The Towers of Arkhanos Review

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Hey folks! Back again with another game review. This time, I followed Arch Magician, not mage, Arkhanos to the ruins of Gil-Garoth. See, everyone is looking for mana, and Gil-Garoth has the highest concentration of it. Now, several schools of magic are building towers there trying to siphon off all the mana. As players, we’re going to take control of one of these schools, build towers, and use some magic along the way. We’re looking at The Towers of Arkhanos. This is a dice drafting, worker placement, area control, tower building game. Board Game Geek just places the mechanics as dice rolling, which is part of the game, but there are elements of drafting, worker placement, and then area control in the game as well. I like to think of this as Sagrada meets Carcassonne, they run off and get married and have a kid that somewhat looks like Rhino Hero. Towers of Arkhanos is a 2-4 player game that plays in about 30 minutes where players are trying to earn the most prestige. This was a Kickstarter game that was made by Daniel Alves and Eurico Cunha Neto and produced by Creative Game Studios. Daniel Alves and Eurico Cunha Neto both have worked together before on the game Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia. After the success of the Kickstarter, IDW Games picked up Towers of Arkhanos to produce and distribute. Currently, you can find this game at Barnes and Nobles in the United States of America.

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The base game comes with 50 prestige tokens, 40 translucent dice, 32 meeples, 18 floor tiles, 4 player boards, 1 round tracker board, 1 dice bag, and 1 rule book. Now, the IDW production looks like it comes with 96 Prestige Tokens. The Kickstarter edition comes with the additional components. 20 event cards, 12 Mercenary and Monster Meeples, 12 Mercenary and Monster cards, 3 special floor tiles, 1 Grand Master Arkhanos miniature, and 1 Arkhanos power board.

Floor Tiles have two sides to them. Once side has blank spots for dice to be placed on, the other side of the floor tile has restrictions to that floor.

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Color and Numbers – These floors you can only use dice of the depicted color and numbers to build.

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Multi-Colored Dice and Numbers – These floors you can dice of either depicted color and numbers.

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Single Die with does not equal sign – Only dice of the depicted color and no repeating numbers.

Dice come in 4 colors. Red, Purple, Yellow, and Blue.

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Each player gets 8 meeples. 7 regular meeples, and 1 master meeple. The master meeple will have the only stickers on it. Master meeples count as 2 for influence and regular meeples count as 1.

Spell Books have spots that corresponds to each side of a die. Only one meeple can study a spot in your spell book at a time. You can use as many spells on your turn as you want. When you use a spell, just take the meeple off that spot, and return it to your supply. Spell books have 2 sides. One has symbols and the other side has written descriptions of what the spell does. You can use either side. The spells are as follows.

1. Use any other spell in the spell book.

2. Add or subtract one from your die.

3. Flip your die to the other side. So a 1 to a 6, 2 to 5, or 3 to a 4 of vice versa.

4. Use your die as if it were any color.

5. Change your die with one from the mana pool (round tracker).

6. Change your die with one from the middle tower.

 

To set up the base game, every player picks a color to play. Take those meeples and the spell book with matching colored book mark. Look for the 4 floor tiles with purple blank spaces. Shuffle those, and pick 3. Using a triangle formation, place the 3 chosen floors where the point of the triangle would be. Place the last floor in the center of the triangle. This will come into play when you score towers. Shuffle the remaining floor tiles, and stack them with the blank side up next to the triangle and place the round tracker next to that stack. Next, place all the dice in the dice bag. Give them a shake, and you’re ready to begin.

Pick a start player. This player will blindly pick dice from the bag to roll depending on the amount of players. With a 2 and 4 player game, draw 5 dice. With a 3 player game, draw 4 dice. In a 2 and 4 player game, there will be 8 rounds. In a 3 player game there will be 9 rounds. In all player counts, there should be one die left to be placed on the round tracker. The start player draws the dice from the bag and rolls them. The start player then chooses one die to take and place on a floor tile with one of their meeples. The die goes on the square box, and the meeple is placed over the meeple icon. When placing a die and meeple onto a floor, there are different actions they do depending on where they are placed.

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2 Star – Once you place a meeple and die here, this spot will always gives the player who placed the meeple 2 prestige points.

Star and Floor Tiles – Once you place a meeple and die here, this spot give you prestige points based on what floor it is for the tower. 1st floor is 1 prestige, 2nd floor is 2 prestige, 3rd floor is 3 prestige, and so on.

Plus Meeple – Once you place a meeple and die here, you can immediately place an additional meeple in one of two places. First, you can place it in an unoccupied tower space without a die. The other place you can put a meeple is in yout spell book that corresponds to the die that activated this power. So if you placed a 4 die, then the meeple going into your spell book would go the the 4 spot. If you used a 1, the meeple goes to the 1 spot.

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When placing a meeple and die in the center tower, you place a meeple in your spell book that corresponds to the number on the die placed.

When there are three pillars on a floor, you score the floor. Follow these steps.

1. Score the floor. Depending on if it’s an exterior or center tower you’ll get prestige points. The player with the most influence in exterior towers gets 6 prestige and the next player gets 4 prestige. Ties are 3 prestige each. The player with the most influence in center towers gets 3 prestige points, the next player gets 2 prestige points. Ties are 3 prestige points.

2. Remove meeples that were placed with dice.

3. Meeples that weren’t placed with dice stay locked in the tower. You don’t get them back.

4. Draw a new floor tile and place it on top. Use the blank side in the center tower, or flip it over to the other side for exterior towers.

After each player has drafted a die, took their turn, then place the die left over onto the round tracker board. Pass the bag of dice to the next player and repeat this process until you’ve played 8 or 9 rounds depending on player count. Incomplete towers will score. A tower floor that isn’t finished will score as follows. Highest influence gets 3 prestige, second highest will score 2 prestige, and ties will only score 1 prestige. Then, each unused spell in your spell book (meeple still there) will get you 1 prestige. The player with the most prestige is the winner! Congratulations, you siphoned the most mana and have become the most famous school of magic. All it took was some hard work and using some apprentices as the foundation of these towers. Nice towers though, good bones.

So what do I think? When I first saw this game, I thought it was mixing dice drafting and a dexterity game. Recently, I’ve been on a dexterity game kick, so I was excited to see building towers. However, the dexterity and building the towers doesn’t exactly translate to game play. Is it still a fun game? Do I still recommend it even though it deceived me from just pictures and not reading the rules? It is! This is a nice, fast paced dice drafting game. It’s not as thinky as Sagrada, but it’s a nice game you can play relatively quick. The components are mostly nice. I like the meeples, the tower floors are a nice thickness, and the dice and dice bag are great! I like that it wasn’t a cheap option for the dice bag, but you got a velvety bag with the name on the game on it. The player spell books and the round tracker seem a little flimsy to me. It works, and I guess it doesn’t need to be as thick as the floor tiles, but it would be nice if it were that thickness. I just like chunky bits. The game play, like I said, is pretty fast. A round is roll the dice, pick a die, place a die, and score if you need to. Rinse and repeat. Add in spells. I like the spells and how they help with die placement. And, even though there are restrictions on what dice can go on what floor, there is always a place you can play. The center tower is the easiest to play on, but doesn’t give you as much prestige. It does make your next placement easier with the spells. This is great, because in Sagrada I get frustrated when I get to the end of the game and I can’t place a die anywhere! So, at the beginning, I likened this to Sagrada meets Carcassonne, and turns out a bit like Rhino Hero. Sagrada is because of the dice drafting. I felt like this is a little like Carcassonne because of the limited pool of meeples and instead of tile laying, it’s tile stacking. Rhino Hero is just there because you’re build a tower. I was going to name Monkey Balance Tower, a little heard of kids game, but thought Rhino Hero paints the picture to more readers. Overall, I’m glad I got this game. It’s a nice dice drafting game that I like the theme. Anything fantasy and magic really peaks my interest. Add in stacking dice and building towers, and this one just calls my name. I found it fast and fun to play. It’s easy to teach. I recommend this to anyone that likes Sagrada and are looking for another similar game. Or for anyone that likes dice drafting and stacking things.

Now, if you’re lucky enough to find the Kickstarter exclusive, it adds 4 modules to add to the base game. The Kickstarter rule book suggests only running two of these modules at a time. Here, I’m going to go through each one.

Arkhanos Powers Module

The first one uses the Arkhanos miniature and the circular Grand master board. You set up the game as normal, but set this next to the round tracker. You then place the miniature in the center of the game master board. The first player chooses what ability to trigger for the round, and all players benefit from the power. Then the next round, that starting player picks a new space and play continues. Arkhanos can’t visit the same place in consecutive turns. Besides that, pick any spot.

The powers are as follows, starting at the left and going clockwise.

1. Completed floor tiles this round score 2 additional prestige points.

2. Spells from your spell book grants 2 additional prestige points per spell used this round.

3. Each meeple placed on your spell book this round grants 2 prestige points.

4. Center towers score the same as exterior towers this turn.

5. when you use a spell from your spell book this turn, return the meeple to the spell book instead of to your reserves.

6. When the place an addition meeple is activated this turn, instead place an additional 2 meeples.

This module adds even more strategy to your turn. I like that you can start planning out your turns and pick what will help you the most. Then I like that you can’t go to the same space consecutive turns.

Mercenaries or Monsters Module

The next module adds in either Mercenaries or Monsters. You pick what one to play. To set up, set the cards of either all the mercenaries or monsters in the play area. Add the corresponding meeple to the matching card. Now, during the game play, you can hire a mercenary or monster instead of placing a meeple in your spell book. To hire a mercanry or monster, you first have to pick the one that corresponds to the number die used. Next, you have to see if they are available. To be available, the meeple needs to be on the card and not in control by another player or on a tower ready to score. Now, when you hire help, you can do one of three things on your next turn. They are as follows.

1. Use the hired help for free. When you place your die this turn, the hired help goes with it and a meeple.

2. Don’t use the hired help, but pay it to stay around and use it next turn. There’s a maintenance cost found in the bottom right corner of the card. I’d say these might vary, but they are all 1 prestige maintenance cost. So each turn you hold onto them, it’s going to cost you one prestige.

3. Don’t use the hired help, and don’t pay the maintenance cost. You simply don’t use it, and it goes back to it’s card.

When you use a mercenary or monster, it goes with your meeple from a reserve and a die being placed. Each mercenary and monster does something different. Here’s a list of their number and what they do. Keeping in mind that mercenaries help you, monsters mess with other players.

Mercenaries

1. Willow the halfing druid – Your meeples count as an additional 2 influence and scoring will get you one additional prestige point when dispatched to a floor.

2. Pietro the human cleric – You get 3 additional prestige during scoring when dispatched to a floor.

3. Arkhanos the human mage – When you dispatch Arkhanos, you immediately gain 1 prestige per friendly meeple on unfinished floors.

4. Duncan the dwarf warrior – When Duncan is dispatched, gain the special ability of the die placement one additional time. Basically, you get that special ability twice.

5. Jade the human paladin – When you dispatch Jade, the die you use counts as any color and/or number.

6. Sun the human monk – When dispatching Sun, look in the floor draw pile for a floor of your choice. Set that aside, and place your die, meeple, and Sun on that floor instead of the normal 4 choices. Next exterior floor to be finished is replaced by this floor tile. Only then does Sun go back to the mercenary card.

Monsters

1. Barak the orc sorcerer – When dispatched, steal 1 prestige from each meeple on that floor.

2. Stinky the forest imp – When dispatched, move one opponent meeple (and die) to the tower Stinky is at, then steal 1 prestige from that meeple.

3. Ghost the phantom – When dispatched, each opponent must discard a meeple from their spell book, then you gain 1 prestige for each meeple discarded in this way. Note it’s not stealing, so the prestige comes from the bank.

4. Watcher the multi-eyed monster (Beholder) – When dispatched, immediately swap 2 meeples paired with dice from different players.

5. Verona the wicked witch – When dispatched, each opponent must discard 2 prestige per meeple they have on the same floor as Verona.

6. Durgor the red dragon – When dispatched, immediately remove one opponent meeple from the floor Durgor is on.

I really like this module. I like variety, and these add a lot. I personally like Monsters better than Mercenaries. That’s because of the Take That nature of them. I really like that player interaction.

Bonus Floor Tile Module

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The next module is adding different floor tiles to the game. These floors have different pillar bonuses. Starting with the left most spot and going clockwise, you have the following.

1. Gain 2 prestige per grand master meeple on unfinished floors.

2. Gain 2 prestige per meeple on any players spell book.

3. Gain 1 prestige per different colored die on the round tracker board.

This is probably the easiest module to add. It just adds 3 more pillar bonuses and there’s a chance that they might not even come out in a game.

Event Deck Module

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The last module adds an event deck. Shuffle this 20 card deck and place it in the play area. During the game, when a tower is going to score, draw an event card, read it, and apply it. Some of the cards change the scoring of the floor, some give prestige based on certain criteria, some will re-roll the dice in the mana pool, and others will stay out until a player uses a certain numbered die.

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I like the variety that this adds. There’s one that gives you 5 prestige if your master is imprisoned in a tower. I found that one interesting. There’s another that gives players who didn’t contribute with the floor some prestige points. Overall, this one changes the game play each game. You’re not going to have the same cards come up game after game. It adds to the re-playability of the game.

Over all, I’m glad that they included these in the Kickstarter. I hope if you can find a copy of the game, you can get one with these exclusives as it really adds to the game. If you can’t find a copy with these, I still would recommend the game as a play. It’s more of a play or buy with these exclusives

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