Tash Kalar Game
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- Ages 13 and up
- Play time: 30 minutes
- 2 to 4 players
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CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
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Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends is a game played by masters of magic. Two to four summoners encounter each other in the Tash-Kalar arena, either in teams or each on his own, and prove their skill and strategy in a short but intense battle. By clever deployment of their minions, they create magic patterns for summoning powerful beings, and then use those to destroy their opponent's forces or to prepare patterns for the ultimate legendary beings. The game includes three different factions, each with a unique deck of beings to summon and one deck of legendary creatures. Players take turns placing their common pieces on the board, and if they succeed in creating patterns depicted on one of the cards in hand, they may play it.
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Initial games have a bit of a learning curve especially for those who don't play many abstract games with spatial elements but subsequent plays go quickly. The game is being supported with multiple smaller deck expansions for different styles of game play. The game also seems to have a balanced rule set for first player advantage.
For the depth of the game, the fact that it takes around a half hour to play, and only a few minutes to teach (the rulebook looks a bit intimidating at first blush due to some interesting layout decisions, but once you know the game you can teach it to someone else in under ten minutes very easily), it's insane that I hadn't played this before.
This game is a clever combination of the placement of tokens (geometric placement) and the use of cards.
You can play with from two to four players. There is a basic version of the game that includes most of the cards and tokens and a more advanced version that includes all of the components. Then, there are two variants, the high form and death match, each with its own victory conditions and scoring combinations.
The players each choose one of the four decks: Northern Imperial, Southern Imperial, Sylvan, or Highland. The two imperial schools have identical decks, just of different colors to help keep the cards separate.
The board is laid out with 69 spaces, roughly in a rounded square pattern. There are red and green squares that affect potential actions with some of the advanced spells. There are three types of tokens that can be placed, common, heroic, and legendary.
Each turn a player can either place a common piece, or use a card to transform or play a higher level piece. Pieces can capture enemy pieces (or their own too) of lesser or equal value. There are a limited number of pieces though; so, you have to think carefully about where to use your higher level pieces.
On to the Dr. Games’ criteria …
GO/NO GO Criterion
• Complexity: (GO) Tash-Kalar has relatively straightforward rules, and it comes with some very well designed game aids with all of the rules embedded in them. The combination of piece position and cards available offer a lot of potential for strategic play. We played a half a dozen times so far, and I have not seen a piece placement strategy that tips a player’s hand yet, but my gut is that after time and understanding the game, you would be able to predict at least the heroic moves a little in advance based on player preparation.
• Balanced: (GO) The basic game is entirely balanced. The Sylvan and Highland decks have a bit more subtlety to them, and my gut reaction is that the Sylvan school might have a slight edge overall, but it is also the deck that requires the most patience.
• Chance: (GO) You draw random cards, and things depend a great deal on how your opponents played, each turn.
• Clarity: (GO) The mechanics are very straightforward, and the rule book is both comprehensive and reasonably easy to understand.
• Reasonable Time: (GO) You can finish each game in less than 45 minutes.
• Social: There are no special rules about social interaction. Certainly in many multiplayer games, there are advantages to table talk and diplomacy. Tash-Kalar is no exception, and agreeing to a certain token placement can benefit multiple sides.
• Unique/interesting Mechanics: the concept of combining patterns with card play is very interesting. It reminds me a bit of Penta or Go in that way. There is also a clever mechanic called the Flare that you can use if another player is beating you by a large enough margin. The Flare invokes some condition that allows you to break the ordinary rules for a limited time.
• Inform: Not so much in this one.
• Rewards Throughout: Each time you successfully place and leverage a complex placement of tokens, it is very heartening.
Tash-Kalar has a permanent place in my family’s bookcase. I highly recommend this game!
Most recent customer reviews
I say "fairly simple".Read more