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Subject: Review of the PnP version rss

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Heiko Günther
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Waiting for a 'real' copy of this game to arrive at your doorstep has turned into an art in itself. The backers, how few they might be, do not tire to cheer at every update, however meager the actual news, and have bestowed upon me many a great time. If Katalyka pops up in my subscriptions, I am always sure that something very entertaining awaits just one click away.

However, suspiciously few has been said as to how this game plays, and that is a very free interpretation of the word 'few'. Actually, nothing of that kind has been said. People have, in an initial wave of untarnished hope, praised the artwork (something I never understood, but this is a matter of pure taste and shall not be a topic of this review). The sun and similar authorities (NASA, Carbon) have been accused of hindering the game's production, mostly by the producing one-woman-company itself. In a totally un-BGG-like fashion, gameplay was ignored completely in the bashing of this game. This got me interested.

I spent quite a bit of time with the rulebook and the components, all of which are available as free high-res PnP on the creator's deviantart site, totaling over 60 pages, including backs and fiddly counters you need to carefully clip. Consider this a warning, really. You don't want to print this out unless you are absolutely certain you won't ever receive your copy of the published game. Or you missed the kickstarter, of course.

Let me be absolutely clear: I own a full copy and have played many games. Not necessarily of Katalyka, though. But I feel sufficiently firm in the rules, as far as I was able to extract them from the rule book, to explain gameplay in terms at the same time broad and exact enough for you to grasp.

The rule book
Seldom have I read one so nonsensical, open to interpretation and full of convoluted pseudo-philosophical and esoteric irrelevancies as this one. I have read ones that make less sense (Those who shall not be named) mind you, but none of them were quite as annoying. In a way that only the true esoteric can be. It's a bit like reading Castaneda, but you aren't 16 and think it's cool because it gives you good reasons to do crazy mushroom drugs, no, this time you're your actual age and this guy is mostly mumbling incoherently. And you have to read it a few times over because in between half-swallowed words, there might hide some rule. So, please excuse my sometimes sketchy representation of the rules, if you think you have grasped them better, feel free to correct me.

Let me give you a rundown of game play.

General gameplay
As one of the highly evolved cultures in this galaxy, you build an engine to transform boring Entropy into exciting Emotional Pathways that feed your Katalykas and allow you to crush your fellow higher beings. To do the latter, you roll dice. To do all of the former, you mostly buy cards and move around resource tokens. There is also a hex-grid-map representing the galaxy that serves some less-defined purpose.

On your turn, you collect Entropy (the main currency in this game) equal to what your Morale on your Culture mat and the Cellestial cards in your possession allow you. You may then spend your Entropy to acquire new cards for your tableau. About every card offers you new ways to spend Entropy or other currencies to acquire new cards or other resources. Unfortunately, there is not much real variation in what you can get by doing so and even less of that is of any use in winning the game. Some win conditions are quite a bit enigmatic, but in the most straightforward and least esoteric version you just want to crush everybody else and rule the galaxy. Yay, you might say. Wait for it, I might answer.

Culture mats
Each player starts the game with his own Culture mat. It gives access to some basic buy actions, one special ability buy action, has a bit of background story about who you are and what you want, a picture, and a tracker for your culture income, called Morale, that doubles as life points. If your Morale drops to zero, you see no reason to struggle any longer and are allowed to leave the game.

The cards
You acquire an awful lot of cards from three different decks. If you buy Cellestial and Katalyka cards, you need to represent their location in a hex on the map by placing a token there. Organica cards are linked to Cellestial cards by placing them next to each other.

Cards represented by tokens on the map need to be linked to each other by placing tiny bond tokens on the tiny hexes in between them. Only if they are linked to each other, they may exchange the different resources they produce, or attack each other, in case they belong to different cultures. Though I am still not 100% sure, you seem to be allowed to move / rotate bond tokens and card markers later on for the cost of 1 Entropy each, but placing them, it seems, is a free and whenever action. It requires a lot of patience though, the scale of markers and hexes is anything but galactic.

There really seems to be no reason not to place all of your stuff in one big lump, eliminating the need for long bonds and making sure everything is always connected to everything else. The fiddliness of the tokens is the main reason you don't want to handle them too much.

Galactic cards
The Galactic cards, from the fourth deck, represent requests and interferences by the galactic core culture, a culture supposedly residing in the core of the galaxy. Each turn one of those is flipped. They are basically special events and effects.

Cellestial cards
Cellestials allow you mostly to buy new cards of any kind. Some allow you to produce a different resource, some do something secret with hexes which is not explained anywhere.

Each of these cards tells you with simple iconography how much of which currency you need to spend to acquire which reward. Cellestials use only Entropy, but to power other cards you will need other resources, called Emotional Pathways, which you produce with the help of Organicas.

Organica cards
Organicas allow you to convert your lame Entropy into one of the other 13 (!!) resources called Emotional Pathways. Unfortunately, there is only one kind of tokens, so you will need to remember which token represents which resource. To this end, it is recommended you store them on the Organicas, but since these may (and most of them do) produce up to 4 different kinds of Emotional Pathways for the same cost, you can never be sure if this token is 'Nomads' or 'Surgeons' or 'Archivists' or whatever. But it doesn't matter a lot, really.

Katalyka cards
All the transforming of currencies happens supposedly with the aim of fueling your Katalyka cards. Katalykas allow you to convert resources other than Entropy into attack and defend dice which you use to attack other cultures.

To attack you just pick any card connected to the attacking Katalyka by way of bonding tokens pointing the right way and roll the amount of 6-sided dice you bought with this Katalyka. If the card you attack has stored up defense dice, its owner rolls these. Whoever has the higher total wins. If the defender wins, nothing happens. If the attacker wins, the defender decides what to do: give the vanquished card to the attacker or keep it and lose one Morale. Morale also serves as life points, if you get to 0, you are out of the game. Since you decide freely when and if you lose it, that's not really a problem. That makes eliminating other players a bit hard (a.k.a. impossible), unless they agree to be eliminated. This in turn makes winning the game impossible, unless other players give up. Which they just might do after a not too extended time of playing this game.

(Additionally and unfortunately, the rulebook keeps it a bit secret when, how and under which circumstances you may attack other cultures.)

Presentation
There obviously went quite a bit of effort in making up a galactic background, however unfinished and homebrewn it might feel, and into producing artwork. The graphic design does good things in places, the plethora of resources are simple to tell apart, even the crazy diagrams on the Organica cards make some sort of sense. The pay-o-meters work well and tell you at a glance how much of what buys you what. The overall tableau you build in front of you is nice and colourful and pleasing on the eyes in case you like the art. As to 'real' components I can't say anything, as I only have access to the PnP.

Too long didn't read
As you may have guessed, this game is a mess. But in an entertaining way. Unless you play it.
There really is no way of saying it in a shorter and more concise fashion.
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Starkiller
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YOU. READ. THAT. RULEBOOK. ENOUGH. TO. GRASP. GAMEPLAY?????

googoogoogoogoogoogoogoogoogoogoo

wowwowwowWOWWWWW!!!!!wowwowwow

I bow to your superior reading skilz and patience!!!
I've been curious what exactly was the point of the game for a while, but definitely didn't care enough to try beyond my first 30 seconds!
Thank you so much, now I can make an informed purchase decision.
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Mike Hoyt

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Thank you for providing this, the first, and quite likely last, review of this glimmer (it's a stretch to call it a game)

I can only imagine the mental pain required to wade through the source materials and come up with this summary. Actually printing and playing it... I stand in awe.
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that Matt
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Philipp Ottensamer
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Rainer Ahlfors
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Joe
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Daniel Kearns
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Geoff Burkman
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The tl/dr summation was perfect, if not quite as short as you'd hoped. I offer you this haiku revision:

This game is a mess
In an entertaining way,
Unless you play it.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Beat me to a review darn you!

Actually I found the rules mostly comprehensible. Ive got a rules summary around somewhere.

Congrats for reading through the whole thing! We are the few. The insane. Rock on! goo
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Derek H
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Omega2064 wrote:
Beat me to a review darn you!

Actually I found the rules mostly comprehensible. Ive got a rules summary around somewhere.

We eagerly await Part II of this ongoing epic tale ...
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Starkiller
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gamesbook wrote:
Omega2064 wrote:
Beat me to a review darn you!

Actually I found the rules mostly comprehensible. Ive got a rules summary around somewhere.

We eagerly await Part II of this ongoing epic tale ...

Oh yes, please post your summary!

The more opinions available, the more informed my purchase decision is!
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John "Omega" Williams
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It is a slow process as I only get so far before failing a sanity check and then its a few weeks in Arkham Sanitorium to recover you know... robot
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Derek H
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Omega2064 wrote:
It is a slow process as I only get so far before failing a sanity check and then its a few weeks in Arkham Sanitorium to recover you know... robot

Do they have sanity checks in this games, or are ther... oh, wait - I understand now
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John Peterson
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gamesbook wrote:
Omega2064 wrote:
It is a slow process as I only get so far before failing a sanity check and then its a few weeks in Arkham Sanitorium to recover you know... robot

Do they have sanity checks in this games, or are ther... oh, wait - I understand now


Kall of Katalyka?
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Maxim Steshenko
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Matthew Schmidt
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lee elektrik wrote:
placing (bond tokens), it seems, is a free and whenever action. It requires a lot of patience though, the scale of markers and hexes is anything but galactic.


Not that it matters, but from my possibly futile attempt to read the rules, I think it's only certain celestials that can produce bond tokens on one of their investment tracks.
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Heiko Günther
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Gigalith wrote:
lee elektrik wrote:
placing (bond tokens), it seems, is a free and whenever action. It requires a lot of patience though, the scale of markers and hexes is anything but galactic.

Not that it matters, but from my possibly futile attempt to read the rules, I think it's only certain celestials that can produce bond tokens on one of their investment tracks.

Revisiting the section detailing the inner workings of Celestials, this seems absolutely correct. The secret hex things they produce might just be bond tokens. How they are placed on the board, however, remains somewhat opaque.
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lee elektrik wrote:
Gigalith wrote:
lee elektrik wrote:
placing (bond tokens), it seems, is a free and whenever action. It requires a lot of patience though, the scale of markers and hexes is anything but galactic.

Not that it matters, but from my possibly futile attempt to read the rules, I think it's only certain celestials that can produce bond tokens on one of their investment tracks.

Revisiting the section detailing the inner workings of Celestials, this seems absolutely correct. The secret hex things they produce might just be bond tokens. How they are placed on the board, however, remains somewhat opaque.


Believe it or not, that's actually answered on image 3. You place them in anywhere that the celestial can reach (i.e. adjacent or adjacent to bond tokens.)

More notes: I think Katalykas are actually bond to a celestial, and not free-floating.

There seem to be some interesting ideas in here, but I doubt they're implemented properly, or even at all, to work.
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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Yeah, part of the rules are hidden in the refferences. Making it something of a puzzle.
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Nick Bolton
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I'll wait for the Universal Head rules summary.
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that Matt
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nickbolton wrote:
I'll wait for the Universal Head rules summary.

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Daniel Hoffman
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What is the universal head rules summary?

I read the rules I found them to be reasonable and understandable. Are there minor inferences you have to make? Sure but that's true about roughly half of all games ever made.

The line between genius and insanity is very fine and Molly may wander between the two occasionally. I thought her ideas are unique and fascinating. She put thousands of hours into making something that will never be truly appreciated for what it is and hasn't gotten any financial compensation for. There is no justice in this world if Exploding Kittens gets $8m and Katalyka couldn't raise enough to actually have a print release.
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John Peterson
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Archer Plus wrote:
There is no justice in this world if Exploding Kittens gets $8m and Katalyka couldn't raise enough to actually have a print release.


One word: karma

Do a little research on Molly. Find her posts about the handicapped person who commissioned her to do a custom cane....
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Heiko Günther
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Archer Plus wrote:
What is the universal head rules summary?
A rules summary file by a very prolific rules summarizer with the handle "Universal Head". Many people find them to be the pinnacle of rules summaries.

Archer Plus wrote:
I read the rules I found them to be reasonable and understandable.
Those are two adjectives I would not necessarily use in this combination and for this rule set.

Archer Plus wrote:
Are there minor inferences you have to make?
I am not a native speaker, but I assume "making up large missing portions of the rules" is not the same as "making minor inferences".

Archer Plus wrote:
The line between genius and insanity is very fine …
and often confused with the line between productive and non-productive insanity.

Archer Plus wrote:
There is no justice in this world if Exploding Kittens gets $8m and Katalyka couldn't raise enough to actually have a print release.
Although I despise Exploding Kittens as much as the next geek, I do not get your statement here. Justice seems to play the least part.
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