Game Review: Arkon

Game Review: Arkon

Hey Folks,

Kingblunkers back to talk more about the upcoming card-game coming very very soon to Kickstarter, Arkon.
Last week we chatted with the game’s creator and you can find out more about it here.

But today I wanted to give you my personal take on the game and the recommendation.

Kickstarter campaign live Here https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1080559033/arkon?ref=428341&token=da350d9e

Arkon: What Is It?

From the game’s website:

“Arkon is a 2-4 player fantasy-themed strategy card game that involves bidding and flexible card use to try and outwit your opponents”

Set Up

Set up is pretty simple, deal each player 5 cards and set the remaining cards in the center as a draw pile. Determine who goes first and each player will take their turn and order proceeds clockwise

Playing The Game 

This is where Arkon gets fancy. The goal of the game is to win clan cards, the four clans being Human, Orc, Dwarf, and Elf. You win by obtaining one of each clan, or four of one clan card. (1 elf, 1 human, 1 orc, 1 dwarf or 4 orcs, etc.). The Primary method of winning these clan cards is by a bidding process, which I will outline in greater detail below. Read it directly from their site if you want, or I outlined it in my own words below.

Turn Phases

Each player can play their turn in 4 phases. 1. Action Phase, 2. Bidding Phase, 3. Action Phase, 4. Draw phase.

  1. Action Phase – Players can play any number of action cards, (can choose to play zero or as many as you’d like.)
    Action cards can accomplish tasks such as removing an opponent’s clan cards from play, drawing cards, or taking cards from your opponent.
  2. Bidding Phase – The player in control can put up a clan card for bidding by putting it face up on the table. They then will place additional cards face down as a secret bid, in addition to each card having a functional purpose, each card also has an influence value. Each player can put any number of cards face-down until all players have placed their bid. The player who had the highest influence wins. The winner of the bid discards their cards and everyone else regains the cards they used for bidding.
  3. Action Phase – similar to the first, the player whose turn it is plays as many action cards as they choose.
  4. Draw Phase – Each player will draw a card, if the player whose turn it is put a card up for bid, they draw an additional card.

Strategy

The intricacy of the game is in the details. In addition to the above process, there are response cards. These are cards that can be used in response to a certain action. For example, after a player wins a bid, an opposing player can play the “Sabotage” card. The player who won the bid would then have to pay exactly 3 influence points to keep their winning clan card, otherwise, the player who laid down the Sabotage card will gain that card.

The interesting aspect of the game is that the deck is only 52 cards. This means players who wish to win have to almost count cards, cataloging as best you can who holds which cards. And with such a small selection of cards and the fact that cards could be used to muscle your way through a bid or to set up complicated combinations of cards, players need to keep track of the entire board.

What Works

(full disclosure, I only played a two player game, I believe a 3 or 4 player game would provide a different experience as well)

This game is super fun. What I like about it is that it has the potential to be a very finely executed plan. With the right sequence of events, and the correct patience you can set up an awesome wombo-combo and gain a lot of ground in one turn. AND equally, your opponent can ruin that the very next moment. There are some games that I enjoy a lot, but once you lose, you are out. In this game, I don’t get that sense. If you are willing to tough it out you can almost always be in a position of power, one card can save you, one card can ruin you. And it feels fair because in a couple of turns you might be right back up at the top. Each turn every player is gaining cards, so the risk of shifting tides is always there.

I played a handful of games and with each game, I learned more about how the cards work and the potential for gameplay. The more you play the more you see unique interactions of cards. But, I say all of this, and the game is still accessible. It only takes minutes to learn, it is not some crazy high strategy game with tons of rules and interactions. It does a lot with few mechanics. The rules are two pages, players can watch and learn in one turn and jump in the next round. It doesn’t require studying, just play it!

 

What Can Be Improved

I won’t pretend I am a master game designer and my only complaint… I admit I am not sure I would actually like Arkon more with it. But because of the previously mentioned small deck, there is a limit to the cards without developing a meta. It’s a delicate balance that I hope the Hill team will balance. But I would like to see more cards and more possibilities, but at the same time, I appreciate the small scale. So I hope that through the Kickstarter maybe they will develop a few more cards to only make the strategy aspect even more fun, but balanced enough to not lose the simplicity that currently exists.

Final Thoughts

We don’t really do a true rating, but overall I loved the game. I think there are enough games that require hours of learning how to play it, and 45 minutes to set up. Arkon is simple to set up, simple to learn, and advanced in gameplay. I got the unfair advantage of getting to talk to the makers of the game, but the artwork, the lore, everything “Cosmetic” just adds to a very solid game. If you took away all the story aspects, it would still be a fun game of risk and calculation, but with all of that, you get a fun “War” card game. The Kickstarter goes live in two days, and I recommend highly to consider backing it.

 

images taken from board game geek profile.

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