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Callisto: The Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A short review of Callisto- my first here on BGG! rss

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Stephan Koehr
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Callisto is evidently Reiner Knizia's take on Blokus. As most of you know Blokus, I will only point out the differences here; although seemingly minor, they have an overall positive impact on gameplay.

There are three different board sizes (hexa octogonal with 4 and -because of a dark border- more or less rectangular with fewer players), so there will most certainly be no 'Callisto Duo/Travel' version (but then, who knows )

Players are given a set of tiles and three pillars in their color. Two of them are placed in succession in the first two turns, but never in the central dark region (think of PÜNCT) of the board. As you have to place your pieces touching (on the sides, NOT the corners) a pillar or at least one of your own pieces, the third one (which can be played (almost) anywhere anytime instead of a tile) comes in handy when the board gets crowded and you are cut off. Place it early and it won't help much, wait too long and it won't either (a typical Reiner dilemma here).

The tiles have a lesser variety in shapes compared to Blokus. Notably there are only 4 tiles of five (a 'C', a 'T' an 'X' and a 'W') and more smaller tiles, which are doubled. While this will disappoint the hardcore gamer, I found it quite pleasing. Have you ever watched a fellow gamer flipping and turning that special Blokus piece again and again to place it where it obviously won't fit? Or worse, searching for a certain tile he already played five minutes ago? This won't happen in Callisto.

So the 'solo-puzzling aspect' is smaller, and the consequential speed-up of gameplay is very welcome. The game ends, when noone can place tiles anymore. Scoring is similar to Blokus, whereas the final score consists of a number of consecutive games equal to the number of players. As it is a very short game, this makes sense. (Although I don't see me playing this one four times in a row because of that.)

Overall, I like it. It cleverly resolves some of the issues, that I have with Blokus, which I have played very often. If you don't own Blokus (but who doesn't?), get Callisto instead. BUT if you, like me, already own several Blokus games, then it's certainly not a must-buy, even for a Knizia freak like me. The similarities here are even greater as between 'Hey thats my fish' and 'Zombiegeddon'. It's perhaps expecting too much after so many great and unique games by R.K., that each new Knizia game be original, but sometimes the level of recycling shown here is even for me a bit too much.


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Laszlo Molnar
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S.K. Lator wrote:
three different board sizes (hexagonal, not rectangular)

Looking at the only pic it seems to be rather octogonal.




 
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Stephan Koehr
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lacxox wrote:
S.K. Lator wrote:
three different board sizes (hexagonal, not rectangular)

Looking at the only pic it seems to be rather octogonal.






Hmmmph... of course. Sorry, it's been late.
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Evan Koch
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Something I cannot figure out is this: what arbitrary decision was made to determine which five segment pieces would NOT be included? since the straight four of the four segment pieces was omitted i assume to prevent a player from too easily trapping opponents that any five segment piece containing a four (or stretching four spaces) would not be included but that still leaves out other pieces like the large "el" shaped piece or the one shaped like the state of utah?
 
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Jim Kiifner
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S.K. Lator wrote:
If you don't own Blokus (but who doesn't?), get Callisto instead.

This sums up the game perfectly. thumbsup Nice review.
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Laszlo Molnar
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zurround wrote:
Something I cannot figure out is this: what arbitrary decision was made to determine which five segment pieces would NOT be included? since the straight four of the four segment pieces was omitted i assume to prevent a player from too easily trapping opponents that any five segment piece containing a four (or stretching four spaces) would not be included but that still leaves out other pieces like the large "el" shaped piece or the one shaped like the state of utah?

Having played the game I'd say this decision is anything but arbitrary. The pieces that have their ends so far from each other (big L's two ends, big S, big I etc.) had to be omitted (all but one) because
1. After the basic set-up it would make too easy to block others' columns with these pieces
2. It would make it a lot harder to block any player who can 'move' from one side of the board to the other side using only few large tiles.
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Laszlo Molnar
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zurround wrote:
If there was any justice in this world that wog who created Callisto would be cleaning toilets for a living and I would be the one making millions of dollars.

Looking at your profile it's hard to decide if you are joking or just have no idea who the 'crator' of Callisto is.
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Russ Williams
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lacxox wrote:
Looking at your profile it's hard to decide if you are joking or just have no idea who the 'crator' of Callisto is.

Given the totally bizarre nature of the comment, I was wondering if it was a case of typing while intoxicated, or a hijacked account... or just a joke with unfortunate racist "humor" in it.
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lacxox wrote:
zurround wrote:
If there was any justice in this world that wog who created Callisto would be cleaning toilets for a living and I would be the one making millions of dollars.

Looking at your profile it's hard to decide if you are joking or just have no idea who the 'crator' of Callisto is.

I think he has a pretty good idea who the crator is, and I am inclined to agree that Zurround is a better game than Callisto (but then again, I am inclined to agree that a kick in my balls is better than Callisto, but that's just me, I guess.).
Some background.
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Russ Williams
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Midaga wrote:
I think he has a pretty good idea who the crator is, and I am inclined to agree that Zurround is a better game than Callisto (but then again, I am inclined to agree that a kick in my balls is better than Callisto, but that's just me, I guess.).
Some background.

Thanks for the link.

So basically it seems to be the quite common situation of a frustrated person with a creative idea (game, novel, movie, art, music, whatever) which he is not successfully getting published, and who bitterly feels that he is an unappreciated genius, and that if only the world would acknowledge the brilliance of his creation, he would earn millions of dollars...?

OK, even if he's right, I fail to see how that justifies using nonsensical racist language, or wishing failure upon another author who did achieve success. Not the way to win friends, influence people, or get your creation published.
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russ wrote:
OK, even if he's right, I fail to see how that justifies using nonsensical racist language, or wishing failure upon another author who did achieve success. Not the way to win friends, influence people, or get your creation published.


Um, that's why I've linked the article, but tl;dr:
Quote:
Getting even a small game company interested in an invention by an unknown designer is an uphill battle.

It's a battle that Koch is particularly ill-equipped to fight. He grew up in Mill Valley in a series of group homes and mental hospitals, plagued by a range of emotional and adaptive problems that seem to have been related to Asperger's syndrome - a diagnosis that wasn't reached until he was 25.
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David
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Midaga wrote:
I am inclined to agree that Zurround is a better game than Callisto

Have you played Zurround, or is it just not liking Callisto that convinces you Zurround is better?

With very little information on the game available it's hard to draw any conclusions. Maybe its inventor should make that information available on BGG, rustle up some interest, and then approach publishers, with something more solid than a bunch of his mates who like it?

It seems like with high profile newspaper coverage like that you linked to, he ought to at least be able to get a foot in the door somewhere - unless of course the post above is typical of how he treats everyone.

Anyway... all off-topic from the OP, which is a useful review. Since I already have Blokus, I'll not be lining up to buy Callisto.
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Laszlo Molnar
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Midaga wrote:
I think he has a pretty good idea who the crator is, and I am inclined to agree that Zurround is a better game than Callisto (but then again, I am inclined to agree that a kick in my balls is better than Callisto, but that's just me, I guess.

I disagree about the small-font comment (actually it seems you haven't rated Callisto at all), but of course I didn't state Zurround is not a great game that can be a lot better than most abstracts - that's not something I argued with (especially as I haven't played it).
As for the Asperger syndrome, thanks for the heads up, that explains a lot. thumbsup
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I apologize for derailing the thread.

I think judging from this picture you can see the main features and mechanics of Zurround. My snide remark was because I'm not a huge fan of anything Blokus related (to say the least), but Callisto has a very special place in my heart, right beside root canal. (And thus it would be unfair if I'd rate it.)
 
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George Leach
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My guess at the rules of Zurround. On a player's turn they play a single hexagon edge. Once all edges are placed, a hexagon scores one point for the colour with the majority of edges surrounding it and two points for a colour if it is the sole colour surrounding it. Highest score wins.

Truly impressive...

Not about to win any awards but I'm sure it holds some potential. Certainly doesn't warrant a random attack on Knizia.
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