Lost Ruins of Arnak - Player count: 1 - 4 players Playtime: 45 - 120 minutes Designers: Min & Elwen Publisher: Czech Games Edition
You have come across an uninhabited island in unknown waters traces of a long lost civilisation have been discovered. Lead an expedition to explore the island. Find lost artefacts and face off against the guardians of the island as you race to learn the island's secrets.
Lost Ruins of Arnak is a one to a four-player game that fuses together deck building and worker placement mechanisms. It is designed by husband and wife Min and Elwen and is published by Czech Games Edition with a playtime of 45 to 120 minutes. Players will need to manage their resources, discover and explore the island and perform research. New locations on the board can be discovered, but are guarded by fierce guardians that can be defeated.
Cards are multi-use and can be used for their main actions or for their travel actions. Additional cards in the form of equipment or artefacts can be purchased. Performing research grants players additional bonuses, abilities and resources to further their goal.
Players can only perform one main action at a time so which actions you perform and when is a crucial part of the game. There are a number of "free" actions that players can in addition to their main action.
The game lasts for five rounds and at the end of the round, the player with the most points is the winner. Points are awarded from defeated guardians, cards in their deck, idols, temple tiles & points from the research track with negative points being gained from fear cards.
Lost Ruins of Arnak is a fusion of worker placement and deck building. But does the combination of these two mechanisms work? Is this a recipe for success like fish & chips? Well, read on to find out more.
Fish & Chips
A favourite pub meal of mine is fish & chips and it is something that I will always pick if it is available. There is nothing like the crisp batter and the lovely white fish inside. Add to that, some crispy chips and I am in heaven. It is comforting, it is wholesome and satisfying and it always hit the spot. Stick with me here people.
Lost Ruins of Arnak gives me the same satisfaction as my favourite pub meal. There is nothing revolutionary in the worker placement mechanism but the deck building mechanism has some interesting twists, which I will talk about later. Each of these mechanisms in their own right is not what makes this game stand out. However, when combined together something is born that is greater than the sum of the individual parts and it just hits the spot.
Small but Mighty
The deck-building aspect of the game has some unique twists which I find really enjoyable. When purchasing an equipment card it goes to the bottom of your draw pile. So you can plan for when it is going to come into your hand. Your deck is also relatively small so you get through your deck quicker. When purchasing an artefact you can activate it immediately. This then goes into your play area to be discarded at the end of the round. At the end of the round, your play area is shuffled and placed on the bottom of your draw deck. These three subtle twists on the standard deck building mechanism make for some very exciting turns which think are just wonderful. The deck you build will be small but powerful.
The worker placement aspect of the game is agonisingly tight. You only have two workers and undoubtedly you always wish you had more. But this creates some creative opportunities to gain resources and perform actions in alternative ways which feels satisfying and fun.
Points, Points, Points
There is a multitude of areas to gain points from; defeated guardians, idols, artefact cards, equipment cards and the research track. I feel that you need to progress on the research track to some degree to be a contender for first place. But by default, you will perform the research action at some point as you may need some of the bonuses or abilities. You can also gain up to two assistants this way which can be very useful.
On the research track, each player has two pieces. A magnifying glass which represents you researching and the notebook which represents you documenting your research. Your notebook can't pass your magnifying glass. You can't document what you have not researched yet, a nice thematic touch.
Time and Time Again
The gameplay overall is fantastic. It combines two mechanisms which I adore into something new and exciting. The replay-ability is very high as well. There are a fair number of new locations to discover, guardians, to overcome and large decks of artefact and equipment cards (which are all unique). It is a game that I just keep coming back to time and time again and think this will continue to be hitting my table for a long time. On top of this, the solo mode is very streamlined, easy to manage and offers a number of difficulty levels.
The husband and wife due Elwen & Min have smashed it out of the park with The Lost Ruins of Arnak and I will be keeping an eye on these designers from now. One of my top games of 2020.