Published on July 9th, 2014 | by Nicole Jekich2
Fight the Darkness
A Review of Hunters: Battle Of Arkady
In Hunters: Battle of Arkady, humans with supernatural powers take up the responsibility to defend their city from being consumed by darkness and controlled by evil monsters. In typical adventure fashion, each player chooses a hero- each with a unique ability to help them in combat or offer utility. Fans of the supernatural genre are sure to enjoy this game!
Arkady is the first game from Roan Arts and I was lucky enough to win the game through their online contest! The game is supplied by Game Crafter (a game designer’s best friend) which means the box, cards and pieces are generic materials with few custom options besides the card art. Game Crafter helps indie designers get their games published and in the hands of gamers at a very affordable price. The box is thin and bends easily but the hard foam and cardboard inserts make sure the box won’t cave in.
The card art features a wealth of various supernatural monster cameos including corrupted angels, sea monsters with a Black Lagoon vibe, sirens, cultists, ghosts and many more. Each monster has a unique ability in addition to their attack which make them more than just a road block for the team. The hunters featured are your typical party spread: the psychic with a shotgun, the ex-military gun-lover, the aloof mage, the reckless cowboy, the ninja teenager and religious vampire hunter. Each hunter is unique, with an asymmetrical power focused on team gameplay. These added powers are the strengths of other cooperative adventure games and dungeon crawls.
There isn’t a board per se in Hunters, as the playing area is determined by the players during set up. This game has much replayability as players get to choose how the map is laid out which is the most unique and arguably the most fun feature of this game.
Arkardy begins in a very different way than most adventure games. Location cards are randomly dealt out to all participating players. One at a time, players place a location card down making sure the streets meet and form the board that the players will be using. The placement of key locations will link up portals, reveal the Lazarus stones essential for coming back from death, and show players where they can pick up new abilities to help them in the fight. This set up leads to much spontaneous story telling like why the high school is next to the landfill or what is so important in the apple orchard to warrant a sheriff’s office nearby. Unfortunately, most of these locations exist to be consumed by darkness.
Each player begins at the same location and the boss, Avenastar, begins the game in a randomly picked location hopefully far away from the hunters. In a team-decided turn order, players can move their speed (mostly 1) and will encounter a monster. Players can choose to engage or conceal themselves from the monster for added bonuses or tactics. Certain rules apply for attacking the monsters attacking their fellow team members.
Encountering monsters is an unavoidable task as you gain one after each movement. Moving around the board is key to pick up extra items in the form of spells and Lazarus stones, but exploring the board will be limited as Avenastar will always move to the closest hunter and in our experience can easily cutoff the heroes from reaching the other end of the board.
Avenastar is the monster players must take down to win the game. He is a difficult opponent as his high-level abilities and large stack of hit points make him a foe that requires most of the party to engage in combat. At turn one, parts of the board begin to disappear into the darkness meaning there is less places to explore and forces players into the final battle.
Arkady is a well-balanced game and the gameplay and roles of team members are straightforward. The theme and characters are generic but fit the theme the designers are presenting. The characters and enemies are well balanced to provide just enough difficulty. Even the big bad monster Avenastur was just challenging enough and in the final showdown a couple of us even died in the process before we found victory.
The overall experience however felt dull. There were many expectations that weren’t met and actions that I wanted to do but couldn’t. We had a big board laid in front of us to explore but I didn’t go to more than 6 locations the entire game. My fellow gamers were mostly in the same boat- getting to the other side of the board was impossible and detrimental to the team combat. There was a hefty stack of special gifts, rituals and spells that I wanted but getting more than 1 or 2 wasn’t going to happen. There were a lot of options to make Hunters engaging and unique but the basic gameplay shut down those options in trade for balance.
There is potential for Hunters to be a more unique cooperative adventure experience. The player-built board and opportunities to explore need to be more accessible to provide more interest. After those changes, Hunters: Battle of Arkardy could contend with well known adventure games like Flying Frog’s A Touch of Evil or Guillotine Games’ popular Zombicide.
To learn more about Roan Arts and their board games, please visit their official website.