If competitive knitting was a real thing, I feel like it would probably land on ESPN 4 and I’d watch it weekly. Until that time, we have ArchRavels, a board game about knitting and fulfilling orders quicker than your competitors. As a gentleman who has tried his hand at knitting, will this game have me hooked?
Unraveling the Basics
Players begin the game by picking a character. These are double-sided boards that have a slightly different action associated with each. Four actions are available on your turn and you can do one of these when you’re the active player.
Shopping allows you to choose yarn from the market board in the center of the table. Some characters can gather more yarn than others through this action. Crafting allows you to use the collected yarn to craft items like teddy bears, scarfs, blankets or special crafts that are gained during the game. Exchanging yarn can swap the color of yarn in your basket. Finally, each player has a unique action that is some combination of crafting and gathering yarn. No single character feels better than the others. They’re just all slightly different.
In ArchRavels, players can use the yarn they gathered to craft basic items that are show at the bottom of their player board. Ultimately the most money (victory points) is gained by turning in these basic items to meet the requirements of the projects on the central board. I love how the projects are all themed around Fall and Winter activities. The Pond Hockey project requires you to make 4 knit caps ($2 each) which awards you $20.
These projects are first come first serve so watch out because other players are probably working toward the same goal.
Getting to the Knitty-Gritty
Each character in ArchRavels has a favorite project they enjoy knitting. During the course of the game projects will appear in the market that are special projects. The players who reveals the card gets to assign the project. These projects are a little more rewarding than your basic patterns. Players have to watch out because if you don’t finish one of these, the money on the card counts against your final score.
Event cards also show up from time to time on the board. These can be helpful giving you more yarn or even allow everyone at the table a free crafting action. When the cat card shows up, the active player can assign the cat to an opponent which keeps them from taking a crafting action that turn.
ArchRavels has just the right amount of interaction for the style of game that it is. Players can be jerks to one another but really they are just mild inconveniences. While the name of the game hints at competition, it’s not overly competitive. And that’s actually very fitting.
Space Zombie Knitters
The theme of knitting and crafting is new, fresh and will undoubtedly bring new players to the table. This theme has not been endlessly mined like space, fantasy, zombies or manufacturing. XYZ Game Labs did a great job of having a diverse cast of characters that fit into this crafting world that is not the normal setting of a board game.
ArchRavels does a lot with its unique theme by bringing colorful components and fun artwork to the table. The wooden yarn tokens make this game feel like a premium experience. The wooden player markers, cat token and organized tray from GameTrayz all elevate the overall feel of the game.
In the past month we’ve been able to share the game with lots of people with different experiences in the board gaming hobby. It’s so fun exploring this theme and seeing how they interact in ArchRavels. I really believe the uniqueness of the theme makes this game standout in our board game collection.
Before finishing this review, I want to share a little issue we did find in the game. Since our son struggles with color blindness, we pay attention to this in the games we play as a family. The yarn token colors are a real issue when trying to differentiate between red/orange and blue/purple. The yarn tokens are slightly different in their shape but it’s not always immediately apparent to someone with color blindness. We’ve even seen that even in poor lighting conditions, it’s very easy to mix up the red and orange yarn tokens.
We’ve been very impressed with ArchRavels and feel like it’s a great game for families. The unique theme brings something new to our game nights and it’s a game that is easy to teach new or younger gamers. Here’s to hoping that a whole new community of crafters jump into hobby board games because of ArchRavels.
This game was provided to us by the publisher for review. Read more about our review policies at One Board Family.
- Great component quality and storage
- Love the diversity and different character abilities
- Competitive without being “mean”
- Unique and refreshing theme
- Token colors can be a struggle for color blind players