Compare Joan of Arc to that great big bar of chocolate you have tucked away at the back of the cupboard. You know the one. You really want to get it out and gobble it all up, but you also know there would be consequences (a moment on the lips and all that…).
Joan of Arc has its flaws, but nevertheless is a great game, and getting it to the table has its consequences too, just like eating that huge bar of chocolate all in one go. Here, though, it’s all about the time it will steal from you.
Firstly, there’s the couple of hours you’ll spend sorting out the units for your scenario of choice and mounting them in those silly round bases – more on those shortly.
Secondly, there will be the time wasted playing through the scenario a first time whilst trying to figure out the scenario specific rules, and why they don’t quite work as advertised.
Then the fun begins, and you have a great time. The game produces some truly epic moments. It also, at least in my experience, provides nail bitingly close finishes, usually coming down to the very last throw of the dice.
We usually play the same scenario several times in one sitting; there’s no way on earth you’re going to set things up and play a different scenario in the same evening, so don’t even try (unless you’ve figured out some great way of storing everything, pre-mounted on, yes, those stupid round bases!). This has at least proved that things are well balanced, as the results have been close to evens, though I have yet to play all scenarios.
The scenarios are very replayable. We kept playing the same one but trying something new each time. The best tactics aren’t always obvious and it can take a few plays to realise there’s a better way of doing things – never underestimate the power of flight!
But then, once you’ve finished, guess what… Yep, you have to put it all away again!
I think, if I’d just bought the retail version of this game it would see more play. With the extras I have from Kickstarter (still more to come…), there’s just so much content it’s difficult to keep on top of, to store it in a manner that would be user friendly, and to sift through and find exactly what’s needed when it’s needed. Saying that, though, the extras are what see the most use, especially the Apocalypse expansion.
There’s nothing wrong whatsoever with the core rules, but the scenario specific ones let things down, feeling as though they were rushed out and only play-tested by people overly familiar with the game. But things, on the whole, have been improved on since its release and amended versions of the scenarios could be found on Mythic’s Website.
I say could…
Recently Mythic switched servers and there’s now no mention of Joan of Arc to be found, at least I couldn’t find anything more recent than a news post from 2018!
Sam Healy, known for his time with the Dice Tower and now working for Mythic, had this to say on BGG…
“When we switched our website to the new servers those pages we did have for Joan of Arc went 404, but we are slowly doing what we can to rectify that. But the website switch-over coupled with the fact that we’re updating the 1.0 stuff to 1.5 is just making things go a bit slower. Please be patient, for now the KS updates is where you can find things, but as soon as we have final versions of books we will make sure to update here on BGG, too.”BGG, Sam Healy, Sept 11
September 11th! Things aren’t very positive on this front. A company who have just run a Kickstarter for JofA 1.5, hit issues with the designer, and now have no mention of it on their Website… One can only wonder.
Things do appear to be moving towards completion according to updates on the campaign page. My worry is whether the game will see any support from Mythic when it has all being shipped and delivered. We shall see and I remain optimistic.
Right, last thing to address are those bases!
The bases hold two cavalry or three infantry miniatures, and this forms one unit. The problem with being round, though, is that they take up a lot more space than a rectangular base would, both in terms of storage and in play.
Trying to squeeze units into the designated areas on the hexes causes all sorts of issues – was this unit in this one or that one? It also makes things look messy; I pity anyone who plays this and has OCD.
My main issue is storing them. Painted miniatures mounted on round bases obviously takes up far more space than those on a rectangular one. I’m just about to take the plunge in painting the 500+ minis that I have with this game (wish me luck; at my pace I’ll still be at it in ten years time!) and I intend to mount everything on as small a rectangular base I can get away with – it’ll also make it them easy to use for wargames too – so it might just start to appear a little more on the table!
In terms of solo play, well, there aren’t many solo scenarios knocking around, not enough to warrant buying the game for that purpose, but I play the game against myself and have plenty of fun. It is much better, though, played against others and my daughter is my regular foe – fast becoming my nemesis – I just wish she’d let me play the evil side for once!
Knowing what I know now, would I still have bought it? Definitely. Despite the setup issues we’ve had some great games, and I’m sure there are plenty more still to be had. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have added the Legendary battles to my pledge, but would have added something that added more mythical elements, such as the Devil (added to my pledge in the 1.5 campaign).
Will it remain in my collection? Another definite. Even if the game doesn’t get played that often, the amount of miniatures it possess will allow me to put together a decent army for wargaming – I’ve just got to get them all painted!
One Year On – I really enjoy Joan of Arc and whilst it isn’t the most realistic interpretation of a wargame, it entertains and is very good fun. You can replicate, to a degree, the famous battles of the time or throw in the myths and legends to add a bit of fantasy to the occasion, and this aspect is by far my favourite part. The retail version sees the Kickstarter thinned down some, but that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing and you’ll probably get it to the table more often in that form. If you can get around the drag of setup and you enjoy fast paced wargames, then this may be up your street.