Gen Con logoGen Con provided me an opportunity to take a closer look at Golem Arcana—its system and its figures. As we’ve explained before, with Golem Arcana, Harebrained Schemes provides a sophisticated miniatures game system where all the typical burdens of such games—from tracking the unique abilities and current stats of individual units to generally enforcing the rules—are supported by a mobile app that integrates with the physical components of the game through a Bluetooth-enabled stylus.

I didn’t play through a full scenario but I did test the software a bit, and examined the miniatures (if at their size you can call them that). The stylus and mobile app seem to work as advertised. They’re quite easy to use and responsive. It took me but a couple of minutes to become comfortable with the interface.

I was particularly struck by how the system and story are designed to work together. For example, the abilities of a golem figure in battle can vary, depending on which golem knight is controlling it, the blessings and curses bestowed on it by the Ancient Ones, and the relics in its possession. All of these factors are accounted for in the app, which thus makes it possible for players to field a wide variety of units with a limited set of minis.

Software integration also allows Harebrained Schemes to provide a living storyline and flexible scenarios. At the macro level, the company tracks games played and uses the tallied results to determine future developments. At the micro level, a player’s choices and accomplishments in one game will affect future scenarios.

To be honest, I don’t know if making things easier is what gamers really want. The new technology may get them excited, but over the long-run I’m afraid that it’s actually the painting, collecting, and detailed rules that keep them interested. On the other hand, Harebrained Schemes’ implementation of Golem Arcana is certainly impressive. There’s a lot of potential in this game and Harebrained Schemes appears ready to see it through.

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