So, I got a preview copy of Arkon, a new game about to launch on Kickstarter, from the mind of Casey Hill. I lagged on getting a review written, mostly because I was out of town for a while, but I finally got three games in with the crew, and I have to admit, for a card game, I really like it. It reminds me of a Small Box game in that the cards are all multi-purposed and you invariably end up with painful choices to make regarding how to use them, and when.
The idea of the game is simple: earn the trust of the clans by offering up bids on tabled clan cards, and try not to have your clan cards stolen by larger bids. It’s not only a bidding game, though, as there are a good variety of “screw you” cards which tilt the game in your favor. Like a lot of card games, there’s response cards to use to defeat opponents’ plans, as well as cards you can play to screw over opponents as they’re about to make a big move.
What I like about this game is the variety of those power cards, and how they interact with one another. You can immediately tell that there was a lot of play-testing done as the game is very tight, mechanically, and it all fits together very well. My only complaint is that some of the cards seemed to be hard to understand, as far as timing, but their FAQ makes it very simple to navigate if you go check it out in advance. It’s not truly necessary, but it does help solve some timing issues that aren’t immediately apparent.
One thing worth noting is that the artwork is superb, and I was thoroughly impressed by the evocative imagery and how well it fit the cards that the illustrations represent. This is a card-only game, so that’s the only thing that matters from a component perspective, and they nailed it in this regard. Because this is a preview copy, I got no box and the cards are printed from a card printing company, not necessarily the one that will be used for the Kickstarter, so I can’t comment on the durability.
All in all, play is brisk and quite lively as far as interaction and the coveted “hooting and hollering” vibe. There are a lot of opportunities to hose people over and surprise them with strong bids that they never saw coming. The one thing that I have to say about this is that this is absolutely a four player game. It’s labeled as a two to four player game, but it just doesn’t work much as a two-player Magic-type head-to-head game, and while the three player game works, mechanically, you kind of end up with a third wheel Kingmaker, as with so many three player games. It works, though, and is fun with three, although with four, this game is performing at its highest level.
We really dug this game, with most people giving it a high score and positive comments. My eldest really liked the art, and my one buddy said he was going to back it immediately when it comes out, and that’s saying something as he is the kind of guy who has never gotten a single gaming-related item on Kickstarter. I, personally, am probably not backing it because despite liking it, it is too similar to other games I’ve played for me to want to get a copy of it since I’m in reduction mode as is. The long story made short is this: It’s a very fun, albeit bit derivative game that all of my crew, including myself, liked quite a bit, but only with three or four players.
Why I Want To Be A Clan Member:
– The art is fantastic
– The “screw you” cards work insanely well and produce hate
– It’s a very rules-light game, with strategy coming from interaction
Why The Clans Can Go To Hell:
– Doesn’t really work well with two players
– Some card text is a bit sparse on how to play the cards
I really like this game a lot, as does my crew. If I were in the mode of buying games right now, I’d likely back it but only if I knew that I’d be playing it with three or four players, because I didn’t care for the two player version almost at all.
Superfly Circus Disclaimer:
This is a PREVIEW of a game, and therefore no score will be listed, and the final product may vary greatly from what I just wrote. We did our level best, in good faith, to tell you all what we RECEIVED, and if the game changes during the production or development cycle, take it up with the publisher if you bought it based on this preview. I can only write about what was received, and as far as I’m concerned, Kickstarter projects are vaporware until they are actually produced and delivered. Caveat muh-vuggin Emp-tity-tor. I, as of this writing, have backed only a very small handful of products, so let this be my two cents of advice: Be very careful with Kickstarter “backing” because you can be hosed over just as easily as you can get delivered the game of your dreams. Whatever you do, don’t use the above preview as anything other than a review of a game BEING DEVELOPED AT THE TIME OF WRITING, and the game is just as likely to be completely different than was described as it is to be exactly as described.