Tabletop Game Review – ArchRavels
ArchRavels by XYZ Game Labs, Inc.
Players: 2 to 4
Playtime: 30 to 45 minutes
Perfect for: Family members of all ages who enjoy light resource and set collection games—knitters especially!
ArchRavels is a game of crafting art from yarn! Players collect threads of various colors in order to construct teddy bears, scarves, hats, blankets and more following their associated patterns. Eventually these knitted creations can be bundled together to finish projects which are even more valuable.
To begin ArchRavels, two to four players prepare their crafting area: a board signaling the actions they can take, a small bowl to hold yarn tokens, and area to showcase completed crafted items. On a turn, players begin doing one of four things (with the caveat that it can’t be the action taken on the last round): collect more yarn from the supply; turn in the correct yarn set to craft an item; trade in yarn resources for tokens of another color; or use their distinct special character ability which includes actions like ignoring the color rules to craft one item or taking three yarn tokens of a color from the supply. After taking their action(s), players will have the ability to finish projects—sets of completed crafted items. Once a certain number of projects are finished, ArchRavels ends and the knitter with the most points earned from their handywork wins.
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What works in ArchRavels is the wonderfully charming theme grafted onto the light mechanics of a set collection game, with enough twists and knots to keep the experience engaging. Throughout the game, events occur at random which can either be a boon or a hinderance to the player who reveals it. Furthermore, “special requests” crop up. When they appear, the player can either take it for themselves or pass it to an opponent. These items typically require more resources to craft and if they aren’t completed by the end of the game, the player who has the card will receive negative points.
Players looking for games that have high complexity or a large degree of direct competition may not enjoy ArchRavels as much as others. There is certainly a strategic element to ArchRavels in terms of calculating the most efficient way to collect resources and score points, but there is also randomness involved given the shifting marketplace for yarn. And while the events can generate inter-player conflict, the majority of the gameplay focuses on individuals making optimal moves.
ArchRavels has several notable touches that collectively bump it up from a good game to a great game. First, the diversity. The characters depicted are colorful and have a high degree of representation among them. Next, the component storage. Set up and clean up of ArchRavels takes a matter of minutes thanks to fantastic box organization. And finally, there light geeky touches abound. For example, the box includes a pattern for knitters to craft an octopus in real life. Highly recommended.
Recommended if you like: Patchwork, Azul, Sagrada