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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Kairo

| April 4th 2016 | 
Thanks for checking out my blog. I have a new, much better looking version of this review here: http://www.boardgamebarker.com/blog/2015/8/22/kairo


Kairo is a very interesting tactical game from Queen Games. The goal is to construct your market stalls so that you have the closest goods to each corresponding customer. How do you do this? By expanding your stalls to block out the other sellers at the market. Although the box says 8+ I think it is a little complex for that age range, Kairo is very abstract once you learn the rules and start to figure out the different strategies, this can make it hard for younger players to pick up on the strategy. 



Objective:

The goal is to have the most victory points by the end of the game. You gain points every time you expand a market stall as well as each time you gain a medal. Then at the end of the game you score points for any medals you are in the possession of and any coins that you still have.

Setup:

Each player selects a symbol and takes the market stall with the matching symbol of EACH COLOUR and then takes the matching privacy screen. 

This is one mechanic of the game that makes it seem overwhelming at first but also I found strains your eyes. But if you can get past the few hiccups Kairo has, there is an amazing strategic game.

Then each player takes 1 coin of every colour.

Players then proceed to place market stalls 1 at a time ignoring all costs however no more than 2 may be built in each area section of the board .Once each player has placed 3 stalls the game is ready to begin.

Gameplay:
On a turn you only have a few options, however deciding between them is not always an easy task.

1. Build a Stall:

A player may play a stall card allowing him/her to either place a new market stall, expand an existing stall  or move an entirely blocked stall. Regardless which of these a player chooses to do, they must carry out the action in the highlighted section of the Stall Card they played. 
You may also discard 3 stall cards of any type to place a stall in the section
of your choice, still following regular placement rules.

Some Stall Cards allow you to choose where to place your stall from a few sections, these Stall Cards cost 1 coin to play in addition to the expansion costs. Expanding a market stall costs 1 coin of the corresponding colour for each existing stall tile. This includes expansions and the original market stall.
Placing a new stall costs 0 coins but must follow some basic rules. The purple (restaurant stalls) must be played inside the restaurant area.
There are 3 tiles so placing a new Restaurant expansion costs 3 purple coins.


**Each section of the board may only contain 1 market stall of each colour. However expansions and the stall entrance are allowed in a section that contains the same colour of another player`s stall**




2. Lure a customer to your stall:

When moving a customer you have the opportunity to generate coin for yourself and perhaps another player at the same time. When a customer reaches a stall, the player who owns the stall gains 1 coin of the corresponding colour for each tile in his/her stall, the player who sent the customer there also gets 1 coin commission  however you do not score commission if you moved the customer to your own stall. There are a few easy rules to follow:
The Ankh player decides to spend his turn 'Luring a Customer'
The Ankh player decides to move the green customer to
the closest green stall of the Pyramid player. 
After the customer has moved, you swap him out for
the customer that is not currently on the board, this way ensuring
that 1 customer is always NOT IN PLAY and stalls never have
a matching customer on it. 
Since it was the Ankh player that sent the customer to
the Pyramid player's stall, the Ankh player gains 1 green coin,
then the pyramid player scores 1 green coin for each tile
in his stall, in this case 1 coin as well.


> The desired stall can not be occupied by another customer

> The customer goes to the CLOSEST  stall of a matching colour, if there is a tie then the player moving the customer chooses. 

> Customers can pass through other customers but not stalls or the restaurant area

> Customers move ORTHOGONALLY (horizontal and vertical) 

> Market barker cards allow a player to ignore 1 stall entrance of the customers colour and move to a further away stall.

3. Draw 2 cards:

When drawing cards a player can choose where he wants to draw them from, any combination of the following works:

1 face up stall card - it does not get replenished until you are finished drawing cards and your turn has ended. 

1 face down stall card from the draw pile

1 Market barker card, this is kept face up in plain view (not behind your privacy screen) and does not count towards the 4 card hand limit. 


Scoring Points:

In Kairo there are a few ways to score points:

Whenever you expand a stall you score 1 point for every tile in that stall. 

Expanding this purple stall is worth 4 victory points.
Then check to see if you gain medals:

If you now have the biggest stall of that colour, you take both the silver and gold medal off the player who previously possessed them. You then score points equal to the value of both medals.

If you are now tied for the largest stall then you take the silver medal off the player who previously possessed it. You then score points equal to the value of the silver medal. 


Game End: 

The final game phase beings when either of the following 2 conditions has been met:

There are no expansion stalls left of 1 colour
There is only 1 expansion stall left of 2 different colours

Final Phase:

Players may now only build stalls, once a player cannot build another stall he/she passes and play continues until all players have passed and cannot build more stalls.

This final phase is especially important and can very quickly change the outcome of the game. 

**In the final phase it is important to note that you still score points when you take a medal. Then once the final phase has ended you score points for any medals in your possession. **


Components:
The money tokens are very colourful although the size difference between values could be bigger, I really like how they use the different coloured currency in the game mechanics.

The privacy screens are good if everyone knows the game, but when teaching new people we always play without them. Making it easier for people to block each other (by knowing how many coins of each colour a player has left) helps them grasp the whole blocking process which to me was the trickiest part of the game, and will help them get the strategy part quicker which should result in overall better opinions of Kairo.


I usually don’t mind games where all of the colours sort of belong to everyone, in fact Through the Desert which was the first game I played with shared colours is one of my favourite games. Kairo on the other hand executes this kind of poorly, the symbols are cool but could be blown up a little bigger, I feel like the way the symbols and colours are on the stalls put the emphasis on the colour not the symbol, this makes it easy to identify which colour stall is which but once you get an expansion on the stall you will be able to quickly tell anyways.

The customers and where they stand on the stalls I feel was done really well, as well as the tiles in general. The game is filled with high quality components, Queen Games really delivered on the Kairo components and did an excellent job using them all in the mechanics.

Here is a quick example of how great the blocking works in Kairo and will show you just how abstract/sandbox Kairo is:

Imagine you were the pyramid player and you wanted to move the white
customer to your stall, the ankh player's stall is closer.

Look at what would happen with a little creative blocking
even if the blue expansion stalls were still connected to the Ankh
stall, the white customer would still move to the Pyramid player's stall.


Who Would Enjoy Kairo?

Family Gamers: The game might be a little too abstract for its 8+ age recommendation, but Kairo is by no means a complicated game. You have cards that limit you to where you are allowed to build stalls and expansions, this helps make things simpler, all of the customers are not on the board at the same time this also helps make things a tad less busy. Like I said earlier you can play without the privacy screens, there are teaching aids and many ways to make Kairo that little bit more accessible that it can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Casual Gamers: With playtime lasting roughly 45 minutes, Kairo can be a good warm up game for your games night. There is just the right amount of thinking and planning involved but at the same time enough of the game plays itself once you are a couple turns in. It will become obvious once the medals are claimed what you should do, expand or move a customer, but maybe the cards are against you, there is a lot more of a game here then at first glance, I was pleasantly surprised with Kairo and I think as long as you have one or two experienced gamers in your group, you shouldn’t have a problem picking up Kairo.

Gamer Gamers: Who would think that a game suggested for 8+ would be one of my favourite tactical games? Kairo gives the opportunity for some very creative blocking of your opponents, however building stalls and expansions is not the only way to do this. Changing out the customers often is a much more effective way to block, once you ‘get’ the strategy Kairo becomes one of the most AP prone games I have ever played, but I love it. Many games claim they have multiple paths or routes to victory, Kairo lets you create your own route to victory instead of following one of a few pre-selected ways to win, this is why I think Kairo is best suited for gamer gamers.

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