Res Arcana

(1 customer review)



In a high tower, an Alchemist prepares potions, using vials filled with otherworldly fluids. In a sacred grove, a Druid grinds herbs for a mystical ritual. In the catacombs, a Necromancer summons a bone dragon… Welcome to the world of Res Arcana!

Life, Death, Elan, Calm, and Gold are the essences that fuel the art of magic. Choose your mage, gather essences, craft unique artifacts, and use them to summon dragons, conquer places of power, and achieve victory!

Designed by Tom Lehmann and richly illustrated by Julien Delval, Res Arcana offers a unique gaming experience!

Designer: Tom Lehmann
Publisher: Sand Castle Games
Player numbers: 2-4
Recommended Age: 12+
Game Time: 20–60 Min

Board Game Geek Listing

Publisher Website

Awards & Honours:

2020 As d’Or – Jeu de l’Année Expert Winner
2020 As d’Or – Jeu de l’Année Expert Nominee
2019 International Gamers Award – General Strategy: Multi-player Nominee


Res Arcana: Lux et Tenebrae

1 review for Res Arcana

  1. epinema

    At its core Res Arcana is an engine building game where players race to get the most points; when at least one player has 10 points or more points at the end of a round, the game ends. Each player will work with their own 8 card deck over the course of the game with the potential to purchase unique items from the middle of the table, each with their own powers, and victory points.

    Unlike many engine builders the small palette of cards each player has to work with in Res Arcana removes the barrier common with many engine builders, in which players who are familiar with the game will decimate new players with their knowledge of the cards, and the most powerful combos. Each time you play the game you will be dealing with a new and unique puzzle. Additionally, while I was initially daunted by the symbols used in the game they quickly became intuitive, and the game includes some fantastic reference cards that explain all of the symbols used.

    During each round, players will perform one action on their turn, and this will repeat until all players have passed, then points are checked to see if the magical number of 10 has been met or exceed, if no one has me the threshold, a new round begins. Actions include playing a card to your tableau by paying its cost; using the ability of a card; discarding a card from your hand to gain essences (the resources and the currency of the game); purchasing a Place of Power (lots of victory points and strong powers) or Monuments (moderate victory points and moderate powers), or passing.

    Card effects typically include generating or converting essences, attacking other players, readying a used card to be used again in the same round, reducing the cost of other cards, providing victory points, generating resources at the start of future turns, and negating attacks from other players.

    Res Arcana also has a decent helping of direct and indirect player interaction. There are cards which target rivals and cause them to lose resources, but they can often be mitigated at a lower cost by paying a specific resource; as attacks can be planned for, they do not feel unfair or random. Some effects will give you a lot of resources, but also provide a smaller amount to your opponents. The marketplace of items in the middle of the table will provide gained and lost opportunities. All these elements contribute to a dynamic engine builder that does not succumb to the common pitfall of this style of game, multiplayer solitaire.

    The game has drafting as a variant… I HIGHLY suggest taking a handful of cards, explaining the different abilities, and then doing a draft. With a random draw it is possible for some players to get a deck of cards with very little synergy that lead to an engine than will never really fire.

    Overall while very mechanical in nature, but adorned with gorgeous artwork, Res Arcana is a very satisfying game to play. Not needing to know every card in the deck or aiming for a predefined strategy before seeing my hand of cards keeps this game very fresh as I play it, and despite the small number of cards a player has in their deck, I never felt shoehorned into a particular strategy. This is the kind of engine builder where resources trickle, rather than flood in a torrent, and good planning will be rewarded.

    Initially I was on the fence as to whether or not to get Res Arcana, but I am incredibly happy I took the chance. There is already a lot in the box, and there is a lot of potential for the growth of the game as a system. As a side note, there are 40 cards, each game, you will be using 8; there are 10 mages, you will be using 1 and there are 10 places of power, each game you will be using 5; the replay value in the base game alone is immense!

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