I was looking for a generic strategy wargame and boy did I find a good one! I own Avalon Hill's "Blitzkrieg" and used to own "Tactics", Tactics II" and "Kriegspiel" years ago which are traditional hex and counter wargames between fictional countries battling over fictional continents (or geomorphic terrain in the case of Kriegspiel). They are good games but take alot of time to play and most of all are long out of print. I was looking for something similar that was easier and quicker to play.
Caledea: The Epic Strategy Game is a gem of a game. I got it yesterday, read the rules last night and gave it a solo test play this morning.
The armies. There are nine "kingdoms" to choose from. Each have different starting units, different unit upgrade costs and different special powers. I picked two kingdoms at random. Set the starting units and capitals and went to it. Doing the best I could for each side. I know you're looking for a detailed report of the moves and the results but I'm not going to do that here. It doesn't matter. What matters is the way the game played. It was great! I'm writing this report in an effort to bring this game to the attention of those that are looking for a good, quick play generic strategy wargame.
By now you're looking at or will look at the photo's of the game on the database page for this game. Yes. The units are large size dice that are abstracted to represent military units. Blank side up is Infantry. A dash represents Cavalry and a plus sign is a General. They are easy to use, easy to see and very functional. Upgrading a unit is as simple as turning the die to the appropriate symbol. My only problem with them is if you stack them up on a square (stacking is unlimited) and they take a tumble, they may roll to become diffent unit types. You need to be careful about this.
The rules. Straight forward, well written and easy to understand. It's four small pages. There are no fancy pictures but there are two written examples of play. You won't have any problems understanding the game play.
The map. Don't be put off by the graphics in the photos. Yes, the original map was drawn with a colored pencil and uses a grid to regulate movement. Don't despair! It works like a charm! The game comes with two very well made geomorphic map boards that feel indestructable. Very hard mapboard and well laminated (you'd have no trouble flinging them out in the street letting cars and trucks run over them. They'd survive easily) It is very clever how the map works in the game. You will notice that each grid square has two symbols that dominate it. These symbols are used by each kingdom to modify the units in combat (they add dice for combat) and are used for adding new units to your army and gold coins that are used to upgrade your units and defensive structures (towers and castles). Each "kingdom" will be fighting over the grid squares that benefit them (outposts). Don't think that the map is too small and you're going to hide in a corner or along an edge. The edges are "connected". A unit that moves say, off the east edge of the board shows up on the west edge of the board in the "adjacent" square. The same for north south movement! There's no place to hide! You'll need to be on your toes as a threat can come from any direction.
The game markers. Nicely done double sided game markers and a few that look like coins. They come enclosed in a sealed plastic bag. They are so well cut that they require only a light finger press to punch out (a few had already fallen out of the counter sheet). No trimming or cleanup needed. They are thin. Not to worry! Normally this would be a bad thing but these are just game markers. The cubes that represent the military units will be placed on top of these at times and being thin helps this situation. If they were thick, you couldn't stack the cubes on top of them. The counters that represent the coins in the game could've been made from thick counters to make them easier to use. These aren't used on the map so I'd suggest using pennies or poker chips because they are handled frequently and being as thin as they are make them tough to pick up and use when you need to.
Combat. Combat is quick and very decisive. Enemy units in the same square fight it out to the death. Each opponent picks one of their units to fight. Using the best die roll from a number of dice thrown based on unit type and the terrain or defensive structures present in the square. The highest die number wins (not the cumulative of all the dice, the highest die number out of all the dice you've thrown) and the losing military unit is removed from the board. If there are more units in the square, they do the same procedure again until only one kingdoms unit(s) occupy the square.
The reviews. Before I ordered this game I did the research on it. The hard BGG numbers didn't look all that great. I don't understand why this is. This is a well done, clever light wargame. The reviews that were posted were all very good. They weren't kidding! I wish I'd been able to get this game years ago. It almost slipped by me and I'd have been denied a great wargame! Well done Vincent and Eliot!