Gen Con 2014 has come and gone and we’re still not through with our coverage for it. While our compilation post for all the news, thoughts, sights, and plays we shared will be hitting the site later this week, I wanted to take some time to touch on something that really blew my mind this year, and that was Golem Arcana.
For those who don’t know, Golem Arcana is a mixed media game that blends the excitement and style of a miniatures game with the responses, calculations, and display of a digital game. Using an innovative stylus that connects to your tablet via Bluetooth, the Golem Arcana game app does all the calculations for you behind the scenes. The game uses highly-detailed miniatures and tiles to form a tabletop skirmish game, though everything you do is tracked by using the stylus pen to point out your moves, attacks, and more.
As a fan of games like Warmachine and Malifaux, I was intrigued to see what Golem Arcana was about. Developed by a company called Harebrained Schemes, Golem Arcana recently underwent a successful Kickstarter campaign. While the game was en-route to ship out to Kickstarter backers, Harebrained Schemes pulled the right strings to ensure that they could bring retail copies of the game to Gen Con this year. Since I missed out on the Kickstarter I wanted to check out the Harebrained Schemes booth to see what the company had brought to the show.
I can say I was a bit skeptical of the game at first, but after a visit to the Harebrained Schemes booth, I am happy to say that I’m definitely a believer.
You see, many gamers believe that digitizing a tabletop game will somehow take most of the fun or experience out of it. I’ll admit that, at first, I was on this side of the fence when I first heard of Golem Arcana. I thought that having to combine the miniatures setup with a digital app, which requires me to own a tablet, would just be too complicated for me to enjoy such a game. After seeing Golem Arcana in action and actually getting to play it, I am happy to say that it was an amazing experience.
In Golem Arcana you control an army of Golems that are ridden into battle by Golem Knights. Just like any other miniatures game players decide on a point limit to play at and then construct armies to fill that limit. Then players assemble the battlefield, placing their armies to be ready for war. Using the digital app, you register your armies and it keeps together all of the information that you’ll need, such as Golem stats, special abilities, tactical advantages, and much more.
We sat down to play through a demo, and the booth was packed to the brim. Handfuls of gamers were huddled around the demo tables that lined the booth. Behind the demos were giant boards constructed with terrain, showing off larger campaign plays that can easily be done within the game. What made the experience great wasn’t just the gameplay itself, but the volunteers who worked at the booth showing off the game. Each one of them was enthused to play demo after demo, never losing their excited demeanor. I sat through a demo and picked up on the game’s mechanics quite easily. You can move your Golems around the board by touching the Golem and then an area on the board, and the app keeps track of it. When you attack your opponent’s Golems you can choose the attacks you want by touching the attack option on your Golem’s card. Then you choose the target by tapping the stylus on the chosen enemy Golem’s base. The app rolls dice behind the scenes and you’ll get to see some awesome animation taking place showing the attack, damage calculation, and more.
If you’re into rolling the dice yourself (especially if you’re a WarmaHordes player) the game allows you to do so easily. You simply roll your dice, track your results on the dice roll card, and the game continues without a hiccup.
I enjoyed watching demos and checking out the giant boards Harebrained Schemes had put together for the convention. The Harebrained Schemes booth was packed all throughout the show and the company sold out of their stock by the last day. All you need to play is the base set, which includes everything two players need to get started, save for the tablet. There are expansions available as well, such as miniatures packs and extra stylus pens. What’s even more exciting is that Harebrained Schemes is working on creating a system by which you can play with others from across the country simply by using your tablet and your own starter set.
I am pleasantly surprised with Golem Arcana. After checking it out at Gen Con this year I have to say that it is one of the best games I had the pleasure of playing at the convention. Harebrained Schemes is working hard to produce a revolutionary new product, and I think we’ll be seeing a lot more from them very soon. Make sure you check out Golem Arcana for yourself and get lost within the world of the Ancients.