Mix a eurogame with a confrontation game, add 9 years of passion and a dash of genius, and you get Artefacts! Like all recipes, it’s simple on paper but very difficult to reproduce. So the easiest thing to do is to sit down and enjoy the work of the creators. That’s what I did a few days ago with Franck Bovet, the father of this creation, to discover Artefacts, which goes on sale to the general public on Kickstarter on June 10th.


Artefacts, what is it?!

In Artefacts, it’s all about machines! Prestige and glory (and therefore victory) are earned through your wildest, most daring, most outrageous and most innovative creations! Each player takes on the role of a designer and must create a machine, down to the smallest detail, before taking on the other designers in an arena to demonstrate the superiority of their creation.

Artefacts is not a game, but a series of games. It’s a multitude of possibilities and infinite combinations of modules. There are no less than 14 different modules created by the author! And for each game, you can decide whether to play with the 3 basic modules or add to them from the remaining 11, in any combination you like! I’ll let you do the math!

An Artefacts game is divided into two main phases: preparation and confrontation. Here again, everything is configurable, depending on the desired length of the game. Using a wheel-shaped calendar system, the player defines the number of preparation phases and the number of arenas in a game. The preparation phases are the eurogame phases (worker placement) and the arena phases are the confrontation phases. In the former, you’ll create and set up your machine (artefact), which you’ll use in battle. It’s even possible (and we’ll come back to this later) to opt for a game with a confrontation phase only. Everything you need to create your game is configurable !

a) Programming phases

At the start of the game, players define the number of programming phases. In each phase, they will have 3 workers to place to carry out programming and creation actions. Options depend on the modules chosen. Each module brings its own new features and modifiable parameters to the machine. Basically, players will use the Builder, Architect and Kinematics modules.


At the start of each programming phase, 3 dice are rolled and one is removed. The remaining two are used to determine two values: alpha and beta. These two values modify the way in which the modules’ actions are resolved. Then, on his turn, a player will place one of his workers on one of the modules to carry out the related action. He must respect certain rules regarding placement and cost. To place a worker on a tile already occupied by an opponent, an additional cost must be paid, and it is impossible to return to a tile already occupied by the player. Once placed, the player performs the module action.

The Builder module (the only one still available at no extra cost) allows you to collect parts for your machine. The parts are numerous: armor, cannon, translation needle, celerity coefficient, five-element geodes, etc. Once collected, you need to place these elements on your machine’s schematic to create it. The Architect module positions the machine’s skeleton (geode, cannon and armor), while the Kinematics module deals with the robot’s movement capabilities, direction and speed (translation needle and celerity coefficient). This is the basis for creating a good machine.


After that, the possibilities are numerous, depending on the modules chosen. The merger module uses an ingenious displacement table to fuse geodes together to create more powerful ones with unique capabilities. The Engineer module lets you acquire unique capabilities for your machine. The Marketplace lets you buy and sell parts at constantly changing prices, so it’s up to you to find the right time to make your purchases. Other modules enable you to obtain bonuses on your gems, events to be played out during the confrontation, steal money or coins from your opponents, make your weapons even more devastating, define the number of actions of your artefact during the confrontation or its available energy, …. 14 modules with as many different possibilities.

Creating a machine means giving it the ability to move (forwards, backwards, sideways or diagonally, speed of movement, ability to rotate, etc.), but above all having a machine that is protected (armored) and capable of cannon attacks. Each machine is built around a geode of one of the 5 natural elements, giving it an advantage or disadvantage over other machines, according to the stone/leaf/chisel principle. This element is the heart of the machine. All around it, orthogonally and diagonally, can be placed cannons (single or double) and other gems to perform different attacks. Finally, on top, energy dice can be used to boost the effects of cannons and reinforce linked cannons. It’s all a question of choice and balance. You may prefer to create an artefact with low mobility but capable of resisting all attacks, or, on the contrary, an artefact that is highly mobile in all directions but at the expense of armour, or to favour one side rather than another… It’s up to you to choose and adapt according to your parts, upgrades and strategy. Of course, all this creation is done in secret, away from the view of other players, who will only discover your creation during the confrontation.

Once you’ve reached the confrontation phase, the game takes place in an arena with a number of walls, traps and bonuses. This is the confrontation phase.

b) Confrontation phase

A confrontation takes place over 4 rounds, with each player able to move around and attack his opponents. The aim is to gain as many prestige points as possible to win the game. The difference between the attack value and the defense value, in addition to inflicting damage, counts as prestige points. Alternatively, the other way to recover prestige points is to pick up randomly placed bonuses at the start of each player activation.

It’s at this point that players will discover whether their machine is suitable and efficient. They’ll also need to find the weak points in their opponents’ machines, in order to take advantage of them. This phase is relatively quick, highly strategic and full of surprises!


The Meeple Reporter’s opinion

Artefacts is a real surprise. Velvety and complex at first glance, it turns out to be dense yet accessible. Everything is logical and takes place in a well-oiled clockwork. The 9 years of development are clearly evident. Above all, it’s a wonderful surprise to discover a game that combines eurogame (worker placement) and confrontation, and in a real link. Your confrontation will really depend on the machine you’ve created, down to the smallest detail. The creative possibilities are virtually infinite, and even the most inventive players will be able to spend hours creating. Opt for this or that armor, this or that cannon, this or that configuration, favor movement or attack, defense or mobility, focus on one type of geode or several, …. The only limit is the players’ inventiveness!

As Artefacts is designed to be modular, players may prefer to go head-to-head and leave the eurogame part to one side. In this case, each player will create a machine for 70 points (each element has a cost, right down to the number of actions to be performed in each round), and then it’s time for battle. Simple and fast-paced, it’s the perfect place to test your wildest ideas. And for gamers who love pure eurogaming, the confrontation phase can be replaced by a system of creation objectives to achieve in order to score victory points!


Of course, this presentation only scratches the surface of Artefacts‘ many possibilities. This can be intriguing, frightening, and lead to fears of an unbalanced game, or one that’s average in every way. But that’s not at all what I felt during the evening of discovery with the author. Of course, we’ll have to come back to it again, but the desire is there, an excellent sign! I could go on and on about the design, graphics and symbols: everything is designed to immerse the player in this industrial world of machine creation, cogs and complex mechanisms, while ensuring that the boards are easy to read. A fine balance struck by the whole team.

In a way, the author has created the game of his dreams, and now it’s up to you to create the game of your dreams!

See you on June 10 on Kicstarter to discover the Artefacts campaign!


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