This game immediately caught my eye at BGG Con. After learning the game from one of the designers, Eliot Brown, I bought a copy, found a place for me and Jill to sit, cracked it open and started playing. Caledea is a semi-abstract strategy wargame for 2-4 players.
Each player controls a unique nation (of which there are 9 to choose) which are mainly comprised of infantry units (in the form of cubes). Over the course of the game these units may upgrade to cavalry. Cavalry units can upgrade to a general. Each player has a capital, which must be defended. The game is played over a grid; each square contains 2 different terrain features. Each nation card depicts 2 resources which are special to that army. Spaces on the board containing exactly those 2 resources are sought after by that army. Furthermore, attackers and defenders receive combat bonuses if attacking/defending in a square containing one or both terrain features matching that nation's featured terrain(s). Player can upgrade spaces around their capital to fortify them. Lastly, each army has a special ability.
- 2 Boards
- 4 Armies (20 unit cubes, 20 control markers and 1 capital marler)
- A bunch of Salting the Land, Tower and Castle Markers
- 10 Dice (d6)
- 9 Nation Cards
- Gold Pieces
Each player takes selects a nation and take the corresponding card and tokens. Players decide to play on a single board or both boards. Then each player in turn places their capital on a resource square (a square that matches its 2 terrain types with the 2 terrain types depicted on that nation's card). Then each player places a number of infantry blocks in his capital (this is noted on the nation card).
A player can Move or Upgrade. Each upgrade can be done in lieu of a move. The number of moves/upgrades a player can perform is noted on each nation card. If units end their turn in a space with the enemy, combat ensues immediately, before the next move is executed.
Infantry move 1 space, cavalry move up to 2, the general moves up to 3. Moves are always orthagonal. Note moves off the edge wrap around to the other side. If movement ends on a resource space, the player places a control marker and a new infantry unit in that space and takes 1 gold coin. If a player ends his turn in an undefended enemy resource space, the enemy places a black salting the earth token in that space and forces his opponent to relinquishe a gold piece. These salted spaces can be reclaimed.
- Infantry can be upgraded to cavalry for X Gold
- 1 cavalry can be upgraded to a general for X Gold. A player may only have 1 general in play at a time.
- A player may upgrade his capital space or any of the 4 adjacent spaces to a Tower for X Gold. These Towers can be upgraded to Castles for X Gold.
- The value of X varies on the nation.
- Note each player's Gold represents a treausry, meaning it can be spent each turn. Thus if a player has 4 Gold pieces, he spends 4 Gold per turn (until adjusted for gaining/losing gold).
- This is fought 1:1 regardless of the number of units in a space. The defender picks which unit attacks and which unit defends. When a unit is eliminated, the defender then picks another 1:1 match and so on until no units remain. Note the attacker may withdraw his units after a successful round combat. Who ever rolls the highest singular die result wins (i.e. a roll of 4,4,5 would mean the result is 5).
Infantry: Roll 1d6
Cavalry: Roll 2d6
General: Roll 3d6
- +1 d6 for each terrain feature that matches the terrain features on the attacker/defender nation cards.
- +1 d6 for defender in a tower
- +2 d6 for defender in a castle
- Empty Towers and Castles may be attacked (d6 >/= 5 destrys a tower, d6 = 6 destrys a castle).
- Bombard: A player may attack an adjacent square without risk of losing units.
- Ambush: Attacker gets 3 extra d6 to one attacking unit.
- Transport: A unit can move to any space containing another unit. If this transported unit attacks this turn, it gets 1 extra d6
There are 3 paths to victory:
1. Build a castle in the capital space and 4 surrounding spaces.
2. Move into your opponent's capital space.
3. Destroy all opponent's units on the board.
My Overall Ratings
Theme: 8 Though it is kind of abstract, it actually feels like a true lighter-fare wargame
Mechanics: 8 I really like how the terrain features tie into resource acquisition. I also like the idea of a running treasury from turn to turn. I like the fact that players choose between movement and upgrading. Furthermore, you have to decide whether to upgrade your units or your city.
Strategy: 8 I am still trying to get a feel for how to play this game well. Players certainly have to make tough decisions each turn.
Rulebook: 7 Rules are pretty clear; I did have a couple questions. though after the designer answered them, it then became clear in the rulebook.
Components/asthetics: 7 This is a completely homemade, unpublished game. Despite that, the board is really nice. The cubes and plastic discs are nice and colorful. The paper chits are thin, so I laminated them. The plastic gold pieces are nice.
Overall Fun Factor 8
This game is simply fun. I really like the fact there are multiple ways to win. Each of the 9 armies have their own strengths and weaknesses. I have played quite a few games, though I still feel like a novice. It is really a simple game to learn, yet suprisingly deep. I put it on the level of complexity of Manoeuvre, which I really enjoy. Nonetheless, I can see myself liking this game just as well, even better in some ways. I would strongly recommend this to anyone who likes lighter-fare wargames like Manoeuvre. And thanks to Eliot for his kindness as well as patience in anwering my questions at the Con.