„Vroom.“ A silent sound came from the spot, where a moment ago was nothing, but right now a figure appeared inside a light cone. The nearby stray dog growled and bared his teeth. Character held a strange metal weapon issuing buzzing tone in his hand.
Woman only gave fleeting glance to the crouching animal. There was no one else, who could notice her arrival in here. That was good news, because by her appearance, they would immediately know, that she is not from this time and could take her into stasis prison. She was in one such cell and was not planning to return there.
„Nina,“ she said to herself name from this reality. Her task was clear – find artifact held by a member of a terrorist movement. Small, seemingly insignificant object. It could be a coin or a metal ring, she guessed. Only putting it somewhere near a power source makes it emit negative energy and sucks all the joy from the world. Nina felt no mirth. Although the world was filled with light, there was a real sadness in it. In her spirit, she armoured against this feeling. She has to be calm, because her task begins.
Time travellers have hard work. They must pay attention to the paradoxes and maintain multiple identities depending on the time, where they are located. And such challenge awaits you in the game ARC, issued by Tech Lab Games in 2012. Trio of enthusiasts stands behind its creation – Greg Puzon, Thomas Rushing and Ryan Saplan. The game is being developed for a long time and in 2011 it carried another name – Time Flux. But now its just ARC.
Game benefits from a very popular format of Living Card Game, where you can buy prepared packages, which are not assembled randomly. You know exactly, what you are buying. These packages are split by factions, each of them contains a complete deck needed to play Arc by one player. Most cards are represented in multiple copies here.
Each box with the deck is a little bigger, than we are used to, and it has width ocards laid horizontally. But the vertical dimension is also increased, so at first glance, you might get the impression, that the cards are as big as in Dixit. But if you look inside, you will understand, why this box holds these dimensions. The bottom deck is filled with cards, but above it, there is tucked folded booklet with rules. Cards must therefore be bound, otherwise they would not hold firmly inside.
There is a total of 64 cards inside: one character, who will be your incarnation in the game. His race is always Aeon, which is the designation for a time traveler. They of course have a name also. And you will become one of them, no matter what race will you represent.
In addition to this character and regular cards, you still have a trio of special era cards. Two of them are common for every deck – it is the card Past and Future. The one, that is left, is your home world for this particular character.-This will be the place, where your Aeon will start the game and is always unique for the deck.
Remaining sixty cards are actions and create your deck, from which you will draw, use and play cards. It contains different types – events, items for your character, traps for the opponent and relics, which you can leave in a given era and use its ability even remotely.
Beginning of the game is very simple and fast. Each player shuffles his deck of sixty cards and puts them in front of himself. He draws first four of these, which create his starting hand. But now we need to prepare a timeline and put your characters on it. Simply use one Past card, one Future to create left and right borders for timeline. Inside, there will be another two unique cards for your chosen characters. Each of the rivals begins in his era. Now everything is ready to start playing.
In one move, you can play any number of cards, as long as you have enough energy for paying their cost. Each of cards contains clearly specified price in the upper left corner. Available energy corresponds to the number of cards you are holding in your hand, when you play the card. At that point, you can simply select a card and use it for the purpose served by its text and type.
At the same time, you can use its abilities by rotating the card clockwise by 90 degrees. That means the card has been exhausted and you can not use in your turn anymore, until its refreshed at the start of your next round. The only exception are the skills of your Aeons – you can use any two of them per turn (any of the four, that are available) and your character can thus be rotated until your hero upside down (two times 90 degrees).
Just as playing cards, also Aeon abilities have energy requirements. In contrast, other cards can be used without further demands on card. However they also have limitations and other specialties. First of them is the time stamp to the left from the image. Here its sais either „present“ or „timeless“. According to this, you can easily recognize, if the card affects only characters in the same era, or anywhere on the time thread.
You will find on each side of the time line two rows (they are at the beginning empty, of course) on the table. Aeons themselves are laying in middle, where they are partially overlapping era card, they are currently in. Below them is a line containing relics and traps, which are tightly bound to era, where they were placed and cannot be moved.
The bottom line is ready for equipment cards of your character. These cards travel with you from era to era, accompany you, offer you new skills or improve your existing ones. Majority of these cards offer their ability for exhaustion and are for a single use each round.
At the end of your turn, you can keep up to six cards, all others must be discarded. When you get your chance to act again in the next round, you first refresh all exhausted cards to their original position. They are now ready to be used again.
In addition to all of the terms, you will encounter with two more words – nexus indicates drawing deck from which to materialize objects into time travellers hands. In contrast the void is the code for discarding deck, where all disposed objects are destroyed.
ARC is a game, that is played for life and death. Only one of time travelers can survive, while the other drops his hit points to zero, and will remain forever buried in the era, where he was at that particular moment. Number of lives for each character is written in lower right corner of the card together with Aeon strength value indicating his base damage, if it comes to a personal duel with his adversary.
An interesting option for malicious attacks are traps. They come into play turned face down and exhausted. In the next round they are refreshed and from then on, you can activate them at any time, in case you have enough energy. And because it is a trap, it is usually hurting your opponent, although being on your side of the timeline. Sometimes it can simultaneously help you for example get more cards.
Some cards will also require for you to throw away cards from your hand after their appearance or allow you to draw some more into your hand. Together with events, this is the only situation, where you can influence the situation immediately by playing card. But of course, you can also use your newly played card (except traps) and exhaust them straight away to get a profit.
Last specialty, which is typical for ARC, is the lightspeed. These cards can be played at any time, even out of turn, in response to a specific opponent action. Beside the keyword, there is a value specifying reaction speed and thus the requirement for any further reactions, which must be at least as fast.
ARC is surprisingly fast and imaginative card game about time travel. It it built around time theme with ease and does not include any complex principles. Characters simply travel back and forth and can play cards and attack each other. Attack is part of characters abilities directly written on the aeon card. You has option of using either a single action for time travel, attack, draw a card or use a special ability for a given character.
At first it seems, that energy requirements for the cards are simple. But in a moment, when you play cards, you have also lost one energy. Therefore it is not easy to play more cards per round and really not as many as you would like to. And if you succeed and make some nice combo, you will have really good feeling.
Strategy is always clearly given. You have your adversary, but you must use only card offer, that you just drawn from nexus. But they operate in LCG format, so you can assemble decks according to your taste. Here is a little bit more added value for those, who like to try different tactics and layouts. Cards can be distributed across aeons, unless they are bound to one person.
Price mechanism in form of cards, that you do not throw away, is great, because it reduces influence of luck. Basically you are able to have enough energy to play any card, that will fit into your strategy in a few rounds.
Individual characters are sufficiently different and their cards are always focused on other elements of combat. Someone will focus on strength, another on traps or other tricks. Texts on the cards are required to play and they just give you all the skills.Without knowledge of English is thus playing of Arc quite impossible.
ARC playing is a thrilling game and does not last long. Yet it lacks a motivational element, that will force you to play a new game and new and so on. If someone offers you a match of ARC, you do not say no, because it has momentum. But if you had a choice of similar games, then maybe you will reach for another. Maybe it’s because you do not actually feel, that you are traveling in time. It can easily be a chase across locations, if it weren’t for the abilities.
Handbook with rules is short and simple, with lots of boxes and text. Still, the game is essentially simple, and although there will be some questions during the game, its easy to find the answer. Otherwise, the game contains only a few types of cards, which always play intuitively, you have no problem with learning the game fairly quickly.
Given box size, where character is located, is a bit disappointing for us, that the number of lives your characters have must be noted on piece of paper. It would be easy to included a counter.
But the illustration on each card deserves great praise, as well as sci-fi tuning of all the surrounding graphics. Everything works fine, is compact and easy to find. Its also one of the main reasons, why you want to go back to the game for more.
ARC is an interesting card game, that allows thrilling duels between two or more opponents. Every game is very balanced, because chances are all very similar. The game in question is about half an hour or less in two. During the time, you will certainly not be bored. Topic is not sufficiently strongly entered into the game and does not feel like time travelers. Yet ARC is really good and belongs to a series of successful card games, that will find many fans.
ARC is a card game about time travel, where two aeons are chansing across timeline consisting of four different eras. They set traps for each other and attack using cards. They pay with energy charged from their hand of cards for every played card, but they do not discard them to pay. Its sufficient to have them. That creates an excellent mechanic, which guarantees quicker matches and lowers luck influence from drawing shuffled cards. ARC is a Living Card Game and therefore offers one prebuilt deck for each character. But you can also change it and create your own combinations. Simple rules and mechanics have also other consequence - you really don't feel the time travelling feeling - game has not that sort of atmosphere, although it is filled with tension from player interactions. But the time travel is just a cloak. And you will not find any way to track number of lives during the match, so you have to use paper and pencil. Besides these minor shortcomings is ARC nice card game, which serves as a canapé filled of attacks, no matter is direct or foul ones. And all that in future, present and past!