Psst. Come closer. Let me ask you a question.
Looking for gold in all the wrong places? Want to make money almost…magically? Then I have the job for you. But tread carefully. We wouldn’t want you to fail the inspection now, would we?
Take on the role of a merchant wizard and work to make sell-able sets to minimize your infamy and gain more gold than your opponents. Don’t leave too many items unsold or you’ll wind up in the negative public eye, and maybe even lose all your gold. With some strategic planning and a little bit of magic wit, you may just pull it off!
Arcane Alley is an interesting twist on set collection and tableau management with a nifty theme and great art.
Let’s take a look!
What Is It?
Arcane Alley, as I mentioned above, is an interesting twist on both set collection and tableau management. You want to make sets in your storehouse by having three in a row, but you start off by replacing face down cards, so you’re unsure of what you’re replacing and what it might cause. The theme of wizards collecting eccentric items for gold, and trying to avoid gaining infamy (so they are not detected in the black market of course!) works well with the game play, which is also a big plus.
Who Is It For?
I think the theme will appeal to anyone because, I mean, who doesn’t want to be a wizard?! Exactly, everyone does. The game itself recommends ages 10+ which I feel is pretty accurate. It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of the turn orders and different phases, and I think it’s a great game to introduce these types of mechanics to younger audiences. However, there is still plenty going on for more seasoned gamers as well, and I think the more people you add, the more levels of depth it adds to the game too!
Quality of Components
I did not play with the final version of components, so please keep that in mind. The game is mostly cards, so there’s nothing too much in the way of components to worry about. My cards were actually a very nice quality and I thought that the art was so nice to look at, so I’m only expecting that quality of cards will increase with the final product. There are also a few cubes and cardboard tokens which were also fine quality, not bad at all, so again, I anticipate that they will be great for the final version. I was told that the final version will have colorblind friendly component colors, 12 unique wizard illustrations (my cards featured the same illustrations in different colors), upgraded card stock, a screen printed black cat first player token, and proper printing to fix the colors. I really liked this version and the components I had despite not having these upgrades, so I am really looking forward to how awesome this game is going to be once those changes are made!
- The theme is awesome and lends itself to really gorgeous art
- The game is pretty simple and straightforward overall, with a little bit of a learning curve at the start
- I like that there is a 2-player variant since I play most of my games at 2, and it worked very well!
- Once it gets going, it moves quickly because you know what you need to do and are able to streamline your turns a lot
- I personally adore the double-sided player cards because not only do I like picking my color, but I also enjoy getting to play as a girl character ^_^
- Things are outlined very well in the rulebook and there are pictures added for clarity which is very helpful
- Some item cards don’t really make sense to me as they benefit an opponent almost as much as you (i.e. Dragon Egg which gives you 20 gold when you sell but gives your opponent 15 and only 1 infamy as the negative effect) – if the game is close already, it makes the choice hard
- Maybe it was just in my plays, but infamy didn’t seem to bad – it seemed like it could be worth it to gain some if it means getting ahead. I list it as a con mostly because it takes me out of the experience just a little.
I’d probably rate this game a 3 out of 5 for difficulty. It has a few different things going on within the phases, and a lot of different cards with different text, but once you get the hang of it, and you’re familiar with the cards, it moves quickly and is very easy to understand. Great for families and slightly larger groups who don’t want to be bogged down by rules.
I really enjoyed this game! I like the theme, and can not say enough good things about the art. It takes some light strategy combined with a fun twist on set collection and I really like how the game ramps up as you play. I would definitely recommend this to gaming groups of all kinds and I can not wait to see the final product!
Publisher – Strange Space Games
Designer – Corwin Riddle
Artist – Janette Ramos
*I was temporarily provided a prototype copy of this game to do this preview, and promised a final copy after the Kickstarter*
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