Gen Con 2015: Golem Arcana Offers a Mix of Board, Mobile Gaming

In Golem Arcana, players use a stylus to communicate between the real-world figures, cards and game board and the mobile app.

At the Gen Con gaming convention in Indianapolis, Harebrained Schemes showed off Golem Arcana, its ‘digitally-enhanced miniatures board game,’ which combines the worlds of tabletop games and mobile apps. The game sees players forming a team of creatures to dominate their opponents, with attacks, stat tracking and more handled by the Golem Arcana app on a player’s smartphone or tablet.

Each player has their own army of real-world figures, which they place on a number of environmental tiles. Each element of the game is interactive, and reacts to a Bluetooth-powered Tabletop Digital Interface (TDI) Stylus, which allows the game board, pieces and cards to interact with the app in real time by simply tapping on the surface of each piece.

Before beginning the game for the first time, users download the app and create an account, and can access a full tutorial that breaks down the use of the stylus and the general rules of play. The app provides access to an increasing variety of template gameplay scenarios for two or more players, which determine the required positioning of each board tile (the game includes six), and where players place their units to begin the game.

Golem Arcana

In each game, players have the overall goal of eliminating all units of the opposing army while earning Victory Points associated with the current scenario. Each character has different ranged or melee attacks to achieve this goal. Each action (including movement) has a point cost, and players have a limited number of action points to spend on each turn.

When attacking, players would traditionally need to factor in line of sight, any environmental cover effects, the enemy’s armor and more, but this information is all handled by the app, resulting in a game younger players can also likely understand.

Each character’s stats and abilities are presented on real world cards, and players can tap each item with the stylus to examine or activate it within the app. Attacking is as simple as touching the desired attack on the card or base of the attacking creature, and then tapping the base of the potential victim.

The app handles the dice rolls which determine whether an attack is successful, but the game also includes physical dice and a card for inputting results, for those who would rather roll the dice themselves. In addition, tapping both buttons on the stylus allows users to view a complete breakdown of their attacks, with all modifiers taken into account and detailed.

Since the app tracks every active character in the game, it also knows their movement and attack abilities, their action costs and more. As such, the game won’t allow players to commit an illegal action, such as moving too many spaces on the board in a single turn, or triggering an attack without the correct number of available action points.

While Golem Arcana comes with six figures and six land pieces, additional figures and land pieces are available for purchase in expansion packs. While the game offers some scenarios for pre-defined armies, players can also create in-game armies with their figures to access additional scenarios. The app also allows users to purchase new content, like Knights which are paired with Golems to make them stronger, or Ancient Ones which offer magic powers during gameplay, triggered by spending the mana players earn while playing (either from leftover action points at the end of a turn, or from fallen units). To be clear, both Knights and Ancient Ones are only accessed through the app, and aren’t represented by real-world figures.

The Golem Arcana app is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store, Google Play and the Amazon Appstore, and runs on a variety of supported devices. The Base Set for Golem Arcana retails for $79.99.