Get limited edition Mythic Kingdoms fantasy-themed playing cards while supplies last.
Arctic Scavengers - Board Game Box Shot

Arctic Scavengers

| Published: 2009
67 20 5

In the year 2097, the entire earth was enveloped in a cataclysmic climate shift, plunging the globe into another ice age. Over 90% of the world’s population was eliminated, driving the survivors to band together into loose communities and tribes.

You are the leader of a small tribe of survivors. Resources, tools, medicine, and mercenaries are all in scarce supply. You and your tribe are pitted against other tribes in a fight for survival. Build up your tribe, skirmish against other players head-to-head, or even bluff your way to victory.

The leader who gathers the largest tribe will be victorious!

User Reviews (4)

Filter by: Order by:
Player Avatar
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
oddball Aeronauts fan
79 of 88 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Mad Max on ice.”

In some funky alternative timeline Arctic Scavengers upon release became a roaring hit, ushering in a new age of deck builders and spawned a series of brilliant expansions. So it sucks that we’re stuck here in this ***** timeline where none of that amazingly cool stuff occurred. There’s a depressing history to what occurred behind this games release, I don’t want to linger on that bad mojo (and a google search will fill in any blanks you have) instead lets focus on the good stuff this game offers.

Arctic Scavengers is a deck builder set in a post apocalypse world trapped in a never ending ice age where bands of ragtag tribes struggle to survive in this unforgiving environment, think of a chilly mad max. You as the player control one of these groups by building your deck from the meager resources on offer in this cold new world.

This game brilliantly encapsulates the frozen environment through the icy blue art palette on the cards, to how it plays, everything you are doing makes sense in context of, and furthers the theme. Whereas most deck builders, even the theme heavy ones that followed on the heels of Dominion (Thunderstone,Legendary) whilst rich in art and story still never get over the clunky mechanisms of the deck builder mechanic, they are forever there drawing you out of the world. That’s where scavengers really hits the sweet spot, everything that you do in the game makes sense in the world it has created.

Lets walk through a round to see what I mean. Once you draw your cards from your deck you will find yourself with options, your hand will normally consist of a scant few members of your tribe and some equipment. You are going to obviously want more, unlike most deck-builders that see you totting up your coins and then browsing the available cards as if in some fantastical supermarket this differs. There is a limited supply of roaming mercenary’s each offering special skills, but you can’t just buy them you need to perform actions to get that currency by hunting. You send out your tiny group into the frozen wasteland preferably equipped with a net and whatever the amount of food they come back with you use to trade with these guns for hire to join your clan.

If you don’t fancy that you can send scavengers or refuges out with shovels to dig in the junkyard. Now this is something new, there is a deck of cards representing this wasteland and devastated cities surrounding your small camp, and dependent on how good your dig skill was for your team you can take that many cards from this deck. Buried among it are all sorts of useful stuff, maybe medical supplies a very valuable resource for recruiting or more tools or if really lucky weapons, of course you might just get a handful of useless junk. Whatever you dig up you can only bring 1 piece back the rest is returned to the pile. This little feature highlights what I was saying above of how the theme and mechanics mesh so well. There is nothing worse than sacrificing a small team to go out as you desperately need more supplies only for them to return empty handed. And as your actions are limited each turn you’ve wasted your time and gained nothing, in the game of post apocalyptic ***** you’ve come up snake eyes.

All of that is pretty cool and with the simple iconography of the cards it really is a lot easier to teach then I’m making it sound. But there is an even better aspect to the game that no other deck builder has and adds a whole other level of bluffing and strategy, and more importantly some actual player interaction and the stakes are high. There is another deck the contested resources, these work as both a game timer as once depleted the game ends and the colony with the highest population wins, but more importantly contain some rare and powerful cards. These are worth fighting over and fight you do.

The skirmish phase takes place after everyone has done their resource gathering, each players remaining cards battle it out with the other tribes to take the precious resource. No other deck builder I have encountered has anything like this, it works as a great bluffing stage, because all you know of your opponents is how many cards that they are sending into the battle, for all you know they might be just a bunch of refugees. It ups the stakes tremendously, do you burn valuable cards looking for resources and tribe members weakening what you can send to the fight, or risk it all praying that you can fight them off.

There are specific mercenaries that spice up this stage with snipers that can take out opponents cards or saboteurs that can disarm an opponents equipment, its a great idea and really ramps up the tension as you have no idea what your up against. And again adds a rich chunk of story to what it is that you’re doing rather than just playing off cards against your opponents.

Now all of that makes a rich rewarding game and taken alone is fantastic, but Scavengers has some more tricks up its insulated sleeve. Included in the box is the HQ expansion that for 50 cards really adds a lot to the base game.

Its modular so you can add it in stages (suggested) or maybe just play with the bits that you like.

There are a bunch more equipment cards to go in the junkyard deck and a Medic mercenary who can save your clan members whilst being targeted by a sniper in the skirmish. These are all cool stuff and add more variety to the base game.

There is the Tribes option which is a modifier for the end game that will reward you for collecting specific resources, got all the meds then the Pharmers will come flocking to you and bolster your population.

The second part of this expansion adds a entirely different strategy and that is buildings, the schematics for these are pulled from another deck by a special engineer class and then dependent on the amount of time its required to construct this building that many of the players cards are placed on it and it ticks down each round until built. This process can be sped up by sending more of your tribe over to help. These can add a huge difference to the game whether its a Armory that allows you to store equipment cards for retrieval later before a skirmish (effectively freeing up your hands to draw more cards on later rounds) or a Hydroponic Garden that generates food to assist with hiring it adds more thematic meat and gaming gristle to what is already a brilliant game overflowing with gaming gravy.

But there is even more, the final module in the expansion are Tribal Leaders – these guys are drawn in a draft of two cards, and are all unique offering various perks. Most of these guys are pretty messed up, the cannibal clan seem like a settlement to avoid. These bring more character and color to your tribe and the world whilst enhancing the game play.

Its criminal that this game hasn’t seen a wider release, aside from the wonderfully realized world, it actually offers something the other deck builders don’t, actual interaction. The skirmish mode and the whole poker style bluff and counter bluff. None of the games mentioned have anything remotely like this, whilst they are great the game play is pedestrian with everyone playing individual card games with the whiff of interaction. In this game you are always watching and wondering who has what, and where will the next threat come from.

If I had one complaint is the lack of variety in the available cards specifically the mercenaries and contested resources, the supplied ones are sweet but I’d like the option of one or two really powerful things in that deck and the option to change it up so you are never certain exactly whats in there. But that’s a small complaint and due to the nature of the game and its secrecy you never really know who has what until it strikes.

There is a sliver of hope on the horizon the next expansion Deception is done, and looks to include all the juicy stuff that fans are clamoring for. Its currently mired in Rio Grande’s reticence to push the button. Kickstarter looks like the potential avenue, but only time will tell and I just hope that this happens. But here’s something you can do right now to help, go out and buy the game, you’ll be supporting a great designer and giving a clear message to Rio Grande that we love this and want more and you get a fantastic game to keep, what a sweet deal.

Player Avatar
Advanced Reviewer
Rosetta Stone
78 of 91 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Light Game with Great Theme”

I caught on to the buzz surrounding AS after reading some posts on BGG. After watching a number of reviews I was convinced that I needed to pick up a copy of this game.

Typical deck builder mechanism fashioned after Dominion. There are 2 commodities used for the purpose of recruiting members of your tribe, food and medicine. Due to the excellent graphic symbols on the cards, confusion is minimal. The deck building mechanism used here is past proven and functions well in this game which will translate into easy teaching of new players.

The art in this game (RGG version) is excellent and in my opinion is what creates the strong thematic element of the game. The card art is outstanding and creates an image of a dystopian post-appocalyptic waste land.

Overall Impression
After numerous game plays, I have found this game to be very replayable. It is essential to play using the included HQ expansion, without the expansion (which is included) the game is somewhat dry and lacks flavour. I did find however that the inclusion of the buildings was of very little significance in most games as the time required to hire an Engineer then get him into your hand before being able to start construction, not to mention the construction time, was too great an often times resulted in buildings being fully constructed just as the game was ending.

This game has some level of player interaction but could feel at times as though you were playing multiple solitaire (skirmish being the only exception). The game is fun and plays quickly and in time could benefit from a well conceived expansion. I have seen the expansion Deception in a rough over view, it did not look good, however that remains to be seen.

Player Avatar
Football Fan
The Gold Heart
102 of 127 gamers found this helpful
“A deck builder I can get friends to play”

So the premise here is that it is in the future after a devastating ice age has claimed the earth. Most of everyone is dead and the remaining survivors are banding together into tribes to survive.

You are the leader of one of these tribes. Resources, tools, medicine, and mercenaries are all in scarce supply. Now you must fight against other tribes for survival.

The leader who gathers the largest tribe will come out the winner… uh survive the ice age?


First things first, my title. My group of friends are very gun shy around games that are fantasy based, wizards and dragons and the likes. Everything in that genre is Dungeon and Dragons, and they wont go anywhere near it. This theme however is something they were able to get behind and play, so bonus points there.


We had just played Quarriors previous to this game and nobody had any issues with the dice/deck building mechanic.
However the first thing I noticed about this game is it was somewhat difficult for some to pick up on. When we played there were two gamers in the group and two non-gamers in the group. So myself and the other gamer picked up on the game right away, while the non-gamers struggled for the majority of the game. I kept helping them along and it was almost like a light bulb came on when they finally got the game. I’m just not sure why they could understand Quarriors and not this. I feel fairly confident they would be able to play it and enjoy it a lot more their second play through, but by the time they got it on the first play it was too late for them to do anything.

*** GAMEPLAY ***

The average turn consists of four actions of which you can complete as many of them as you would like but never using the same action twice. Each card will be cable of doing multiple actions depending on if you can equip them with tools or not but you have to decide each turn were you want to use them as they can only be used once.

Certain cards will allow you to discard them in order to draw new cards into your hand.
Simple, but I found most of them only let you draw one card which may not be any better than the one you are discarding. It can be good in a pinch, but it’s a gamble for sure.

You may go digging in the junkyard once a turn which could result in getting something pretty decent for your hand or… it can quite literately be a card called “junk”
This action is usually worth it but as the game goes on there tends to be more junk and less items that will help you as you can discard cards to the junkyard to clear them from your hand if you like.

This is were you get some good tribe members, you will need either food or medicine, maybe even both to recruit certain people but it is always worth it.

Here is the fun part you have to choose each turn how many people you want to send out to fight. The more you send, the more likely you are to win a contested card, which is always really good. However by choosing cards to go out and fight you are taking them away from other activities that would otherwise be making your deck better. If you loose the battle you have nothing to show for it. If you win… well that’s a different story.


I really enjoyed the game, it was a great spin on the deck building genre that I can really get behind and convince others to as well. There are also expansions put into this release copy of Arctic Scavengers where you can build buildings, sabotage or snipe people, even being a cannibal that keeps it really interesting.
I recommend this game, but just know that some people aren’t going to pick up on it right away.

Player Avatar
Rated 50 Games
63 of 83 gamers found this helpful
“Arctic Scavengers Review by David Lowry”

The year is 2097 and the earth was transformed from a climate shift of cataclysmic proportions plunging the earth and all its inhabitants into an ice age. An estimated 90% of the earth’s populations was decimated forcing the survivors to join together in tribes. Does your tribe have what it takes to survive? Will your tribe be able gather enough resources, medicine and tools to make it? Can you combat rival tribes for these incredibly scarce resources? In this battle for survival the largest Arctic Scavengers tribe wins!

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Game Designer: Robert Kyle Gabhart

Players: 2-5

Ages: 13 to adult

Playing Time: 45-60 minutes

Contents: 1 rule booklet, 1 rule summary mat, 1 junkyard mat, 1 contested resources mat, 1 initiator card, 149 play cards including 20 refugees, 69 mercenaries, 46 junkyard cards and 14 contested resources.

Contents: HQ Expansion – 1 expansion rules summary, 1 engineering schematics mat, 1 storage cover, 49 playing cards consisting of 12 buildings, 10 tribal leaders, 8 junkyard cards, 8 medics, 8 engineers and 3 gangs.

Suggested Retail Price: $34.95

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

Rio Grande Games originally released Arctic Scavengers back in 2009 but with the release of Dominion and it being the hot game of the moment, Arctic Scavengers really took a back seat to its counterpart. With the new re-release of Arctic Scavengers, it is very possible that you are getting a better game at least from the visual point of view.

In Arctic Scavengers, each player works to grow their tribes as large as they possibly can. They do this through hiring mercenaries, scavenging through the junk pile and winning in player skirmishes against the other competing tribes. The player with the most tribe members at the end of the game is the winner.

The card anatomy is as follows:

The upper left corner is the card type. The upper right corner is the cost of recruiting this card to your tribe. Down the left side you have in order; draw cards, digging, hunt and fight. If any of these spots are empty, then this card does not that have ability as in the card below as it does not have the draw or dig abilities. Finally the bottom left corner is the amount of people represented by the card. This is where you total your victory points at the end of the game as well as it has its part in the player skirmishes but we will cover that later.

Every card has some ability to it. Some have medicine (+) not shown or sub-type actions such as +modifiers to certain abilities. All these are needed to recruit better people to your tribe or to dig deeper in the junkyard or be stronger in the skirmish.

Each player starts with 4 refugee cards (these water down the deck) 3 scavenger cards, 1 brawler card, 1 spear card and 1 shovel card. I should note that one person could only handle one tool such as a spear or shovel at a time. You can’t combine both a spear and shovel with a scavenger for instance.

Each round of Arctic Scavengers is broken up into 3 phases:

The Drawing Phase: Draw 5 new cards and discard any old cards from the previous round. After round 3 begins, the starting player (this rotates each turn) gets to peak at the top card of the contested resources deck that players will skirmish over to set the tone for the bidding war.

The Resource Gathering Phase: Each player uses any resources to gather resources to accomplish the main actions during this phase.

– Draw – Take one or more cards from the deck and add them to the players hand depending on how many draw resources have been played that turn.

– Dig – Here the player digs as many cards out of the junkyard as resources have been played that turn. For instance if 3 resources were played, the player can then draw 3 cards from the junkyard pile, keep 1 of those 3 secretly and put the other 2 back under the pile facedown so no one can see what they are.

– Hunt – This allows the player to produce one or more food for use in recruiting a new member to the tribe.

– Fight – This action is used during the Skirmish. The players commit cards secretly to the table to be revealed during the Skirmish Phase. These cards can not be used for any resource gathering during this turn. Highest score wins the skirmish and collects the contested resource and discards it secretly.

The Skirmish Phase – (following round 3)

– Once all the players have gathered their resources and put down cards they committed to the skirmish (they can’t be used for gathering resources), they then reveal their cards and the winner is determined.

– The winner puts the card in their discard pile and the first player moves to the next person.

There are additional free actions that can be taken as well.

– Hire – Select on mercenary from the table and pay its cost with food and medicine.

– Trash – Select one or more cards from the players hand and place them on the bottom of the junkyard pile.

There are special action cards as well such as the Sniper Team and Saboteur cards. The Sniper Team cards allow a player to snipe another players tribe member and can be played from a players hand or in the Skirmish phase. The Saboteur cards allow a player to disarm another player’s tool and can be played the same way.

Some the key ideas to think about while playing Arctic Scavengers are that a player wants to take all unused cards in their hand to the Skirmish and bluff their opponents into thinking they have played more fight than really has been. Each player may also make multiple actions per round as well as playing multiple cards for single action as that can make the action much stronger. A player may also only perform any given action once per round. Once a players has used one card for once action it cannot be used for a separate action. In order to use a tool, group leader or any card with a modifier to it, it must be paired with a card that has the base ability even if the base ability is 0. If there is no icon in the spot on the card, it does not have that ability. Once again, only one tool per tribe member card.

The game ends when the last contested resource has been taken from the pile. At this point, all players go through their decks and up all the people in the bottom left corner of their cards and the biggest tribe wins!

Arctic Scavengers also comes with the HQ Expansion for free! The expansion is 4 different modules that can be used any combination in play. The basic premise is a basic headquarters or base camp for each tribe leader as well as being able to construct buildings that can be used during play for strategic use. This introduces new victory paths, new mercenaries and tools. The engineering schematics deck are also included. The basic game is basically the same when the modules are added.

Module #1 – Medics, Tools and Gangs

– Medics have a draw of 1, can be played to represent medicine to recruit new mercenaries or they can be played from the hand to save another tribe member from a sniper attack.

– Save – a new action to protect a tribe member from or leader from a sniper attack.

– Rifle – A tool for hunting and fighting Skirmishes. This gives you a +2 in 2 categories.

– Toolkit – This helps digging for both junkyard and engineering schematics or can be used by another tribe member to speed up building. This also allows for cards to be removed from one building that is under construction.

– Gangs – There are 3 new gangs introduced here for a new concept. These gangs hide back until all the contested resources have been gathered and then try form an alliance with whichever tribe best meets its needs. The gangs are “The Gearheads,” “The Pharmers” and “The Masons.”

Module #2 – Engineering and Buildings

– Engineers may dig in the junkyard but their main purpose is to dig in the engineering schematics pile as they are the only card that can do this. This is of course how you go about building the buildings as well.

– Buildings – Players use engineers to construct buildings at the player’s HQ. These buildings take time to build but offer strategic advantages once built. Buildings are normally used during the players turn and never during the Skirmish.

– Building Types – Amory (stores 2 tools for later use,) Bunker (stores 3 tribe member cards for later use,) Hydroponic Gardens (generates 1 food per round, which does not accumulate) and the Pharmacy (Enables 2 medicine cards to be stored here for later use. Not including medics and not during the Skirmish.)

– Store – a new action that allows the player to take one or more cards of a particular type from their hand and place them, face-down, under a building.

– Retrieve – a new action that allows the play to take one or more cards from an active building and place them in your hand. This can be done anytime except after the Skirmish has started.

Module #3 – Tribal Leaders

– Tribal Leaders – The concept is to give unique capabilities that no other player will have. Every player picks one leader from the two provided at the start of every game. This will impact the players strategy and game play.

– Butcher/Cannibal/Fanatic – Cards that are removed from play cannot be brought back.

– Butcher/Cannibal/Sergent at Arms – Leaders can use special abilities without the need for a refugee.

– Excavator/Fanatic/Gangster/Mentor/Organizer/Peacemaker/Ranger- This requires the use of a refugee to utilize the leader.

– Butcher/Cannibal/Fanatic/Mentor/Organizer/Peacemaker – Abilities can only be used once per round.

– Excavator/Gangster/Ranger/Sergent at Arms – Leaders grant abilities that are always activated and can affect multiple cards in any given round.

Module #4 – Dirty Deeds

– New Saboteur ability – The Saboteur may attack a building and disable it. This makes it unusable. No cards can be played to or from the building until it is repaired. This requires the player to discard a card their hand.

– New Sniper Team Ability – The Sniper Team may now attack a tribe leader, wounding that leader removing their advantage until a medicine is played against the leader to heal them.

Obviously there is a lot I couldn’t put in the review and there is a good amount of depth for this deck-builder. Arctic Scavengers while being a deck-building game offers a fair amount of versatility in it’s game play and separates it’s self enough from other games of the genre to make it a must have game. I really enjoyed this game and highly recommend it to people who love the deck-building genre or who may be on the fence on this since it’s original release in 2009. The interaction with the Skirmishes alone makes it fun.

The components are well done and the artwork is fantastic. The box isn’t to big and it is designed to break the cards down easily although I am not sure it accomplishes that. I prefer slots for starting decks myself to make game set up easier and quicker. Also, if you sleeve your cards, this system will not work as the slots are not big enough. This part could have been better thought out.

All in all, a very good deck-building game that is worth the price and should give you enough of a different feel that you don’t feel like it’s just another deck-builder.

I will go out on a limb and give this game about an 8 out of 10 stars as it achieves the depth I like in a deck-builder especially when the expansion is added.


Add a Review for "Arctic Scavengers"

You must be to add a review.

× Visit Your Profile