Machina Arcana and a Continuation of Horror in the Ice

October 4, 2020 | Sessions | 0 comments

Continue on a solo journey deeper into the frozen passageways of monstrous horror in Machina Arcana.

I may need to award myself a trophy for taking absolutely forever to play solo games these days! Even as I got used to the rules in Machina Arcana: Premium Edition, I was as slow as anything. But maybe that’s the draw of these lengthier games, at least for me. There’s no one to hurry me along! Although I was about to find out that wasn’t exactly true…

Game Overview

Game Name: Machina Arcana: Premium Edition
Publication Year:
 2020
Designer:
 Juraj Bilich
Artist:
 Aleksandra Bilic
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game

After chapter 1, my character found herself following a strange trail deeper into the caverns. This is the fun part of the interconnected chapters, as they advance the scenario with specific moments. Perhaps the randomness doesn’t make a lot of sense all the time, yet the variability is great! I inched forward, not too keen on finding the trail’s end.

Deeper Into the Horrors of Machina Arcana

A Moment of Luck

Kim Richards was still my character, though she was already a little worse for wear. Just venturing into the dungeon was enough to question why she was alone.

There were monsters out there in the darkness. She knew. A few glimpses were all the proof she needed.

Yet even with the shambling noises lurking behind her, Kim kept her wits. Barely. She was unaware that the same walls that attacked her were releasing arcane vapors…

When the realization hit her, she felt altered. Not in a deathly way, either. This could work to her advantage!

A Useful Bit of Arcana Help with a Lurking Monster in Machina Arcana

Dangers of the Night

As always, I found a StoryWorld card to match up with this experience! When the Moonbeast appeared, it could only mean the appearance of a full moon. Watch out!

The horrors within the game are plentiful, though these giant cards also offer plenty of ideas. Can you spot some unusual details within this scene? Look closely!

I still prefer the lighter side of horror. Yet even with a few terrifying monsters, this game isn’t overly scary.

All the same, I have many chapters and scenarios ahead. Things may very well change, though the journey is fun.

The Dangers of a Full Moon with the Moonbeast of Machina Arcana

Surrounded by Horror

Kim traveled deeper into the dungeon, uncovering new areas, and making new discoveries. The shambling, always echoing behind her, faded into the background.

That is, until it wasn’t so far away. As Kim opened a chest in the corner, they were upon her before she knew it.

There was no escape this time! Although she could turn herself ethereal in an instant, these monsters were more powerful. They could see through her, and attack.

She awaited her moment. The attacks were fierce, draining her. But still she stood, ready to face them.

A Dangerous Place for Kim Richards in Machina Arcana

Weakened Progress

Note that this chapter was exceptionally difficult with a single explorer. A 2-3 character team is probably best, though I figured Kim could get somewhere! Maybe?

As weak as she was, the next chapter began with a little promise of hope. She merely needed to survive.

She stumbled deeper into the mystery. There was something sinister within these walls. At the same time, accepting defeat was not an option. Onward Kim strode.

But the light wavered in her vision. Darkness crept in at the edges of her vision. Little by little, she was losing.

Moving Forward Despite Imminent Defeat in Machina Arcana

Item Management

Since the beginning, I prioritized chests in order to build up Kim’s available equipment. It took extra actions to ensure that everything was equipped, though.

Over time, I also found items that could be used as upgrades or augments. This is how her trench coat became pretty amazing! And her rifle wasn’t far behind.

Many armor and weapons can be used in different ways. Look for the aligned icons on the sides of the cards.

This can also help with inventory management. But it’s wise not to look in every chest, for items are limited.

The Interesting Experience of Customizing Items within Machina Arcana

A Look at the Dungeon

Although this may not give the full picture of the size, this is the approximate maximum area of the map. The placeholder is the end game tile for effect!

The many tokens indicate explored or destroyed areas. It may be a little hard to see all the paths, yet the walls are numerous. This is hardly a wide-open kind of area.

Navigating each new map tile proved to be a challenge. Kim had to figure out the best paths to take.

I made a mistake on the trapped spaces. A horror event showed up to trigger the traps with Kim standing on one!

A Busy and Explored Area of Machina Arcana

Session Overview

Play Number: 2 and 3
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Play Details: Chapters 2 and 3 of Horror in the Ice
Required Play Space: 44″ x 28″
Setup Time: 5 Minutes
Play Time: 20-60 Minutes per Play
Outcome: 1 Win and 1 Loss

Poor, poor Kim. She went down after this rather terrible horror event showed up. There was no escaping the damage, although the tie-in with cold seemed fitting. Also, I really need to get better at planning my moves!

The Chilling End to Kim Richards' Adventure in Machina Arcana

%

1 Play

Affordability

Price & Value

6

Functionality

Challenges & Mechanics

10

Originality

Design & Theme

6

Quality

Components & Rules

4

Reusability

Achievement & Enjoyment

10

Variability

Distinctness & Randomness

10

+ Pros (Positives)

  • Managing items involves more than just equipping since upgrades and augments play an important role.
  • The play area remains static no matter how far explorers progress with the scrolling map tiles mechanic.
  • Random events create unpredictable situations that add to the overall chapter storyline in unexpected ways.
  • There is a progression of difficulty with the monster levels, though this is tempered by more powerful items.
  • All of the artwork is unique and captures the setting without being too mature, aside from a few monsters.
  • A single scenario may be played over and over again with plenty of variety from the different card decks.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • Although it’s easy to pause at any point, playing through all of a scenario’s chapters takes a lot of time.
  • Learning how to play takes some time with the rulebook, but it looks like new versions improve the process.
  • Some bad luck in crucial spots can lead to defeat somewhat early on, even with some protections in place.
  • Reorganizing all of the components in the box is far from easy since the insert doesn’t have enough room.

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Continue the Conversation

Do you enjoy Machina Arcana: Premium Edition? I’m still listing this specific and apparently separate game because I have all the expansion content to add eventually. How many explorers do you typically play with? I’m thinking I’ll switch things up next time. Which might be soon, or I may move over to a lighter horror game. Time will tell!

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