I received #Res Arcana as one of my choices for the BGA Giveaway, and my wife and I were able to play it last night! I've only got one play under my belt, so this is truly a first impression, but I enjoyed it a lot. The engine building felt more focused and streamlined than that of a somewhat similar game, #Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North, and the gameplay felt less "heads-down" than that one, if that makes sense. A few minutes after we had put the game away, I felt like I wanted to play again, and my wife said that she really liked the game as well (big win).
First impression notes:
- (+) Components - the cards are of decent quality, but a little thin. Beyond that, no complaints! The small cardboard magic items and the giant cardboard "places of power" are awesome, and give the game a slightly more premium feel than if they had simply been cards.
- (+++) Insert - the removable token tray is awesome. The insert has perfect spaces for everything. There is room for cards to be sleeved, and room for an expansion as well. This is probably the best 1st party insert I now own.
- (+++) Setup - this was one of the reasons I was interested in this game. It sets up very quickly. You can probably set up in 1 minute once you're familiar with the game. If you use the draft variant, that will add a couple, but I'd actually consider that to be part of the game rather than the setup.
- (++) Rulebook - everything was very clear. I had a couple of questions about some specific cards that I couldn't find answers to, but for the most part, everything was quite clear.
- (++) Gameplay - very smooth. Turns are straight-forward, and the game arc is nice. It's an engine-builder, so it ramps up as the game progresses. Game length is great - pretty quick, but it still feels like a full experience. Since you only have a deck of 8 cards, your tableau and your engine will never get very big. This gives it a very focused feel. The available Monuments and Places of Power for which you're competing are what make the game for me - they give you the majority of your points, and you need to figure out how to build an engine around acquiring and then using them to their fullest - and you need to do it before your opponent(s).
- I only played at 2 players but it seems like that'd be the best player count. I'm definitely interested to try other counts too.
- The player interaction is perfect for us - there's really only one way to directly mess with your opponent - dragons - and those don't seem too detrimental. All they do is make you lose a couple of resources, which if used at the right time, could throw your opponent off for a round and allow you to get to 10 points first. Beyond that, the tension of getting the Place of Power you want before your opponent can snag it is fun. There can be positive interactions as well - I had a couple of cards which gave my opponent resources (after giving me more).
- I got this for $30 and that seems like a great price for such a solid game. I think MSRP is $40? Still pretty good. There aren't a ton of components, so that probably helps, but everything is just well done.