Iconica and the World of Rynaga

Iconica

A few years ago I was introduced to a game called Iconica, and was particularly struck by the way it looked: rather than paintings or photographs, the game used stylized graphics to depict a host of different characters. Then I discovered that the game is itself a part of a larger world created by Eric Torres of Specimen Design: he has developed an entire world and peopled it with various races and creatures.

(You can read my original review of Iconica and an interview with Eric Torres here.)

Since that time, Torres has been hard at work, and recently I’ve gotten to see the results. The World of Rynaga continues to grow, with additional characters added to Iconica to reflect that.

World of Rynaga - Veratar Map
This poster-sized map of Veratar is full of details and facts about Rynaga. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The way Iconica works is that the players assemble a team, taking turns to pick characters until each player has three. Then, you roll dice and pick actions—sometimes attacking other players, sometimes helping your own characters. The goal is to eliminate the other team, and it’s a mix of strategy and luck, since your choices are limited by the dice rolls but you do get to choose which die to use and which character to activate each turn.

Iconica Mirkyns
These three characters are all from the Hidden Tides Mini Series. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Torres releases sets of characters, usually tied together thematically, and one of the new sets is the Hidden Tides Mini Series. It features 11 new characters from the underwater city of Inyx: most are Mirkyns, a race of small, curious creatures that can live on both land and sea, but there are also a few larger undersea folk as well. The cards have different types of abilities, and some even have powerful ongoing effects, but at a cost: most characters have 6 different actions on them, but the ones with ongoing effects sometimes have only 5 actions instead.

Rynaga Sea Child
Sea Child is the first volume in the Collected Legends. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

You can find out more about the Mirkyns in Sea Child, a large softcover book that’s the first volume in Rynaga’s Collected Legends. This one tells of a particular Mirkyn named Neko Meadowlark, who became the first Mirkyn in many generations to go above the surface and interact with the “landlings.” The book has illustrations scattered throughout and is a fun little read. I did think Torres went a little nuts with the endnotes, but you could see that he’s thought up a lot of details about the world and needed an outlet for it all.

Iconica Neko
Neko Meadowlark is the Mirkyn in the center. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The book also comes with a Neko Meadowlark card for the game—he’s the first Legend type character I’ve seen. (The cards all have types—Common, Uncommon, Rare, Special—but as most of them come in pre-arranged sets, all but the Specials tend to be roughly equivalent in actual rarity.) Neko is a really powerful character, so he’d be pretty good to give to a less-experienced player to handicap the game, I think, but it’s fun to see the character from the story as part of the game. Most of the Iconica characters are of a type (like Karkalan Nightstalker), rather than specific named characters, so Neko is a special card.

In addition to the above, I also got the cards for the Cirqus of the Three Moons Mini Series, which consists of a bunch of circus performers. There’s a Fairewood Ring Master (at the far right in the first photo), an acrobat, an escapist, a juggler, and more. It’s an interesting bunch of characters. The Fairewood Dyad is a pair of twins—each has three actions and its own (shorter) health bar, but if one dies then you only get half as many actions with that card. Another fascinating character is the Fairewood Radia Juggler: he has a very powerful move that can do hefty damage to three characters simultaneously, but then prevents your own characters from using their #2 actions for the rest of the game.

Luthena map
Luthena has a slightly smaller map, and was mentioned in the Sea Child book. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

If you like games that are tied to larger stories, Iconica is a deep rabbit hole. Currently there are over 70 different characters in the game, each with a short biography, and I’ve only scratched the surface of creating good team combinations. I’m looking forward to seeing where else Torres takes us in the World of Rynaga!

Disclosure: review items provided by Eric Torres.

Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit.