Learning a new tabletop game can be intimidating, having to learn a new system for measuring movement, learning new stats and skills for different troops/creatures/aliens ect.
Golem Arcana does away with that, playable out of the box within minutes, literally. You unpack the contents, download the app, sync the included stylus to your smart device, be it phone or tablet, and away you go.
The base set comes with six miniatures, three aside from two of the factions within the game world, a world that is rich with flavour, but not overly described in the simple rules booklet you get in the box. For more fluff and background, visit the website, or one of the wiki pages dedicated to it.
Once you have set up the board, synced the stylus, placed your figures you are ready for your first battle with these giant creatures, ridden and controlled by Knights, taking away the need for a mass loss of life in a war. The gameplay is
incredibly simple, you touch the stylus to the base (or stat card) of the Golem you want to activate, and then the area you wish to move to on the board (available areas are highlighted onscreen on the app) and confirm, move your model, and that is that. Movement costs differently depending on the terrain. Spaces with obstructions or elevated terrain cost more to traverse through than plains or shallow water, although flying creatures don’t deal with terrain types when calculating their action point cost. Each square can handle up to four base sizes, and the figures are scaled appropriately so that you can’t fit more figures in a square than what it can handle.
Attacking is equally as easy, by using an attack’s accuracy then subtracting the defender’s dodge rating and terrain cover bonus results in a percentage. To successfully hit the target, the combat result needs to be less than this number. The result can be generated either by rolling the two included ten-sided dice or by the app. A successful attack causes a loss in hit points equal to the attack’s damage minus the target’s armour. Critical and lucky hits come from rolling doubles. Ranged and melee attacks have different statistics, resulting in a different hit percentage and damage. All of this is calculated by the stylus, although you can choose to physically roll dice and input the roll via a card.
The wondrous technology involved behind Golem Arcana are microdots, everything is covered with them, from the board (telling the stylus which area you are in and what terrain it includes, to the bases and stat cards, telling it what ability/attack you wish you use and who your target is).
The app streamlines gameplay incredibly, calculating the hit percentage, measuring movement, all done with no disagreements for environmental cover or added distance. The app takes care of all the upkeep at the beginning of the turn, helping turns go faster. Utilising technology this way is a great advantage time-wise, speeding up gameplay, and taking away the need for book-keeping altogether, something I find that hinders other tabletop games.
The figures are cool, pre-painted, which is great for gamers without time to paint, but don’t like playing with unpainted minis, the detail is to a good standard, although I found removing them from the packaging a little tough without causing damage to a winged model who seemed intent on staying in the box.
Overall, I liked Golem Arcana, it will find its way to my table again, and my son (of 6) also thoroughly enjoyed it, feeling like he was playing one of daddies ‘big boy’ games.