Krakatoa Session Report - Tri-Con Fall in Sioux City
I've had mixed reactions about Krakatoa from those I've taught the game so far. There's a few that think it's a pretty stupid and pointless game, but most have been surprised at how fun it turned out. So it was with some trepidation, not knowing what to expect and wondering how a random assortment of gamers would react, that I scheduled a demo of the game at Tri-Con Fall in Sioux City. As for myself, I think Krakatoa is explosive fun, and if nothing else, an incredibly unique game unlike any other. It's just the sort of thing I like to expose others to at a convention.
I had two brave souls, Ken and Adam, sign up for the session. It doesn't take long to explain Krakatoa and we were soon underway. In fact, I find it incredibly helpful to explain the rules and how the scoring works while I go through a round of play, scoring myself for the first round to demonstrate how it's done. It was a pretty average round for me, just an uninspiring sequence of modest scores adding one to the next. My first round ended at the unimpressive score of 22, which at least set me up for a x2 modifier for the next round. Ken did a little better and finished the first round with 25, while Adam jumped out to an early lead with 34. The instructions suggest using a table as the area of play, but I house-rule this by using a dice tray or game box lid instead. I find this creates more reaction among the dice and gives the players more strategic options with their dexterous rolls as they get to account for elements like angles and force.
(Adam checking out the scores after the first round. The relative closeness would not last long.)
My second round was a little better as I added 26 more points to wind up with 58. Adam improved his score as well and looked poised for a huge round with two x4 modifers in a row. But he faulted on his last throw, not moving any dice or changing the face of any, and had to settle with a round of 46, bringing his total up to 80. Ken, meanwhile, would go on to have the single greatest round I've yet seen in any of my plays. On his second throw, he managed to get his Ash and Lava sets to both show up Krakatoa. With the third set of dice showing yellow and two reds, he had a Big Rumble, setting himself up for a x4 modifier on his next throw. It was a pivotal throw. If he could throw the Steam set in such a way that he merely moved one of the dice in one of the other sets without changing its face, he'd be set up for a huge score. That's just what he managed to do, moving one of the Ash dice across the surface without it rolling over onto another side. That meant an 80-point score for him that throw. A couple of throws later, he finished with a round score of 118 and a total score of 143, taking a commanding lead.
In all my previous plays, there had been examples of a player having a huge round. But over the course of the game, things tended to even out. Other players would eventually be able to set themselves up for big scores as well and bad luck with grace all players in turn. All of my previous plays ended with close scores and I was curious to see if this pattern would hold true in this game as well. Would Adam and I be able to overcome this deficit and make a comeback? Or would Ken continue adding to his lead and run away with the game? This is one of the great things about this game. Even down as we were, neither Adam nor myself felt like we were out of the game. After all, we'd just seen firsthand how quickly and dramatically a lead could change.
(One of my more exciting throws at this point in the game. A Vesuvius was about the best I could hope for at the midpoint of the game.)
But it wouldn't happen in the third round. Ken did his part by having a terrible round and mustering only 19 points. But I was unable to capitalize, managing only 20 myself. Adam was able to gain some ground, racking up a round score of 52. At the halfway point, it was Ken with 162, Adam with 132, and myself bringing up the rear with a distant 78.
Ken rebounded in round four, racking up 52 more points and getting over a total score of 200 faster than I've yet seen. Adam and I couldn't keep pace and suffered disappointing rounds of 17 and 25 respectively. I was down over 100 points and Ken had more than double my score. It wasn't looking promising for me. But I finally got something going in Round 5 and piled up 63 points. Adam suffered an even worse round than the previous one with only 16 points. Remarkably, I was now in second place by a point.
(getting ready for the final round)
As the leader, Ken threw first in the final round, adding a respectable 38 points to his score to set the bar at 272. I threw next, managing only 20 more points, but scoring a carry-over bonus in the final throw to get me a bonus box. I got another carry-over bonus and another on top of that, claiming all three bonus boxes for myself. I could see Ken sweating just a little as I kept getting awarded bonus box throws. They were decent throws, but not good enough, and I had to settle for a final score of 224. It was all up to Adam. It looked like he might make things interesting when he set up a final throw with a x4 modifier. But all he got out of it was a Mauna Loa volcano. 205 was his final score, marking the first time all players scored above 200 in a game I was part of. And Ken's final score of 272 set a new high score of any game I have been a part of.
Even though Ken had a huge lead over us, Adam and I never felt out of the game. We kept believing in the possibility of that one amazing round to bring us back into contention. It didn't happen this time, but maybe it will happen next time. Adam and Ken agreed the game was a lot more fun than they were expecting a dexterity dice game would be. But that's been my experience with a lot of dexterity games. I always think I'm going to feel silly playing them. But then I get caught up in the action, find myself circling the table looking for just the right position to strategically throw some dice from, and boisterously rejoicing when three yellow pips come up Krakatoa for me.