Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Nikolas Sakaloglou &
Sotirios Tsantilas


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Over the last two years the team from the Greek publisher ARTIPIA GAMES has surprised us with some rather interesting novelties, ranging from the worker-placement based Drum Roll to a deckbuilding game like Briefcase. In 2012 they have actually discovered the usefulness of crowdfunding, and after the successful release of Briefcase and Among the Stars they had launched yet another crowdfunding-project in 2013. This time they are taking us to the medieval city of Cardis where the players take the role of Archons competing for the King's favour, and the winner of this contest will be found after a total of three seasons during which the players will score victory points by their activities.

Each of the aforementioned seasons once again is subdivided into three rounds, and during each round the players have the possibility to send up to five pawns which represent their courtiers to different municipal buildings on the gameboard. As can be guessed from this, the basic element of the game Archon: Glory & Machination is a worker-placement mechanism, since each of the available municipal buildings features different attributes which can be used if a courtier is sent there. Depending on the number of players, all of the municipal buildings feature a limited number of slots where the players can send their courtiers, and so the number of available slots shrinks as the round is progressing. Only after the end of the round all courtiers are removed and all municipal buildings become once again available for the next round.

Most of the municipal buildings on the board help the players to set up a "production chain" which ultimately leads to the gaining of victory points. So, some municipal buildings allow the collection of resources, gold and recruitment tokens, and these in turn may be spent in different combinations in other municipal buildings to purchase Arts and Science cards, to hire warriors for the Royal Guard or to build player-owned buildings. These player-owned buildings offer the players some special abilities which will benefit them for the rest of the game, with most of them making actions at particular municipal buildings more efficient. In addition, each round some special kind of action is possible at the King's Palace due to a card which is revealed there, and so the players will face some additional variety when choosing their actions.

By the end of a season, the players will turn their Arts and Science cards into victory points with their value depending on a King's Grant card which was revealed by the beginning of the season, and their hired warriors will be used to defend the city against an invasion force which has arrived to attack the city. If the total strength of all warriors hired by the players is equal or higher than the strength of the invasion force card drawn for this season, the players will successfully defend the city, but if the total number of warriors is not strong enough the city will be plundered and the players will lose resources and other commodities depending on how many warriors they have provided for the (unsuccessful) defense of the city.

As a matter of fact, the splitting of the game into seasons, coupled with the use of the municipal buildings and the end-of-season attack of the invasion force gives Archon a superficial likeness to the older dice-placement game of Kingsburg, but in Archon no dice are used at all, and in addition the worker-placement mechanism used in Archon has been varied in a quite interesting way. Thus, the players do not simply pay an amount of gold or resources when placing their courtiers at the municipal buildings, but instead each player possesses a hand of Courtier and Magister cards which must be used to pay for a placement. This needs to be explained with a bit more detail:

At the beginning of the game, each player receives a deck of 8 identical Courtier cards, and in addition each player is allowed to hire two different Magisters which also become part of the player's deck. Then the player separates his deck into two sets of five cards, taking one set as his hand for the current round and leaving the other set to become his hand during the following round. The distribution of the cards into both sets is left to the player, and so the players have to decide in advance in which round they want to get which card. This is repeated by the beginning of the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th round, and at these instances the players have do some advance planning to decide on the best use for each card.

At the beginning of the game this process is rather short since all 8 Courtier cards in the players' decks are identical, but during the course of the game the players will hire additional Magisters which will replace the Courtier cards in their decks. Apart from the fact that Magisters are more valuable when it comes to paying for making a placement at a municipal building, each of the four available types of Magisters also has a special ability which comes to bear when the Magister is used to make a placement:

  • If the Tax Collector is used, the player places a special token together with the courtier which he has sent to a municipal building. For the rest of the round, all other players who want to place a courtier at that building have to pay a coin to the owner of the Tax Collector.
  • The Cleric allows a player to send a courtier to a municipal building where all slots have been taken. Thus, he provides an additional free slot in excess to the slots given on the gameboard.
  • When playing the Scribe, the active player is allowed to take an additional turn, thus making two placements of courtiers in a row.
  • Finally, the Merchant allows a more efficient placement at a building which generates resources, gold or recruitment tokens, since he collects one more unit than usual.

As can be seen, Archon is no normal worker-placement game because the Magisters and their handling add another dimension to the whole placement process. Of course, guessing the other players' actions for two rounds still remains somewhat unpredictable, but the players still are able to get a general idea which targets their competitors might try to reach. With this understanding they will try to distribute their Magisters in a way which seems fitting for the upcoming two rounds, and so the players certainly are challenged to do some more advance planning than in games using a "pure" worker-placement mechanism. Coupled with its unusual artwork, Archon can score with a high degree of originality which sets the game positively apart from the usual mainstream, and it should really be tried by all players who want to experience a placement mechanism with a new twist!!!.

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