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The Arcane Arts Review

Quick Look:

Designer: Eric Garside
Artist: Mark Sapia
Publisher: Garsidian Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2
Ages: 6+
Playing Time: 15 minutes
WARNING: This is a preview of The Arcane Arts. I was provided two of the seven decks of cards, the Electromancy and the Geomancy decks specifically. All components, designs, and rules are prototype and subject to change.

The Arcane Arts is a deck construction card game of epic proportions, as players take on the mantle of powerful sorcerers in duels to the death. Each sorcerer has runes to draw power from and unique abilities and spells at their disposal. Mastering your magic and maintaining control over your opponent is crucial, because failure means death!

Each deck is modeled to look like a wizard's spellbook.


Rules and Setup:
Each round consists of three turn phases. During the Ready Phase, you have a chance to draw cards, recharge runes, and deal with any effects from cards that trigger at the start of your turn. Then comes the Main Phase, where you can equip relics, cast spells, and attack your opponent. After all this, the Cleanup Phase provides a final opportunity for card effects to take place and for any Periodic spells to lose one of their counters (or to be removed if they have no counters left).

A handy PDF of the rulebook is free to download from the game's site and has detailed information on the specific rules and the varieties of cards.

One deck includes a Wizard card, three Status cards, eight Rune cards, ten Damage cards, and a deck of 32 Spell and relic cards.

Electromancy vs. Geomancy - who will win?

Setting up a game requires very little. To start with, you'll need to find something to act as counters--pennies or dice work well--and a coin. After getting your deck of cards, remove the Wizard, Damage, Rune, and Status cards (all of these are double-sided and easy to distinguish from the main deck of cards). The Status and Damage cards are set aside, while the Wizard card is placed in front of you and the Rune cards are placed to one side of the Wizard card in the charged position. After shuffling the card deck, allow your opponent a chance to cut your deck, draw four cards, and flip a coin to determine the first person to go. Then, before play, each of you must make a pun related to your wizard's magic.

I'm sorry; I don't make the rules. The pun is mandatory.

The table is set, and the battle lines have been drawn...

The Arcane Arts uses many of the tried-and-true touchstones of fantasy games. From the use of free-to-cast cantrips to spells like magic missile and stoneskin, those familiar with the genre will have no difficulty jumping in feet first. Each wizard has their own specialization, and through clever wordplay, the plethora of spells and abilities match each character well.

Some examples of the spells and relics, each with a variety of abilities and requirements.

Simply put, the goal of The Arcane Arts is to damage your opponent past their maximum health. This is done through a variety of methods, all of which you'll want to exploit to win. Somatic spells can be cast without limit, and each turn, you can cast an Incantation (usually more powerful or longer-lasting than Somatic spells) or straight-up attack your opponent. Certain spells are defensive in nature and can only be cast instantly after being attacked, further blocking your rival's attempts at success. Relics can also be a large factor in a game. Each wizard has a base attack damage, but this can be increased by equipping certain relics; similarly, relics can increase your resistance to attacks or even counter spells.

Almost as important as dealing damage is keeping your magic at its full potential. Paying close attention to your runes is critical, as they must be charged to perform spells. However, if your opponent has a spell that uses your rune type, they can use your runes against you to cast the spell. Some spells are universal and can be cast using any available runes!

However, there's one last mechanic we haven't touched on. This is a deck construction game, so even though different cards are in different packs, you can mix and match them any way you'd like! You can take runes of different types, switch your spells for ones in other wizards' decks, or any other combination your heart desires. So long as you have eight runes to power your magic and a deck of 32 cards, you can play however you like.

Yes, the Geomancer can indeed cast lightning spells - just make sure you (or your opponent) have the necessary runes!

Artwork and Components:
Each wizard and card in the deck comes with unique artwork. While other games in this genre tend to go for either a cartoonish or realistic look, the artwork of The Arcane Arts seems relatively simple in comparison. That's not to say it's bad; rather, the art is reminiscent of ancient cave paintings and even borders on impressionistic art. While it seems a bit out of place on a deck of cards, it brings some extra life into the game and truly makes it feel like a powerful duel for the ages.

Each unique deck has the full assortment of possible cards for that deck, meaning you won't have to buy several packs hoping to get a specific card. Whether you choose the Pyromancer deck or the Hydromancer deck, you'll have everything you need to battle effectively. However, if all you have is the deck of cards, you'll still need to find a coin to flip and something to use as markers.

Some close-up examples of the card art

The Good:
This is an easily accessible game; it takes very little time and money to play, and it has endless customization and replayability. The attention to detail on the cards is nice (especially the quotes accompanying each one), and the game feels like it's been thoroughly playtested to provide a balanced experience. In short, it's a proven concept done in a new and unique way that works well.

The Bad:
The absence of a physical rulebook is a shame. The artwork may turn away some due to its lack of polish, but it doesn't detract from the gameplay.

Final Thoughts:
The art, the variety of spells, and the game's refusal to take itself too seriously all come together to make this a fun and fast-paced game worth trying at least once.

Players Who Like:
Those looking for a new way to play fantasy and anyone who loves deck construction card games like Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh will enjoy this game.

I am giving The Arcane Arts 7 out of 10 super meeples.

7 10

Check out The Arcane Arts on:

http://www.darkflightgames.com/#/importexport/  https://www.facebook.com/DarkFlightGames/?ref=br_rs  https://twitter.com/darkflightgames  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/67048896/the-arcane-arts

About the Author:
David Jensen has tried his hand at everything from warehouse work and washing dishes to delivering pizza. Now, he's trying his hand at writing creatively and working as an editor for a start-up literary magazine. When he's not busy procrastinating, he's also running tabletop game sessions for friends and family.
The Arcane Arts Review The Arcane Arts Review Reviewed by David J. on February 03, 2017 Rating: 5

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