Flying Turtle, £15-20
Designed by Jean Vanaise
3-6 Players, about 1-2 hours
Reviewed by Dave Farquhar
Kalahen is a fantasy board game by Flying Turtle that came out a couple of years back and which is still available in most outlets. I was impressed with the production quality, and particularly with the total absence of any language problems. I believe it is a Belgian game, but this causes no difficulty as separate rulebooks are provided in four languages. In addition, although there are a large number of cards used in play, all are purely pictorial.
The theme of the game is hardly original. In order to win, the player has to retrieve three parts of a secret potion. However, the design is rather nice. The board looks like a dark and brooding version of Elfenroads. Players each have a metal warrior, who starts from a castle. They also have life points, gold and magic rings.
The pieces of parchment containing the potion formulae are held in treasure chests located at the cursed places (pause for crescendo of scary music). These also contain magic swords, shields, potions and other assorted goodies. Warriors travel to these locations, and then roll on a table (not literally) to see what is encountered. These range from spells requiring different combinations of rings to be held, to combat against the great d10+6 monster. If the test is passed one object may be selected; if failed, lose some life points!
There are also villages to be visited, where gold, rings and life points are available, which may similarly be obtained at the players' castles.
The three levels of parchment are progressively more difficult to obtain. The first is in the outer chests, the second in chests guarded by tougher opponents, and the third in either the forest or the dreaded tower (more Wagnerian music).
Play follows the usual pattern for this sort of thing, with warriors travelling around fighting things, obtaining magic items and generally trying to keep their strength up. There are however a couple of mechanisms to this game which are worth mentioning:
The combat system entails rolling three special dice, the faces of which show 1,2 or 3 in either numbers or dots. These are rolled, and the score is the difference between the sum of dots and figures. The dice may be re-rolled over three rounds, like poker dice, in much the same way as the more recent Minos. Magic rings may be paid in advance to either double or treble the score. Magic weapon bonuses are then added to the result. This is clever, as success can never be guaranteed.
For example, a player has to fight a ten point monster. He is armed with a magic sword (+1). The possible range of unmodified dice scores are 0 to 9, which would be increased by one for the sword. Do you risk it, or pay to double or treble.
Movement is along roads through different types of terrain. This is depicted at the side of the board by a sort of traffic light system. Each type of road starts with a green marker indicating it is safe. When an adventurer travels along it the marker is replaced with a red, indicating that travel there is dangerous. The next person to travel along it loses a life point and moves it back to green. Neat. In recompense, having lost a life point, the player may place a blue marker on any road indicating a wandering monster which must be fought, or bridge which has collapsed. The monster, when fought, is drawn randomly, therefore the level of danger is unknown.
That's about it really. Kalahen is quite fun to play, and looks good. I don't think though that there is much long term enjoyment to be gained from it. If there are any Talisman fans out there though this could be the one for you.
On to the review of Cockpit or back to the review of Waldesfrust an Bord.
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