Main Event Games · Reviews

Review of Arch Ravels

pic4886945.pngGame: Arch Ravels 

Designer: Adam McCrimmon, Jordan Miller

Published: XYZ Game Labs

Players: 2-4 Players

Playtime: 45 Minutes

Play Type:  Set Collection

***This review was completed based off a prototype provided by XYZ Gamelabs. Rules and components are subject to change**

Synopsis:

From the publisher:It all starts pretty simple – you just want to be a bit crafty. You think you’ll make yourself a nice hat or comfy scarf. But before you know it, you’ve got more yarn than you know what to do with, and everyone you know is asking you to make them blankets, sweaters, and teddy bears!

Now is your chance to make a splash in the crafting community! Compete against your friends (and rivals) to craft patterns, fulfill special requests, and complete projects. Manage your stash effectively to avoid paying a hefty price for your basket of shame. Complete the most projects and become the envy of crafters everywhere.”

 

Game Play:

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Arch Ravels is a light to medium weight set collection game in which players compete to craft the best projects. 

On each player’s turn, there will be a three-step process to follow before the next player may begin their turn. The first step is for players to choose their player action. There are a few types of actions seen throughout the game, and they can be found in different combinations on different player mats. Players will have four choices of action spaces to pick from, and players may not do the same action two rounds in a row. Let’s take a closer look at those actions.

  • Shop- Get new yarn from the Yarn Bazaar. The number of yarn picked must correspond with the number of yarn depicted on the player’s mat.
  • Craft- Create a number of patterns equal to the number shown on the player’s mat.
  • Exchange- Exchange any number of a single color of yarn for an equal number of another color of yarn.
  • Special Action- The Colorist and Spinner have special actions. The Colorist is able to craft an item using any color of yarn, and the Spinner may take any three yarn from the supply. 

Each player has a unique mix of these actions to from depending on their player’s specialty. 

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Once a player has completed their action, they will refill the Yarn Bazaar as step two. The Yarn Bazaar typically has different colors of yarn that can be bought using the shop action, but two other types of cards can be found in it as well. The first of those card types is event cards. When drawn, players will resolve an immediate effect that might have an effect on just them, or other players as well. Some of these cards are beneficial to the player, other times that can have a negative effect on game play. 

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The other type of special card found in the Yarn Bazaar are Special Requests. When these cards are drawn, players must decide whether to keep them or give them to another player at the table. They work as regular patterns, which can be crafted by having the appropriate yarn. During the end of the game, players who have not completed a Special Request will lose the points shown. Players who have crafted them will gain the number of points shown. Additionally, each player character has a favored Special Request. If they complete that request, they receive an additional five points during end game scoring. 

Once a player has refilled the Yarn Bazaar, they move onto the final step of their turn. The restock actions are the final action a player may take on their turn. Players may finish a project during this time, learn a pattern of frog an item. Finishing a project is one of the major ways to score points while player Arch Ravels. These are a series of cards that depict different pattern items on them. When players have all the items depicted on a set, they turn those items in and instead take the project card. The card is worth the value depicted. When a player needs to draw a project card, but there is not one available, the game will end. 

Learning a pattern helps make creating items easier. When a player learns a pattern, they are able to complete an item without using a specific color of yarn. They learn a pattern by turning in an item from that pattern, and flipping the associated tile from their player board. They also will gain points at the end for flipping the tile. 

Finally, frogging an item means turning it back in to gain yarn instead. A player may only frog an item that has not been used in a finished project or Special Request. 

Players will continue taking turns until the draw pile is empty for the projects, and there are less than three cards left available. When this happens, all players expect the active player have the opportunity to craft a final item. Then they will score points for their projects, completed items, finished Special Requests and patterns learned. They will lose points for Special Requests uncompleted and an additional point for any leftover yarn they have.

 

Components:

It is important to note that I am reviewing this game based off a prototype provided to me by XYZ Gamelabs, so components are not final quality. I don’t want to say too much about component quality, because I do expect that nearly all components will be different from the ones I have.

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That being said, I am playing with some of the finalized artwork and it really makes this game stand out in a positive manner. Rochelle Steder has done a wonderful job not only making the game feel crafty and whimsical, but also depicting diversity in the characters. XYZ Gamelabs went above and beyond with the character design in this game, depicting people of diverse races, ages, and including a character with a physical disability. It is nice to see that they did not fall into the stereotype of grandmas being the only people who knit or crochet. 

 

Overview:

Positives:

  • Simple Game Play
  • Family Friendly
  • Easy to Explain
  • Great Illustrations
  • Diversity in Characters
  • Some Player Interaction
  • Light Strategy
  • Unique Theme
  • Multiple Ways to Score

Negatives:

  • Some Characters Feel Stronger Than Others
  • Max Four Players
  • Luck Based

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Arch Ravels is a vibrant game with simple strategies that can be taught easily to new and experienced gamers alike. The rules are easy enough to teach in under five minutes, but the addition of asymmetric player boards and light player interaction makes the game shine as a main event game with strategic choices and interactions. Despite the underlying strategy, I would say that children as young as eight or nine could easily learn the basic ideas of Arch Ravels and the vibrant theme will likely draw their eyes as well. The family friendly illustrations is one of the first things that drew my attention to the game. 

While the game is definitely easy to comprehend, some people may become frustrated with the “take that” elements of game play. Often times the Special Requests can be difficult to complete, and can be frustrating for players who struggle to adapt their plans. They feel similar to friend cards in Grimm Forest or mandatory quests in Lords of Waterdeep, and while they can be beneficial, they can also be a frustration for players. Additionally, the event cards frequently have negative effects for the player who draws them. This often means handing over yarn to players around them. The loss of yarn is easy to recover from but may mean adapting plans and taking a few more rounds to complete an objective. If this happens enough to a single unlucky person, it can be extremely detrimental to their game. 

Another thing that stood out to me as frustrating was the seemingly unbalanced player abilities. Ted’s ability to take three yarn of any single color and then craft an object was especially powerful, especially when objects like Teddy Bears only require three yarn of a single color to create. This stands out especially when compared to Derrick whose special ability only allows him to craft an additional object when he takes the craft action. It can be difficult to gain enough yarn to craft two things in a round, so the ability to craft three things was seldom used by the people who played Derrick. We found that in all of our games, the player who played Derrick lost by a significant margin. 

The player abilities may balance out more as I have more time to play the game, but in our plays, there seemed to be some that were more advantageous. That being said, the addition of asymmetric characters gave the game more replayability, encouraging players to try new strategies based on the character they received. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Arch Ravels. I loved that it was really easy to learn, and it has a unique theme to it. Being someone who enjoys crocheting, I am really happy that they have a diverse group of characters to represent the fact that the hobby is not limited to just one group of people. I also liked that the game had a few areas of player interaction, with the opportunity for positive player interaction as well as negative player interaction. The game does not just focus on you attacking your neighbors, but also has the opportunity for you to give yarn to them as well.  While the balance of the characters did not feel quite right, I liked that they provided players with different opportunities to try different scoring options. The multiple ways to score was something that stood out to me as positive throughout. 

The Kickstarter for Arch Ravels goes live on September 23rd. I could suggest this game to a variety of people, because the mechanics of the game feel similar in ways to many games. Some of the games that come into mind are Scythe, Grimm Forest, Lords of Waterdeep, and Tokiado, though it is lighter than most of those games. If you enjoy set collection, you will definitely want to check this one out. Also, if you are a fan of fiber arts, this game does a great job of depicting the hobby with a wide variety of diverse characters! 

 

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