Tonight on GeekNights, we review Lost Ruins of Arnak (2020). It's an elegant worker placement deckbuilder. We like it. In the news, COVID-19 is again an extreme crisis (please don't go to MAGFest this coming weekend), Square Enix made a repugnant New Year's statement, Kickstarter is dead, and the fake high school was indeed fake.
Things of the Day
Good review, agree with the skill ceiling, makes it a little more kid/family friendly when everyone can potentially play well.
You have probably seen it by now but the first expansion for Arnak is going to be sick.
New cards, locations, monsters, a new double sided tech tree overlay but most importantly, 6 unique leaders with their own unique abilities and their own starting deck!
Dune had unique leaders from base game and it REALLY adds to reply ability, let alone the Rise of Ix expansion.
I don’t want to make the comparison to Ticket to Ride and the 1910 expansion which was basically a physical board game patch to fix it, but the first Arnak expansion looks a bit like a patch that will make the game more like what it should be, at least relative to other similar games (Dune)
I CANNOT wait for it. Legit excited.
Honestly, unique player boards/leaders is one thing I don’t like in most tabletop games.
Like in Root?
I think Leaders make the games feel more personal and give you a path to focus on for the game, a basic strat. Play to your leader.
For me it makes the game more fun, especially some of the crazy leaders that Dune has. Dune even implemented a difficulty rating on them to warn players not to F with the tricky ones until you know what the deal is.
But after even 3 plays of Arnak it is starting to feel Samey. I think for a casual game (which I classify Arnak) leaders can only add more variety but if you want a 100% level and equal playing field, then you can always opt not to use them.
Is that why not like? Can imbalance the game?
Root is a very different and specific kind of game. It’s an asymmetric wargame by design. It’s highly political.
But a game like Arnak? Requiring players to know the fullness of every other player’s unique board is just an annoying and game-slowing hinderance to play. And choosing not to know them limits your ability to play well.
Possibly, but it works so well in Dune my hope is that it gives Arnak a bit more personality. It just feels a bit vanilla.
If you want to play ultra competitive then I agree with your assessment, but my group is pretty casual so we like the idea of having a leader to play with. Just for fun really.
Not sure if you’re talking about Dune or Dune: Imperium.
Dune is a highly political game. The leaders are all wildly powerful, but also not perfectly balanced. The lack of balance can be taken care of by political actions. If Harkonnen are getting a bit too treacherous, people can gang up on them.
Arnak is not a pure race because you interact via the card market and block worker spaces, but it’s very close to one. The politics are very weak. If there are asymmetrical starting abilities that aren’t perfectly balanced, that’s not good. The player with the OP character will run away with it, and other players can’t do much about it.
Dune: Imperium has asymmetry, but it’s very small. Just these little extra abilities that don’t make much difference. Arnak could go that route, and it would be about the same. My feeling, however, is if you’re not going to go for big asymmetry, why go for any asymmetry? Asymmetry gets exciting when it’s Root, Dune, Starcraft, or Street Fighter II style and everyone is drastically different. If the only difference between two players is just one tiny little thing, it might not hurt, it might spice it up a little, but why even bother?
(Above: Dune Imperium)
Yeah I agree with that. If it doesn’t really change anything, why bother.
But Dune (Imperium) has shown that even a little asymmetric gameplay via leaders can lead to wildly different games, especially some of the 4 star leaders who have vastly different abilities.
So with that in mind, and given Arnak’s Expedition Leaders expansion has not just leaders but literally more of everything (cards, idols, assistants, research boards, guardians) I think it will be a solid purchase to “spice” up the game.
Sure, if it was just leaders, meh. But its everything. Everything gets a shake up.
I still think it came pretty close to having leaders in the core game, but maybe due to time or cost or even knowing it was coming shortly, they cut them. But having leaders in Dune feels so good, I just hope that experience translates well onto Arnak.
It should… But depending on the type of gamer you are will probably dictate how much you care.
In regular old Dune, the game is about that. It’s a primarily political game. Same with Root.
Arnak is primarily a solo race game with minimal player interaction. That kind of game in particular usually just has extended playtime or sub-optimal play with additional asymmetry.