The Campaign – Playing Solo vs Co-op in The Missing Expedition

Previously, we looked at some of the unique new meta game elements that add a lot of choice, story, and replayability to the expanded Search for Professor Kutil campaign that’s included in our upcoming Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition expansion. Next up, let’s explore what playing cooperatively brings to the experience.

The challenging six chapter campaign can be enjoyed entirely as a solo experience, but it also takes on a slightly different shape when you dive into it with another player cooperatively. In the newly added co-op mode, two players team up against an AI rival, while striving to complete the main challenges and bonus objectives of each chapter. Even with each other’s help, that’s no easy feat—by design.

A team building exercise

One of the bigger design challenges that arose in developing content for the expansion came from the decision to turn the campaign, which was a purely solo experience in the free PNP version released online previously, into a mode that could be enjoyed with a friend.

“We wanted it to become a cooperative two player campaign, and we had to think about ways to make that work,” says co-designer Mín. “Because, currently the player kind of accomplishes a lot in the solo campaign game, and if you add another player into the mix, then you need different goals. So we needed to mix it up a little bit and make it tougher, and make it possible for two players to play the game.”

As such, the scenario win conditions, as well as all of the bonus achievements in each scenario, scale upwards to boost the difficulty in a two-player game. It’s quite tough to complete all of the achievements in a given scenario on top of the main—even in a co-op game—which plays nicely into the teamwork aspect of this new mode. If you don’t work together carefully, you’re going to struggle. Fortunately, we’ve also added some new friends to give you a hand in your fruitful collaborations. 

Birds of a feather

We’ve added a few more layers to encourage teamwork and interaction between players, as well. Including…[checks notes]…errr…cute carrier pigeons?

“The carrier pigeons add a cooperation element, where you can send your friend a resource,” says Mín. “It really helped us to make it even more cooperative, because now you can send jewels or something else of high value that can help them a lot, or you could be needing their help in return.”

Pigeon tokens are a free action that each can be used once per round to send a resource to the other player. They get exhausted after each use, and are flipped over to the nesting side of the token. The twist is that they don’t get refreshed until the next round. Also, the carrier pigeons don’t automatically return to their original owners each round; they stay with the player they’re with until they’re sent back. “So if I send you something with my pigeon, if you don’t send yours with something that round, the next time I can’t send anything,” she adds. “I really like that element of it.”

That’s not the only way players can interact either. In some scenarios, players will need to spend actions and resources to fulfill special goals on the board. In a co-op game, you can pool together the necessary resources for that between players, even though one player will still need to spend an action to complete the goal.

Some encounter card choices also give you an action or benefit that you can hang onto and use later in the game at any point you choose—these can be used freely by either player, not just the person who earned them. All of these nuances add up to a lot of interactivity in a co-op game, which is a very fresh and different way to play Arnak if you’re used to the flow of a regular game. We can’t wait to share this expansion with you soon enough!

Stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe to the Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition BGG page so you don’t miss any important updates!

Designing the New Campaign Meta Game in The Missing Expedition

Our last article explored some of the design thought processes that are going into expanding and updating the story campaign in Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition, but we have so much more to show you!

Adding in more layers of replayability, and giving players the opportunity to make choices that can unlock surprises, is an important piece of the puzzle in the upcoming expansion. That’s where the all-new meta game elements come in. They introduce more weight to the choices you make as you navigate story cards and other objectives throughout the campaign. With every decision you make, you’ll work towards more opportunities to uncover interesting story branches and gain rewards to help you in future chapters.

Adding story unlockables

The original PNP version of the Search of Professor Kutil campaign includes story cards that give you a snippet of story and a choice between two options that provide some benefit you can use. We’re adding more story card options and expanding the impact they have on your campaign with a new meta game progression mechanic that carries over across multiple games.

Each choice you make when encountering story cards will also earn you a special thematic symbol that you’ll mark off on the corresponding track of your campaign score sheet. You’ll also earn symbols for any bonus achievements you complete, too. Over the course of the entire campaign, you’ll progress along these tracks based-on your choices from chapter to chapter. When you complete a chapter, you’ll check the progress chart and potentially unlock special multi-part story events and rewards. This can make for some interesting considerations in the moment — for example: perhaps you could really use a particular reward that one option gives you, but the other would also give you the specific symbol you need to unlock the next piece of side story (and a potential carry-over surprise) at the end of the chapter. 

The goal of introducing the story cards was to immerse players in a theme in the moment and give them a dynamic reward for the choices they made based-on each situation. But Arnak co-designer Mín notes that in the original free PNP version there wasn’t anything that would stay with you beyond those momentary choices.

“And I really wanted that to be a part of it…to let the players experience finding mysteries and connecting the dots,” she says. “If you keep meeting different and strange occurrences then maybe one day you will actually find out what it was all about. I really like that approach.”

Note: we’re also adding new sites and guardians that let you use story cards in a regular multiplayer game of Arnak, though they won’t connect to the meta game when used that way. 

Adding more layers of depth and challenge

Creating story and playing around with the way storylines are revealed was one of Mín’s favorite aspects of working on the campaign. “The idea to add the meta game element came about because I wanted to have some way to connect the campaign,” she says. “I wanted to add weight to the choices you make, so it’s not just ‘right now I need gold or I need compasses’ it was more about ‘I could really use the gold but maybe this sounds like an interesting story I could unearth’”

Chapter bonus achievements have also changed a lot in The Missing Expedition. In the free PNP chapters, achievements were basically some extra goals to strive for that would give you victory points. This time around, they have a more thematic twist and more interesting rewards.

“Imagine that the main goal is the basic thing you can achieve, but the achievements further that and give you a lot more rewards,” explains Mín “For example, they can give you a card immediately and then that unlocks it for the next time you play, but also it unlocks more of the story. It also serves to make the game a little bit harder. Playing the lowest difficulty would be just playing the main goals, and then if you’re really feeling tough you can try going for all of the achievements.”

Next up, we’ll talk more about the differences between playing solo vs co-op. Stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe to the Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition BGG page so you don’t miss any important updates!

Meet the Journalist – The Second New Leader for Lost Ruins of Arnak

Our upcoming expansion, Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition, brings a lot of content into the fold for solo, co-op, and regular multiplayer Arnak games alike. Two new playable leaders are only a portion of what you can expect. We’ll dig deeper into some of the other expansion content in future articles, but for now we’re excited to introduce another new leader we think you’ll enjoy.

In our last blog post, we shared some details on the Mechanic and how her gear system works as it grows more powerful over time. The second new leader included in the expansion, has a completely different set of mechanics and play style. Let’s get to know him a little better shall we? Meet…the Journalist!

All that’s fit to print

The Journalist is a traveler with a passion for documenting the unexplored. He has a keen eye for capturing details that might otherwise elude others. As you’ll see teased in the trailer here, he also has a very different player board from other characters. It includes slots for two double-sided newspaper tiles. These can be chosen at the start of the game or picked randomly, and each has a different set of helpful actions you can take when you fill them in with an article.

Speaking of articles…when playing as the Journalist, you’ll place small article tokens next to every site during initial board setup. When traveling to a site, he can pay one extra traveling cost of a type that matches that site to gain the article token at that location. These articles can either be saved for later or used immediately to slot them into an available newspaper slot on your board, gaining the benefit you cover up.

When you fill up all four slots of each newspaper, you can then gain access to filling in the larger reward in the fifth bottom slot. Also, as you fill in horizontal rows with articles across both newspaper tiles, you can open up additional idol slots.

That’s not all. Because the journalist is so skilled at documenting things as he observes them, he is allowed to move his book up the research track one space higher than his magnifying glass — which other characters cannot do. This can make it easier for him to progress faster, more flexibly, and he can gain his first assistant a bit more easily in the early game.

Behind the scenes

“For the Journalist, I think the inspiration was mainly thematic as opposed to mechanical,” notes Mín, the co-designer of Arnak. “I really wanted to have a guy who was traveling around and writing articles, and the idea to actually utilize spending more travel resources for something else of use was also key. Because sometimes in the game you just find cards that offer you a lot of opportunity to travel, but maybe you don’t always have a use for that, and the journalist is actually built around that. He’s utilizing things that others can’t.”

Both the Journalist and the Mechanic leaders feel quite different from the six leaders found in the previous Expedition Leaders expansion. Coming up with new play styles and character approaches can be tricky. “Designing new stuff is always challenging, you want things to be different and interesting…but also streamlined enough that it’s not overcomplicated and still nice to play,” says Mín. “It’s very satisfying to see that it’s different and fun.”

Stay tuned for our next article and don’t forget to subscribe to the Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition BGG page so you don’t miss any important updates! You can also head over there to comment on this article in the forum, as well!

Meet the Mechanic – A New Leader for Lost Ruins of Arnak

Anyone who has explored our previous Expedition Leaders expansion for Lost Ruins of Arnak will already be familiar with just how much playing Arnak with the asymmetrical leaders injects a fresh strategic element to the experience. It nudges players to focus in specific directions, which makes certain resources and options more valuable to particular leaders’ play styles.

Both of the two new leaders included in the upcoming second expansion, Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition, feel quite different from the six previous leaders. Today, we’re excited to introduce you to The Mechanic, a versatile tinkerer whose skill to repair even the most broken things makes life easier on any expedition.

Continue reading “Meet the Mechanic – A New Leader for Lost Ruins of Arnak”