Treasure Awaits in the Lost Ruins of Arnak

Avatar Rachel Boesen

10 Mar 2024

In uncharted waters lies an island no one has ever heard of. Its name is whispered on the winds treacherous seas for which no map exists. You have never taken its eerie presence as a warning. Instead it calls you. What awaits just past the jagged shoreline? What mysteries lie beyond? You don't just think there's something out there, you'd stake your life on it. Artefacts, knowledge, maybe even treasure – it can all be yours.

What was that!

A shift in the thick jungle growth? The hiss of something, not quite snake, not quite lion? For a second you think you see yellow, glowing eyes gazing at you from the distance. All of a sudden you get the sinking, hair-raising feeling that you might not be entirely… alone.


Lost Ruins of Arnak is a competitive, deck-building adventure for you and up to three more intrepid explorers to battle it out in a quest for knowledge and riches. Lost Ruins of Arnak displays all the core tenets of deck-building fans of the mechanic can flock to. It also pairs deck-building with worker placement in order to force you to strategise amidst a blend of familiar game mechanics. If you've played deck-builders like Dominion, or if you're a fan of worker placement and resource management, you'll pick up Lost Ruins of Arnak in no time.

To delve deep into the mysterious island of Arnak you're going to need resources. Throughout the game you can pick up gold, compass tokens, ancient tablets, arrowheads, and rubies. You'll gain resources by placing your archaeologist workers around twelve discovery sites. Basic discovery sites give you a few compasses here and there or an arrowhead, while sites embedded deeper into Arnak are markedly more powerful and will shower you with greater riches. Beware! Every new site discovered summons a powerful, ancient guardian you have to banish before the end of the round by paying it off with resources, lest you suffer the consequences. Banishing a guardian also score you points, so it's basically a win-win.

Your deck is made up of two types of cards: tool and artifact cards. Buy tool cards with gold and artifacts with compass tokens. Tool cards do things like give you an extra card draw, give you more resources or banish unhelpful cards. Purchased tool cards can't be played in the current round but make a nice set-up for the next round and you should plan your turn accordingly. Artifact cards can be played immediately making them just as, if not more, powerful. Cards also have a travel symbol of a boot, boat, car or plane. Uncovering or visiting a discovery site requires this travel symbol to be fulfilled by discarding the relevant card without gaining any of its regular benefits. The system is hierarchical, so planes are universal symbols, and boats or cars can be used in place of boots.

The last vital aspect of the game to consider is the research track. As you discover more and more of Arnak you begin to record your findings. To elevate to another tier requires resources such as a compass and an arrowhead or a ruby, but in return they reward you with victory points and bonus resources. Note that your notebook can never overtake your magnifying glass – you can't record what you haven't discovered yet! This track snags you a lot of points throughout the game and showers you with bonus resources for a nice leg-up against your fellow players.

In each round you start by drawing five cards and then you have several main actions to choose from such as: playing a card, moving up a level on the research track, buying a card, banishing a guardian or discovering a new site. If there seems like a lot to do, there is. Too add to this there's only five rounds in the entire game. The rounds are clean, concise, sometimes panic-inducing, and extremely gratifying when a hand you've gambled on plays off.

Lost Ruins of Arnak brilliantly lulls you into a false sense of security by offering up what seems, at first, to be a regular deck-building experience. Instead, this is a careful game of resource management, timely card-buying, and just a little bit of luck. And don't worry, you're not alone in this experience. Your fellow players will drive the game along by buying their own cards and moving out to discovery sites. Don't think about it like you're behind the curve. You're letting them do all the hard work, just waiting for the perfect time to ride their coattails to success.

In summary, Lost Ruins of Arnak is a great game for someone looking for a unique gameplay experience. The game takes familiar mechanical concepts and twists them for a perfect level of strategy and engagement. It has hours of replay potential and variability to make for a thrilling experience each time. The board is beautiful with high-quality pieces and eye-catching artwork. Not to mention it looks impressive on the shelf.

Go forth, intrepid explorer. Arnark awaits!