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Arcana Revised Edition - Board Game Box Shot

Arcana Revised Edition

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Are you ambitious and cunning enough to rule the city of Cadwallon?

In the revised edition of Arcana 2-4 guild leaders send their loyal Agents into the districts of Cadwallon to entice, bribe, or win over powerful citizens, buy precious treasures, and utilize locations. Whichever player earns the most victory points wins!

This vibrant game creates a fantastical atmosphere for players to enjoy while they attempt to best their opponents through strategic card play. Make your guild the most influential by winning Stake cards and strengthening your deck with impressive Personalities, advantageous Locations, or tempting Relics to use in bribery.

Arcana Revised Edition game in play
image © Fantasy Flight Games

The revised edition of Arcana introduces two new guilds, and six new rule options for players to choose from, or play with them all for a more challenging experience. Will you customize your deck or call in the Militia?

User Reviews (2)

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I play orange
Miniature Painter
Veteran Grader
Intermediate Reviewer
42 of 45 gamers found this helpful
“Let's screw each over with luck. ”

Arcana is an absolutely beautiful fantasy based card game set in the port city of Cadwallon of the land of Arkalash. A game stemming from the fantastic world shared with the classic miniatures game Confrontation.

In Arcana you take the role of one of several guilds that lurk in large and dangerous city of Cadwallon, vying to become the most influential Guild. Each player starts off with a set of cards and have some slight asymmetric abilities. Players then draw up a hand of cards and use their “influence” to gain new cards from 5 seperate stacks in the center area. These stacks are locations in the city. The stacks are arranged so that two stacks are close to each player, one in the middle and two stacks far from each player. Players then play cards one by one to the locations in turn and after all cards are played, players compare the influence totals of the cards they played to any other cards played against them and the highest influence total wins the card from that location.
Cards come in as either events; actions that happen immediately, items, or personalities. The personality cards have 4 different stats and its these stats that are used as the influence.
Example; to obtain a personality that personality will have a highlighted stat and that is the same stat you most use to obtain the card.
The locations closest to the players, are locations where you may play your cards face down. The middle and further locations, you must play your cards face up.

So the theme of the game is designed to pit players against each other in manner that feels like there is backstabbing, political jockeying and fighting, but the reality is it really all boils down to luck with a minimal amount of tactics or strategy.

The trouble is that players only draw 4 cards and it usually takes a minimum of two cards to win over a card from one of the locations even without having to combat another player. With only four cards, there isn’t many options left to you as your hand will really only be able to go after 1-2 cards in the central area. One round you might be fighting all players, another round you might go unopposed, but everything feels very sensitive to luck of the draw and luck of the other players draw.

The game in my opinion could be very incredible if the cards had pushed their design a little more and offered more. Such as the character cards having actions or text abilities that integrate more activity or options and players drew up hands of more than 4 cards such that tactical options increase. Or if players had a method of choosing which stats to use to try and influence the available characters. But because the cards function very simply in predetermined addition of stats, the game rounds are pretty straightforward and function simply as; I place, you place, maybe one of wins.

The cards are beautiful, the general concept of the game is great, but the execution and design feels limited and simplified, which wouldn’t be bad if the game didn’t take as long as it did.

So this game is not for power gamers or strategy gamers. Maybe for casual or family gamers.

Player Avatar
Novice Reviewer
15 of 17 gamers found this helpful
“Turf wars in the big city.”

Cadwallon, city of guilds by the sea, is experiencing a bit of a power vacuum. The time of the Ducal Jubilee is coming quickly and only the strongest and most influential guild will rule the city. As the leader of one of the guilds that run the city, it is your duty to secure as much influence as you can, so that by the time of the Ducal Jubilee, your gild reigns supreme.

Arcana is a classic deck builder with no moving parts, thus set up is a breeze. You will first select which guild you will play as, the differences being mostly minor advantages in gathering certain kinds of cards. Secondly, you will establish districts, which are simply piles of cards in specific spots depending on the number of players (you will always have a few districts close to you, a few far away and one neutral one). The object of the game is to collect as many points as possible by the time of the Ducal Jubilee. This can be done by competing against your opponent(s) for personalities, relics and locations. Personalities are sent out to influence other personalities, gather relics and hold influence over locations. Relics are items with which you can bribe personalities to join your cause. Locations are areas in the city that provide very powerful benefits to your guild if claimed.

First I would like to say that the artwork in this game is pretty good. Each personality is unique and very detailed, however each type of relic (and some of the Locations) are just copied images of each other. This shouldn’t detract from immersion, though, as the art that is there is very detailed and beautiful.

Next, the game has a pretty distinct flow to it and plays very quickly. Each turn you draw your four cards, you then take turns playing cards until each player is out, then you score the districts. It’s entirely reasonable to expect a 2-player game to be completed in less than 25 minutes. However, due to the nature of deck builders, this game suffers a bit at the beginning as far as options and action economy. It’s only after you’ve built up your deck do you really start opening up the true strategic gameplay that makes this game fun. Do you want to shoot for gathering all the personalities, to keep your opponent from having the ability to collect new cards? Or do you want to focus on Locations so that you can just overwhelm them with the high point totals? The strategic possibilities are fun to play with and around.

The only real downfall I experienced with this game is that you only ever have four cards at the start of a turn, and this can feel limiting. However I feel that it also opened up some very interesting ‘think on your feet’ moments that provided a very refreshing challenge.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this game and it has become a regular of board game nights with my group.



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