First Impressions - Res Arcana

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).
  • Miscellaneous 
    - 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.

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3 months ago

That's a great feeling when you take a risk on a game, and it lands well for both of you.  Definitely a cost-effective game too... even if you get it for free ;)

3 months ago

Haha yes, the risk is much lower when it's free. But I'm glad it's working out so far!

3 months ago

Nice, from what I have read this is the kind of game where the likelihood of you messing with each other will increase as the player count goes up as there will be more competition for the Places of Power.

3 months ago

I could see that being true. I didn't feel much need to do anything in the 2 player game. Then again, I lost. Haha

3 months ago

Ha, always a good motivator to try out a new strategy

Supporter3 months ago

Nice! I love it whenever I hear positive experiences especially with the spouse :)

Does this make it even more likely for you to try and trade/sell your copy of #Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North?

Thinking about it now, I think I prefer card-driven games that have at least some common cards between players, instead of having a completely unique deck. Somewhat like #Concordia, but not as extreme of an example. That seems to work well for us because when someone plays card "X" that we're very familiar with (in terms of name and power of the card), then it often creates those in-game moments of "Nooooo!" or "Oh man, good move" or something, instead of it just becoming "Ok, my turn" 

3 months ago

I actually just traded #Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North yesterday! I traded it for #Sentient along with some cash coming my way. That's one I've been interested in for quite a while, and I found someone selling it locally. Not sure how soon I'll get to try it out but I'm looking forward to it!

I see what you mean about the common cards. It does make for some interesting table talk. In #Res Arcana, every card is unique, so there's not quite that same effect, but they're not siloed into individual decks as they are in Empires of the North, so you have just as good a chance of getting one card as you are another. We're only one game in of course, so I don't know what all the cards do, but there are only 40 Artifacts (the ones you play from your hand), plus 10 mages and 10 monuments. I feel like we'll learn the deck pretty quickly lol. Plus the symbology is pretty straight-forward, so it's easy to tell what a card does.

That being said, there will be a relatively low rate of "ooooohhh niiiice" or "ahhh noooo" with this game, I think, since most cards don't do anything when you put them down - only when you use their abilities. Just a different feel, I guess.

Supporter3 months ago

Sounds great. 

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Res Arcana