track, you will find random rewards.
The game feels really balanced. Since there is a lot of variety in the actions, this is a really significant comment, because balancing a game like this is tricky. It could easily happen that, for example, progressing on an research track is more profitable than exploring new locations. But the game developers have put a lot of effort into balancing the game.
Although the game is theoretically short (5 rounds), the game can drag on for a long time. With certain types of players, the game can feel really long. So, if there are a lot of people in your gaming group who think about their turns for a really long time and maximize their points several turns ahead, be prepared for long waiting breaks.
The game has a lot of different items and artifacts that players can buy. I love the versatility of these cards. The functions in them are also nicely different from each other. Newly purchased cards always go to the bottom of your deck, so in the next round you will probably get these cards, as the deck is not shuffled between rounds. However, the game lasts only five rounds, so the cards bought by the players can be used relatively little in the game. This is a bit boring, and makes deck building a relatively minor aspect of the game.
It must be said right away that the game looks fantastic. Even the game box is very colorful, decorative, and its art is great. The game board is large and its art is eye-catching. Everything is clear and the different sections are skillfully separated from each other. This makes learning the game easier, for example.
The components are of high quality and effort has been put into their design. The various resources are three-dimensional, the cardboard tiles are of high quality and the design works anyway. For example, guardian monsters that come on top of new locations are placed perfectly on top of the location tiles so that the resources produced by the target still remain visible. A lot of effort is put into the board regarding the flow of the game, an example of which is the clear round meter. When the round changes, the marker on the meter advances, the objects next to it are destroyed, and the rows of objects are filled. This happens very logically, and it is hinted by, for example, by placing stacks of cards sensibly on both sides of the round meter.
The game seems really hard to learn at first, because there is surprisingly a lot to learn in the rulebook. There are lots of pages and there is a lot of text to read. However, the rules are easy to understand and surprisingly logical. So you shouldn’t be scared by the game’s threatening-looking rule book. It also has a lot of example pictures to make things easier to understand.
Arnak is a pleasure to play over and over again. The game board has two sides, which adds variety. Different resources are available on different sides and, for example, the research track is different. In addition, in the setup, a lot of different random tokens are set, such as idols and research track rewards. In addition, the research locations are always drawn from the decks, as well as the guardian monsters that come on top of the locations. The game has a lot of randomness, so the replay value of the game remains high.
Arnak is a great-looking, versatile, well-balanced and all-round high-quality game. Arnak was a really big positive surprise for me. I had heard a lot of good things about it, and I borrowed it from the library for a test run. I wasn’t convinced about the game yet when I read the rules, but when I got to play it, I was hooked. Now I’m already considering getting the game to my own shelf. In addition, an expansion has been developed for the game, which should probably be checked at some point. Goodbye money…
- Looks great
- High-quality components
- Feels very balanced
- A lot of different actions to do
- Good amount of randomness, so the game has a lot of replay value
- Well written rules
- The game can be lengthy depending on the players
- The bought cards can be used relatively little