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Subject: A Game of Boards Review: Calimala - Race for the Cloth in Florence rss

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Andre Jeworutzki
Germany
Hamburg
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Abstract:
Calimala is about the guild of cloth finishers and merchants in Florence. It is an economic game with emphasis on efficiency (piggy-backing), area-control, and the race for different scoring tiles which are activated one by one in a sequential order.
Calimala has an innovative action selection system: each turn, the active player places one of his discs on a still empty action space or stacks it on top of existing discs. All players, who have discs at that space, can activate the two related actions (from the adjacent action tiles). If a 4th disc is placed on top of a stack, the next scoring tile is evaluated and the disc at the bottom of the stack goes into the city council (used for tie-breaker). The game ends when players have spent all their discs or all scoring tiles have been activated.

Action overview:
a) Collect wood
b) Collect brick
c) Collect marble
d) Build a workshop, a ship, or a trade house by spending wood or bricks
e) Artwork: spend a marble and place it on a free space of one of the four buildings
f) Weave: place a cloth in each workshop
g) Ship: for each ship place a cloth from the workshops to any port city
h) Transport: place a cloth to each trade city with a trade house
i) Contribute: spend wood, brick, or marble to one of the three cathedrals buildings
Note: players collect resources by placing them on a free space in the corresponding warehouse on their player board

Pros:
+ Innovative action selection by stacking discs
+ Race for every one of the 15 scoring tiles is tense
+ High variability: the 8 action tiles and 15 scoring tiles are randomly distributed which gives each game a very different feel
+ High, indirect player interaction: action selection may trigger scoring as well as actions for other players (piggy-backing)
+ Escalates over time since stacks grow over time
+ Elegant integration of area-control: multi-used cubes for different buildings/cities plus different resources, and city council as tie-breaker
+ Everyone is scoring the personal endgame objectives: players have to find out the personal objectives of the other players during the game
+ Compensation (bonus card) if a player is unable to execute an action
+ Quick game: quick turns, actions can be executed simultaneously most of the time
+ Quick game set-up
+ Plays well with all player counts (more unpredictable with higher player counts)
+ Well written rules (many examples, the font is a little tiny though)
+ Good aid on each player board
+ Easy to teach (except for the tie-breaker)

Neutrals:
# Theme is okay (dry, quite abstract)
# Artwork is very clean (50 shades of brown - I like it)
# Solid game components and game box
# Some luck: players randomly draw bonus cards
# No hidden information (except for bonus cards and personal endgame objectives)
# A strategic game: all scoring tiles are revealed from the beginning ...
# ... with some chaos: the action selection of each player is hard to predict but has a big impact on everyone else
# Some engine building (workshops, transport, and ships)
# Tie-breaker is quite complicated, but it is important for decision-making and adds another layer to the action selection
# Except for the personal objectives, all components are used each game, there are no new elements from game to game

Cons:
- Randomly drawn bonus cards are sometimes a bit luck-prone (should even out over the course of the game)

Thoughts:
Calimala is an elegant game. The integration of area-control, multi-used cubes as resources, and city council as tie-breaker is very well done. What I like most is the tense race for the scoring tiles! I also like that each game plays very differently depending on the random layout of the scoring and action tiles. There is very little down-time, most turns are very quick and other players may do actions as well and mostly simultaneously.
The action selection by stacking discs is cool and innovative. It can be a bit chaotic and unpredictable, but it is not that bad and ensures quick games without much analysis paralysis. Each turn, I pray that someone activates a particular action or I pray that someone does NOT activate a particular action...

Player: 3-5 | Time: 45-75m
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Fabio Lopiano
United Kingdom
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Thanks for the nice review, very much appreciated!
 
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