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Archmage Origins Review


Quick Look:

Designer: Dave Killingsworth
Artist: Joel Lopez, Andora Cidonia, and Paulina Leyva
Publisher: SolarFlare Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: 10-15 Minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

Many eras have passed, and Sorcado suffered. Those born with ‘The Gift’ called themselves Mages, and fought for power and control against each other, all to be the called the Leader of those who survived. Unfathomable monsters were summoned regardless of the cost, innocents were used as fodder, and the mages just looked towards their own growth. But no more. For you were born outside of their caste, watching the devastation left after those battles, but with the same power as those Mages. And you are coming for them. For you are the Archmage!


Review:

Rules and Setup:
Archmage Origins is a memory and hand-management card game where the goal is to collect the most points based on blind bidding. You play as a mage who is trying to recruit the most monsters (points) from the grid to fight for you. The game consists of sixteen Monster cards, which are arranged face down in a four-by-four grid. Each player selects one of the four classes available (Demonologist, Necromancer, Technomancer, and Elementalist) and receives a token representing their class, along with a deck of ten cards. Each deck contains cards numbered 1-8, a Hold Monster card, and a Spell card specific to your class.


At the start of the game, on your turn, you will look at one of the face-down cards, noting any text and card values in the upper-right corner. After returning the card to its face-down position, you follow the same procedure with a second card. You have to option to swap the positions of the two cards viewed; regardless of whether you do, you then place one of the cards from your deck face down in an attempt to "recruit" a Monster card. Your opponents will do the same on their turn.

Be aware that other players can also look at one of the same cards you had just looked at, and once they have looked at them, they can choose to switch the places of the two cards they had just viewed and place their own bid on one of the two cards. Each monster is not limited to only one bid card, as other players may also place a bid on the Monster card that is in that location. Play continues until all players have used each of the numbered cards in their deck.


The Hold Monster card can be played during your turn and prevents any other player from viewing or moving a specific Monster card. This is a single-use card, and once played, it cannot be removed until final scoring. If the card is not used by the player, it will count as an extra point at the end during scoring.


Additionally, not all Monster cards are created equal. Throughout the grid, there will be Monster cards that have either a bonus or penalty associated with them. Each class has cards in the play area that will impact them during scoring, with either a +1 or a -1 to their scoring. Additionally, some of the monster cards have requirements where the player has to have a certain number of points higher to win that battle.


Once all numbered cards have been played, final scoring begins. Each monster card in the four-by-four grid is turned over. Starting from the top, a comparison of the cards placed for each creature will begin. To determine who wins, you will look at the number next to the card and add it to any other cards you have that are in the same column or row as that card.

Theme and Mechanics:
The Mages of Sorcado are no more. Their time has passed, and you, as the Archmage, are battling the others to rise and take power in the land. You will do this by recruiting the most powerful monsters from the grid.


The mechanics for Archmage Origins revolve mostly around the bidding process and attempting to bluff your way to the higher-rank monsters. While you do get to view and switch two cards on your turn, your opponent is able to view them as well and could end up moving them. Early in the game, tactically speaking, you should decide how aggressive you are willing to play, whether you choose to focus on bluffing your opponents or continually moving Monster cards they are going after. Balancing your approach is key, and knowing your opponents and their play styles will help in achieving victory. Each class also has a specific spell that they can use to manipulate the playing field; these effects range from destroying a Monster card (removing it from play) to moving any two of your opponents' point cards without viewing them.

Artwork and Components:
The artwork on the cards are appropriate for the theme of the game, given that you are trying to recruit monsters. The Monster card artwork is unique for each of the sixteen creatures, but it's a bit dark and has repetitive backgrounds. The artwork style is different for the class decks, with each class deck's art containing a hand casting some manner of magic. The card stock used is a linen finish, and the cards are a standard 63x88mm (2.5 x 3.5 inches). The backs of the cards clearly show which class they belong to, making it easier to identify who is trying to score one of the monsters when playing with multiple players. Finally, the game comes with four tokens, one for each class, which are used to indicate which monster has had a Hold Monster card played on.

The Good:
Gameplay is very fast, with each game taking as little as 10 minutes once everyone understands the rules (which can be taught very quickly). With some interaction between the players and the fast turn of each round, along with the easy rules, this is a quick filler that can be played with younger gamers (ages 8+). Additionally, if you own the game Dawn of the Archmage, the Hold Monster and Spell cards can be carried over to that game to enhance it.

The Bad:
Gameplay is very light and can be repetitive after a few games with the same players. The game only comes with sixteen monster cards out of the 56 cards in the box, as the other cards are for the class decks.

Final Thoughts:
Archmage Origins is a very light game that combines known gaming styles into an enticing and fast card game. Combining the memory-style mechanic with a simple bidding mechanism ensures that younger players can enjoy this game with very little to learn. While some games have tried to combine these two styles together, the folks at SolarFlare Games added their own twist by giving each player two unique single-use cards. The addition of those cards brings a slight bluffing mechanic to the game, where each player cannot just assume that the cards they have played are safe from the other players. After our third game with the same group, each game took just over 10 minutes, and with the addition of other players, the longest any game went was around 15 minutes. Archmage Origins gives you the mental reprieve between heavier games, while still offering enough gameplay to make you feel like you’ve accomplished a hard-fought win in almost no time.

Players Who Like:
Light games with a memory-based mechanism.

I am giving 6.5 out of 10 super meeples.


Check out Archmage Origins on:

                       

About the Author:
Delton Perez is a FLGS owner with 2 locations in Puerto Rico. Originally from Boston, he currently lives in the wilds of Ohio, where he currently resides with his family. By day, he is a Retail Consultant working in New York in the Fashion Industry, but by night, meeples, dice, and cardboard take over. Delton also runs a gaming organization based in Northeast Ohio that focuses on running game nights at Libraries, Schools, and Churches on a scheduled, monthly basis. At times, Delton has even been able to sleep, though proof has yet to be found.



Archmage Origins Review Archmage Origins Review Reviewed by Delton Perez on November 30, 2017 Rating: 5

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