Arcane Academy – Game of the Week
I love engine building games. If you are familiar with the concept, it’s a mechanic in tabletop games where you start off with something small (a structure, or a card) that lets you earn points or resources. Throughout the game, you will be adding to the initial card/structure to make its actions vastly more efficient or powerful. So what might begin as 1 card, will eventually turn into 10 cards that allow you to chain actions or give you additional choices. You are essentially building an economic or resource engine.
Our Game of the Week is an engine building game that was released in 2016, yet flew completely under the radar. Arcane Academy is published by Th3rd World Studios (and IDW Games) and is designed by veteran game designers Eric Lang (Xcom, Blood Rage) and Kevin Wilson (Descent, Cosmic Encounter). With this kind of designer power behind it, I’m not surprised that it’s so good.
What is the Game?
In Arcane Academy, players take on the role of rival students taking their final exam at the school of magic and wizardry. Players will start the game with a slate containing just a few actions. During the game, players will be building out their slate by adding more action tiles to it, each of which contain new and improved actions.
One of the keys to winning Arcane Academy is to use the game’s “chaining” mechanic. When two tiles are placed next to each other, you can begin to activate more than one tile on your turn by linking them.
The overall goal in the game is to build magical items and cast spells. Items give you victory points and permeant abilities, while spells give you a one time special power (and also victory points).
Why Should You Play It?
One of the great things about Arcane Academy is how accessible it is. I’d put it on the same complexity level as Splendor, another great gateway game. Learning Arcane Academy is simple, as there are only a few actions to wrap your head around. Yet even with its easy-to-learn rules, the game actually has a surprising amount of depth.
One of the best parts of Arcane Academy is just how streamlined it is. It’s almost like designers Lang and Wilson cut out all the chaff and only kept what was absolutely necessary in the game. What remains is a fast paced, easy to learn, euro game with minimal down time and lots of strategic decisions.