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Gaming Bits: Lost Ruins of Arnak

Jonathan Nelson
United States
Birmingham
Alabama
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Board Game: Lost Ruins of Arnak

Lost Ruins of Arnak is a game by Elwen and Min, published by Czech Games Edition. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players will take on the role of archaeologists as they set out to discover the secrets of the uncharted island of Arnak. They will need to equip their team with the best items as they search the jungles for lost ruins full of mysterious artifacts. They'll also have to overcome the guardians of these sites if they hope to uncover enough information to lead them to the Lost Temple. In the end, the player that can best lead their expedition and thereby gain the most points, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area with the Bird Temple side face up. The Artifact, Fear and Items cards are separated into separate decks. The Artifacts and Items decks should be shuffled before placing them face down on their marked spaces on the board. The Fear deck is placed face up on it's marked space but does not require shuffling. The Moon Staff is placed in the card row beneath the Roman Numeral I. An Artifact card is dealt to the card row face up to the left of the Moon Staff. Five Items cards are then dealt out to the remaining spaces on the card row to the right of the Moon Staff. The Idol Tiles are mixed up and then are randomly assigned to the level 1 and level 2 sites. Each site in the first region gets one face up idol, while the sites in the second region get one face up and one face down idol. Depending on the number of players, blocking tiles may be required to be placed on the board. This is only done in 2 and 3 player games. For more information on this, please check out the rulebook. The Temple tiles are arranged in a series of stacks, as noted on the board. Each stack has a number of tiles placed on it equal to the number of players. Any unused tiles are returned to the box. The Research Bonus tiles are shuffled and dealt out to the Lost Temple Bonus stack and Bonus Tile spaces. For the Lost Temple Bonus stack, a stack of tiles is made with a number of tiles equal to the number of players. This stack is placed face down at the top of the research track. The Bonus Tile spaces get 1 bonus tile each. Some spaces will only get tiles if there are 3 or more players in the game. Any unused tiles are returned to the box. All the resource tokens are placed into separate piles on the supply section of the board. The level 1 site tiles are shuffled and placed face down on their space on the board, as are the Guardian tiles and the Level 2 site tiles. The Assistant tiles are turned with the silver side face up and then shuffled into 3 separate stacks of 4 tiles each, before being placed on the supply portion of the board. The player's Research tokens are placed on the supply section of the board as well. Each player is then given a player board, research token, 2 archaeologist figures and 4 basic cards in their chosen player color. Players will place their player board in front of them and their Research tokens below the Research track, as mentioned above. Each player places their magnifying glass on top of their notebook. Their archaeologist figures are placed on the tent of their player board. Each player takes 2 Fear cards and adds them to their 4 basic cards. These cards are then shuffled and placed face down on their player board to create their player deck. The first player is chosen and is given the starting player marker. A number of resources are then given to each player based on their turn order. Once each player has these resources, play now begins.

From gallery of MillicanDarque


The game is played over 5 rounds. Each round is divided into 5 steps. The first step is to Draw. In this step each player will draw cards from their decks until they have a hand of 5 cards.

The second step is to Take Turns. For this step, each player will take a turn consisting of one main action and any number of free actions. The first player will start and then each player in turn order will take their turn. There are several choices that a player can choose for their main action. They can dig at a site. To do this, they must first pay the travel cost to the site they want to send their archaeologist to. This cost is paid by spending a card with the boot, car, boat or plane icon on it. Any card used in this way must ignore the effect of the card. Sometimes the cost requires two icons which may be paid from two different sources. It should be noted that a higher travel value may be used to pay a cost as well. This means that a plane can be used to pay either a car or boat icon and either of these 2 icons can be used to pay boot icon. A player may also spend 2 coins to make a plane icon. Once the travel cost is paid, the player can then move their meeple to the chosen space. The player will then resolve the effect shown at that site.

Another action that a player may take is to discover a new site. To discover a new site, the player will chose a level 1 or level 2 site and then pay the compass cost shown. They will then have to pay the travel cost for an undiscovered site in that region to move their archaeologist meeple just like if they were digging at a site. Once placing their meeple, they will take the idol on the site and resolve the idol's effect. If a site has 2 idols, both idols are taken but only the face up one's effect is resolved. These are placed face down on the supply crates of the player's board. A new site is then discovered by taking the top tile from the stack that matches the level and placing it face up on the board. It's effect is then resolved immediately. Once this is done, the guardian is awoken and the top tile of the guardian stack is drawn and placed face up on the site tile. One more thing of note about idols. Players may place an idol that they've gained onto one of the four slots on their player board as a free action. Once this is done, the player chooses one of the 5 effects shown. However once placed, the idol can not be moved.

From gallery of MillicanDarque


Another action that a player may take is to overcome a guardian. To do this, the player must first have an archaeologist on the guardian's site. They will then have to pay the cost shown on the bottom of the guardian's tile. Once this is done, the guardian is removed from the board and placed beside the player's board. The defeated guardian may be used once during the game for it's boon, shown in the upper right corner of the tile. Once it is used, the guardian tile is turned face down and may not be used again. It should be noted, at the end of a round if a player takes an archaeologist back from a site with a guardian on it, they will gain a fear card to be placed in their deck.

Another action that a player may take is to buy a card. There are two types of cards that can be bought, items and artifacts. To buy an item, first the player chooses the item card and pays the gold cost at the bottom of the card. They will then place the item card face down on the bottom of their deck before refilling the card row by drawing a new card from the item deck. To buy an artifact, the player chooses the artifact card and pays the compass cost at the bottom of the card. They will then move the artifact card to their play area where they may immediately resolve it's effect, ignoring the tablet cost. They will then refill the card row by drawing a new card from the artifact deck. In both cases, when a card is drawn to refill the card row, the remaining cards slide towards the moon staff making a space at the end of the row for the appropriate item or artifact card.

From gallery of MillicanDarque


Another action that a player may take is to play a card. To do this the player simply places the card from their hand face up into their play area. They will then resolve the card's effect. The card will remain in play for the rest of the round. Effects with a lightning bolt are considered free actions while other actions count as a main action. If an artifact card is played, then the associated tablet cost must be paid before performing the action. It should be noted that some rules and effects will send cards into exile. Items and artifacts have special places on the board for their exiled cards while exiled fear cards are simply returned to the fear deck.

Another action that a player may take is research. To do this, first the player must choose which research token they wish to move. It should be noted however that the player may not move their notebook above their magnifying glass, otherwise either token may be moved. When moving the player is only able to move up into a space that is connected to their token's current space. Before moving, the player must first pay the cost printed on the bridge connecting their current space to the new space they wish to move into. Once paid they may then move their token and gain the results of their research. If their is a face up research bonus tile, then they immediately gain the bonus and remove the tile from the game. The player will also gain the row's effect based on which token they moved. This is shown on the end of the row. Once the player's magnifying glass reaches the top row of the research track, they have discovered the Lost Temple. The player then places their magnifying glass on the remaining empty space worth the most points. They will then take a bonus tile, looking through the stack of face down tiles and choosing one. Once the player finds the Lost Temple, the player will pay to take a temple tile instead of paying to advance their token. The cost is shown below each stack of tiles. As players move up the research track, they will gain Assistants. When this happens, the player simply chooses one of the available assistants on the board. They are then placed on one of the Assistant squares of the player's assistant squares on their player board. Some assistants have free actions they may be used by turning the assistant sideways to show it has been used, thereby exhausting the assistant. These actions are only used once per round. As the player moves further along the research track, their assistants may be upgraded from silver to the gold level. Gold level assistants have stronger effects.

From gallery of MillicanDarque


The third step is to pass. Passing counts as a player's main action for the turn. Doing this, lets the other players know that the passing player will not be taking any more turns that round. The round ends once all players have passed.

The fourth step is to set up for the next round. As long as it is not the end of the fifth round, a new round is set up by having all players follow 4 steps simultaneously. First, players will take back their archaeologist meeples and place them onto their player board. If an archaeologist is taken from a site with a guardian, that player must add 1 Fear card to their play area. Next, If the player has any cards left in their hand, these are discarded to their play area or may be saved for the next round. Next, players gather all the cards in their play area and shuffle them together, placing them at the bottom of their own decks. Finally each player will refresh their assistants by turning them the right way up.

From gallery of MillicanDarque


The final step is to move the moon staff. To do this, the card row must first be adjusted by exiling the two cards on either side of the moon staff. The moon staff is then moved to the right to indicate the number of the next round. The card row is then refilled in the same was as noted above in the section about buying a card. The starting player marker is then moved to the next player in turn order and a new round begins.

The game continues until the end of round 5 is reached. Players will then take back their archaeologists and gain any Fear from guardians. The rest of the steps above are skipped and play proceeds to final scoring. Players earn points for where their research tokens are based on it's row. They also ear points for their temple tiles, idols and empty idol slots, as well as for guardians they overcame and any items or artifact cards they have with points on them. Players lose points for any Fear cards they have. Each player's points are added up and the one with the most points is the winner.

From gallery of MillicanDarque


COMPONENTS
This game is absolutely gorgeous. Each piece is dripping with theme and color. There is the huge colorful board with two sides of amazing artwork. The Bird temple side looks bright and full of hope, while the Snake temple side is a bit more ominous and dangerous looking. Each player has a player board that shows off the brightly colored tents of their camp sites. There's also the supply board which fits in along the bottom of the board. One thing to be aware of is that the board itself is huge. Adding the supply board makes it even bigger. You'll definitely want to have a large enough table for this monster. The game also has a ton of gorgeous looking cards. There are basic cards for each player, fear cards, item cards and artifact cards. Each of these are great quality and have some amazing artwork, especially the item and artifact ones. Next there are all the different tiles for the game, like the guardians, level 1 and 2 site tiles, assistant tiles, idol tiles, temple tiles, bonus tiles, blocking and reserve tiles, as well as the rival action tiles used only in the solo variant. Each of these fit in well with the theme and the overall look of the game which adds a lot. Then there are all the tokens from the cardboard coin and compass tokens to the plastic tablet, arrowhead and jewel tokens. There's also the cardboard moon staff and starting player marker. The plastic pieces are absolutely amazing. They really draw you into the game and it's theme. I kind of wish all the tokens had been plastic or possibly even metal, especially the coins and compasses. I think it would have just raised the coolness factor of the game even higher. Finally there are the colorful wooden archaeologist meeples, research tokens and the pad of scoring sheets. The game comes with some cute stickers for the notebook and magnifying glass research tokens which make them look even better. The scoring sheets are a great help and make adding up the final points a lot easier. Needless to say, each and every piece will just blow you away with how thematic and colorful it is. I was amazed at the beauty of it all. It shocked me with the high quality and overall coolness. This has to be the absolute best looking game that I've played in 2020. I'm in utter awe of it.
9 out of 10

From gallery of MillicanDarque


RULEBOOK
The rulebook, just like the game itself, is absolutely gorgeous. The book consists of 24 glossy full color pages that will make your jaw drop. It might even bring a tear to your eye. So many of the pages have these thematic journal entries that add to the flavor and look of the rulebook. All the components and setup instructions are laid out in an easy to understand and follow way. The rules are explained in great detail in a step by step process that is very simple. Throughout the book there are tons of great pictures and examples that will help you understand each rule of the game. This takes up the first 18 pages of the book. Page 19 explains the Snake Temple side of the board and how it's set up and played, including rescuing survivors from the first expedition and gaining fear from the dreadful tales of the temple. The next 2 pages cover the solo variant and they explain the rival action tiles and how to use them. One thing I'm definitely a big fan of is a solo variant. I love being able to play with others, but an added solo variant means I can play the game anytime I want. The last couple of pages consist of the appendix with notes on selected cards, things you shouldn't forget when playing and some frequently asked questions, as well as a few other odds and ends. There's also a list of effects and keywords which are very helpful too. Overall this is an amazing looking rulebook. It's easy to read through and quite enjoyable to flip through as well. It's definitely one of the best rulebooks that I've ever seen.
9 out of 10

From gallery of MillicanDarque


GAMEPLAY
This game is an absolute delight. If you ever wanted to be Indiana Jones, like I did, then this is the game for you. While you won't be fighting off Nazis or other random bad guys, you will be uncovering amazing artifacts and dealing with massive guardians as they watch over their relics. Each round you'll be sending out your team members to various sites, as well as buying better cards to improve your deck with. You'll also be wanting to move up on those research tracks to gain lots of added benefits like assistants and various resources. The thing about this game is that there are so many different paths that you can take and so many different options to gain points. Of course when there are good cards to be bought, you'll definitely want to add those to your deck. With only 40 item cards and 35 artifacts, you never know if another good card will come up. The same is true on the various site tiles. When you see one with some good rewards, it's usually best to take it before your opponent does. Another thing to think about is the research track. As you move up the track, you'll gain some very handy benefits, even more so if you're the first to move into that space. It's always a good idea to keep ahead on these tracks. That's just some of the various actions you can take. That's the thing about this game. It's so thematic and fun. You really get that sense of adventure as you're playing it. On top of that, if you flip the board over there's an even more dangerous and difficult game waiting for you. This variant can be rough but the story behind the lost team members of the last expedition makes perfect sense. Rescuing those people will give you assistants that will help you on your own expedition. I find that this side is even more thematic and fun than the easier Bird temple side. I love the sense of danger and excitement from this variant. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, this game also comes with a solo variant. Love it! The rival action tiles really feel like you're playing with another player. That's pretty rare when you find a solo variant like that. I've usually only seen that in something from Stonemaier games. The rulebook mentions that there's even a solo campaign coming to the website, but that's not been released on the site yet. I'm eagerly awaiting that for sure. The game is played in about 30-40 minutes per player. Which is great. However I'm not a big fan of the 4 player games. They tend to be a bit longer than I like to play. Honestly I'm more in love with the solo and 2 player games. Overall this is an amazing game that I completely enjoy. Fans of adventure and Indiana Jones movies will love this game. This is one that I highly recommend. It's a lot of fun and one that will be on my keeper shelf for a long long time.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Lost Ruins of Arnak is a deck building and worker placement game with a sense of adventure and excitement. The game doesn't take a very long time to play. Most game sessions last around 30-40 minutes per player. The components are absolutely gorgeous and each one is dripping with theme and beauty. I love the artwork on this one and the plastic tokens are a nice addition. The rulebook is just as beautiful and is one of the best that I've ever seen. I especially enjoy the added solo rules and the Snake Temple variant. The game itself is so much fun. It's exciting and very thematic. If you have ever wanted to live an Indiana Jones movie, then this is the game to play. It really captures that sense of wonder and adventure that you find in those movies. I really like playing this one. I was very excited to find that there was an additional variant to play a more difficult game, as well as including a solo variant. Needless to say, I love this game. It's definitely my most favorite game of 2020. Fans of adventure and exploration will love this game, especially if they enjoy the Indiana Jones movies. This is one game that I highly recommend. Just remember, those relics you find belong in a museum.
9 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out Czech Games Edition at their site.

https://czechgames.com/en/
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