OBJECTIVE OF RES ARCANA:  Be the first player to reach 10 Victory Points

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-4 players


  • 40 Artifact cards
  • 10 Mage cards
  • 10 Monument cards
  • 5 Power Place tiles
  • 8 Magic Item tiles
  • 150 Magic Essence pawns
  • 12 “x5” tokens
  • 1 First Player tile

TYPE OF GAME: Victory point engine Monument

AUDIENCE: Teens, Adults


In Res Arcana, each player is a powerful mage trying to demonstrate his superiority by summoning powerful artefacts and mighty creatures, conquering power places and prestigious Monuments. Each round they collect magic essence and use it to trigger more effects in order to achieve victory before their competitors.


At the beginning of the game, place all the magic item tiles and all the Power Place tiles in the center of the table. 

Each player receives 2 Mage cards and 8 Artifact cards. Each player consults all his cards, shuffles his 8 Artifacts and then draws 3 of them to form his starting hand. The other 5 cards are placed face down and form his deck.

Each player then chooses his Mage, which he places face up in front of him, and puts the other one back in the box. Starting with the last player, each player chooses a magic item in the center of the table and then takes one essence of each type (except Gold).

For a discovery game, it is highly recommended to

  • use the initiation sets numbered from 1 to 4 (1 mage and 3 artifact cards) and then randomly distribute 5 artifact cards to each player. 
  • Use the Sun side of the 5 Power Place tiles (for advanced games, place the Power Place tiles on a random side)

To put a handicap on experienced players, especially when introducing new players to the game, do not hesitate to use the two sets.

Example of a two player game setup


A game of Res Arcana is a succession of rounds, each composed of 3 steps: collecting essences, performing actions and checking victory.

1/ Collecting essences

Each player applies the collection effects (hand symbol in a circle) of his game elements (magic item, artifact, creature, power place).

Each player may collect all or part of the essences placed on his game elements and put them in his reserve before starting their turn.

2/ Performing actions

Starting with the first player, then clockwise, each player may perform one of the following actions:

  • Put in play an artifact from his hand and pay its cost (in the top-left banner)
  • Acquire a Monument or Place of Power and pay its cost
  • Discard a card from his hand in exchange for 1 Gold or 2 essences of his choice (Gold is not considered as an essence)
  • Use the power of one of their game element which is not engaged
  • Pass: exchange his magic item and then draw another card

When a player passes, if he is the first player to pass, he takes the First Player tile (worth 1 Victory Point). In any case, he also exchanges his magic item for one of those available, turns it face down and draws a card from his deck. If his/her deck is empty, he may shuffle his discard pile to form his deck again, if he has cards in his discard pile.

As long as the players have not all passed, active players may continue to perform actions.

Game elements and their powers

Game elements have one or more powers, each represented with two parts being the cost and the effect.

  • Some powers require to kneel the game element, keep in mind that once a game element is knelt, his powers cannot be activated anymore, even those that don’t require to kneel it.
  • Some powers have an essence cost that must be paid fully to gain the effect
  • Some effects allow to place essences on the game element, keep in mind that these essences are not part of your reserve (you will be able to collect them at the beginning of any of your next turns)
  • Some effects allow to stand a knelt game element, thus allowing you to use its powers again later during the round
  • Some effects will force your opponents to lose Life essences, keep in mind that players having passed are immune to such effects; also, for each Life essence that couldn’t be lost, an opponent must instead lose two essences of his choice (including gold if needed)
  • Some powers need you to Destroy or Discard cards; Destroy is for cards already in play (thus also called game elements) while Discard os for cards in your hand, and in both cases the card is placed is placed in your discard pile
Turn example: during the first turn, the bottom player has collected a Life essence thanks to his Sorceress, a Death essence thanks to his Death/Life potion and gained a Vigor essence with the Elemental Shard he played as his first action Therefore, he was able to play his Dragon Tooth and his Dragon Helm for a total of 6 essences. Having no more cards in hand, his turn ended.


3/ Perform a victory check (10+ points)

When all the players have passed, the round ends and a victory check is performed. Each player counts the victory points on their game elements (red circle with a white number). If one of the players has reached 10 or more victory points, the game ends and the player with the most VPs is declared the winner. In case of a tie, the player with the most essences in his reserve (gold counts double) wins.

If no one reaches or exceeds 10, the game continues with a new round. All players stand their knelt game elements, turn their magic item face up (and the First Player tile if they have it), and a new round begins at phase 1.

Close game! The top player has reached 10 VPs first by passing before his opponent. But the bottom player managed to add three more gold on his Cursed Forge and therefore reached 10 VPs too. But it wasn’t enough to win as the top player still had a lot more energy in his reserve.


When you have got some experience with the game, you might want to balance a bit more the starting decks of players with some card drafting.

Once each player has received two Mage cards, deal four Artifact cards to each player. They choose one card and pass the remaining cards to the player to their left. Repeat this until each player has chosen four cards, then do it all over again with four more cards per player, drafting again one by one. After that each player has eight cards. The players then choose their Mage,  shuffle their Artifact cards and draw three as their starting hand.

Nakoa Davis