Ian Fraser
Canada
Hamilton
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Designer and artist Ryan Laukat is something of a one man show in the board gaming arena. Under the banner of Red Raven Games, Laukat appears to do just about everything in the service of his games from design to illustration to promotion. Most fortunately for him, his games usually happen to be good. At GenCon he released a new "small box" game called Artifacts Inc. all about running an artifact hunting and archaeological company in the 1920s. Is it the crown jewel of the museum or is it destined to sit in storage? Let's find out!


For rules of play see the BGG entry or the Artifacts Inc. Kickstarter page.

1. Components and Package
The components for Artifacts are relatively simple. Inside the box are 4 colours of wooden cubes, a baggie of cardboard dollar tokens, a set of small plastic pipped dice, a set of game cards, and a score board. Everything is fine here. I like wooden cubes and I like the look of the dollar tokens that come in the shape of cartoon-like American currency.

The score board is thin cardstock so I can see the corners of it getting dinged over time. Everything fits nicely in the box without an insert, but I would have liked something to keep the cards from sliding all over the place. I just wrapped a loose elastic around them. The box itself I'm very happy about as it is sturdy and has a nice matte finish that doesn't track fingerprints. The size is also appreciated as it is about as big as a DVD case but with a bit more depth.

2. Graphic Design
I have something of a love affair with Ryan's artwork in games and Artifacts is no exception to that. The game is very pretty from the really striking box art to the intricate detail on each of the cards. Ryan's game art looks lived in, as though each image is a living world of wonder. It is distinctive and immediately recognizable on a gaming shelf. I like the layout of the card design although I occasionally had to check the rules to remind myself what a symbol meant.

One game aid for the table would alleviate having to open the rules up to check things. Everything is lean and well crafted here. The design walks the line between beautiful and functional very nicely.

3. Gameplay
My first play of the game has taught me that while there is a great deal to like about the game there is not that much to love about it. It's good. Nothing more and nothing less. You have a mixture of set collection when you cash in artifacts at museums, worker placement when you send out your relic hunters on jobs, and dice manipulation when you roll and establish how much you have to work with each turn.

Each card you put in your tableau has two sides and can be upgraded to a more powerful form which I thought was a lovely touch. Also, the market of cards for purchase provided just enough variety that I was never stuck taking a card I really didn't want. I enjoyed building my little engine and gathering treasures to sell for cash and reputation points (which are how you win the game). The whole game has a nice theme and I think that some of the mechanics fit the theme nicely. Sending your men out on missions or guide work matches nicely, upgrading your company buildings and resources fits nicely. It's nice. It's abstract, but it's nice.

4. Final Thoughts
I'm happy to say that my first impression of the game is a good one. I'm sad to say that it isn't a great one. Artifacts Inc. delivers quite a bit of game for such a small box so I can safely say that you're getting great bang for your buck here. It's a pleasing experience to build your little company and gather scrolls and fossils and all sorts of neat things. If you are looking for player interaction then look somewhere else as this game is pretty solitary. You are competing to fill the spots on each museum order and you share the same market of cards but the emphasis is on building your own company, and not on the other players' companies. Fans of Ryan's lighter games such as the Eight Minute Empire series will enjoy this one. In the end you will feel a lot less like Indiana Jones, and a lot more like his bumbling curator friend Marcus Brody, but that's okay by me.


7/10

ADDENDUM: I have now played the game a bit more and I can safely say that I stand by my original impressions of this neat little game. It's good. It's not great, but it's good.

27 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roger S
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think I agree. Good, but not great. Artwork is awesome. The two people I played with complained about downtime between turns. Lots of options = AP = loss of interest from other players.

This game reminded me a little of Kingsburg where you roll dice and place them, except you take turns placing them, keeping everyone involved for the whole turn. If Artifacts had a set of dice for each player, you could do the same thing.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron Gelb
United States
Los Angeles
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I feel alternating dice placement would
Make it quicker and more dynamic and more risk of getting something bought out from under you. I'm
Going to get some extra dice and try it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
ozzy perez
United States
Hialeah
Fl
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
asgelb wrote:
I feel alternating dice placement would
Make it quicker and more dynamic and more risk of getting something bought out from under you. I'm
Going to get some extra dice and try it.



I do wonder why it wasn't designed that way. The idea sounds good, has anyone tried it like this and felt the experience was better? Am curious.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roger S
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SapoLJackson wrote:
asgelb wrote:
I feel alternating dice placement would
Make it quicker and more dynamic and more risk of getting something bought out from under you. I'm
Going to get some extra dice and try it.



I do wonder why it wasn't designed that way. The idea sounds good, has anyone tried it like this and felt the experience was better? Am curious.


Looks like some people have been experimenting with a similar idea. See here.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Fraser
Canada
Hamilton
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I will have to try simultaneous dice next time 'round. I have not yet played with more than 2 players but I imagine it would change the pace of a 4 player game quite a bit.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Ferguson
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have played this a few times now and find it drags with 4 players. My last game took 90 minutes, which I feel is way to long for a simple worker placement. By the 60 minute mark I was bored and lost interest, the game would work well if everyone at the table thinks about what they are going to do next turn. Even when you get a bad roll of dice you still can head towards you goal, you just have to take a diversion. It's a good little filler type game but I wouldn't play it again with a player that I know suffers AP.
 
 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.