Dice drafting is an excellent game mechanism that I feel is under-utilized and not fully explored. Last year’s hit Sagrada is a great representation of this point. I like to think that Creative Game Studios recognized this as well when they planned to bring The Towers of Arkhanos to Kickstarter on October 2nd. Their newest project goes beyond just drafting the dice, as it also uses the shape of the dice to it’s visual advantage – the dice are placed after drafting to act as pillars for the titular towers as they climb ever upward over the course of the game. This eye-catching blend of theme and function, along with an approachable set of rules, makes this a crowdfunding title worth the look.
“The towers of ARKHANOS is a fast paced competitive boardgame for 2 to 4 players who will control one of the magic schools from the realms of Drunagor and try and build the magic towers in order to gain more prestige points to be appointed the greatest wizard of the realm. Design by Daniel Alves and Eurico Cunha two of the creators from “MASMORRA: Dungeons of Arcadia”, the game features artwork by Marcelo Bastos and Rodrigo Ramos creating a unique and colorful world.”
A strong draft and table presence aren’t the only things Arkhanos has going for it. Like any good gateway game, it also teaches a few other strategic staples, notably risk assessment and timing. Unlike other dice drafting games, this one always gives you the option of taking actions without a die, but doing so means you will lose one of your meeples instead as it is grimly sacrificed to be a pillar of a tower in place of a die. Actions and area control are determined by these meeples, so losing them this way isn’t ideal but it often comes down to seizing opportunity and an advantageous bonus in a crucial move. You don’t have to take my word for how thoughtfully put together this game is, however, because if you are interested in learning more about The Towers of Arkhanos you can check out their Kickstarter campaign page for playthrough and preview videos, full rules, community feedback, and updates.
There’s still a large market for civilization-building games, as there’s a large breadth of separation between the 8+ hour civ games people commonly remember and the more “reserved” tabletop equivalents. In my experience, some of the more pleasant versions have been lighter, dice-driven affairs such as Roll Through the Ages or Nations: the Dice Game, but I understand those are an extreme compromise from the combative, strategic, map-oriented games that many prefer. Those that do, but still want something quicker, may be interested in Infinities: Defiance of Fate, already funded on Kickstarter as of writing this. It is described as a “4x-lite” game, which has strong tableau and area control mechanics mixed with dice-directed action allocation that plays at a decent clip and can be played in story and skirmish modes. As described on the campaign page:
“The multiverse is an impossibly vast existence, accounting for every possible outcome of every possible point of divergence. In Infinities: Defiance of Fate you are the leader of a sci-fi or fantasy faction seeking to assemble an army, shape the very worlds you walk on, and fulfill or redefine your destiny. Experience a combination of accessible, tactical gameplay and rich, flexible storytelling as you forge your own timelines.”
The allusions to time and fate are not just buzzwords for this game, they’re mechanically literal. Timing is everything in this game, with every player choosing actions one at a time and cards to carry over from round-to-round to strategically place themselves in spots that may benefit them in the long-run. Fate, of course, manifests itself in the dice as per usual, but there’s a fair amount of manipulation and you don’t have to remain seated with what the dice decide for you. With easy to learn yet hard to master rules and simple combat, it all comes together as a pretty sharp, brisk package for those looking for lighter 4x fare. If you’re interested in learning more about Infinities: Defiance of Fate, be sure to check out their Kickstarter page for a full rules breakdown, updates, and community feedback.