I admit, I am a bit late to the party! Till quite recently no opportunity has occurred to play the Arnak – an excellent exploration game, with deck-building and worker-placement mechanics. However, when Maria and Piotr visited us some time ago with their copy and offered to play the game I knew I have to try it. I heard so many good opinions about this EURO title so the only way to test them was by experience 🙂 Was my hopes fulfilled? Let us check in below article!

The game

On an uninhabited island in uncharted seas, explorers have found traces of a great civilization. Now you will lead an expedition to explore the island, find lost artifacts, and face fearsome guardians, all in a quest to learn the island’s secrets.

As already mentioned, Arnak (or with full title, Lost Ruins of Arnak) combines two very popular mechanics: deck-building and worker placement. All of this in a game of exploration, resource management, and discovery. It is worth to remember, that in addition to traditional deck-builder effects, cards can also be used to place workers, and new worker actions become available as players explore the island – you can imagine how that affects number of possible developement paths!

Some of the actions require resources instead of workers, so building a solid resource base – not surprising – will be essential. What I really like, is that you are limited to only one action per turn, so have to make your choice very carefully… and choose action that will benefit you most now! And what can you afford to do later… assuming someone else doesn’t take the action first!?

Decks are small, and randomness in the game is heavily mitigated by the wealth of tactical decisions offered on the game board. With a variety of worker actions, artifacts, and equipment cards, the set-up for each game will be unique, encouraging players to explore new strategies to meet the challenge.

Discover the Lost Ruins of Arnak!

The session

After quite brief introduction to the game we were able to start the session. The rules are not overly complex, can be explained in 10-15 minutes. At the same time, the game offers endless replayability with many components changing the initial set-up of the map. Be it artifacts (one at the onset of the game), items / tools (5 to choose from at the beginning), discovery tiles (multitude of them), site tiles (also, a huge variety) not to mention cards and deck which you will be creating.

Below very brief, picture-rich session report – I was so engrossed with the game that failed to take more pictures! PS. Of course, you can expand each picture in new window by clicking on it.

The first thing which you do is of course landing at the island. At the same time you have all your gear prepared: you have your tent, where you store all you discovered, you can have advisors, you will get the idols which you can later on use (or leave for VPs). Just look above at al those beautiful components.
Once you landed on the island, you will be going deeper and deeper, initially discovering Level 1 sites but after a while, also much more powerful Level 2. But be careful, they are all guarded by potentially very dangerous enemies! Also, please not at the top the Temple track which as you explore, gives you additional bonuses.
Not surprisingly, the game finished with the victory of our guests. While mechanics are not overly complex, in order to master them you need to see them in action and learn by experience. Congrats to Maria!

The impressions

It was only initial play for me and Magda so of course the impressions will be limited, but let me share some of them immediately:

  • The first thing that stands out is definitely the graphical dimension of the game and its components. They are fabulously beautiful yet still very functional. The colors are vivid, some of the elements created from special synthetic material. You can definitely say that CGE lives up t its reputation in that area!
  • I really like the theme of the game. Who among us when was young did not dream about travels like in the books of Julius Verne? Exploring uncharted lands, discovering mysteries, finding hidden treasures. Here we can experience all of those!
  • I truly appreciate game mechanics (combination of deck and workers) and great replayability steaming out of it. While the game has one main scenario, multiple components – be it parts of the map, archeologist equipment, discoveries, artifacts or tools – allow for endless combinations thus making each session an unique experience.


I understand why this game was so popular. Very appealing esthetically, replayable, with mystery and discovery element, combining some of the most popular mechanics like deck building and worker placement. I think we will be coming back to it from time to time as definitely there is huge potential in it!