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Subject: Gaming Bits: Carrotia Review rss

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Jonathan Nelson
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Carrotia is a game by Malte Kühle, published by MAGE Company. It is for 1-6 players. In this game, players take on the role of a band of rabbits that have ventured out of their burrows due to a shortage of food. They will be trying to gather enough carrots to feed the colony with. However, they'll have to be swift and careful as dangerous birds are looking to make them the main course in their dinners. The players will be racing against the clock to build pathways, collect carrots and escape the dangerous maze. If they're able to collect enough carrots by the end of the game, they will be declared the winners. If not, then the colony starves.

To begin, the 3 quest decks should be separated by number; 1, 2 and 3. The decks are then shuffled and placed face down on the table. The 3 hourglasses are placed next to the decks with the red placed behind the quest 1 deck, the yellow behind quest 2 and the blue behind quest 3. The labyrinth tiles are all shuffled and placed face down on the table along side the rabbit and arrow tokens. The bird tokens are shuffled and placed face down beside the decks along with the colored dice. The carrot tokens are placed in a supply pool within reach of the players. The first player is chosen. That player then chooses a character and places it's card in front of themself. The remaining players then choose a character in turn order. Play now begins.

The game is played over 3 rounds. Each round is divided into 2 phases; build the maze and movement. Before each round begins, players are dealt a number of Labyrinth tiles, based on the number of players. The first phase is to build the maze. In this phase, the top card of the corresponding quest deck is flipped over. For the first round, it's quest deck 1, etc... The timer associated with the quest deck is then flipped over as well. In the 1st round, there is only 30 seconds. For the second, it's 60 and for the final round, it's 90 seconds. Players then take turns, beginning with the first player, placing a tile onto the table to form a maze. For the 1st round, it's a 3 x 3. For the 2nd round, it's 4 x 4 and for the final round, it's 5 x 5. The players will be trying to form a maze as shown by the quest card. Tiles should match, with pathways connecting to pathways and grass against grass. Players are also allowed to replace a tile with one of their tiles, returning the previously placed tile to the player's hand. Once the timer runs out, players must stop placing tiles. At the least, the start and exit tiles should be placed with a path running between the two. The red and green arrow tokens are then placed in their respective places as shown by the quest card. The carrot and bird tokens are also placed on the indicated spaces. If there is no path from the entry point to the exit point, then players must add an extra bird token to the maze. They are then allowed to swap or rearrange up to 4 tiles. The rabbit is then placed on the tile next to the red arrow. Any tiles remaining in a player's hand are set aside, not to be used for the remainder of the game.

The second phase is the movement phase. In this phase, players take turns moving the rabbit one tile following the pathways. Each round, the direction of play changes from clockwise to counter-clockwise as shown on the quest card. It should also be noted however, that the rabbit can not move backwards. The only exception is the Old Sailor who can move one step backwards as a special ability. Players are allowed to use their character's special ability once per round. Once it's used, the player flips the character card over. Every time the rabbit lands on a tile with a carrot token, the player places the token beside the team's pile. In each round, players have a certain amount of moves that they are able to move the rabbit. In the first round it's 10 moves. It's 15 for round 2 and 20 moves for round 3. If the rabbit doesn't make it to the exit in the allotted amount of moves, then all the carrot tokens collected from that round are lost. Once the rabbit makes it to the exit tile, the round is over.

After each player moves, that player must then roll the corresponding colored die for each bird in the maze. The die shows which direction the bird token moves, either up, down, left or right. There are also 2 other faces to the die, the rabbit and carrot. The carrot side of the die means that the bird flies to a tile of the player's choice that has a carrot on it. If the rabbit side is rolled, the bird flies to the tile with the rabbit on it. If the bird moves onto the same tile as the rabbit, and it's carrying any carrot tokens, then the player can take any of those tokens that it's carrying. It should also be noted that the rabbit is not affected by a bird moving onto it's tile. Also of note is that each bird has 2 effects. One when it finds a carrot and one for when it finds the rabbit. One final note is that a player is allowed to pass their turn during phase 2 of round 3 to add 2 single carrot tokens anywhere that they would like.

After the 2nd phase of each round, a new round starts with more tile laying and movement. After the 3rd and final round is over, players count up the carrots that they have collected. If they've collected 20 or more carrots in a 1-3 player game, they win, 25 carrots for 4-6 players.


COMPONENTS
This game looks quite nice. There are lots of thick cardboard tiles that make up the labyrinth tiles. They almost look like something out of the Wizard of Oz. There are also lots of cardboard tokens that represent the carrots, arrows and birds. The game also comes with quest cards and character cards. These are a bit thin but it's not really that big of a deal. The characters won't be shuffled, only the quest cards. Still, they seem to be sturdy even though they're thin. There are also 3 different colored hourglasses, 1 for each round. The artwork on everything is really great. I really like the different characters. They feel like something from Cross Hares: Testing Ground. Of course, the best part has to be the wooden rabbit. This thing is really nice. It's fairly large and painted red. I really like the quality of this piece. The final pieces that I haven't mentioned yet are the dice. Each one of these matches the color on the bird tokens. They have printed on images but appear to be done with that super resistant heat transfer process or whatever it is. I say that because there's no stickers or anything like that on the dice and they don't seem to show any wear from use. That's pretty cool if you ask me. Overall, the game looks quite nice.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
Before I get into this section of the review, let me explain that I was sent a pdf of the newly revised rules that should be in every new box of the game. Originally, the rules were a mess. However, the company saw that this was the case and have since rectified the situation. Let me tell you, it's a TON better. Everything makes more sense now and is written in a very understandable and easy to read way. The rules still have lots of really nice pictures and examples and everything is explained quite well. Originally there was quite a bit of repetition on explaining the 3 rounds. However, with the new rules that's not the case. Only the minimum needed to explain the changes between rounds has been inserted. The birds and their different effects are explained in detail. The only thing missing for me is the explanation of the different character cards that was present in the original rules. While this isn't a big deal seeing as each character is pretty much self explanatory, I still liked having that section in the rules. Overall, the revision have greatly improved the rules for me. What would have been a rather low rating now receives a much deserved 8 from me.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
It's pretty well known that I'm not a big fan of tile laying games. I don't really know why I don't like them, but I don't. The thing about this game is that while it does have aspects of tile laying, that's not all there is to it. Ok, yes the first phase of each round is tile laying but it's a race to get everything where you need it to go so that you can do what you need to do a lot easier in the 2nd phase of each round. It's like putting a jigsaw puzzle together but in a really short amount of time. From there the 2nd round is just about moving. I mean sure you're trying to pick up as many carrot tokens as you can, so there's this whole puzzle element to the game. You might want to go grab that lone 3 carrot token, but you won't be able to get all of those single carrot tokens in the process as you didn't choose the character that could move backwards a space. This isn't a game that you're gonna find yourself burning your brain trying to figure out the absolute best combination of moves to get the maximum carrots allowed. However, it does have a little bit of strategy to it. For younger players, like my daughter, it's absolutely great. She really likes the idea of working to lay out the tiles and then to help make decisions on where to move. As a kid's game, this game works out beautifully. For the rest of us though, it's ok. The adults will enjoy it well enough. It's definitely a lot better than a good portion of those children's games that are on the market right now at your local big box stores. Just realize that if you're a big time war gamer or strategy gamer, you're probably not gonna like this game, unless you have kids. For me, I'm ok with it. It is fun to play with my daughter.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Carrotia is a light weight game of tile laying and carrot collecting. The game doesn't last that long. Most game sessions last around 20 minutes or so. The game looks quite nice. I especially like the wooden rabbit and the artwork on all the pieces. The character and quest cards are a bit thin but not really a big problem. This is a game that younger players will really enjoy. It works well for them. My daughter loved the tile laying aspect and really liked moving the big red rabbit around the board. There's not a whole lot of strategy involved in the game so veteran gamers might not be all that interested in this one, unless they have kids. The game is quite simple and brings adults and kids to the game table with a sense of fun. I wasn't particularly head over heels in love with this game. However, my daughter enjoyed it immensely. I can't argue with the results. If you have kids, you might want to give this one a try.
8 out of 10

For more information and this and other great games, please check out Mage Company at their site.

http://www.magecompanygames.com

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