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Lost Ruins of Arnak Two Player Review

Important Note:

All board game reviews and ratings from “A Pair of Meeples” are entirely based on the game at two players. You can learn more about our rating system by clicking below.


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Lost Ruins of Arnak is a fairly new game that has grown in popularity extremely fast.  It has successfully combined a lot of different things into one cohesive experience, which is quite impressive. The same can’t even be said about my cooking on occasion. 

Lost Ruins of Arnak Board Game Review

8 out of 10

Is it Good For Two Players? : Yes

Overall Lost Ruins of Arnak is a very well designed game that has succeeded at something many other games have failed at. It has put deck building, worker placement, and resource management into one cohesive experience that is quite easy and fun to play.  The game is even easy to teach to less experienced board game players, which is quite impressive considering it’s still decently complex due to all these different options and mechanisms.   The very accessible theme and gameplay combined with a little bit of all these different board game mechanisms is why Lost Ruins of Arnak has quickly become one of the most popular board games of all time.  

Theme: 7/10
Replayability: 7/10
Components: 7/10
Conflict: 2/10
Fun: 6/10

Husband's Rating
9 out of 10
Wife's Rating
7 out of 10

Pros

Has a little bit of everything in terms of game mechanisms.

Very Accessible Theme

Excellent Components and Art

Easy to teach (harder to learn)

Everything works together surprisingly well

Cons

Can be overwhelming to new players at first

Requires a lot of space or a big table

Gameplay Experience:

According to the internet, this game was all the rage, topping all board game lists and rankings.  So it didn’t take long for me to add it to our shelf. 

I was excited to play but it took longer than I’d like to admit to get it to the table.  But once we did I was even more excited. This game looks great sprawling across the table with its excellent artwork and high-quality components.

Lost Ruins of Arnak Table Presence
Lost Ruins of Arnak Table Presence

The game looks like a lot and appears complicated but it’s another game that is daunting to look at, but easy to play once you know how.  That’s a statement that applies to a lot of board games.

Once we were playing, I was a little underwhelmed and thought the game ended right as it was getting fun and good.  If you read our review of Wingspan, that was a similar complaint we had with that game.

This game takes a little while to play so we packed it up for the night.  Afterward, though, I found myself thinking about Lost Ruins of Arnak and what I could do better.  There were also a few rules that we got wrong that I thought would change the gameplay drastically.

So I was excited to give the game a few more tries before giving up on it.  Thank goodness, because after a few more plays Lost Ruins of Arnak has quickly risen in my rankings.

The more you play this game the better it gets!  You start to understand it more and there are just so many options and viable paths to victory to pursue and experiment with, and that’s just not something you grasp until you have quite a few games under your belt. 

The vast freedom and countless turn options are something I really enjoy in games.  During the first play, this game seemed like nothing special but with each successive play, it got better and better.

Lost Ruins of Arnak Rules Summary:

In Lost Ruins of Arnak, each player is trying to explore and navigate an uninhabited island in order to find ancient artifacts and other secrets of a lost civilization.  Along the way, players will encounter guardians who protect the island and its contents.

The game is a combination of worker placement, resource management, and deck building and players will have to efficiently use every option available to them to succeed.

Players each start with the same starting deck which consists of cards that can be used to pay for expeditions, activate sites and gain resources. 

Lost Ruins of Arnak Setup
Lost Ruins of Arnak Player Board

Players also have two explorers that they can use to explore the board and gather resources.  When exploring new undiscovered sites though, they encounter guardians which they have to overcome by having the required resources.  If players don’t overcome the guardian they will gain fear cards which make their deck weaker and also count for negative points at the end of the game.

Lost Ruins of Arnak Sites
Lost Ruins of Arnak Sites

There is also a research track that players must advance on to gain even more necessary benefits like additional assistants who will help them progress further in the game.

Lost Ruins of Arnak Research Track
Lost Ruins of Arnak Research Track

On top of all this, there is an ever-changing market of item and artifact cards that players can use their resources to purchase from. Artifacts give players immediate benefits and are added to their deck for use later, while item cards are added to a player’s deck to be drawn at a later time.  

Lost Ruins of Arnak Artifacts and Items
Lost Ruins of Arnak Artifact and Item Cards

The game takes place over 5 rounds and players will have to explore all these options to score higher than their opponents.  In the early rounds, your options are much more limited but in the later rounds, players will be able to do a lot more with their turns, especially as they become more experienced at the game. With so many options it’s easy to get overwhelmed and it’s not hard to see how it takes a while to play the game as it truly was meant to be played.

Conclusion:

Lost Ruins of Arnak has taken numerous board game mechanisms and mashed them into one fairly smooth gameplay experience.  A lot of other games have tried to do this but few have succeeded at doing it well.  Combining so many different components and mechanisms usually results in a mess of a game that is overly complicated, difficult to play, and not very fun at all.

Lost Ruins of Arnak has put deck building, worker placement, and resource management into one cohesive experience that is quite easy and fun to play.  The game is even easy to teach to less experienced board game players, which is quite impressive considering it’s still decently complex due to all these different options and mechanisms.  

The very accessible theme and gameplay combined with a little bit of all these different board game mechanisms is why Lost Ruins of Arnak has quickly become one of the most popular board games of all time.  

Its implementation of each individual mechanism might not be better than other games, but having all the mechanisms together is what it does do better than other games.  No matter your tastes and preferences in terms of gameplay, there’s most likely at least a little something you will enjoy in Lost Ruins of Arnak.

It is deep enough while still being accessible to less experienced players, that is as long as they still have a good board game teacher.  You really need to play this game quite a few times to really enjoy it though since there are so many options and paths to explore.  These countless options are what make it a great game if you are into these types of efficiency and resource management puzzles.

Lost Ruins of Arnak Resources
Look at all those pretty resource components!

Lost Ruins of Arnak is a great game that I find very enjoyable but my wife is not its biggest fan.  I really enjoy the countless options and paths to take during any one game while this is her least favorite aspect.  She agrees it’s a great game, it’s just not her preferred style of game.  So if you’re like her and you like your games more restricted and focused this might not be your next favorite game.  

Overall Lost Ruins of Arnak is a very well-designed game that has succeeded at something many other games have failed at.  It provides a satisfying game experience with a little something for everyone while still having a fairly reasonable playtime. 

Is Lost Ruins of Arnak Good For Two Players?:

There’s no denying Lost Ruins of Arnak is a great game that will stick around for quite some time, but how does it play with two players?  In our opinion the game maintains most of what makes it great even when playing with only two players.  All the different options and mechanisms still work together smoothly when playing with only two players.

Playing with two players might actually be preferable if playtime is important to you, because with more players this game could start to drag out.  This is especially true near the end of the game when some players will have to pass, while others might have lots of moves left to make.  Nobody likes sitting around for too long watching their opponents make move after move.

Another advantage of playing Lost Ruins of Arnak with only two players is the increased ability to plan your moves.  The card market will be changing less frequently and there will be fewer players taking the spots you want.  This means you will be able to take the actions you want more often, which is great for maximizing your scores.

The lower player count still comes with some disadvantages though.  The great freedom and large number of options become slightly reduced because of the smaller number of players.  Since there are fewer players, less sites will be explored during the course of the game.  

This means players will have fewer already discovered sites to go to reducing their options for gaining resources.  This is on top of some of the starting worker placement spots already being blocked in a two player game.  This slows how quickly players progress in the game, but not to a degree that makes the game less enjoyable.  

These are the main things that are affected when playing at two players as opposed to other player counts.  They are notable changes but don’t drastically affect the game in a positive or negative way.  Overall Lost Ruins of Arnak scales well with player count and is still a great game to play with only two players.

Pros

  • Has a little bit of everything in terms of game mechanisms.
  • Very Accessible Theme
  • Excellent Components and Art
  • Easy to teach (harder to learn)
  • Everything works together surprisingly well

Cons

  • Can be overwhelming to new players
  • Requires a lot of space or a big table

We hope this Lost Ruins of Arnak two player game review has helped you and if you are interested in buying a copy you can click the orange “Buy on Amazon” button.

Our reviews are not paid reviews, but some games are given to us, we do not let this affect our opinions in any way. This post may contain affiliate links so we might receive compensation if you sign up for or purchase products linked to. As an Amazon Associate, we can earn from qualifying purchases. This helps cover our site’s costs and allows us to continue reviewing games.


Lost Ruins of Arnak Expansions

Lost Ruins of Arnak: Expedition Leaders (2021) 

This expansion adds six different explorers to the game providing each player with their own unique special abilities, skills, and starting deck.  This expansion comes with a lot of new cards, components, and a new research track option too. 

Lost Ruins of Arnak Solo

We focus on board games with two players so we aren’t going to give a detailed review of this but it’s good to know that this game also comes with a well-designed solo mode, which is a great option for when your gaming partners aren’t up for a round.  After a while, the solo mode included in the game might become too easy for some players.

The Search for Professor Kutil – Solo Campaign and App

There is also an official solo campaign designed for Lost Ruins of Arnak, titled the search for Professor Kutil.  The campaign has its own official companion app that can be found online here.  If you prefer to print the instructions they can be found here.  

Lost Ruins of Arnak vs Dune Imperium

It seems a lot of people online are trying to decide which of these two games would be better for them. While both games take a few different mechanisms and put them together they are quite different and one doesn’t really replace the other.  

Both games work fairly well with two players, but people tend to agree that Lost Ruins of Arnak is better than Dune Imperium at this player count.  Even though Dune Imperium might be slightly worse at two, it has more player interaction than Lost Ruins of Arnak, so if this is something you like more of in your games that is something else to consider when deciding which game is better for you.

Both games are a solid consideration for your board game collection. Lost Ruins of Arnak probably has the slight edge at two players but it really comes down to which game and theme you gravitate towards more. Pick whichever one you’re leaning towards or you can just succumb to your board game buying addiction and get both Dune Imperium and Lost Ruins of Arnak since they are fairly different. You can read our full review of Dune Imperium here: Dune Imperium Two Player Review – A Pair of Meeples


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