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Hidden Ark solo rules

One book to rule them all: week May 29 - June 4

Hidden Ark is a game about trying to save critically endangered species of fish from extinction. Can the science beat evolution though? We’ll see about that.

Summed up

Game is played over three “rounds”, each lasting until you need to refill fish on the board. For solo this happens when there are 7 fish left. The board starts with 10 fish, two of each colour. At start you place two stations and two vessels on board, taking opportunity tokens from the spaces and use the 2 player side of awards.

Hidden Ark: board
Image source: BGG

On a turn you first flip opportunity tokens so there’s five face up and take one (if you take a face down token, flip one face up down again). These give you resources, actions to keep for later, or upgrades. Place one face up opportunity token on one of the awards making it earn less VPs. Then you perform one column of actions:

  • Build - science station (on location) or rescue vessel (on space with station)

  • Operation - move vessel up to two spaces orthogonally and perform one rescue (pay costs on fish tile)

  • Upgrade - improve action with opportunity token (first for free)

  • Research - move three spaces on research tracks (not money)

Then you can perform free exchange of resources at a 2 for 1 rate.

When refill happens, place escalation tokens on each fish present (making rescue harder), then refill fish spaces. Third time don’t refill just take one more turn, the game is over.

You gain VPs for built stations and vessels, fish tiles, VP tokens, resources, award tokens and face down opportunity tokens, but lose value of escalation tokens left on the board. Compare your score to the chart to see how you did (201+ solo is top).

Hidden Ark: illustration
Image source: Kickstarter page

My thoughts are revealed


For simple rules it was more confusing than I’d like. Some explanations are wonky, they use terms like “row of actions”, but based on the description I’m pretty sure they mean vertical row, aka column. Could use more words and better structure. Solo/coop are a simple modification and technically you can up to 4 hand this.


We continue my dive into unexpected games with curious themes. Who wouldn’t want to try saving species from extinction? Even though it’s basically a euro game. The game has very functional graphic design, although not as pleasing to my eye. As I mentioned already, it’s a relatively simple game rules wise with main focus being on the puzzle at hand instead. I’m definitely curious how this one will turn out. Just a bit of sadness for me that again humanity is trying to do good, but the goal is to be best at it first (comp) and cooperate later (variant).


Hidden Ark has launched on Kickstarter and the campaign will run for 26 more days. As a token of gratitude, you’ll get token bag and name in the box for pledging.

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Jun 02, 2023

You sure surprised me with your pick this week!

Although I seriously dislike fishes, I think the box cover is pretty great; but then the contrast with the extremely bland board is all the more striking.

I also dislike "save the nature" games. They drain my morale. And I find them deluded compared to the frustrating reality. You don't save species by sending scientists (who don't have funds anyway). You save species by stopping the war machine humans are riding against our very world. As I read on an excellent tribune against ChatGPT (which is sold as a superior intelligence capable of solving the major challenges of climate collapse), we don't need more research to save species. We already know…

Jun 03, 2023
Replying to

This is a rather complex topic, but generally I'm ok with "idealistic futuristic utopic" versions of this topic specifically because as you said, it's just political question (and thus frustrating and out of hand and all about money). Not to mention some species die over time, it's called evolution. And in a way games tend to help forget about some frustrations I have with real life. We can dream, right? I also like to play video games where you're saving species or repopulating their environment. I don't view this or environmental games as educational and I don't like when they present themselves as having a solution. It's just a fairytale.

It's not amazing looking game sure, but it's functional. The…

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