Have you seen the Yellow Sign?
Have you seen the Yellow Sign?
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.