Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
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I was hoping I would be the first to write a review about Krysis but it seems people are enthusiastic so I’m only the third playtester of the game who writes about it (and even one of the authors has written about the game’s origins). Nevertheless, I will try to write what I wanted, hoping I give you some extra information or different take or whatever. Yes I will talk a lot as I usually do when it comes to reviews. What I won’t do is I won’t say ’this is a great game that all of you should buy’ as I was obviously involved in its making and also I’m Hungarian so of course I would like to see this game have a success.


About the game (rules etc.)

Well, I will be really lazy now. I will just copy the overview from the official site. I can assure you this is the way I would describe how the game goes . But first some basics about the set-up: there is a board in the middle that shows a mine with 5 levels and 4 chambers on each level. There will be 5 rounds in the game and in each round the players’ figures will go to the next level and everyone collects crystals and artifacts that can be found in one chosen chamber of that level.
Everyone has their own campsite in front of them where they take their crystals from the mines; everyone has a base (which is a special-looking player screen) where you can take your crystals from home or from other’s camps if you steal them. Each player has (at least in the base game) 18 cards (9 transporter and 9 fighting agents) separated to two face-down piles by type. Each player picks up the first 3 transporters and first 3 fighting agents in hand and the game can be started.
Now comes the copy-paste part; if you already know the rules then please jump to the next chapter.
Quote:
The game is divided into 5 rounds. In each round the players go mining and assemble a team of three agents in the hope of gathering and taking home or selling the most precious crystals and relics for enormous profits. The winner is the player with the most victory points at the end of the game. Victory points come from crystals and relics which are together referred to as goods. Rounds are divided into the following 4 phases: mining, building up teams, action, ending the round.
1) Mining: Mining order for the round is auctioned off by using the following method: Each player secretly takes as many crystals from behind his screen (his home) as he wishes and hides them in his hands. When all players are ready, they simultaneously reveal the crystals in their hands. The player with the most generous offer now places his miner figure on any desired free mine space on the next lower mine level on the board. He also takes the crystals and/or relic cards shown in the place he now occupies, and puts them in his campsite. Then, the player with the second highest bid does the same, etc.
2) Building up the teams: Each player chooses an agent card from his hand and they simultaneously reveal it. Repeat this procedure three times, thus each player will end up with a team of three agents for the current turn. The overall initiative of the team will determine the player order for the current round’s action phase. The team initiative is the sum of its members’ individual speeds. In case of a tie, the player whose miner figure is ahead goes first.
3) Action: In the action phase each player will carry out one action in the order determined by the team initiative values (in descending order). The active player may choose only one of three possible actions: loading goods, raid, mining overtime.
a) Loading goods: The active player loads crystals and cards that are within his loading capacity to transport them either home, or to the bank for victory points. Since all 3 agents used for transporting are discarded, this then leaves the campsite defenseless against attacks from other players (even attacks with a combat value of 0).
b) Raid: The active player may choose to attack any one other player’s campsite if his team’s combat value is higher than that of the attacked team’s. The attacker may steal as many goods from the attacked player’s campsite as he is able to transport. They can take the stolen goods home (to the base), to their own campsite or sell them to the bank.
c) Mining overtime: The active player takes any combination of crystals from the bank equaling 6 points of value (e.g. 2 red, or 3 blue, or 6 white, or 1 of each). Your agents and used relic cards remain at your campsite to defend it against any attacks for the round.
4) Ending the round: All players place their teams on their own discarded agents piles. All used relic cards are also discarded. All players now draw 3 new agent cards in any combination of fighters and transporters.
End of the game and final scoring: The game ends at the end of the 5th round. Players now receive victory points for their crystals and relics that they took home during the game. Victory points are awarded for sets of the same type of relic cards or for sets of different relic cards. The winner of the game is the player with the most victory points. In case of a tie, the winner is the player whose miner figure is farthest ahead in the mines from amongst the tied players.



Okay, it works like this. But how does it feel?

That’s the part I’m not sure about, having playtested the different versions. But not counting the mostly administrative fourth phase it’s basically like a dramatic story arc every round. In a drama (or even in classic trilogies following the drama formula like both Star Wars trilogies) the first act is about getting to know the main characters, the second act is about the conflict, full of tension, and the third act is the resolution. Here the first act is about collecting resources you can use later, the second act (choosing the three cards) is the game itself, the main conflict where everything is decided, making and constantly changing plans, stiffing others, and the third part is doing the best solution your cards allow you do.

When you are a beginner the first phase might feel like it’s not so important. You’re going to get crystals anyway, maybe little more here and little less there, but why should you care which ones you get? But it really depends on your aims and the cards in your hand. For example, some cards have multipliers on them so you might want to get blue crystals in order to have a great speed value,

or red crystals for great strength,

or maybe relics to collect sets.
The second phase is simply the most important and most interesting. You not only build teams but adjust them when you see others’ teams; you may even change your aims when you see what your opponents are up to, and also you may want to deceit them by playing the strongest or fastest card only as the third team member. It needs care and lots of attention; actually I’m not really good at this part of the game so I didn’t win too often.
Your teams really limit the possible actions you can take in the third phase so it actually goes faster even with the relatively many options. That’s why the 2nd one is the most important and that can even get a bit too long with AP-prone people (and I must tell you one of the designers is a bit AP-prone ) but it does not make the game less fun. Then the fourth phase is only administration with a reasonable luck involved (you draw a transporter and realize it just can’t carry too many crystals so you have to draw another one although you wanted to draw two fighters too).
The game lasts only 5 rounds so it’s very important to stay effective in each of the rounds instead of being the one who is constantly robbed. Even if the game is about finding the most effective teams and having the most effective steps, it’s not really peaceful as you are stealing from each other. But I guess it won’t stop my wife playing it with me and beating me just as she does when we play Battle Line.


Some history and problems that were solved

Okay, so when I joined the test group the game already had a fantasy setting (although I still could find the words „space station” in the early drafts of the rules that I corrected). I guess the original theme of space ships made a bit more sense with the idea of ’group speed’ (well it’s hard to explain how 3 of these guys with a different speed value can be as fast as the 3 combined) but the fantasy theme and artwork has added quite a lot to the game.
When I playtested the game in 2008 you used special miner cards for mining in the first phase. It was a simultaneous bidding; whoever played the highest speed number miner card got a bunch of crystals in the beginning and no one else did. It wouldn’t work now but then the game still had 7 rounds so you had time to collect crystals from the central mining project. Actually I really liked the sense of theme the miner cards added to the game but unfortunately it made the game rather unnecessarily complex. Not only because you had a third set of cards then, but it would often occur that two or more players played the same cards (well there were only 7 with the speed numbers 1 to 7) so a complex tie-breaker was in use: if the miners had the same speed then the speed of the teams (played in the 2nd phase) decided who takes the crystals and if even their speed was the same then there would be a fight between the teams and the stronger team won (and if they were the same strength the crystals were left in the mine for the next round). Thematically, it worked, but it just got too complex and this game didn’t need this complexity.

One of the ideas I added was a mine where each player gets something and their order in the mine is the tie-breaker in the next round; and the authors completely removed the miner cards (luckily their really funny artwork survived in the form of special agent cards).

Speaking about the artwork, it took me some time to get used to it. I like these characters but first I really expected they would be colored in the end. They are not, and it might be more usable than full-color cards; I can say the look is even quite unusual, I just had to get used to it.
Another change I suggested was dividing the two types of agents to two piles (and even picking up 3-3 in the beginning instead of 6 from the mixed pile). Reading the designer’s story about the beginnings I can see why it wasn’t an issue before: I guess the different types of values were added not too long before. But when I playtested it would quite often occur that I had e.g. no transporter card in my hand so I lost a whole round (well I could go for a weak mining but nothing else) or I had only transporter cards and no crystals in my camp so once again I could not do anything reasonably effective. Losing one of 7 rounds is simply too much. Dividing the two types added some more tactical possibilities as now you could collect the agents for your needs and you could get a hint about others’ motivations looking at which pile they drew cards from.
The guys at Heidelberger playtested the game and with their experience they coud find small problems – especially a slight kingmaking problem. As the crystals camps and bases were all open information they found it allows kingmaking in the end. So they suggested not only making the base hidden but adding a whole new layer to the game: the relics. Once again it brought lots of playtesting as you had to find the balance in scoring and also in the cards (several different card sets were tested and I remember some of them being completely off-balance). In trying to cut down unnecessary complexity I remember I suggested that the number of different relics and the number of similar relics have the same scoring (Yes I had so important suggestions in the development process ). Somehow even the Bank and the scoring track was added, partly to provide a little information during the game and partly to make different strategies viable. Now you can decide if you want to take your relics and crystals home or if you think you won’t collect sets of the relics you can go for the safe 2 points per cards in the Bank.


Variants

I playtested so many different versions in the end that the rules started to cause a chaos in my head so I really don't even know if the game is still good or not (I guess the former as the publishers didn't say no). And of course you were playing with the authors all the time who really knew what was going on so they defeated you all the time.
And I haven’t even mentioned the special agents yet (you can mix these cards in your deck and they have special abilities that spice up the game)


Or the mission cards (you can find the rules for these at the official site).

One (!) day before the rulebooks were finished and sent to the American and German publishers I even playtested a short and very different 2-player variant. It didn’t make it to the German and English rulebooks but you can find its rules at the website: it’s called Speed Krysis (pic by mobile phone; we were having coffe in an open-air café then). Actually while Krysis is undoubtedly better, more complex and ‘complete’, I might say the more straightforward Speed Krysis fits me more.

It is a lot closer to the original version: there is no mine board, no bank, no special agents, no relics. Only the 18 agent cards, and they are all in your hands. The game is played in 3 rounds and lasts 10 to 15 minutes. Speed Krysis puts the emphasis on the Building up the teams phase so much that it doesn’t even give you any option to choose from after the teams are built. If you can steal from the opponent, you have to. If you can’t but have crystals then you have to transport them home; otherwise you must choose mining. This little variant clearly shows what a great importance the team-building phase has in Krysis. Even if after some plays it boils down to outguessing your opponent in Speed Krysis, it has fine tactical possibilities, clear and simple rules; this version really feels more like a Knizia (so no wonder I like it more).

Krysis is different: it’s less mathy (even if you need to count), less predictable, more complex and its gameplay is more varied. I really hope the next review won’t be written by a playtester nor an author but someone who has played it and wants to present their opinion on the game.
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maddie dogson
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good review
thanks
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Level 3 Tunt
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For anyone interested, the rules of Speed Krysis are posted here:

http://krysis.eu/column/2/speed_krysis.html

Gém Klub Kft wrote:
Speed Krysis

A lightning-fast tactical rule variant for 2 players

Each player receives 2 red and 3 blue crystals and places them in their campsite (the rest of the blue and red crystals are placed in the middle). They also take the 7 transporter and 4 agent cards of a company that have no crystal multipliers and take them in their hand. EVERYTHING ELSE IS PUT BACK IN THE BOX (there is no white crystal, bank, relic etc. in this game).

The game is divided into 3 rounds. At the beginning of each round the players build up their teams (by playing 3 cards) according to the basic rules (2 cards will remain in hand in the end of the game). The faster team starts the round.

*In case there is at least one crystal in the campsite of the opponent and the stronger team has transporting capacity, the stronger team MUST steal from the other and take the crystals HOME.
*The team that can't steal anything must transport crystals home if they have at least as many crystals as their transporting capacity.
*If their transporting capacity is more than the crystals in their campsite (and they can't steal), they have to choose mining which means taking the amount of crystals depicted on their transporter agent cards to their campsite. In this case their team protects their campsite until the end of the round, in any other case they have left the campsite unprotected.

At the end of the game players receive victory points for their crystals (3 for red and 2 for blue); the player with more points wins.
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