Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Kreta

This is a preview of Kreta. I have read the rules, but do not own, nor have I ever played, the game. I am looking for feedback about my understanding of the game. If my take on the game play is incorrect, please let me know. If you do not know the game, then let this be your introduction to it.

Kreta was designed by Stefan Dorra (For Sale, Medina), is published by Goldsieber, and supports 2-4 players. This game incorporates the mechanics of so many other games that you might think it's just a clumsy hybrid. My inclination is that it is clean, elegant, and fresh.

The board is a simple, yet very attractive map of the island of Crete divided into 16 provinces. The setup of the game involves placing a resource (5 types) on each province, and laying out 11 Fort cards which represent the 11 scoring actions. The first 2 Fort cards are turned face up.

Victory points (VP) are scored in two ways: having the most and second-most influence points (IP) in a province when it is scored, and by collecting resources.

Each player starts the game with 1 Abbot, 2 Ships, 3, Forts, 4 Villages, 5 Villagers, and 7 cards. Each player has the same 7 cards. On each turn, a player plays one of their cards, executing its action. All played cards are left face up in front of their respective players.

The first face-up Fort card contains the number of one of the 26 Fort locations on the board. All provinces adjacent to this location will score. This can be anywhere from 2 to 4 provinces. Since the first two Fort cards are face up, players get a "peek" at the future similar to Wallenstein.

When a player plays their Castellan card on their turn, a round of scoring occurs. A player's IP on a given province is the sum of the values of all his pieces on/around that province. All pieces are worth 1 IP, except for the Villages which are worth 2 IP. Note that since Forts sit on province borders, their value applies to all provinces that they touch that are being scored. The player(s) with the most IP score VP equal to the number of little hex shapes on the province. The player(s) with the second most IP score half that number rounded down. Simple.

After scoring, all players pick up all their cards, and the next Fort card is turned face up. If the player who played the Castellan card wishes, he may discard this card and draw a new one. Powerful. I assume if you are ahead significantly, you could play the Castellan card every turn to end the game quicker, but you would probably score no VP doing it.

Four cards (Admiral, Commander, Abbot, Architect) let you place a piece from your reserve (Ship, Villager, Abbot, Village/Fort, respectively) or move pieces(s) already on the board. Villages and Forts do not move. Ships can only move to provinces with a harbor. In this way, you can setup your IP as you like in anticipation of the coming scoring round. This is similar to San Marco, except that you know what provinces will score, rather than leaving it up to the whim of the player with the Doge card.

A province with 7 units is "full" and no more pieces (Abbots, Villages, Villagers) may be added. Also, you may not add pieces to a province with an opponent's Abbot unless your Abbot is also present. You may move pieces through a full province.

The King card lets you execute the action of a card you have already played (ie face up in front of you). It is basically a wildcard. So if, for example, you have already played your Commander card, but wish to move some Villagers, you can play your King card as a Commander card. However, on the next turn, you cannot execute the same action unless another player plays their Castellan card, causing everyone to pick up all their cards.

The second way to score VP is to play the Farmer card. This card allows you to deliver a resource tile on the board to a ship of yours provided you have a "chain" of Villagers from the province with the resource tile to the province with the ship, inclusive. You get 1 VP for the first resource you collect of a given type, 2 more VP for the second, etc. as in Taj Mahal.

So what elements are present in Kreta?
  • area influence
  • set collection (4th good is worth 4 VP)
  • connectivity (can deliver goods with connected Villagers)
  • hand management (can only play cards once until recycled)
  • unit management (only so many pieces, some fixed)
  • movement points (Abbots/Villagers may move so many spaces)
  • "look-ahead" for scoring (2 face-up cards)
  • game pace management (scoring under player control)

3 Comments:

At 6:01 AM, Blogger dave said...

Your take is spot-on.

After one game, my first impression is that all the good stuff you listed is there, but it seems somewhat undermined by luck-of-the-draw for the Fort cards (and I say that having been the beneficiary in my one match). This random element doesn't match well with the rest of the game. I'll give it a benefit of a doubt, but I won't be clamoring to play again.

 
At 4:10 PM, Blogger ekted said...

Dave, I had that thought while typing this post. It occurred to me that you could modify the rules for the Fort cards slightly to minimize the luck factor. For example, have all 11 cards face up, as well as the top card of the deck. So you know what's coming, and you also know what your options are if you play the Castellan (for swapping cards).

I'm not sure I'd like the game as much though if it was too deterministic. It would feel almost like Puerto Rico. I like PR fine, but I just don't need another one. :)

 
At 3:54 PM, Blogger Jeff Wauer said...

I played one game of Kreta and agree that Stephan has indeed packed a lot of gaming goodness into the box. I really enjoyed my playing of it.
I think that some of the luck of the draw can be mitigated in how yone distributes resources such that one doesn't overcommit to one end of the island and takes into consideration the movement ranges of the mobile pieces when committing them. Still the Fort cards could all go one way or overly emphasize one strategic intersection.
As an alternate modification, rather than have all 11 cards face up maybe the lookahead just needs to be increased to 4 cards. An additional option could be to play a couple region face up to a out-of play pile. Both of these options would increase the knowledge base of which regions would and would not score without creating a situation of perfect information.

 

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