Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Kosmos Two Player Game Series - Odin's Ravens by Thorsten Gimmler

In this game, each player represents one of Odin's Ravens (see how that works?), Hugin or Munin, in a series of races. The winner of each race gets points based on how many spaces ahead he is when the race ends. You can also get three points in a race by winning "The Magic Way" competition. First player to twelve points wins.

The flight path is a series of nine terrain cards, each with one or two types of terrain. The cards are laid out at the beginning of each race so that no two types of terrain are in a row. Each player has his own deck of cards and starts the round by drawing five cards. Finally, a Magic Way card is turned up which shows either two types of terrain or one type of terrain and an Odin card.

Hugin and Munin
On your turn you can play up to three cards from your hand. The basic action is playing a flight card with a specific terrain to move your raven forward onto the next card in the flight path (for example, if the next card is a mountain, you play a mountain card and then move your raven onto that card). If you don't have the next terrain, you can play two matching cards as a joker to move onto the next card. Awesomely, if there are multiple cards with the same terrain ahead, for example, three lake cards, playing one of that type of card moves you all the way to the end of that terrain! So there's a big advantage in manipulating the terrain cards in the flight path.

How do you manipulate the flight path? Also available in your deck are Odin cards which give you special actions like rotating or changing the order of the terrain cards, placing the Odin marker in front of your opponent which requires them to play an additional card to move onto that terrain, adding landscape cards to the end of the line, rearranging your auxiliary stack, or moving your or your opponent's raven forward or back one space, respectively.

The Auxiliary stack on the left, the draw deck in the center and the discards on the right.
Another option is to play a card face down to your auxiliary stack, which is the key, unique mechanic in the game. In addition to playing three cards from your hand each turn, you can play up to three cards from your auxiliary stack, allowing you to play a maximum of up to six cards. The trick is, you have to create the auxiliary stack as you go by playing cards face down onto it. There's a complication, though, because you may not change the order of the cards. So if you need a card from your auxiliary stack that's under another, too bad, you have to play the card on top first. This requires a good deal of thought as you have to carefully plan the order in which you play cards into the auxiliary stack so that you can later play them in a devastating move.

You may also play a card to "The Magic Way". This card has to match either the terrain type or Odin card on The Magic Way card turned up at the start of the round. This card does nothing for you during the race, but the player who plays the most cards to The Magic Way by the end of the race gets three points.

The Magic Way
Finally, at the end of the turn you may add a new terrain card to the end of the flight path. Generally, you only do this because your opponent is close to winning the race and you hope to stop them. This can backfire because if they do finish, the get an extra point for traveling one more card.

Carol came out of the gate strong and won the first race by a whopping four cards and also played the most cards to The Magic Way for a total of seven points to my zero. I came back the next race with five points, two from the race plus three for winning The Magic Way. I won the third race by three, taking the lead, eight to seven. Carol won the next race by one card plus she won The Magic Way, making the score going into the last race eleven to eight. Carol then trounced me in the fifth and final race, scoring three for the race and three for The Magic Way for a final score of seventeen to eight.

Final scores:

   Carol      7 + 0 + 0 + 4 + 6 = 17
   Bob        0 + 5 + 3 + 0 + 0 =   8

Coming up: We visit Victorian England for a confrontation with Dracula.

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