This week we’re taking a deep dive into the outstanding adventure board game Lost Ruins of Arnak, providing our thoughts on the newest wave of Marvel Crisis Protocol releases, and taking a look at some new Transformers Studio Series figures!
PLUS, we have the results of our latest Geeky Giveaway as well as a brand new competition with the chance for you to win some retro toy mash-up goodies!
Huge thanks as always to Jess, Rae and the team at Asmodee UK for the product to review and Ellie at Hasbro UK for this month’s giveaway goodies.
LOST RUINS OF ARNAK
Over the last couple of weeks, the elder spawn and I have been getting to grips with Lost Ruins of Arnak, the Euro game that’s been storming the BGG chart and many other “Best of 2021” lists. I freely admit it’s taken us a couple of goes to get our heads round all the mechanics, but it’s a deeply satisfying experience and well worth your time, patience and money.
In the game, for 2-4 players, you take on the role of the leader of team investigating a mysterious, mythical island, exploring its temples and treasures whilst avoiding mystical guardians – and one another! Lost Ruins is a board game that combines lots of familiar elements – Worker Placement, Action economy, deckbuilding, skill paths – to give you multiple paths to victory, and it feels like all the best elements of thrilling Dr Jones and Lady Croft adventures (well, perhaps minus some of the pit-traps… but there’s definitely snakes).
It is a big beast of a game, but everything is logically organised on the game board, with a rulebook that is mostly extremely clear and well-laid out – with one exception: it’s not immediately obvious that you can do more than one thing per round, as you can only take one “action”; however, most of what you do each round isn’t considered an action, but rather, part of your turn. This slightly confusing nomenclature threw us initially, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s remarkably quick.
A five-turn game takes a couple of hours, and can get pretty cut-throat: though you’re never actively against one another, you are often racing to complete the same objective, for example getting a particularly valuable treasure (which is also against the clock, as two items disappear each turn) or unlocking the next step in research. At its core, you have to collect the different in-game currencies (exploration tokens, and gold to start with, but latterly tablets, relics and rubies) and spend them in specified combinations to unlock knowledge and defeat guardians; along the way, you can hire specialists to help you and use the cards in your hand to travel by car, boat or even plane.
We’re only scratching the surface here, but it’s a game with plenty of depth and 3 modes built in from the outset: two separate island temples to explore and an app-driven solo campaign to find a lost expedition that failed to return previously. There’s also now the exciting addition of first expansion, Expedition Leaders, which assigns asymmetric Leader roles to each player (giving extra money at the start, or reducing the requirements for travelling to the island’s interior, for example) and adding a new layer of depth – as well as adding a stack of new artefact and item cards (which are already fairly diverse) whilst making them all the rarer, as in the new rules 4, rather than 2, items are exiled (removed from play) each turn.
Lost Ruins of Arnak is a really wonderful game, beautifully illustrated and with challenging, but not inaccessible, gameplay; highly recommended for families of gamers or non-gamers age 12+ – and the expansion is already on our wishlists.
MARVEL CRISIS PROTOCOL
Speaking of wishlists, there’s a whole batch of new releases for Marvel Crisis Protocol that have us slavering over paint-desks (it’s a pleasant distraction from not getting to see The Batman yet).
There’s a strong mutant presence this month, with Colossus & Magik, Juggernaut, and Gambit & Rogue all hitting the table, along with Hulkbuster (it’s HUUUUGE!) and Ms Marvel.
I’ll start with Juggernaut, because I’m really, really conflicted on him. I like Cain as a character, he’s much less 2-Dimensional than he’s generally thought of – so straight away I want to love him. Brotherhood are a tricky faction in game, as they’ve got already plenty of really expensive characters (Magneto, Scarlet Witch…) But I’m a Mystique kinda guy, and he’s exactly the melee heavy-hitter they need (Sabertooth is… meh) He’s great in game, his tactics cards are handy, the sculpt is really dynamic and comes with hand options – but he’s an awful lot of money for one figure. If you can stomach the price, then absolutely go for it, because he truly is unstoppable.
As for the new X-Men releases, there’s no denying that Gambit & Rogue look the part, capturing the characters dynamically and evocatively. Where I’m less sure is how much table time they’ll see as there’s a lot of competition in the mid-price, mid-range for X-Men (or indeed generally).
Colossus, on the other hand, is the heavy-hitter you’ve been waiting for: as well as being a great sculpt, he’s a much better melee monster for your X force (sorry) than, say, Logan – I can see him bolstering a lot of teams in place of non-faction beatsticks. However, the absolute star of the show for me has to be Magik… but not for mutants. She is the missing link in Convocation, hitting that absolute 3-point sweet-spot whilst being the murder machine they’re missing… oh, and model is stunning, too. She’s top of the wishlist, as far as I’m concerned. My birthday’s in June, in case you were wondering.
However, let’s not forget the other two absolute crackers we’ve got this month. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that BrickBuiltDengar is squeeing with excitement at the prospect of Embiggening (bloody teenagers) – yes, Ms Marvel is here! As well as having a pair of absolutely glorious sculpts, she is a tremendous addition to a whole host of teams – but most particularly Web-Warriors, with her team-up tactic for Miles giving her even more mobility (cheeky web-head movement shenanigans). Surprisingly, she’s NOT an Inhuman, which worries more for the MCU than anything else – and whilst Inhumans have some interesting choices just now, they’re still pretty limited roster-wise, so this seems a surprising omission.
Oh, Mr Stark, with these giant mechanical suits you are really spoiling us. Now, yes, at 6 points (and £50) Hulkbuster is a massive investment in every sense, but it is truly MASSIVE… and that’s even without the Iron Man it comes with also. It’s rightly a terrifying beast in game, and the fact that with enough power it’s unsinkable (having the ability to repair from backup, giving Iron Man the chance to suit back up as HB) is just crazy. Is it a walking target? Yes. Is it a ridiculous points sink? Yes. Do I care? No. Never mind Avengers Assemble, I’ll be assembling a Hulkbuster.
And as if all that’s all that’s not exciting enough, we’ve got X-23 & Honey Badger, Daredevil, Elektra & The Hand and Nick Fury Jr. & Shield Agents to look forward to in the month ahead! Phew!
HASBO TRANSFORMERS STUDIO SERIES
The Hasbro Transformers team is on fire at the moment, with all the new reveals being nothing short of amazing, and today we’re looking at the next wave of Transformers Studio Series releases. I previously took a look at Soundwave and Wheeljack from the Bumblebee movie, and this week we have a couple more offerings from the 2018 film – along with a couple of great new releases from the 1986 classic.
Transformers Studio Series 85 Deluxe Transformers: Bumblebee Arcee
(RRP: £22.99, PRE-ORDER)
VERDICT: I’m a big fan of this design, and for me, it’s the ultimate live action Arcee. She’s super detailed in both modes, and I love the way the bike wheels fold into the legs for the transformation. It’s quite reminiscent of the Prime First Edition in that way, which is never a bad thing.
Transformers Studio Series 84 Deluxe Transformers: Bumblebee Ironhide
(RRP: £22.99, PRE-ORDER)
VERDICT: A lot of my opinions of this are shared with the previous Ratchet offering. Simply put, the colour layout is amazing, the sculpting is fantastic, and the transformation is incredible.
Transformers Studio Series 86-14 Voyager The Transformers: The Movie Junkheap
(RRP: £22.99, PRE-ORDER)
VERDICT: Wreckgar is a magnificent figure, and I was more than excited when I heard he was getting a retool. As excited as I was however, I didn’t not expect this many new parts. The designer has obviously poured their heart and soul into it, and I’m looking forward to this mould being the new seeker equivalent for the next few years.
Transformers Studio Series 86-15 Leader The Transformers: The Movie Dinobot Sludge
(RRP: £22.99, PRE-ORDER)
VERDICT: Dinobots have become a staple of Studio Series 86, and every single one of them have absolutely delivered, giving us new leader quality and old leader size. Sludge is no different as he’s packed with articulation and detail, much like the rest of his Dino brothers.
Now, what about the giveaway? Well, this month we have some cracking retro toys for you, with an classic Armor Suit Spider-Man carded action figure and the frankly bonkers TMNT/Power Rangers mash-up set to win (if we can pry it out the hands of the BCP team).
These are sure to be real collector’s items in future (or hey, just be like us and make all your tiny people fight), so, to be in it with a chance win it, simply answer the following question:
“Which Turtle is Best – and why?”
Comment below with your answers, and don’t forget to like, share and save us on your socials – and don’t forget to tag us on Instagram at @bigcomicpage, @sam.graven and @brickbuiltdengar for an extra entry every time!
And finally the winner of our last giveaway, for Bro Thor and the award-winning 7 Wonders Duel is… Lisa Welsh!
Well done (and good job on using the socials!) Contact email@example.com within 30 days to claim your prize!
Next time we’ll be taking a look at the reissue of 80s classic HERO QUEST – and don’t forget to check out our weekly toy reviews for Star Wars Black Series, Transformers Studio Series, and more!