A pleasant discovery
I stumbled upon this game through some intriguing kitbashed grimdark and weird fantasy miniatures during a browse though Instagram using #brawlarcane28.
The game’s website describes it as:
A 28mm miniature agnostic rule-set. Loosely inspired by games like Blood Bowl, Brutal Quest, The Weald, and various other Inq28 projects. These rules are designed as both game-play rules and as a jumping off point for model conversions.
I would describe it as an chess-like arena fantasy game, where rival spellcasters try to eradicate each other using spells and summoning minions.
Intrigued, I headed to the game’s website and downloaded the pay what you want rules PDF, printed it as an A5 booklet and started reading.
Brawl Arcane 28: A Review
After playing games of Dragon Rampant and Frostgrave, we had dinner and played Brawl Arcane 28 while eating and drinking some red wine. It’s a perfect casual game for in between larger games or after a long miniature battle. I think it’s also a perfect gateway game. Heck, I could even imagine it as a party game. There are multiplayer rules in the rules pamphlet. We played two consecutive matches where David’s Astral Warlock was going up against my kitbashed (but unpainted) Flesh Transmuteur. We were quickly getting the feel of the rules and the game was very quick and fluid. You can play this game literally in 30 minutes or less.
What you need to play Brawl Arcane 28
You’ll need a gridded play area. That can be anything from a battle mat to modeled dungeon tiles. You could also draw a grid on a piece of paper or use a chess board, which lots of players of Brawl Arcane 28 do.
4 to 8 pieces of terrain will be used to block line of sight and hinder movement during the game.
Next you’ll need 4 miniatures: 1 spellcaster and 3 minions. Here comes the fun part. The wizard profiles included in the rules are generic enough to suggest ideas and stimulate your creativity to design your own personal warband. This game shouts kitbashing and miniature conversion!
The last things you need are some 6-sided dice and something to note your health points.
And lastly you need to have a copy of the rules.
The setting is deliberately kept vague. The game is taking place in a fantasy world of your choice. There’s an event where wizards fight each other in front of a crowd in a small arena. Several evocative locations are very briefly mentioned in the rules, leaving plenty of room for your imagination.
You play this game on a grid roughly the size of a chessboard. I used my new Ultimate Dungeon Terrain I built recently. The game author recommends roughly 8 pieces of scatter terrain to block line of sight. I used some pillars I built following a tutorial by Black Magic Craft.
Being a miniature agnostic game, you can use every fantasy miniature you want to represent your wizard and his 3 minions. The wizard types are varied enough to give you absolute freedom to come up with miniatures of your own. I’m talking Kit-bashing the hell of your minis. There are plenty of great examples online. The Grimdark-Blanchitsu-style is very popular in the community. That’s what inspired me to kit-bash and paint my own Flesh Transmuteur warband.
Players choose their Magic Discipline and their corresponding wizard and minions. Their spell and special abilitie as well as their stats are note on their corresponding profile sheet.
Each player plays a turn and then the next player take over with his turn.
There’s an audience, as it’s good customs with every sports game like Blood Bowl, Gaslands or Gorechosen. That audience decides through dice rolls what happens at the beginning of each round. Plus you can earn Crowd Favour when a minion is destroyed.
At the beginning of each turn, after spending crowd favors the active player chooses a spell. You roll 2D6 to determine which spell you are allowed to use. You can always choose a default spell, which equals to a magic missile attack. There’s a summon minion spell, different buff spells, as well as your wizard’s signature spell.
Each model gets 1 activation, which includes a movement and 1 action. Then, play passes to the next model until all of your models have been activated. Then, the next player gets his turn.
The game ends, once a wizard’s health has been reduced to 0 or below. The surviving wizard’s player wins the game.
Game play is extremely fast, and you’re constantly involved even when it’s not your turn. Rulebook flipping, after a couple of rounds, is not necessary anymore, provided that you printed the stats and spells on separate sheets or have the rulebook open on that particular page.
There aren’t many resources to be found on the internet (at least at the moment of writing this article). #brawlarcane28 on Instagram reveals plenty of inspirational images. The game designer’s Discord server is a really busy place to learn more about the game and to see what other people come up with for this game. I can’t say anything about Facebook, since I’m not on it.
After playing Brawl Arcane 28 several times and giving it a review, I can say that the rules themselves are very simple and easy to get a grip on. It’s a fun and casual beer & pretzel style DIY board game with terrain and miniatures. It goes particularly well with some glasses of fermented beverages … . I can also imagine this game being a great gateway game into miniature games. Even getting your kids into miniature gaming or simply into gaming doesn’t seem to off with this neat little gem of a game.
Should you play this game? It depends. If you’re looking for a quick, easy and fun game, by all means, give it a go! The fact that you’ll need only 4 miniatures, and that you could basically just play on a chessboard or a grid drawn on paper, makes this game as accessible as it can be. Scale is another flexible component. Think about using 15mm minis on a small square gridded field. Maybe add some tiny magnets and you’ve got yourself an potential miniatures travel game. And what’s not to like playing with toy soldiers on the beach?