Jon Brace
United States
New Jersey
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
INTRODUCTION

Hi everyone, this is my first review of a game on BGG, despite being a member for years. I recently received my demo kit for Golem Arcana, a tactical minis game that I Kickstarted a while ago and is now nearing release in August 2014. What caught my interest was the description of Golem Arcana, a "digitally enhanced miniatures game" where the tediousness of memorizing rules to speed gameplay along is done for you through the use of a Bluetooth connected TDI Stylus and a smart device application.



COMPONENTS

As far as components are concerned,Harebrained Schemes has made it a point to make Golem Arcana top-quality. The models are pre-painted to an excellent quality. The TDI Stylus is sturdy and easier to hold and use. The double-sided tiles that make up the battlefield are thick, scratch resistant, and beautifully illustrated with camps, hills, plains, water, mountains, and features. Each Golem has a card with its abilities, which are thick and sturdy. The cards can be used to select Golem movement/abilities, or you can use the areas labeled on the base of each Golem model (convenient if you forget or misplace the card). Two 10-sided dice are included for attacks, one of which is a percentile die. The application (at least the Demo version I currently have) is intuitive and easy to use.



The smart device application takes care of all the element and statistic tracking, as well as the rules. All of the information in the game is only a Stylus click away, which saves time when compared to flipping through a codex, army book, or rules tome.

GAMEPLAY

The nice feature of being an app-based game is that as soon as new scenarios/updates/FAQs/fixex/content are released, you can just update your application. No new books required or waiting because it's out of stock. Also, any games you play are uploaded to the server and actually affect the lore of the world the game designers have created to go along with the game.

Game play is easy to learn, taking mere minutes to learn how the Stylus and game interact, which lets you get to the fun part quicker. As you learn the basics, it is a simple leap to advance into more in-depth playing, customizing your army lists with various Golems, choosing their knights to pilot the Golems and the Relics they carry, and selecting your Ancient Ones to help out your army in times of need. As of right now, there are King of the Hill and annihilation scenarios, with a lot more to come (such as hidden items or characters in zones in various scenarios, quest driven scenarios, etc., basically due to being a digital download the possibilities are endless).




Everyone I've taught the game to has enjoyed it immensely and immediately wanted to play another game, even five or six after that. After a few of my friends tried it and were talking about it, my wife became interested and I have never been able to get her to try my other miniature games. She loved it, her favorite part being that I couldn't use the rules she didn't know to my advantage, as everything is controlled in the app. She also liked the fact that you can play a small game in twenty minutes, once you've played through once (it takes about 45 minutes to play your very first time) and you can do games as large as you want. There will also be the capability of team games, organized play, and tournaments.

I've included the links to sites below so you can explore more of this ingenious game and rich world.

http://golemarcana.com/
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1613260297/golem-arcana...
18 
 Thumb up
5.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
A Brave New Geek
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice overview. Gimmicks and presentation aside, what makes this game good?
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul DeStefano
United States
Long Island
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hows does it play? Does it feel tactically sound?
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua R
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
GO TO JAPAN!
badge
Artist: Shohei Otomo
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Geosphere wrote:
Hows does it play? Does it feel tactically sound?

I've only been able to play a couple games, but with the limited units available in the demo kit, the tactics and balance seem very, very good to me...

Using terrain features like cover, obstructions and LOS is effective, but not game-breaking because there are unit abilities that can be used as counters as well as a well-placed blessing or curse making all the difference. So the game encourages a quick pace and changing strategies over turtling and chump tactics.

The catch-up feature (when a unit dies its controller gains a chunk of mana that can be used to pay for boons) is useful and can prevent a runaway victory, but only if properly taken advantage of.

I'll reiterate what the OP said about it being quick to pick up - everything you need to play is in front of you from the word 'go' but learning how to make the most of it takes time and attention given to what's going on "behind the scenes"... I haven't had time to really do that yet, but given how much I and the others I've played with enjoyed it out of the gate, I'm very hopeful that people will try it and like it.

REALLY looking forward to playing with all the units available, and hoping it stays as well balanced as the demo kit is.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Duncan Idaho
United States
NYC
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Anyone who's played it - are you a miniatures gamer? How does this stack up to some of the more popular ones? It's obviously not a WH40K clone, but it does seem pretty close to some of the more tactical miniatures games, like Warmachine and Malifaux.

Is this just an ease-of-entry game? A by-the-numbers, squad-based tactical miniatures game with a technological gimmick? A great game enhanced by the use of technology?

If it's different, how so? Everything I've read makes it seem like it's a standard miniatures game, only with the technology on top.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Brace
United States
New Jersey
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Thanks Brave. The game plays like fast version of Warmachine/Hordes or 40k. The abilities of each golem are very diverse, and fit nicely within the themes of each faction.

Similar to X-Wing, being able to customize each golem with Knights that give you passive or active abilities allows for diverse armies to be fielded and like other miniature games, a lot of strategy when it comes to building your lists.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Brace
United States
New Jersey
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Idaho11 wrote:
Anyone who's played it - are you a miniatures gamer? How does this stack up to some of the more popular ones? It's obviously not a WH40K clone, but it does seem pretty close to some of the more tactical miniatures games, like Warmachine and Malifaux.

Is this just an ease-of-entry game? A by-the-numbers, squad-based tactical miniatures game with a technological gimmick? A great game enhanced by the use of technology?

If it's different, how so? Everything I've read makes it seem like it's a standard miniatures game, only with the technology on top.


I'm very much a miniature player, ~15,000 points of Necrons and that's just one army...I love this game. It plays, at least with the demo, a little more like Warmachine/Hordes- there are no "phases" where you do everything with all your units. You can activate any unit at any time during your time, and even multiple times as long you have the action points to pay for it. As far as army building, there are a ton of options as you get to customize your golems with "pilots"- called Knights, along with Relics and Ancient Ones. It is just as tactically and strategically sound as Warmachine and 40k in my opinion. Maybe even more so with the variety of scenarios they can put out. The exceptional part of this game is the scenarios and updates. Already there are King of the Hill type missions as well as team deathmatch, and there are plans to build scenarios based around exploring the maps (almost like a treasure hunt, where certain "items" or NPC's are hidden in the tiles that neither player/team knows about until they spend an Action Point to explore and then they gain victory points), Quests for RPG-style scenarios, capture the flag scenarios, etc. Being an app and able to download new scenarios means the diversity and complexity of the game can continue to grow, and updates will be much faster than published documents.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew DiGregorio
United States
West Babylon
New York
flag msg tools
badge
I'm a scary clown!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm very happy that i went in on this KS at the Lancer level.

Very excited to get all the units coming my way.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Duncan Idaho
United States
NYC
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
metalfoot21 wrote:
Idaho11 wrote:
Anyone who's played it - are you a miniatures gamer? How does this stack up to some of the more popular ones? It's obviously not a WH40K clone, but it does seem pretty close to some of the more tactical miniatures games, like Warmachine and Malifaux.

Is this just an ease-of-entry game? A by-the-numbers, squad-based tactical miniatures game with a technological gimmick? A great game enhanced by the use of technology?

If it's different, how so? Everything I've read makes it seem like it's a standard miniatures game, only with the technology on top.


I'm very much a miniature player, ~15,000 points of Necrons and that's just one army...I love this game. It plays, at least with the demo, a little more like Warmachine/Hordes- there are no "phases" where you do everything with all your units. You can activate any unit at any time during your time, and even multiple times as long you have the action points to pay for it. As far as army building, there are a ton of options as you get to customize your golems with "pilots"- called Knights, along with Relics and Ancient Ones. It is just as tactically and strategically sound as Warmachine and 40k in my opinion. Maybe even more so with the variety of scenarios they can put out. The exceptional part of this game is the scenarios and updates. Already there are King of the Hill type missions as well as team deathmatch, and there are plans to build scenarios based around exploring the maps (almost like a treasure hunt, where certain "items" or NPC's are hidden in the tiles that neither player/team knows about until they spend an Action Point to explore and then they gain victory points), Quests for RPG-style scenarios, capture the flag scenarios, etc. Being an app and able to download new scenarios means the diversity and complexity of the game can continue to grow, and updates will be much faster than published documents.


Ugh, you're making me really regret skipping this Kickstarter...
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Karl Markovich
United States
Peoria
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
abravenewgeek wrote:
Nice overview. Gimmicks and presentation aside, what makes this game good?

I'd hardly call the handling of the rules by an app a "gimmick". Full disclosure... I backed the game. Why? To play the game with my kids. The fact that they don't need to understand why target A is a 69% chance to hit while target B is a 74% chance to hit is HUGE. The app handles all stat, ability, and modifier tracking...that opens up the potential audience immensely. Lots of people just simply don't want to learn the complex rules systems of many games (for whatever reasons). GA means that they don't have to (they can, but its not necessary).

To answer your more direct question though, the minis look great, the possibility for scenarios is endless, there's a deep strategy when it comes to army building. If something is unbalanced or overpowered, it can be tweaked digitally... no errata needed. Its fast and easy to learn but features a lot of depth for more advanced players. When a golem is destroyed, its controller receives a mans boost thereby providing s balancing mechanism to prevent the ever present "whoever loses a main piece first probably loses the game" issue.

I've been beta testing and am very pleased with the way its turning out. I can't wait until GenCon to see the game finally revealed!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Karl Markovich
United States
Peoria
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Idaho11 wrote:

Ugh, you're making me really regret skipping this Kickstarter...

Well, I believe it is set to hit FLGSs everywhere on Aug 13.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christian Letourneau
Canada
St-Lambert
Quebec
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
hair10 wrote:
Idaho11 wrote:

Ugh, you're making me really regret skipping this Kickstarter...

Well, I believe it is set to hit FLGSs everywhere on Aug 13.


So where is my kickstarter copy then? I better receive it before it hits flgs shelves...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Brace
United States
New Jersey
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Duguayduguay wrote:
hair10 wrote:
Idaho11 wrote:

Ugh, you're making me really regret skipping this Kickstarter...

Well, I believe it is set to hit FLGSs everywhere on Aug 13.


So where is my kickstarter copy then? I better receive it before it hits flgs shelves...


Latest update on the Kickstarter page is that backer rewards should be shipping the end of this week via Amazon shipment fulfillment. Brian talks about shipping about halfway down this comments page:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1613260297/golem-arcana...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
A Brave New Geek
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
hair10 wrote:
abravenewgeek wrote:
Nice overview. Gimmicks and presentation aside, what makes this game good?

I'd hardly call the handling of the rules by an app a "gimmick". Full disclosure... I backed the game. Why? To play the game with my kids. The fact that they don't need to understand why target A is a 69% chance to hit while target B is a 74% chance to hit is HUGE. The app handles all stat, ability, and modifier tracking...that opens up the potential audience immensely. Lots of people just simply don't want to learn the complex rules systems of many games (for whatever reasons). GA means that they don't have to (they can, but its not necessary).

To answer your more direct question though, the minis look great, the possibility for scenarios is endless, there's a deep strategy when it comes to army building. If something is unbalanced or overpowered, it can be tweaked digitally... no errata needed. Its fast and easy to learn but features a lot of depth for more advanced players. When a golem is destroyed, its controller receives a mans boost thereby providing s balancing mechanism to prevent the ever present "whoever loses a main piece first probably loses the game" issue.

I've been beta testing and am very pleased with the way its turning out. I can't wait until GenCon to see the game finally revealed!


Fair points, though gimmick or major selling point aside (which i do tho k is very novel) I am keen understand how this compares to other small scale miniatures/card games posing as miniatures games.

I.e. How would this compare to say Summoner Wars, Dungeon Command or Mage Wars?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Brace
United States
New Jersey
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
abravenewgeek wrote:
hair10 wrote:
abravenewgeek wrote:
Nice overview. Gimmicks and presentation aside, what makes this game good?

I'd hardly call the handling of the rules by an app a "gimmick". Full disclosure... I backed the game. Why? To play the game with my kids. The fact that they don't need to understand why target A is a 69% chance to hit while target B is a 74% chance to hit is HUGE. The app handles all stat, ability, and modifier tracking...that opens up the potential audience immensely. Lots of people just simply don't want to learn the complex rules systems of many games (for whatever reasons). GA means that they don't have to (they can, but its not necessary).

To answer your more direct question though, the minis look great, the possibility for scenarios is endless, there's a deep strategy when it comes to army building. If something is unbalanced or overpowered, it can be tweaked digitally... no errata needed. Its fast and easy to learn but features a lot of depth for more advanced players. When a golem is destroyed, its controller receives a mans boost thereby providing s balancing mechanism to prevent the ever present "whoever loses a main piece first probably loses the game" issue.

I've been beta testing and am very pleased with the way its turning out. I can't wait until GenCon to see the game finally revealed!


Fair points, though gimmick or major selling point aside (which i do tho k is very novel) I am keen understand how this compares to other small scale miniatures/card games posing as miniatures games.

I.e. How would this compare to say Summoner Wars, Dungeon Command or Mage Wars?


I have Summoner Wars, but honestly haven't played it yet. Mage Wars was a lot of fun, but after playing 10-15 games and tweaking our decks we found one or two decks overpowered the others, and it became repetitive, so we haven't played it in a bit. For me personally, I like the different scenario options. Having different games with different objectives means more replayability and lowers the likelihood of shelving the game after a dozen plays. The armies play very differently from each other, letting you evolve tactics based on scenario and opponent. And of course, not having to read a rulebook and figure out if something 9move, build list, etc.) is legal or not helps tremendously with play time- the app won't let you do something not allowed in the rules. Also, in the army builder section of the app, it will save your armies. The app is logged into using your account, so the armies follow you no matter which device. You lose your iPad, phone, etc or your battery dies, you can log into your opponent's and all your information is there. You lose your Spell Tome in Mage Wars, you need all those cards again or to borrow an unfamiliar Tome. I also think balance is very well done in GA. There is no cookie-cutter army or build, and if somehow balance is tipped in the game, it can be fixed with an update, just like a video game. Since each game is uploaded to the Golem Arcana servers, trends can definitely be noted and the game adjusted as needed.

If you are curious about it, I would reach out and see if there is an emissary nearby running demos that you could check out a game or two. I've been demoing in the southern NJ, Northern Delaware, and Philadelphia area for a couple of weeks. At the gaming store I go to most often, I have customers interested from all gaming experiences- some are just miniature wargamers, others are strictly deck building and/or tabletop board games. My wife has been playing Golem Arcana with me at least once a day since I received my demo kit and she hates 40k and Warmachine. She is an Ascension/Nightfall/Thunderstone/Settlers of Catan/Ticket to ride player, but she really enjoys Golem Arcana because she didn't have to learn a ton of rules to learn how to play, and it doesn't take as long or as much space as 40k/Warmachine.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Karl Markovich
United States
Peoria
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
abravenewgeek wrote:

Fair points, though gimmick or major selling point aside (which i do tho k is very novel) I am keen understand how this compares to other small scale miniatures/card games posing as miniatures games.

I.e. How would this compare to say Summoner Wars, Dungeon Command or Mage Wars?

I've not played those games, so I can't comment specifically on them. My "gaming background" is MtG (essentially gave up that quite a few years ago, though), HeroClix (playing since it was released), Mage Knight (didn't really start until 2.0 stuff), Monsterpocalypse (I loved that game ), and X-Wing (playing casually for about a year now).

Heroclix was my first minis game. Minis games always appealed to me but I never had the time (or talent) to paint armies and go through the (often times) massive rules books. HC provided an easy access point... prepainted, stats readily available on the fig, and an easy to learn rules set. The fact that it was superheroes didn't hurt either. But after a dozen years of HC, its become one of those games I never had time to get into. Its become very complex, has over powered mechanics, a big rules tome (200+ players guide), and oddball rules exceptions. Other than the prepainted minis, it has become everything that kept me away from minis games. There is no way I would try to teach someone Heroclix now.

Golem Arcana "feels" like HC did a few years ago...but better. It feels like HC because I feel that I could teach it to anyone (my 8 yr old had no problems picking it up). It feels better than HC because I think it has more strategy options than HC does and there's no rules nonsense/arguments/errata because the app handles it all.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron M.
United States
Grand Rapids
Michigan
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
The one point I want to throw into this discussion is that the app is able to gather game data from across the globe just by automatically uploading it while your device is connected to the web (whether that's while you play, or sometime afterwards). The implications for this are huge, because it allows Harebrained Schemes to compile that data and with fairly rapid turnaround produce results in the form of new lore and new scenarios. The Organized Play guy, who I happen to know is a big miniatures wargamer, was practically salivating when we were chatting about the possibilities unlocked by having all that game data on hand near-instantly (okay, salivating may be a bit of an overstatement ). The point though is that even beyond refereeing the game, tracking the numbers, saving armies, etc. the app plays a vital role in developing and sustaining the future of Golem Arcana, as well.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nick Wihtol
United States
Oregon
flag msg tools
mbmb
I'd say it doesn't compare to Dungeon Command much at all. It has cards to show you your unit stats but it uses a roll under d100 mechanic for action resolution along with an 'Action Point' system based on army size for how much movement you can do.

Additionally your units can be customized by Knights (Pilots) and relics(items) meaning that it just plays nothing like Dungeon Command.

Conflict resolution and base rules and assumptions (light units are hard to hit but can't take much damage; various types of terrain) it reminds me of Mechwarrior or Battletech. However the AP system makes the game play differently then either of those in practice.

I'd also recommend checking http://golemarcana.com/events to see if a demo/Event is happening in your area to check it out.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew DiGregorio
United States
West Babylon
New York
flag msg tools
badge
I'm a scary clown!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dungeon command was my favorite miniatures game since Heroscape. For me, it was the perfect mix between mtg and minis gaming.

That said, im very excited to get my hands on my KS copy of Golem Arcana. I think that the inclusion of the app will make this game very accessible to many and allow me to get it to the table often...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Brace
United States
New Jersey
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Just got back from Gencon, uploaded some pics of the golems now available and the upcoming wave 2 golems

http://imgur.com/a/JlKCs/all
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pawel
Poland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Ok, I played some games and would like to throw in my 2c.

First of all, the game begins even before setting up the table. Army customisation will probably play a huge role, just like in X-wing there is a tone of extra abilities that knights grants (not as many yet but them being a virtual asset I think level of customisation might be huge).

Another tier is relics, items that the golems can carry and they might have various effects, like effecting a map itself (building a fortress, spring of life etc.), or paralyzing enemy, killing his knight etc.

The last layer are Ancient Ones, who give mirracles, blessings, curses to use for all your golems.

This game looks simple but, rules are quite complex, Maybe not Infinity or Malifaux level but for a game played on the grid its not bad. You don't notice it in the beginning because the app takes care of all the calculations eg.

Cover modifiers are not calculated only by giving modifier for a square you are on but also for half of every square line of sight goes thru, It also depend on a size of gollem, the smaller he is the bigger the modifier.

Another thing making it more tactical is cooldown, basicly if you use your ability it will double the cost, use it 3 times in the row and from cost 1AP you will go to cost 4AP, with time it will come down to starting cost, now try to keep track of it using tokens for every ability! for lets say 12 golems a side!

Stacking of golems, each golem depending on size have a different size of base, 1/4, 1/2, 1 of a square, so you can stack 4 of the small ones in the square, if its full you cannot move there, you will be given an option to charge, it is not like in other games where charging grants you modifiers, here you might push enemy figure out of a square and take his place but it is not guaranteed. It feels thematic, fighting over a region. Why would you do that? because to use a mana well or gain a victory point from a square, no enemy figure can sit on it with you at the beginning of your next turn.

Mana can be used for different effects, but mostly to trigger Ancient Ones, and they make a huge difference in outcome of a battle. You constantly trying to harvest mana if possible creating a spots on the map where clashes ocures, also each time you lose golem you will recieve 1/5 of his cost in mana making a catch up mechanic that's not too powerfull but enough to give an edge.

It is you go I go structure but, you only have (depending on size of game) certain amount of action points (for a 3-4 fig. game 6AP) that you can spend on all your golems, but not enough to move and fight all of them. Overextend your golem and he might find himself unable to move and fight next turn because of cooldown, what you realy need to do is to use all your golems abilities to make combo attacks eg. with one golem you use abillity to push enemy to a square that his other golem is already on, now you can shoot with your other golem with a area effect attack and deal damage to 2 instead of 1 golems...

Scenario and map. not too many scenarios right now, but they promised almost rpg like experience, with hidden to both sides events that gives victory points upon completion. Map is not always a square battlefield, all the tiles might be set up in various configurations.

Balance... since no costs of anything are printed on the cards, its as simple as changing it to reflect golems worth.

All in all the game feels solid but I would still categorize is as a medium weight due to simplicity of play.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.