Golem Arcana is a digitally enhanced miniature wargaming platform. It has the full look and feel of a miniature wargame, but all of the mechanics can be performed on a digital system. Yes; in theory you could perform them manually, but why bother? The enhanced system makes it so much easier and it allows an entry point for people who are entirely new to the genre. If you would like to read the original crowd funding review, you can do so here.
Sadly I have not had as much of a chance to play Golem Arcana yet as I would have liked. This is mainly because I cracked my second generation Nexus 7 screen and had to switch to my old first generation Nexus 7. Unfortunately Golem Arcana is not comparable with the device, so I’m waiting to upgrade to the Nexus 9. I plan on playing quite a bit once my new tablet arrives, at which point I’ll hopefully add playing hints and some game play videos.
If you want to start playing Golem Arcana, you can purchase the base game. The base set comes with:
- 6 tiles each broken into a 3×3 grid with various art representing different types of cover
- 2 factions each with 3 golems and their associated cards (DOES NOT COME WITH RELIC CARDS, ONLY THE XPACK DOES)
- 2 dice in case you don’t trust .random() on your tablet/phone and rather roll yourself
- The stylus itself
- 2 “Menu” and “Dice” cards to help control the app without ever touching the device
The following is a very brief summary of the story. There are whole forums dedicated to its discussion. While knowing the story is in no way necessary in order to successfully play the game, it’s really half of what Golem Arcana is.
The game of Golem Arcana takes place in the world of Eretsu. Originally there was only one force which ruled over the entire world. This force was the Durani Empire. However, one day a new force came into being: The Great Khan who gained knowledge from the Arcanum Gudanna. The Durani Empire and the Gudanna Dominion fought repeatedly until finally the Durani Empire realized that they could not best the Great Khan. Thus a tenuous peace treaty was arranged.
But peace was short lived. The Great Khan died suddenly, under mysterious circumstances and the flames of war once again were lit. This is the state of Eretsu as we the players see it, and it is we who shall determine its future.
One of the great features of Golem Arcana is the robust story that is in play. There is a whole mythos surrounding the game. Not only that, this mythos is constantly growing. In fact, it is growing, at least in part, because of the players. We have the digitally enhanced system to thank for that. The system is capable of collecting game results for various campaigns and compiling them. Those results are then used to move the mythos along. Therefore, every player has a chance to be a part of the future of the Golem Arcana universe. “Each Living World Campaign is created from a 3 scenario story arc played over the course of 2 months.” The first scenario, The Battle of Two Rock, took place November 2014, which was part of the Shadow of the Khan! campaign, which will continue through December 24.
The TDI or Tabletop Digital Interface is a key feature that makes Golem Arcana unique. It has the potential to truly revolutionize tabletop gaming.
I will admit that I find the size of the stylus to be a little bit cumbersome and it isn’t exactly “sexy”. I wouldn’t mind seeing a more streamlined design in the future, but that’s a minor issue.
Remember that Golem Arcana, while being digitally enhanced, is still a miniature wargame and a miniature wargame is nothing without high quality miniatures [personal opinion]. Well, the people over at Harebrained Schemes have certainly managed to do a wonderful job with producing miniatures. Note that not all of the miniatures are exactly small. The Durani Jagara Colossus, which is one of my favorite “miniatures”stands at roughly 170mm tall. It’s quite a beautiful work of art.
What I am really hoping to see from HBS is more use out of the hardware and software that they have created. It has the potential to be used in a wide number of games, with Golem Arcana being its flagship project. The best option would be the release of an SDK (Software Development Kit). While it would certainly reduce the control that HBS has to some extent, unless they create some form of app store, it would certainly help to drive gaming into a whole new era. Personally, I would like to work on a project, using the system created by HBS, to manage the game play for games with large numbers of players such as Legends of Rakasa.