Res Arcana Board Game Rules

Filled with magical items, artifacts, and dragons, Res Arcana transforms players into mystical mages fighting to become the most powerful. In these Res Arcana rules, you will learn how to become a powerful mage and gain victory over your opponents!

Res Arcana by Sand Castle Games is an award-winning board game that is played in rounds, with 3 steps per round. During these steps, players will gain essences and use their powers to perform certain actions which can benefit themselves and possibly bring down their opponents.

The more essences you gather, the more components you can purchase. The more components you buy, the more powers you can utilize throughout the game. 

Can you beat your fellow mage rivals in the race to gain 10 Victory Points?

This Res Arcana rules guide will cover the following:

  • What is Res Arcana the board game?
  • What you’ll need to play Res Arcana
  • Res Arcana board game rules
  • How to win Res Arcana
  • Video Tutorial
  • FAQs
  • Similar game guides

Learn how to play Res Arcana below!

What is Res Arcana the Board Game?

Res Arcana Board Game Info image

Res Arcana is a card-drafting board game based in a fantasy world where mages are competing against each other to become the most powerful of them all.

By collecting essences, magical items, and artifacts, you enhance your chances of winning Victory Points. Be the first player to gain 10 Victory Points to win the game!

 Number of players: 2-4

Ages: 12+

Difficulty: Medium

Length of play: 30-60min

Category: Board game, card game, card drafting, fantasy, hand management, race to win, variable player powers

Similar to: Paladins of the West Kingdom, Alchemists, Roll Player

Main Objective: Be the first player to collect 10 victory points

Why We Love It: We love the many unique artifacts to play with and the “race to the finish” goal. Changing up the mage you play with each game creates a different playing experience than the last!

What You’ll Need to Play Res Arcana

Everything you need to play Res Arcana can be found in the box:

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The following components are found inside each base game:

  • 40 Artifact cards
  • 10 Mage cards
  • 10 Monument cards
  • 150 Wooden essence tokens
  • 5 Places of power
  • 8 Magic items
  • 1 First player token
  • 12 Extra essence chips
  • 4 Reference cards and 1 summary tile
  • 1 Rulebook

Res Arcana Board Game Rules

Game Setup

To start a game of Res Arcana, follow this simple guide for setup instructions:

  1. Take all of the essence tokens and place them into the provided tray with the 5x essence chips in the center. This forms the essence supply that will be used throughout the game.
  2. Take the 5 Places of Power cards and place them in the play area in a row for all players to see. If this is your first time playing, it’s suggested to use the side of the cards that show a gold symbol on the top right corner.

Otherwise, in future games, you may choose these at random.

  1. Take the 8 Magic Item cards and place them in a row for all players to see, preferably below the Places of Power.
  2. Find the Monument cards and shuffle them. Place them face-down in the game area, draw the top 2 cards, and display them next to the pile face-up.
  3. Each player collects 1 of each essence for their personal stash (including gold). Then, select a player to go first. That player will receive the first player token.
  4. Shuffle the mage and artifact cards separately, then deal to each player 2 mages and 8 artifacts. The remaining cards will be returned to the box.

Players review the cards in their hand and choose 1 of the 2 mage cards to play with during the game, revealing it face-up in front of them. The unused mages get returned to the box.

  1. Each player shuffles their artifact cards and places them into a pile in front of them face-down. Then each player draws the top 3 cards to form their starting hand.
  2. Starting with the player to the right of the first player, each player takes turns in counter-clockwise order picking up 1 of the 8 magic items displayed on the table and placing it face-up in front of them.

You are now ready to start a game of Res Arcana!

How to Play Res Arcana

In Res Arcana, turns are taken in rounds. Each game could take around 4-6 rounds to play before determining a winner.

The first player who gains 10 total Victory Points at the end of a full round wins the game! Victory Points are collected by picking up components (cards) that are labeled with a red wax seal containing a number.

Each round consists of 3 steps. Players do not move on to the next step until all players have completed it or have passed their turn.

Here are the explanations of each step per round:

1. Collect Essences

During this step, players may perform any “Collect” abilities listed on any of their components (cards). Each card is unique and will advise each player how many and which type of essences should be collected by showing special symbols.

Players may choose to take this step individually, starting with the first player and continuing clockwise, or they may take this turn simultaneously.

Some cards may advise you to take essences from the supply, and some cards may have you collect essences that are currently sitting on a card. At times, leaving essences on certain cards may provide you additional benefits, so choose carefully!

If at any time you have more than 5 of the same essence in your personal stash, you may take 5 of that essence and replace it with a 5x essence chip found in the middle of the essence tray.

NOTE: The rulebook will show a visual explanation of all the different symbols and their meanings in further detail.

2. Actions or Pass

In clockwise order, starting with the first player, each player may perform 1 of the following actions. There is no limit to the amount of actions taken, but each player must wait until it’s their turn again to take another action.

The action phase ends when all players have “passed.” The first player to pass their turn collects the first player token but flips it over to the “passed” side. This player is now the first player until someone else receives this token.

The following actions can be performed during this step:

Place an Artifact

Remove an artifact from your hand and place it face-up in front of you by paying its “cost” in essences which is found on the top left corner of the card.

Claim a Monument or Place of Power

To claim a Monument or Place of Power, you must pay its cost in essences on the top left corner of the card. Once the card is paid for, move it in front of you, face-up.

Monument cards all cost 4 gold. You have the option of choosing one of the face-up Monuments already on display or drawing the top card of the Monument deck.

If you take a Monument card from the face-up selection, you must immediately fill that space with the top card of its draw deck.

Discard an Artifact

You may discard an Artifact from your hand to collect any 2 essences or 1 gold from the supply. Place this Artifact face-up and side-ways on the bottom of your face-down artifact deck to signify this has been used to collect essences.

Use a Power

Use a power found on one of your cards in play. In order to use one of the powers listed, this card must be a straightened (unturned) card. However, there are some cards that allow you to use their “react” abilities on turned (used) cards.

NOTE: A full visual description of each possible power can be found in the rulebook. 


If you decide to pass your turn, you are done performing actions for the rest of this step. If you are the first player to pass, receive the first player token flipped onto its “passed” side.

Then, swap the magic item in your possession for one in the face-up supply. When you take the new magic item, keep it face down in front of you on its “passed” side.

Other players may still take additional actions until they pass, but when it’s your turn, they will skip over you.

3. Check for Victory

When all players have passed during the action step, it’s time to check to see if anyone has achieved 10 Victory Points! Victory Points are added up, and if anyone has 10 or more Victory Points, the game ends, and that player is the winner! 

If there is a tie for the most Victory Points, the player who has the most essence in their personal supply (with gold counting as double) will break the tie!

If no players have accomplished to win with 10 Victory Points during this step, players will straighten all of their turned cards and flip over the first player token and their magical artifacts, then proceed to the next round!

How to Win Res Arcana

To win a game of Res Arcana, you must be the first player to gain 10 (or more) Victory Points at the end of the final step in a round.

Victory Points are signified by a number listed on a component (card) encased in a red wax seal mark.

Video Tutorial for Res Arcana

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any expansions to Res Arcana?

Yes, there are currently 2 expansions available: Res Arcana Perlae Imperii and Res Arcana Lux et Tenabrae.

Are there any variations available?

Yes, the rulebook suggests two different game variations that would work for 2-4 players or for 2 players only to change the game up a bit!

How can I find out more information for each specific card/component?

Refer to the “Component Fine Points” and the “Glossary” found at the back of the rulebook to get specific information on the different components, powers, and terms used in the game.

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