Review: Fallen City of Karez – a city rising from the ashes
I am one of the few survivors of the attack. Even now, I dream about it every night, although more than a year has already passed. It was like a volcanic eruption. The forces of darkness swept over the seemingly impregnable walls and massacred half of our population immediately. The others became slaves, who helped them to sack the city. I avoided this fate. I could not kill a child in front of its family, and yet I saw some townspeople, who did exactly, what the darkness instructed them to do.
No one knows, where they came from. I spent three months among rats, before the storm passed, evil army got, what it wanted, murdered their human followers and marched away. When I got to the surface, I saw the unspeakable terror and mess. The Karez town was in ruins. I tell you this story, while sitting on one of the ruined walls. I have a vision to build the city again. But deserters from the army of darkness are all around, threatening the city. They have settled in the caves, lakes and in the forests. We have to make sure, our neighborhood is safe once again. We will fight and restore the glory of our city!
Fallen City of Karez is a game, that was long overdue. After its successful Kickstarter campaign, its author Elad Goldsteen was really busy. There were some delays, which resulted in quite a long time, before it finally got to delivery in Europe. But we finally got it to our table. All this took place under newly formed company Golden Egg Games, which has some other games in development right now.
All this was especially annoying for players, who supported their game via community server. And perhaps partly because of that, a wave of criticism lifted after its release. Now let’s see together, how justified these all complaining voices are.
On the red image adorning a square box, you’ll find Karez under attack by dark forces. Within its walls, where we cannot see at the moment, there are mostly debris. Once you lift the lid, a time starts to move forward. A year from the catastrophe has passed. By now, residents rebuilt back some basic and most important city buildings. And this seemingly pristine city center can be found on the map, beautifully colored and filled with a variety of places for sending your workers. There are only few small scales, for example for counting rounds played in the lower right corner.
Small doublesided boards are ready for each of the five factions vying for power and at the same time working together to restore the city, that bear the names of the party and in addition also its special abilities. The other side is used as a help for the players with a list of activities available in the village, but also with icons of all buildings actions.
The box also contains seven tokens for each guild, eleven tokens to increase the level of heroes and a few more chips to monitor the state of the game. The minor components found in bags are patiently waiting: fifty wooden cubes in four colors (courage, gold, wounds and threat), but also gold bricks and a dozen of green crystals.
But most of the fun is hidden in a deck of cards. Fifty-five monsters of different species (undead, people, monsters, traps and ancient monsters), even more cards with equipment (items and disposables), a dozen heroes, nine visitors and fourteen cards of adventure around the city. These will be filled up with random monsters cards to its roof.
Cards of heroes and enemies have one thing in common. At the bottom of the card, you will find life very originally represented in the form of several dice with numbers. Each dice means one health point. Value on it indicates, what numer must attacking opponent roll, to hit this creature/fighter in this particular spot. In the upper left corner, there is second common element – number of attack dice. Only with switched colors – while the hero’s health is blue and attack red, the enemy has it exactly the opposite way. Both camps also share an attack bonus and special ability.
In addition, you will find a type at each monster. Heroes have also available number of green defense dice and other value indicating maximum equipment, thay can carry with them. Adventure cards show you place, where these two sides meet and fight. They contain clearly specified types of creatures, that inhabit them, a reward for its completion, but also the terror affecting the city, when it lies undefeated in its neighbourhood.
At the start of every game, players must choose one guild. It should be noted first (and by far not the last), each of them relies on a slightly different direction and strategy. According to this guild board, players take number of starting heroes and monsters, but also receive starting gold. Also order of play is randomly determined and specified on the scale on the board.
Game board is prepared using three tokens of state. One occupies position of round counter, the other will show zero for the time being to count threat to the city and the third is used to track progress of your village. You have to grow Karez to become a town and city later during the game. Next to the board, you place decks with adventures divided according to these three states – village, town and city. A visitor card is put on city game and several citizens and adventurers are placed in the center of the board according to the number of players participating. After revealing the first adventure of the village pile, the game begins.
Its course can be divided (in addition to eight rounds ) further into four phases. Everything starts with the most complex action phase, where you will enjoy all the opportunities, that can be offered by such village under reconstruction.
Simpler is the purchase of equipment, you must first produce and it then will be available. There are also several buildings available for buying on the board and once you own part of Karez, you can put one of your flag tokens on it. From now on, only you can use its special event specified in a white box. In addition, there is a golden rectangle on these buildings, which is used for general action accessible to everybody.
Activation of buildings on the board is the most important part of turn and consists mainly of placing your guild tokens on buildings, you want to use. In addition, some actions may require payment in money or residents. Players can also get people or adventurers to work, who are otherwise waiting unemployed in the middle. But just like coats of arms in possession of a player (six), there is a limited number of worker pieces as well.
Residents are also a key element of the game, because only with their help, you can eventually win the game in a joint effort to find out, who is the best adventurer. At the end of each round, you add figures or adventurers to the board, depending on actual threat of the city. But these figures are also sometimes a price of some action, when they have to be removed from the board and game.
In addition, you can also open or close your own dungeon in the action phase. You will be able to take care and improve it. Other players can send their adventurers there and try to conquer it. The last and very important opportunity in this phase is option to set your heroes on some opened adventure. You also lay down action token, but not on the board. Instead, you put it directly on the challenge card, you want to visit.
Once you place your tokens in the right place and you do not want to make any other special action, activation of buildings begins. These will bring you benefits printed. You can produce items, raise money from the cemetery, heal wounds of your hero, but of course also get cards, new heroes or improve existing adventurers.
Most important on the path to victory is definitely an adventure, which is the third phase and follows activation of buildings. It is attended only by those players, who sacrificed their counter on one of the available dungeons, whether private or public. Before the player learns, which monsters will stand in his way, he must first assemble a group of heroes, he will sends inside, including their equipment. Only then will he learn the first threat.
Each dungeon has a clearly defined set of card types (= monster types), which are always randomly revealed as top cards from appropriate decks in total from two to five enemies. With the help of dice, you fight the battle, but after monster emerging, you still have the possibility of escape. If you decide to stay, you specify the order of the initiative, in which the heroes will go into battle, and everything can begin.
The fighting uses dice of all three colors. With offensive dice, you are trying to hit a monster, where it hurts. Each card has clearly given life points in the form of a specific dice with pips and your hit must exactly fit this number. This means you dealt damage for one hitpoint. Conversely, when the monster is attacking your hero by some other player rolling its dice, damage is dealt, when number on the hero card is rolled. Green dice of armor can block some injuries and different abilities give assault gear. You can either use it during only one fight (instant) or you can use it once per battle.
Players can escape during a battle every time a new monster is revealed. And sometimes it really is better, because you will lose only one item, you leave behind. If you endure up to the end, you get fame and also some reward. Then you roll the dice to determine treasures found in the cave.
After all players finish with their trips into the depths, you finally see end of the round. Now it is necessary to evaluate threat, that accumulated beyond the city gates. Compare the dice of courage in holding of the heroes against a threat, that lies on the cave cards behind the gates. Depending on that, you add new residents or heroes to the city. Game ends after the eighth round. We all lose (yes, not only you, we too!), if the Karez not a city (not enough citizens). Otherwise, all players add up victory points for crystals, building, courage, but above all for the specific conditions of their guild. Guildmaster with the most points wins the game.
Fallen City of Karez is inconsistent game especially in the beginning. The first match, you will fight a lot with it. And actually not so much with the game itself as with the supplied rulebook. Although you unfold the whole game in front of you, there is problem to understand it all. The rules contain no icons description and a lot of small details remain unanswered. Fortunately, the author is very active in the forum at BoardGameGeek, where he will be happy to answer all those nosy questions. Many of those have already been spoken and solved.
Indeed, if it was not for these problems in the beginning, this game offers a truly unique combination of two game mechanics – while you are trying to build a functioning city inside the walls with plenty of citizens, bloody battles with monsters are taking place on the outside. You neet to keep low danger, that threatens the city, otherwise the new residents will not rush into Karez.
Each guild is significantly different and has its own special abilities and conditions to gain victory points at the end of the game. From all this is the most distinct Arcane Guild, which is with its mechanisms completely different from all the others. Whole game for them is focues primarily on maintaining your own dungeon and luring heroes into it. It is then up to you, if you like this completely different approach for one player idea or not. However, the overall mechanism is really unique and works well with others, but if you do not like, you can simply play with other factions. This is also why it can not be considered a downside of this game in any way.
Our overall impression of the game is extremely positive. Once you learn everything, you get really interesting and exciting game with great potential. The whole thing is very variable, because all the dungeons is drawn randomly.Therefore, no game will be similar. A worker placement surprisingly fits in there, although there seems to be a strong emphasis on player order. First in turn has quite big advantage over other players, because there is a great lack of figures and some positions can also easily become blocked by the others, preventing you from doing, what you wanted to.
It is important to know, when to escape from the dungeon. Since the random draw, sometimes you will encounter creatures, that are simply beyond your strength. So do not worry, just take a run for it, it will cost you only one equipment card of your choice.
But now the game statistics. Fallen City of Karez is suitable for a smaller number of game players, because with higher numbers, game time significantly stretches. Pieces offer is balanced for all the numbers and there is so much conflict in the game, as is with usual worker placement. In addition, other players can visit the cave and take on the role of enemies (throwing dice for them).
Thanks to the latter, you won’t get bored even, when it is not your turn. Unfortunately, there is significant delay in the case of the evaluation of player heroic deeds, when you could be waiting for several minutes, if you are not involved in adventuring this round. The more players there is, the better is chance to save Karez and have a winner. Although there is more demand for figures, but they are also added faster. Game time is usually even higher, than those 120 minutes on the box and this applies even to faster matches.
Beautiful graphics on one hand gives the game a unique look, but it is also the culprit, why the game is not entirely clear. In all those colors, you simply lose overview of all active sites, where you can send your tokens.
Fallen City of Karez, just like other games of mixed genres, arouses different emotions. Some players welcome a combination of worker-placement with fighting monsters with joy, others do not share their enthusiasm. This combination is truly not for everyone, we learned that ourselves. When you combine this with the addition of several deficiencies, that accompany the game, it is clear, that is has to look for its audience harder. So before you spend quite a lot of money for it, you better try is somewhere . It was not easy to find a common language with evaluation on this game on our side either. Finally, we agreed that the City of Fallen Karez is a fun and unique game, but hard to learn (impossible to learn for beginners on their own).
Karez connects two mechanisms, we like – adventure and worker-placement. This connection is well managed in this case and along with the theme, it keeps your attention high. And that’s good. So if you have the guts and you do not mind, that you have to solve some initial issues with the rules, Karez conceals a solid game under the surface. Not great, but definitely good..
Review: Fallen City of Karez – a city rising from the ashes
Fallen City of Karez brings a cross-breed of genres, which will find its supporters and adversaries. But only a few players will feel indifferent about the game. Its beautiful colorful graphics lures you from a distance, although cards have a lot more modest illustrations. But thanks to these vivid shades, you have sometimes trouble to diferentiate places, where you are sending your workers. Through them, you will seize some of the buildings and be allowed to use their special advantages. Each of the conflict sides has its unique skills and different starting resources. You have to work together with others to complete Karez, otherwise it will never succeed gaining its status again, because it will never attract enough citizens. Match is interesting and a large part is made up of fighting creatures in th woods and around the reconstructed town. Its not simple to learn the whole game, because some informations are missing in the rulebook, while others are resolved only partially. Game shines more in less players, when it does not last so long, while its kind of lenghty in more rivals. Fallen City of Karez is an interesting choice, if you are searching for a complex adventure game, while you also need a little strategy beyond fighting. Only then will you be able to fully enjoy building this city..