Publisher: Corvus Belli
Designers: Alberto Abal, Jesús Fuster, and David Rosillo
Artist: Kenny Ruiz
Playtime: 60-90 Minutes
Two-player skirmish games are about as niche as you can get in board gaming, with the only competitor being war games. While Aristeia certainly isn’t as heavy as a war game, it more than succeeds at being a skirmish game. This is Aristeia, the next great sport!
A Brief How To Play
Setup in Aristeia varies depending on the game mode selected, as it comes with four variants. The base mode though involves both teams drafting four characters, building a deck of standard cards and unique character cards, and placing miniatures on their respective sides of the board.
While there are much more complex skirmish games out there Aristeia is full of depth and of course rules. I won’t be covering the entire rulebook so you can read that here.
Turns are brief in Aristeia and consist of using energy (Typically 5 points of energy) to move and use actions. Moving is simple, but actions come in many shapes and sizes. Some support units, some move them, and a few attack. Most actions are played out through dice, that have unique faces and symbols that indicate successes, blocks, and and other effects. When attacking, damage is dealt to a unit based on how many successes are rolled against blocks. Effects look for successes, and some roll combinations help a unit get extra effects that are unique to them. When attacked enough, units will run out of HP and be removed and moved to the infirmary.
Again, the objective changes based on the mode and scenario, but usually points are scored based on how many units are on scoring tiles at the end of a round (Which consists of all units taking moves for both players). After so many points are scored or the right amount of rounds go by, the game ends.
Pacing and Interaction
While a round typically consists of four units moving on both sides, players won’t have much downtime since players typically alternate in taking actions. This results in the game feeling dynamic, with tons of movement in a small amount of time. Aristeia mimics a violent sport, so fast pacing is a must. Going from turn to turn feels great, and that feeling extends through the entire game. Dice rolls are quick and easy to interpret, and the game features just the right amount of rounds to ensure that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Games won’t take longer than an hour and a half, but experienced players can knock out a game in just an hour.
Unsurprisingly, Aristeia is highly interactive. Players have tons of control over both their and their opponent’s movements. Many units can displace others, and strategic turns will result in great combos that devastate health and positioning. Even if units aren’t removed entirely for running out of health, eliminating units still results in perks like card draw and turn disruption. Aristeia rewards bold plays, and while it doesn’t feel mean due to the nature of skirmish games, players can still expect to annoy each other constantly.
The base box includes eight units and many ways to play, so players who are willing to explore the many ways to approach Aristeia will be rewarded with tons of playtime. Units being drafted leads to a good amount of variety, and players will thrive when they focus on team composition. The map is variable too, with tiles that can be placed that affect mobility and line of sight. The board is also double-sided, cementing the replay value.
If players do find themselves smitten by Aristeia, there are many expansions in the form of new units, so the good times can keep rolling.
Theme and Components
The theming of an arena-based sport lends itself well to a skirmish-based game. It’s easy to picture these diverse units going at it, and there is even some literature in the box to flesh out the characters and the “why.” While the theming works, it’s so hard to not look at Aristeia‘s starting roster and see Overwatch and League of Legends characters. I understand that everything is inspired by something else, but it is hard to see a truly original roster here.
The components of Aristeia are solid, but they don’t exactly pop out. The cardboard tokens have a nice thickness to them so that they will last. The main arena board is simple, but easy to visualize and works aesthetically and practically. The supporting boards and reference book work well, but an actual fully realized reference card would be nice for both sides of the board to have. The miniatures are standard fare as far as quality goes. They are unpainted, allowing creative players to mold the miniatures how they like. One of our miniatures had a bent samurai sword, but warm water can correct this at home.
Aristeia Is Great For Fans Of…
The obvious audience for Aristeia is players who like skirmish games. It’s not a hardcore game, but it is certainly a notch above more beginner-friendly names in the genre like Disney Sorceror’s Arena as far as difficulty goes. Those who are looking for a solid two-player game that both players can learn and develop their meta around will be delighted with everything that Aristeia has to offer.
Aristeia is a strong skirmish game that successfully adds a fun, medium weight entry to the niche.
- Tons of variety and replay value
- More accessible than most peers
- Component quality is just fine
Pacing and Interaction
Theme and Components