Clans of Caledonia is a mid to heavy economic game that is set in 19th-century Scotland. It will be released on Kickstarter in a few weeks. The game was heavily inspired by Terra Mystica and can be described as Terra Mystica as an economic game in a historic setting.
In the 19th century, Scotland made the transition from an agricultural to an industrialized country that heavily relied on trade and export. In the following, the food production increased significantly to feed the population growth. Linen was increasingly substituted by the cheaper cotton and raising sheep was given high importance. More and more distilleries were founded and whisky became the premium alcoholic beverage in Europe.
Players represent eight historic clans with unique abilities and compete to produce, trade and export agricultural goods and of course whisky!
The core mechanics and strategies are very thematic.
The game ends after 5 rounds. Each rounds consists of the three phases:
1. Players’ turns
2. Production phase
3. Round Scoring
1. Players take turns and do one of 8 possible actions, from building, to upgrading, trading and exporting. When players run out of money, they pass and collect a passing bonus.
2. In the production phase, each player collects basic resources, refined goods and cash from their production units built on the game map. Each production unit built makes income visibe on the player mat. Refined goods require the respective basic resource.
3. Players receive glory depending on the scoring tile of the current round. Players need to adjust their glory markers only 5 times in the whole game.
The game comes with 8 different clans, a modular board with 16 configurations, 8 port bonuses and 8 round scoring tiles.
The eight clans have simple yet very strong and asymetric abilities. In this regard the clans resemble more the characters in The Voyages of Marco Polo than the factions in Terra Mystica.
Clans of Caledonia includes historically important clans such as Clan Stuart and Clan MacDonald. The clan abilities are derived from the respective clan history, remarkable clan members or the etymology of the clan name.
The balancing of the clans underwent hundreds of playtests. Half of these playtests have been done with the same heavy playtesters to gather more reliable data. The game stats were gathered and analyzed using spreadsheets and pivot tables. The average scores for the clans were very narrowly within a few victory points (average score overall: 152 victory points).
There is a production chain, the distillery needs grain to produce whisky, the cheese dairy needs milk to produce cheese etc. Players can produce these resources or buy them through the market. Prices are volatile and depend on offer & demand. A key economic principle is important in this game: “Make or buy?!”.
Export contracts require certain resources and provide import goods whose value depends on the total amount of imported units by all players at the end of the game. The more a specific good was imported, the lower its value.
Thus, one can’t ignore what other players are doing in this game. Even if you play the same clan twice it can feel significantly different if your opponents represent different clans. This is definately a very interactive strategy game where you closely watch other players’ actions because they do affect you.
The eight very different clans, a modular board with 16 different map configurations, eight scoring tiles and eight port bonuses provide endless replayability and invite you to try new strategies each time you play.
The scoring tiles can not be ignored, they award approx. 30% of the victory points. Thus, even if you play the same clan twice, you need to adapt to the random setup of scoring tiles.
Who will like this game?
If you like Terra Mystica and possibly economic games as well, there is a very good chance you will like Clans of Caledonia. It stands on the shoulders of the best strategy board games out there and is unique for:
- its unique blend of engine-building and market-based mechanics. It results in a highly interactive strategy game with interwoven and thematic mechanics
- having a solo mode and it also plays really well with just 2 players. Everything in the game scales to the player count (map size, clan abilities, scoring values, number of available export contracts etc.) and there are two custom dice for the solo variant.
- its good ratio of depth to rules complexity. The game is a coherent system with relatively slim rules and language-independent game material. Thus, it is straightforward to teach to new players.
- its high amount of custom wooden components. There are a lot of wooden components in this game (>235 tokens), from custom Scottish worker meeples to animeeples and custom resource tokens.
- its beautiful art by Klemens Franz (eg. Caverna, Agricola, Isle of Skye) that makes it so much easier to understand the rules
- its pretty and custom metal coins (premium version)
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