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Review: Krysis

Posted by Eisley on 11th December 2009

The setting for Krysis is a mix of sci-fi, post-apocalypse and fantasy where players play companies attempting to collect gems and relics from a mine.  Players use cards representing their agents who are either fighters or transporters for not only do you need to collect items but you need to protect them (or steal them) too.

The board shows a mine with 6 levels.  Players start on level 1 and each turn they enter the next level down, so the game lasts for 5 rounds.  Each player has a screen – items placed in front are in their campsite, and items placed behind it are safely at their company’s base.  Each player has two decks of agent cards – fighters and transporters.  Each agent has a speed rating plus a second statistic – transporters show how much they can carry and fighters have a combat rating. 

The first stage of each round is a blind bid using gems from behind your screen.  Starting with the highest bidder, players select which section of the next mine level they will occupy.  This determines what gems/relics the player receives (placed in their campsite).  One nice element here is that the furthest forward sections give the fewest items but players in the furthest forwards sections will win ties.  I thought this was a nice game balancing mechanic.

Next, players select 3 agents they want to use this round from their hand of six.  All players select 1 card and reveal simultaneously before selecting the next card.  So, choices can be based on what you think your opponents may be trying to achieve.

When all 3 cards are revealed, players choose and execute one action each: Load Goods, Raid or Mine.  Player order is determined by the total speed value of their 3 agents.  Load Goods allows a player to either transport gems from their campsite to their base (where they are safe plus can be used for bidding next round or score points at the end), or they can sell gems to the bank (scoring points immediately but discarding the gems).  Raid allows a player to steal gems from another player’s campsite if they have a higher total combat value, whch are then sold, placed in their campsite, or placed in their base (but their agents are now no longer guarding anything left in the campsite).  Mining allows a player to take several gems from the bank and place them in their campsite.  Players can use relic cards at any time to give one-off bonuses like extra combat or transporting capacity.

Any agents used are discarded and players select 3 new cards from either of their decks in any mixture.  They are drawn one at time which can influence what they draw next, then a new round begins.  After 5 rounds, players score extra points for gems in their bases as well as sets of the same, or sets of different, relics they have collected.

Krysis contains a lot of choices to make.  Agent selection can be heavily influenced by what other players are revealing.  A strong raiding team is not much use if they can’t carry much stolen property.  A team of weak transporters isn’t useful if they’ll be attacked before they can transport the goods.  The order in which players take their turns is critical – You can afford to have a weak combat rating if you’ll act before everyone else but what if an opponent takes their action first?  Player do not choose their action until it is their turn, so you need to think of the various scenarios that may occur, especially as a relic may suddenly upset the balance.  There are a few other considerations too like whether you can afford to leave your campsite undefended, or whether you should sell items for points now or put them behind your screen so you can bid with them.

So, there’s a lot to think about.  In practice though, I found that the choices felt a bit limited.  I was able to construct either a heavy, untouchable, item gathering combat team, or a weak but lightning fast team getting the goods to safety before anyone could take a swing at them.  This playing at the extremes of the combinations resulted in little interaction.  I think we were meant to have difficult choices about whether to leave a campsite undefended or not, but we either had full but heavily defended camps, or empty undefended ones.  Also, the scoring system for selling items made it quite hard to judge whether it was best thing to keep gems to the end or to sell them.

The artwork on the cards is nice and the setting has a unique feel to it.  Also, I was very impressed with the card screen as this was well-built, solid and had a nice reminder of the points scoring system on the top edge making it easy to read.  So, thought had definitely gone into the components.

Overall, I thought Krysis was okay – whilst there were some good decisions to be made, it didn’t stand out.  I was a little frustrated as I could see the type of gameplay we were probably meant to have but, once we started to create very strong or very fast teams, the interaction dropped and our choices were obvious.  Sometimes there was little to do when your action came.

Maybe our game played this way just because it was our first time, or maybe it plays better with more players.  Also, we didn’t use the advanced rules which may make the game more tactical or give more interaction.  Either way, whilst I enjoyed Krysis enough, it’s not a game I will rush to play again.

James.

[Played with 3 players]

Second Opinion: Read the thoughts of the other player (my friend Rick) at: http://www.gamesetupmatch.com/news.htm#11

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One Response to “Review: Krysis”

  1. Scoopex70 said

    This is the first hungarian Developed medium box size game what out to international sales. I played it on the beginning developing phase and the game (offcourse) was totally different compare the final version. The main concept was very interesting but the final version will be a little bit boring and repetative for my taste.

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