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Arkenschild

Dark forces are gathering at the citadel. Will you gather a band of companions and set out for victory? Or will you be met by defeat?

Arkenschild is a semi-cooperative board and card game set in a fantasy world, currently on Kickstarter. Players gather weapons and companions, and defeat monsters, on their path to reach the citadel and save their kingdom.

Overview

Each player has their own board. The bottom half has a space for their draw deck, spaces for four companions they can gather during the game, and any creatures they defeat. The top half shows two paths, made up of multiple spaces each, from one side of the board where the player starts the game, to the citadel at the end, which is their target. One path represents a well worn trading route and is longer, while the other way represents a secret path to the citadel and is much quicker. Different spaces on the paths have different features. Players can choose which route they wish to take, but at certain spaces along either route can switch to the other, plotting their own way along both paths.

There is also a central board, with item cards players can purchase, event cards that will trigger on your turn, as well as emotion cards which can affect the party. There are three resource types in the game: influence, which you use to purchase item cards on the central board; power, which is used to defeat enemies; and experience points which are connected to your companions and allow you to move along the path.

On your turn, you shuffle your cards and draw six into your hand. You then calculate the resources at your disposal from your cards and your companions, and take into account how the event and emotion cards can affect these. You then choose how you wish to spend your resources: buying cards, fighting creatures, and/or advancing along the path. Players can also exchange resources at the end of their turns.

The game ends immediately once a single player reaches the citadel. Everyone is technically the winner, and has saved the kingdom, but each player counts up their score from the combined victory points of their resources, cards, and captured enemy cards, and the player with the most points is the true hero of Arkenshield.

Arkenschild promo image

First Impressions

Arkenschild gives a real sense of striking out on your own quest, as you choose the path you take to reach the citadel. This balances nicely with setting a pace that you believe will also secure you the most victory points, which should add a nice note of tension.

There's a lot of creativity in the companions that appear in the game (we are particularly enamored of Wallaby!). All the companions are in fact inspired by real animals, while imagining them as creative and epic fantasy characters. There's also clearly been effort put into the story and world of the game in general.

We also really enjoyed what we’ve seen of the aesthetics of the game. There’s a really nice use of line drawing for the cards and companions that fits really well with the aesthetics of the game board.

Arkenschild appears to be a nice blend of not-overly-complicated gameplay with a satisfying fantasy world and quest. It does have a wide range in playtime, due to the different paths and the route you take, and might run a little long for some players, but it seems like it would be an excellent meeting point for fans of more casual games, and players looking for something a little bit heftier. Check it out on Kickstarter and see it (and Wallaby!) for yourself.

Disclosure: this preview is based on our first impressions of a summary of the rulebook and game components, which are subject to change prior to publication. We received a modest payment to write this article.