So before we got into board games, we were a lot into videogames. One of the games we both have played a lot of hours, is the Witcher. Thankfully you don’t have to be a video gamer to know of the Witcher. But if you are familiar with the game, you might also have heard of Gwent the card game. In the Witcher, you got to collect the best cards in the game and try to compete with the best deck you have build for yourself in order to win the game. In the board game world, we have been looking, but didn’t find something that would be similar to that game or reminded us of Gwent, until now. In Arackhan Wars the world is divided into nations and they are at war. You can choose a nation and take the soldiers with you that you think would fight your enemy the best (build your own deck). You will face many different enemies, forces of magic and other special elements. But with a good strategy and good chosen team, you can defeat them all and take control of the Arackhan world.
Note that this is still a prototype and some rules or looks of the game might be different.
How to Play.
To start your war, choose the faction you want to play. You can take the prepared deck to play with, or you can build your own deck. Refer to the rulebook to see the minimum amount of cards and other special rules to follow if you want to create your own deck.
Place the battle mat on the table and place your faction tokens nearby. Then shuffle the cards of your faction deck and place them on the skull icon on your side of the battle mat. Draw the first seven cards of your deck as your starting hand and you are ready to fight.
In the first phase of the game, draw two cards simultaneously (except for the first round). Then the first player places two cards from their hand facedown on the battle mat. The cards must always be placed adjacent from opponents or allies and on an empty spot. Once you both have placed two cards face down, you reveal them simultaneously and place a token of your color on the cards you have placed. Once you both know what you are up against this round, the first player can start by activating the cards he chooses to activate in order of their choosing. You can activate each card that you play, or have played before once in each round unless the card states otherwise. There are three kind of cards to find in your deck. Creatures with black borders that have a physical attack and defense. If you want to attack an opponent, your card must be adjacent to the targeted enemy card and the attack of your ally needs to be greater then the defense of the enemy you are attacking in order to defeat it. The attack value can be found in the bottom left of each card, where the defense can be found in the bottom right.
If you have many allies placed around an enemy, you can also hold a group attack. To do this, simply activate all cards you use to attack simultaneously. When you have two allies that have an attack of three when you combine them for example. And you would use it to attack an adjacent opponent next to those two allies that has only two defense, it would be defeated. When an enemy or ally is defeated, discard it to the discard pile.
Some cards in your deck won’t be used to attack, but will contain spells or actions that can help you if used in a good strategy, like moving enemy creatures for example. Each card can only be activated once. That means if you have a card on the battlefield that has an action as well as attack points, you will have to choose how you will use this card this round, or if you want to use it at all.
You can also find spells in your deck with a purple border. Some of the spell cards will also have attack and defense points. Note that physical attack can only defeat psychical defense and magical attack can only defeat magical defense. Physical attack and defense will always have a white icon, where magical will be blue. Some spells have an astral plane symbol. These kind of spells are placed on the Astral plane spaces on the battlefield map. Astral Plane spells usually have a great impact on the battlefield or on the opponent’s Astral Plane. Normal spell cards are placed on the battlefield normally. Spell cards often have to be discarded at the end of the round after a single use. Once you have activated a card, flip the tokens of your color to the inactive side to indicate it has been activated for this round. Lastly you will come across lands in your deck with a brown/golden outline. Lands often are worth many points and can contain powerful actions that can help you in battle. If one of your lands is defeated, it won’t be discarded. Instead, your opponent will conquer the land by placing a token of his color on the land. He will now be able to use all the abilities of this card (if it has not already been activated this round).
There are also many attributes to be found on different cards that can make your allies stronger in different ways. Some cards have ranged attack for example, or flight which allows your ally to move anywhere on the field by following the normal placement rules. The rulebook has a good explanation for each different attribute. At the end of the round, flip each token back to the active side and discard the necessary spell cards if any. Then repeat all the above. The player who started first in the last round, will now start second this round. When the ninth round has finished, each player will add the scores of the cards that are still on the battlefield (except for spell cards). The player with the most points still standing on the battlefield, wins the Arackhan War.
Playthrough of the game.
With Tomasz picking the most aggressive looking nation he could find and me choosing a good looking magical nation connected with nature, we were ready to start our first war. I was only just a little bit concerned when he mentioned he saw a card in his deck of something called a ‘child eater’. So after studying the seven cards we held in our hands, we both placed two cards on the battlefield on the starting spot. Since everything was placed facedown at first and we didn’t know much of all the nations yet because it was our first game, we officially had no clue what we were doing. But the excitement in the reveal phase to see what hell was unleashed upon the both of us, was overwhelming. With each round more cards were placed and more spots taken, which makes it a little easier to guess where your opponent might strike and if it will be an attack or defense card, but in the beginning we found ourselves clueless and we both suffered casualties. In the end I won due to smart strategies and a little luck with guessing. After counting the points, we realized how much we got sucked into the game. This was intense!
Arackhan Wars is brilliantly designed in our eyes and has a lot of possibilities. Each nation is completely different and has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. We found that the first game can be quite challenging since you still get to know the factions and the game. But after a couple of games, you get a better sense of what cards might be a good idea to keep for another round or two and what would be of use now. There are so many ways to win in this game, also because you can build your own deck. Once you get more knowledge of each nation, you also know better what allies to bring to a fight. If you know you will face a nation with a lot of defense, you might want to bring more attack to the battle or more soldiers for possible group attacks. Each round also has the element of surprise since you place the cards facedown before you reveal them. We found that this brings a lot of excitement and possibilities to the game. With this all being said, we can conclude that the gameplay is brilliantly designed. But have you seen this artwork? Each creature, spell or land has it’s own epic design that make a worthy ally or opponent of each card. It really helps to get you in the game and to see what you are facing. Since we think it’s very important to have a good theme and art to come with the theme in each board game, we are very happy to see how much effort the creators put in each card.
Arackhan Wars is a strategic card placing battle game where you have to end the war with the most points still left on the battlefield after nine rounds. We absolutely love this game and get lost in battle each time we play it. Arackhan Wars has a lot of replayability since there are different nations to choose from, but also because you can build your own decks. This game is designed for two players only and it shows since the gameplay is very smooth. A lot of phases are played simultaneously which makes sure there is not much downtime but still gives you room to think about your next move. The creators also put a lot of effort in the quality and artwork of Arackhan Wars and each card you find in the game will have it’s own epic artwork with a fitting name. The game is easy to learn, but a challenge to fully master. If you like strategic battle games, then this game is a must have for your collection.
Note that this is still a prototype and rules or looks of the game might chance. For more information you can visit the Kickstarter page of Arackhan Wars or visit their Instagram to get sneak peaks of more updates and artwork.