Boardgames 2023

I really like Lost Ruins of Arnak. It also seems heavily compared to Dune Imperium. Dune seems like it has ‘won’ as the more popular if the two.

What are the opinions here between the two? Is there space to own both?

I’ve never played Dune Imperium, but Arnak with the first expansion is absolutely first-rate gaming, feels on theme without the theme over-intruding, and is something I’d grab off the shelf without hesitating when I’m in the mood for that kind of euro-worker placement/resource placement type game.

I see that comparison a lot too, and I’m not really sure it’s fair. Yes, they are both worker placement with light deck building that were released around the same time, but they feel pretty different to me. I own Arnak with the expansion, and after having played a friend’s copy of Dune, I’d like to get that too.

I think Dune feels a bit more combative than Arnak. That’s good or bad depending on the players.

Oh, and finally got this back and going almost 2 years since I played through the first four scenarios – had a lot of fun – but then had to shelve it to do some redecorating/remodeling and just never got back to it.

It just hits that sweet spot for me, but I know that there are a lot of gamers who hate apps in their boardgames, so I won’t try to make converts here. ;)

But Legends of the Dark fixes a lot of issues I have with dungeon crawlers, and that’s why it works so well for my tastes. Not sure about line of site? Check it on the app, and it’ll tell you unambiguously. Not sure which enemy attacks which hero? The app will tell you. Want a strong narrative background to your dungeon crawling campaign but don’t want to flip through phonebook-sized storybooks? App has it covered.

And with that said, there’s still a lot of tabletop game to work with. There’s a ton of tactical movement and positioning of your heroes, using the 3d terrain for other tactical advantages/disadvantages, etc. And though it is much, much deeper than, say Heroquest, it never feels that much more complicated by trying to remember overly-fiddly rules the way you’d expect from a dungeon crawler.

IP always trumps design. Sigh.

I enjoy both games, but I feel like Dune has some deep-seeded rookie mistakes in the design, which got it banished to my “get rid of” pile. There’s a similar game called Arctic Scavengers from many years ago that I feel beats Dune, hands down, in every category except for “Frank Herbert theming”. You won’t find much of that in Arctic Scavengers, but you will find an awesomely interactive deck-builder for three or more players with some amazing longevity thanks to the modular design. And it has a few nice tweaks that set it apart from other deck-builders, too. I used to break that out whenever I could, but sadly, it never really caught on with my various groups, which are now scattered to the four winds so it just gathers dust. I guess Dune at least has it’s half-baked solo mode.

As for Lost Ruins, to me it feels awfully barebones without the Expedition Leaders expansion, which adds a ton of gameplay to character asymmetry. At which point, it doesn’t feel anything like Dune Imperium, but instead turns into a whole other weird kind of beast, brimming with ungainly levers and switches and dials, begging to be yanked, poked, and twirled.

So there’s my usual nattering nabobbing. :)

I was just taking a look at Legends of the Dark on BGG and all those dungeon layouts and components look sweet, but I really can’t deal with a whole baby right now.

Once you’ve assembled all the components, it’s almost impossible to get the baby back in the box.

Also they never issue an errata, you just have to figure it out yourself.

Wow, I totally disagree with this, but certainly if you’re they’re for the deck-building, then Arctic Scavengers is going to be your game. Dune Imperium steals the combat mechanic from AS and has some very light deckbuilding, but it’s the worker placement that drives it.

I can kind of see the comparison with Arnak, but the deckbuilding is even lighter in that, and they’re not really in the same mindspace for me. Arnak feels PvE whereas Dune Imperium is PvP.

Totally fair point about the worker placement driving the economy, but I’d argue that the overarching structure and interactivity of Dune: Imperium is nearly a mirror image of Arctic Scavengers. The idea that before each turn, some goody is plopped down in the middle of the table for everyone to fight over is more than just a “combat mechanic”; it’s the fulcrum of interactivity in both games and it’s what sets them apart from other multi-player deck-builders.

I do agree that Dune Imperium is worker placement in its moment-to-moment interaction, but other than the cool thematic economy (water earns spice earns money; cities vs wilderness; factions), I’m not particularly impressed by it as a worker placement game or a deck-builder. It feels like the least of both worlds to me.

I should also point out I’ve never tried any of the expansions, so my opinion might be dated in addition to being an outlier. :) Everything I know about Dune Imperium is based on the game in its release state. And that includes its clumsy solitaire mode, which still irks me because that was why I bought the game.

Fair, I don’t think the solitaire mode is really worth playing except to learn the mechanics. As for the expansions, aI doubt they’d change your opinion of the game, and neither really flesh out the deck-building much (the second one more so).

Where I disagree is that while each of the three parts of Dune Imperium is a bit underbaked, I think they come together into a really cohesive and dare I say it, compelling, whole. I really like the tension in delaying committing to the combat (which is in turn facilitated by the Mentat space), which doesn’t really have an analogue in AS (and definitely not in Arnak)

And just to be even fairer, my feeling is this is true of most solitaire modes. And I wouldn’t normally single out Dune to kvetch about solitaire, but their solo mode was so half-baked it had to be “patched”. Nothing will make me break up with a boardgame faster than being told its obsolete out of the box. Hey, Dire Wolf, tell me you never playtested your game without telling me you never playtested your game.

I’ll give you this much: I’d rather play Dune: Imperium over the Avalon Hill classic. At least it’s a modern design from the time after good boardgame design had been invented. I’m not sure I have it in me anymore to sit around that circular board for six hours, only to have someone open an envelope at the end and tell me they won instead of the person who actually won. :)

Arnak plays so fast that the deck building is barely a thing. You kind of buy what you can in the moment instead of trying to create a svelte deck to cycle through many times

I’ve played both and I see the appeal of both. I wanted Dune to do something it wasn’t really designed to do which is be more of a deck builder than it is. Like Arnak you’re going to typically buy less cards and than you would with a normal deck builder and with Dune I always wanted to cycle through my deck faster and that’s just not what the game does (base game anyway) and for me my plays of it felt very slow. I do believe there is room for both in a collection and I’m going to make it harder on you and add one more to this list which is Endless Winter.

Endless Winter is an amalgam of set collection, asymmetric powers, area control, deck building, and hand/resource management set against the backdrop of prehistoric man. The designer really threw in every mechanic they could and yet somehow it works brilliantly. Your first round you’ll think there’s no way to get anything done, but by the end you’ll have completed almost everything, which is my one complaint. It’s one variant away (maybe one less worker for each player) short of being 10. If I were picking only one, as it stands I think Arnak is the most euro and thinking of the bunch. I would then follow with Endless Winter and then Dune if you like to fight other players. but like I said before all 3 are just different enough that you could own all 3 and not feel like they’re the same game with a different themes.

I actually have Endless Winter coming as an add-on after a moment of weakness during the Unconscious Mind Kickstarter.

What I like about Arnak is how there is almost always something to do. I just wish I had more opportunity to experience my deck. 5 rounds goes fast

I haven’t played Arnak, but Dune Imperium is one of my favorite games of the past few years (and it took me a while to warm up to it). The Rise of Ix expansion is also a massive improvement over the base game, so I’d recommend getting them together if you want to play the game.

If you like that about Arnak then, you’ll like Endless Winter. There are times where you will be blocked from what you want to do, but you can still find great opportunities in other actions. It’s one of the reasons I really enjoy the game. It makes you explore options and they’re is always something to be gained. You never feel like your move is wasted.

Yes! You summed up Endless Winter perfectly. I really hate how anticlimactic the last round is. I’m tempted to just say play one less round, but one less worker is also an interesting idea. It’s such a satisfying game until you get to the end and there’s just nothing left to do. Really disappointing ending.

I’ve heard rumblings of an expansion that should fix that, but I’m planning on playing this weekend with one less worker. I’ll report back.

A friend of mine picked up a copy of Hegemony recently. Basically, it is a politics simulator, with player playing as different social classes and the government. I played as the middle class and won the game (yay!). Has anyone else played this?

Overall, I thought the game was decent. It’s definitely thematic and the way the classes interact with each other is very interesting. However, the strategies for each social class seemed relatively limited (capitalist class: get money, worker class: form unions, etc) and I wonder how much long term replayability it has. Definitely recommend for anyone interested in civics.