I have been reviewing games for close to a year and have learned quite a bit about what doesn’t work and what does. I found out producing quality video reviews can be extremely difficult as a one man show. I give mad props to all the video reviewers that have pulled it off successfully. I also discovered I prefer reviewing games from my own collection as opposed to games given to me by publishers. There is a certain freedom about reviewing games you bought and are personally invested in. It can either be look at this great game I bought or look what I just wasted money on. Now, having said all that and finally deciding I will review my own games, SolarFlare Games contacted me about reviewing their upcoming card game Archmage Origins. What? Another game by Dave and the gang at SolarFlare Games? I am in! See how crazy reviewing can be? I have reviewed two of Dave Killingworth’s games and they have been fantastic! The Lords of Rock and Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion set the bar quite high for his games. He is a genius at creating light games that play quick but are tons of fun. Of course I want to give another one of his games a try!
Archmage Origins is designed to be a quick game with minimal setup. Setup takes seconds: you place the monster and spell cards in a 4 X 4 grid face down creating the realm, place the rest of those cards in a pile, and then take one Mage deck. Done! Setup is complete. Next step is deciding on which style of mage battle to engage in, either only playing cards along the two borders of your corner of the realm, or a free for all where you can place your cards along any border. Shuffle your Mage deck and you are ready to battle.
On your turn you look at a card in the realm without letting anyone else see it. If it is a monster card you make a mental note of its rating and ability and place it back down in the same spot on the realm. You then get to secretly look at another card in the realm. If it is a monster card you repeat the prior step. Upon placing it back down you may swap the two cards you looked at and then you must play a Mage card along an outside row or column of the realm. Pretty simple right? Now, if one of the cards you looked at is a spell card then a few additional steps are needed to continue. Set the spell card aside, draw a card from the draw pile to replace the spell card, resolve the text on the card, and discard it.
Let’s talk a little about your Mage deck and scoring. You have a deck of Mage cards numbered 1 through 8. You also have a hold card that you can play one time to ensure a monster stays put in the realm. At the end of your turn you will place one of your Mage cards face down along the side of the realm. When all 8 Mage cards have been played the game is over. Yea it is that quick and easy. Game time is around 10 minutes so no big deal if you lose. Play again and learn from your mistakes. Once all Mage cards are played, all the cards, Mage and Monster, are flipped face up and the scoring begins. Scoring is pretty simple and occurs everywhere different player’s Mage cards intersect. For example if I have a Mage card in row 1 and my opponent has a Mage card in column 1 then we would intersect at row 1 column 1 triggering a scoring resolution. I would then compare my Mage card value to my opponent’s Mage card value and the player with the highest card value wins the monster while any ties stay in the realm. After all scoring is complete each player adds up the ratings of the monsters they won plus 3 points for any spells they have won. The player with the highest score wins and is ruler of the realm! That is all there is to it! A quick, light little game that is simple to learn and easy to irritate your opponent!
I like to describe Archmage Origins as a highly competitive game of memory wrapped in a fantasy theme. The concept behind Archamge Origins is pretty cool as well. Its setting is a prequel to SolarFlare’s upcoming game Dawn of the Archmage. So it is not only a slick little game, it is a great little piece of marketing setting up their first mini game coming later this year to Kickstarter.
A game of Archmage Origins, including setup and teardown, only takes about 10 to 15 minutes making it a great filler game or the perfect game when time is limited. This really isn’t my style of game, my memory is horrible so when you get another one or two people moving cards all around the realm I get lost. However, moving cards around allows you to mentally mess with your opponents and adds a cool little “take that” element that keeps the game exciting which should appeal to many gamers. At $9 I challenge you to find a better light game that offers as much of a challenge.
Tony’s Pros and Cons:
Pros: Super quick setup, quick to play, easy to learn, fun for a wide variety of ages and experience levels, only 9 bucks!
Cons: The memory aspect didn’t appeal to me but will be part of the fun for most players.
Tony’s Epic Scale: 1 (Only 56 cards and 4 tokens with easy to learn rules.)
*Epic Scale is on a scale of 1 to 5 and is a combination of number of components and ruleset. It is used to measure the volume and scale of the game. The higher the epic number means the following: more components, higher complexity rules, longer setup/teardown/playtime or a combination of those compared to lower epic numbers.)*
Value: 9 (Easily worth the price! Hard to find a good game for 9 dollars!)
Art: 6 (Play test version but looks like it will be on par with Alien Invasion. Archmage cards are a little bland.)
Setup/Teardown: 10 (Dave is the master at light, quick games!)
Re-playability: 6 (Good for a couple games at a time.)
Fun Factor: 6 (It wasn’t my style of game. Good game but not one I would seek out to play. Bad memory here!)
OVERALL: 7.4 (While not my favorite SolarFlare game, I can say Dave has worked his light game creation magic again.)
Check out the kickstarter May 9th: www.tinyurl.com/2017AO
A software developer by day and avid game player by night.KickStarter has recently rekindled my love of board games. Now I am looking to help the little guys of KS get their games noticed and funded as well as demonstrate how easy or difficult a game is played its first time through.