Arkon is the first game from Casey and Douglas Hill published by Hill Gaming Company it sits 2 – 4, plays in 15 – 30 mins and recommended from ages 13+ however I have played this with slightly younger gamers without issue.
This review is based on the PnP version released.
Arkon is a quick to learn, fast to play card based bidding / hand management game where players draw from a central deck of cards and try to gain control of clan cards within the deck. The first player to control one of each of the races ( Orc, Elf, Dwarf and Human) or all of a single race card wins the game (there are four of each race card in the deck). Arkon leverages the fact that cards have multiple functions to keep component count down to 52 cards yet yield the options of a larger game.
Light Rules Overview:
Arkon setup is straight forward, shuffle the deck and deal out five cards per player. Arkon’s turn structure has only three key phases and then a draw phase at the end of each players turn. The cards have several sections used for different parts of the phases.
– Play action cards
– Offer a clan card for bidding
– Play action cards
– End of turn draw
Playing Action Cards:
Action cards can be played from hand and the effect of their text is played out, for example the card Arcane Insight allows you to draw an extra two cards (max hand size is eight). You can play as many action cards as you like but they are played and resolved one at a time. When an action card is played, going clockwise players can play the same action card to cancel its effect or play a response card. Once actions are resolved or cancelled they are then moved to the discard pile.
Once you have completed playing your action cards you move onto the next phase.
Offer a clan card for bidding:
You may on you turn play a clan card face up in the middle of the play area where each player then bids on the card to take control of it.
Each card has an influence value in the top right and the player who bids the highest gains the clan card offered the winning bidder discards the cards they used to bid and each other player returns their bidding cards to hand
Bidding is done by selecting cards from your hand and placing them face down to commit them to the bid, the player who offered the clan card get a bonus of plus two influence in this bid.
Once the clan card has been won the current player can choose to offer another clan card to the bidding phase or move onto the next phase. You can offer as many clan cards as you wish but only one at a time
Play action cards:
The next action phase is the same as the first.
Once all actions are completed in the second action phase we move into the final phase:
End of turn draw:
Each player draws one card from the central deck and if the current player offered any clan cards regardless of if they won it or how many were offered they get to draw an additional one card.
Play then moves clockwise to the next player who will work through all the phases, rinse and repeat until a player has met the win conditions.
– Simple setup / easy to teach
– Highly portable as its only 52 cards
– Great level of strategy due to the multi-function design of the cards
– Really high-quality art work
– I think the entry pledge level of 20 USD plus shipping is high given other games of similar component count
When I was cutting this out and putting it in card sleeves so that I could get this to the table I wasn’t convinced, it looked like there was a lot going on with some of the cards. About turn two of my first play that all changed, I really, really like this game, it has replaced a couple of my everyday carry titles because it plays well with 2,3 and 4 players and takes less than five minutes to teach / run through an example turn. The fact that the cards are multi-function means I did not feel like I was in a situation of waiting for cards or had no playable options available to me so that kept the game moving along, with that and the bidding / action phases Arkon offers great levels of player interaction which is another win in my book. I truly hope we see expansions or new decks because this is such a solid game I want to see what else team Hill can deliver.