You know if you could play Jumanji just once and be able to opt-out whenever, you totally would. The Lost Ruins of Arnak transports you to a lifeless island in the middle of the sea to uncover the traces of a lost civilization whilst facing ancient guardians, historic artifacts, and lost treasures. Land ho! Check out our full Lost Ruins of Arnak board game review below.
Brief Overview of Lost Ruins of Arnak
Lost Ruins of Arnak is a medium-difficulty game featuring deck-building and worker placement all the while exploring the lust for adventure. Cards are used to move, build, discover, and get to a place where you can unlock more abilities. The deeper you explore, the more we get to know the civilization that was gone and lost.
This game allows 1–4 players to take part and can be expected to play out for up to 120 minutes depending on how good you are at resource management. Since you are limited to one move per turn, you will have to think logically to ensure someone doesn’t steal your victory. The good news is, the game is widely versatile thanks to the decisions the game board throws at you.
Versions & Expansions
Expedition Leaders Expansion
Home was nice and all but raiders can never stay in one place for long. Return to Arnak, but professionally this time as one of six new leaders with captivating abilities. Although it has 6 personas to choose from, the game stays limited to a maximum of four players. The element of individual abilities makes the expansion rank as a higher difficulty. Since you are now people of professions, you research differently with a new research track board.
The expansion is similar in set-up but replaces the artifact stone key and assistant tile. Set up as usual with your choice of board side, but leave the research side clear, you will be replacing this with another ranking board if you choose to do so. New components are given to mix in: artifact cards, item cards, 4 idol tokens, level 1 tiles, monster tiles, and level 2 tiles.
If discovering a lost civilization once was not challenging enough, you get another go at it!
Unboxing Lost Ruins of Arnak
The game includes the following:
- 6 boards and 110 cards
- 16 worker/research tokens
- 32 site/idol tiles
- 27 guardian/assistant tiles
- 42 research/temple tiles
- 91 resource tokens
- 5 blocking tiles, 15 rival tiles, 10 fear tiles
- 1 player marker
- 1 moon staff
- 1 score pad and 1 rulebook
The tokens and tiles are durable, well made, and seem like they would last a while. The tablets look like Noah wrote them himself, depicting symbols on small plastic tiles. The rulebook is heftier than you would have guessed but nothing to be intimidated by as most pages are adorned with elvish-looking writing and high-quality art that tells a story.
Since the game is two-sided, the rulebook includes the second set of rules (we call this the Snake Temple side), solo variant adaptations, and other effects and keywords to review.
For our ASMR lovers, your cardboard punching dreams have come to fruition. The game is packaged as punchboards, many of them, with my personal favorite being the beast boards. My mythical beast obsession nerdified when I saw the griffins, serpents, and imaginary creatures painted so eloquently on their boards. The more I dug into this game set-up, the more I slowly started to channel my inner wizardly being and transport myself into another world.
The cards are easy to understand when you browse the symbol chart, and as every good story goes, there is a dark stack as well. The scorecards are double-sided (we love an environmentally conscious raider). Czech Games Edition also thought about our friends with short-term memory loss and included a symbol breakdown, effect explanation, and all-comprehensive info boards for each player to reference.
HOLY BOARD! You are gonna need a big table for this game board. The art is similar throughout and your player board artist definitely designed the board art. Props to it being a double-sided board! I must say, I get mad Indiana Jones’ Raiders vibes with the Snake Temple side.
How to Play Lost Ruins of Arnak
Alright, gather round the Snake Temple but watch your feet, we’re going to be here for five rounds. The goal? Discovery, of course. You’ll claim the victory if you acquired the most points on your scorecard at the end of the fifth round.
Every round goes around the table as players take turns. A round continues and continues until a player passes, then the round is considered over and it is time to reset the board AND your own cards. Simple enough.
It’s Your Turn!
Each round begins with all players holding five cards in hand, and deciding to do one main action and as many free bonus actions as you are able. Every card that has a lightning icon depicted on it- counts as a free action.
I will repeat ONE main action only. This is where logic comes into action because you have to choose between EIGHT different main actions.
Let’s unpack this:
- Dig at a site
- Discover a new site
- Overcome a guardian
- Buy an item
- Buy an artifact – Same as buying an item, but cooler.
- Play a card – If it has a lightning action- it’s free!
Once you pass, your turn is over and you must wait for other players to pass to end the round.
Earning and Losing Points
The method of racking up points is divided into many categories:
- Monsters you’ve defeated (Yeah, that Chimera was cute, but good god, they do not make great pets)
- Cards you purchased in the game
- How many tiles you’ve collected
- How many tokens you’ve collected
You will lose points if you are scared of monsters and acquire FEAR cards in your deck.
The game is over after five rounds. Who knows how long these rounds are… exemplified in island time.
Your First Game of Lost Ruins of Arnak
Since the lost ruins have been undiscovered for years, it is not surprising that it can take a few minutes to set up the game board. It’s best to consult the rulebook before you set up, as the variants for solo to four people affect card numbers and placements. If you choose the other side of the board and opt for Snake Temple, the rules will get slithery.
If you came to this section for tips to win, I cannot help you much because every game is entirely different. If you are quick-thinking one round and slow to move in the next, your chances will be altered in terms of discoveries and point collection. I noticed my tactics to win switching all the time with the choices my opponents made.
- Plane cards are wild and can be used as a substitute for any card you need.
- While researching, an assistant might want to join your team. You might get lucky and pick one up (Cheers- free labor!) and start applying them as a free bonus action once per round. Not every turn, just every round. Not bad for a volunteer.
- Assistants can be turned over from silver to gold, giving you more versatile actions. Don’t worry- still free work.
- If you cover up a space with your tokens, you do not get these points at the end of the game.
Pros & Cons
Any raider knows how to choose the less-booby trapped path. Thankfully for you, Arnak has fewer booby traps and more monsters. The game itself is wondrous, full of choices, and comes with its own world packaged into a neat box. Having only five rounds makes the time commitment less daunting, and the choice to increase or decrease playing time is dependent on the number of players and how quickly you act.
If you have ever played DOOM you could compare some aspects to this. You’re given loads of choices here, which is a pro or con depending on your critical decision-making skills.
- Solo Mode!
- Immersive Art and Overall Components
Sometimes you just want a Brain versus Board night, and Ruins of Arnak provides that. The solo mode comes with its own obstacles and boundaries, but if you want something to play no matter who’s around, this game suits!
Game art is something that always appeals to me from a design and storytelling perspective, and it does not disappoint. The range of monsters, tiles, treasures, all excite me in their depictions and I could spend a turn just staring at the details of this board and cards.
Like we mentioned before, replayability is king. Lost Ruins of Arnak allows 1-4 people to play over and over again, and the double-sided game board expands our imagination to another whole world. There are countless actions that get jumbled into the adventure to keep you discovering and on your toes. If you are bored, task an explorer to delve deeper into another treasure or fight a new monster and formulate a new strategy.
- Too many decisions
- Maximum of Four Players
If I had to be honest about cons, it would be that I could be indecisive sometimes and it took me a minute to decide what the best move per turn I could make was. Having eight options and playing for the first few times takes a second to find the balance on how to resource manage it all, but it is part of the fun and holds it to the medium-difficulty rating.
The game lasts 120 minutes at its peak or as long as you make it. I would be curious to see it played with more players, and how it affects decision-making. I definitely felt like my actions had unique outcomes due to the number of players as well as the opponents’ quick thinking. If you usually enjoy smaller groups and shorter game rounds, then this would be minus a con.
Lost Ruins of Arnak Review (TL;DR)
So in case I confused you earlier, let us make it simple… You discover an island, realize civilization was lost, and begin your mission to discover the ruins before your opponents all while fighting monsters, managing staff, and racking up points.
You can only take one main action per turn, out of eight possible options so you must think logically and predict others’ actions. When round five comes around and you pass for the final time with the other players, the gameplay is concluded and you count points to see who was the best castaway out of your lot.
When I played through Lost Ruins of Arnak the first time, I was left with analysis paralysis because it seems there are too many actions to choose from, and if you miscalculate you can seriously mess up your strategy.
For people who like dungeon crawlers, adventure, and calculated moves — I can surely recommend it. The quality of the components seemed like it would last a while, and I enjoyed all the pieces after I stopped being overwhelmed by them. Overall, the game is visually and mentally appealing and I recommend it for its replay value.
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We hope you enjoyed our Lost Ruins of Arnak review! Have you tried this game or the Expedition Leaders expansion? Drop a comment below. We would love to hear from you!
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