Skip to main content

The Shipwreck Arcana: Stars Below

Christopher: Guest reviewer here! I’m Jenni’s husband, Chris. It fell to me to review The Shipwreck Arcana: Stars Below mini-expansion for two reasons. First, I was the impetus for getting the game originally . Second, Jenni thought the base game was just ok, while I thought it was a really good and beautiful cooperative logic puzzle. Her original review is here; if you have not played the base game you’ll want to pause here, read the original review, and return to this page as I will be using game terms and concepts with the assumption they are familiar to you.

So, what does the mini-expansion contain? At first glance, it might seem relatively small with just five Arcana cards, but since the base game has 20 Arcana cards, that’s a 25% increase, which isn’t small at all. Each Arcana card in the base game has beautiful artwork, very much like an alternative universe deck of Tarot cards. The five new cards in this expansion maintain that style of artwork, so if you were a fan, you’ll be happy.

The change in content for The Shipwreck Arcana: Stars Below  is substantial. There are two new mechanisms introduced in the new Arcana. The first is mandatory action. Tree of the new cards (The Ash, The Fall, The Thief) have gold text. The gold text indicates something mandatory that must be evaluated or completed involving fates on each turn. Even if you don’t play a fate directly on one of these Arcana, they still could fade, depending on what is displayed on the board. That leads to the second mechanism, which is variable fade conditions on two of these three new cards. When these mandatory actions are coupled with the active player’s decision of which fate to play, the logic puzzle given to the remaining players can be wonderful. For instance, The Thief has the following language “After playing somewhere else : Move a visible fate higher than your unplayed fate from another card to this one, if possible.” Depending on the visible fates, an enormous amount of information can be conveyed. There is a strong push for a player to play their lower fate on the board and keep their higher fate hidden, if that would result in no movement to The Thief card. However, if a two fate is showing, and your hidden fate is a one, you can immediately indicate to your fellow players that you have a one in the hole by playing your other fate and then moving the two to The Thief.

That’s really where The Shipwreck Arcana: Stars Below  shines as a game—the dynamic between the active player trying to give as much information as possible to the other players and the other players discussing and thinking through all of the possible permutations of why the active player chose to do what they did. For those of us who love interactive cooperative puzzles, it’s amazing!

The other two cards in this mini-expansion (The Musicians and The North Wind)are more in line with the original Arcana—i.e., more mathematically straight-forward card descriptions.

The faded card powers that are on the five new cards are also somewhat of a departure from those in the base game.

Two of those powers, Help (which appears on the back of 2 different cards) and Exile, are considered so powerful that players must discard the faded card AND an additional faded card to activate them. The other two powers, Slow and Amplify, allow for creative plays thinking outside the box in that the first, after being attached to an Arcana card, makes the fates in front of that card worth only one pip, and the second increases the Arcana card that replaced it by one for doom and one for predictions.

The Shipwreck Arcana: Stars Below Kickstarter Launched today.

If you like logic puzzles, but would prefer that they are interactive, constantly changing, and cool to look at, adding The Shipwreck Arcana: Stars Below  mini-expansion to your board game collection is a no-brainer.


Publisher: Meromorph Games
Players: 2-5 (We played with 4 and 5)
Actual Playing Time (vs the guideline on the box): about 20 minutes per game
Game type: pattern building, deduction


Rating scale:
OUI: I would play this game again; this game is ok. I probably would not buy this game myself but I would play it with those who own it and if someone gave it to me I would keep it.
OUI OUI: I would play this game again; this game is good. I would buy this game.
NON: I would not play this game again. I would return this game or give it away if it was given to me.


Popular posts from this blog

Board Game Review: Lost Cities Roll & Write (A Comparison to the Original Lost Cities)

I really love the card game Lost Cities , designed by Reiner Knizia. When my husband Christopher and I were first getting to know each other, we used to meet up at Starbucks sometimes and play games. Lost Cities was one of our frequent picks. It’s a head to head, two player game in which both players are trying to outscore each other by laying down ascending runs of card suits on a small board between the two of them. There’s a theme laid over the mechanism (completing expeditions in the lost world) but it’s basically pasted on and so that is the last we will speak of it. So there we were, newly in love, eyeing each other across the table, smiling and flirting, and doing our best to beat one another at Lost Cities . It was awesome. And now, with the roll & write genre having made an impressive rebound a few years ago (let’s not forget the mechanism has actually been around since the 50s with Yatzee ), Knizia has ported his award winning game Lost Cities   into this format, releasi

Board Game Review: Hues and Cues

Last week we received Hues and Cues from The Op Games. We recently finished playing through Scooby-Doo Escape from the Haunted Mansion (a fantastic game in The Op Games catalogue designed by Jay Cormier, Sen-Foong Lim, and Kami Mandell that you should absolutely pick up to play with your family) and wanted to give another game from the same publisher a go. I picked Hues and Cues because I’ve been pleasantly surprised by other “test whether our minds think the same way” games such as The Mind   and Wavelength. In Hues and Cues , players gather around a large central board comprised of 480 graduating colors of the rainbow surrounded by an x-y axis and scoring table. White and black (which are technically not colors) are conspicuously absent as are shades (mixtures of color + black; e.g., grey) and tints (mixtures of color + white; e.g., cream).  On each player’s turn, they draw a card with four colors and the x-y axis codes of those colors depicted and they select one. They are in the

Board Game Review: Brass Birmingham

Here’s a story of a lovely lady (spoiler: it’s me) and her pride and how it has led to the discovery of the single greatest board game I have ever played. It’s probably also a good primer for other reviewers on increasing your reach. At GenCon this year, I was perusing the wares of the various booths and my eyes caught a glimpse of two beautiful game boxes. Each had crisp metallic lettering with an old world feel and artwork that radiated European class. I made my way to the booth and waited patiently to speak to to the team manning it as there were many buyers lined up to purchase the games. I didn’t know anything about the games (Brass Birmingham and Brass Lancashire), or the publisher – Roxley Game Laboratory – but I knew I wanted to review one or both of the games. Almost every board game love story I star in in can be summed up this way: I am seduced by the artwork or theme and then I stay for the right mechanics. When the lead rep spoke with me, he gently rejected my request. He