Published by: IDW Games & Th3rd World Studios
# of Players: 2 to 4
Arcane Academy will immediately grab your attention with excellent cover box art. When you open it, you will find a game with bright colors and some really good components. The cards are made of a good card stock with and a smooth finish. The game comes with a great bag that has Arcane Academy printed on the outside. This bag is used to contain the action tiles that will be randomly drawn throughout the game. Arcane Academy also comes with red gems that act as one of the two currencies of the game. The red gems are big and are of the same quality that you would find in other games like the Ascension series. For the other currency, players are each given a dial that will track how much they have. The dials were nice but the pointers were rather loose and had potential to move when you don't want them to move. Each player has their own slate that holds a 3 by 4 grid. The slates are a thick card stock and I wish these would have been cardboard or something sturdier. The rule book is clear and gives very colorful illustrations. The quick reference on the back of the book is very helpful for new ones but the game is very easy to learn and does not require much checking of rules. Arcane Academy will definitely bring people to your table with all the bright colors.
Arcane Academy has a lot of mechanics going on that each work in their own subtle way to create a full game. Players start off with a slate that contains a 3x4 grid of spaces that can be filled with action tiles. At the start of the game, each player will have all 4 corners of their slate filled with an action. 2 of the action spaces are to add a new action tile to the slate. Another space is to gather one of the resources that are used in the game. The last space is to either use an item or complete and assignment. During your turn you are either going to cast or rest. If you cast, you will choose an action space to use. Once used, you will have to put an exhaustion token on it to signify that it has been used and can not be used again till that token is removed. Once you perform your action, you will replace any tiles or cards from the middle of the table that you may have used. There will always be 4 cards and 4 tiles in the middle of the table for everyone to choose from. You will also have 3 cards in your hand that only you can use. If you choose to rest, you will remove all exhaustion markers off your slate. Once your turn is done the player to your left starts their turn. Once someone has completed 8 assignments (cards) they will get the pencils down card. This shows that each person including the player who got the card each get one last turn. After everyone has finished their last turn, you will total up the amount of prestige which is shown on the bottom right of each card and any prestige tokens you earned during the game. Player with the most prestige wins.
Arcane Academy presents itself as an easy to learn and play game, but the engine building and strategy is very robust inside the essence of the game. Each time I have played this so far, I have enjoyed it and immediately wanted to play again. I have played with gamer and non-gamers and each have enjoyed this as much as the next person. The gameplay is simple and smooth, but hides a complexity that seasoned gamers will enjoy. The colorful art will bring lots of people to the table. I wish some of the components would have been upgraded but overall you get a great game for the price. This is one of those games that I can bring along and not worry what skill level is going be playing. I like that each game will feel different based on the action tiles you take and place on your slate. Also the chaining together of actions adds an extra layer to the game, as your slate becomes something you have to try and optimize to get the most out of your turns. What Eric Lang and Kevin Wilson did was create a game that flows naturally and will be enjoyed by any audience. That may be a high prestige spell on it's own. I highly recommend this to everyone. Play it, buy it, do whatever you can so that you can enjoy this game. This is staying in my collection and will hit the table a lot.
+ Colorful, eye-catching art
+ Easy to learn and play
+ Various engine building opportunities
+ Action tiles providing a different way to play each game
+ Chaining together action tiles for up to 5 actions in one turn
- Player slates are a lower quality than I would like
- The dials can move on their own because of looseness
- Some may not like magic school theme