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Subject: “Powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you” Yoda rss

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Luigi C.
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Sedro Woolley
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Review of Karmaka, the PnP version, after only one play.

For a beautiful and detailed review of the game, I refer you to the one by the League of Nonsensical Gamers (https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1509939/league-nonsensical-...). For the rulebook and PnP components, I refer you to http://www.karmaka-game.com/print-and-play/

I was intrigued by the theme of this game, and the “karma” mechanic. Death, rebirth, and transcendence, with consequences for the actions that would normally cause “bad karma.” Unfortunately, the game mechanics are quite the opposite of what they are advertised to be.
“Powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you” Yoda

After only one play I would suggest that instead of an ascendance to Buddhahood, it is a descent to the dark side. The late and end game is focused on denying the other player’s transcendence. The whole game is a race to the top, and it becomes more obvious the closer players get to the goal line.

The “karma” mechanic rather than discouraging “take that” gameplay, seems to result in a “tit for tat” retaliatory gameplay, “take that, and that!” Furthermore, the “karma” mechanic can be toothless in the final dash, since there will be no future life to worry about. It can become a game of denial. Those two points were a source of disappointment for me but might be a source of joy for others. If you go into this game thinking this game could be a less confrontational type of deckbuilding duel, thanks to the deterrent effect of the “karma” mechanic, you will probably be disappointed. If instead you play it as a race to the bottom, highly competitive “tit for tat” deckbuilding duel game, you might be very happy with what it has to offer.
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Tim K.
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Isn't karma, "What's goes around, comes around"? Ergo, if transcendence is what you seek then you shouldn't play any bad karma cards. Otherwise...

Perhaps the game merely demonstrates that transcendence is simply not a winning strategy.

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James J

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luigicool wrote:

The “karma” mechanic rather than discouraging “take that” gameplay, seems to result in a “tit for tat” retaliatory gameplay, “take that, and that!” Furthermore, the “karma” mechanic can be toothless in the final dash, since there will be no future life to worry about.


I played today at PAX, and while there is some merit to your assessment, there are also combos that can interrupt the "tit for tat" cycle. Such as the various mimicry-style cards. I tended to use those in a way that let me use the nastier attack cards while denying those same attack cards to their victim (they are offered the mimicry card instead).

The final round does play a bit differently, but then again, there is no guarantee that you will hit your goal on the first attempt. So you could be stuck at the penultimate ladder rung and have to deal with that future life you set up. In my experience, cards that manipulated the length of that last life (either yours or your opponent's) by manipulating the draw deck size were more useful.
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Luigi C.
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Sedro Woolley
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Quote:
I tended to use those in a way that let me use the nastier attack cards while denying those same attack cards to their victim (they are offered the mimicry card instead).


Indeed, the dark side is strong in this young Padawan. The point is that a game that sports a theme of transcendence to Buddhahood is actually quite the opposite. A more accurate theme could have been a competition among assassins, or wizards, or vying to become a master of the dark side .

Even the rebirth mechanism is not exactly on theme. Basically you build your new life with all the things you did not do in this life (i.e., the cards that did not get played as deeds or for action) and that other people did. That is different from karma and building on past life experiences. But those are just quibbles about the theme from a student of Zen Buddhism. Ultimately the point of the flash review is that this is a highly competitive game, with pretty art and a pasted on theme.
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