Game Buzz: Poseidon’s Kingdom

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

For the past few weeks, Gordon and Fraser Lamont have been posting images on BGG of some of the awesome bits that will be in their newest game, Poseidon’s Kingdom.  It’s apparently been a pretty brilliant marketing strategy – after just showing off the sculpts and not the rules, they sold out of all their Essen pre-orders VERY quickly.  Part of that is probably the pedigree of the Lamont brothers, designers of Shear Panic, Snow Tails, and last year’s Antics.  But those bits are pretty darn cute.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Poseidon’s Kingdom is the latest animal-themed game to come from the Lamont Brothers and their company, Fragor Games.  It’s for 2-4 players aged 10 and up, and takes 45 minutes to play.  The game has a very unique theme – Poseidon has lost his trident, your friends have been captured by Hans the Kraken while trying to retrieve it.  You have to rescue your friends, defeat the Kraken, and find a lot of treasure to win.

image by BGG user diceman

The game comes with a double-sided ocean board, a Kraken tracken (which is an awesome name), and a big wave (some assembly required).  You get 8 kraken coral tokens, as well as 26 coral reef tiles and 4 starting coral reef tiles that are similar to the tiles used in Antics.  55 dice, 25 safe place counters, 36 skeleton tokens, and 24 friend counters are included, as well as thirteen creature sculpts (3 fish, 3 starfish, 3 octopi, 3 clams, and one shark).  Also included is one Fragor point token, which they admit they don’t have a use for yet – another humorous, but ultimately useless component from Fragor Games, much like the Big Paws in Snow Tails.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Each player begins the game with three animals of the same type/color, 6 friends of that color, 10 dice of that color, and a starting set of reef tiles in that color.  One of your friend tokens goes on each of the Kraken’s front tentacles on the Kraken tracken, and one of their creatures behind the Kraken’s head.  The other two creatures go at opposite sides of the ocean board (beach and deep end).  Players take turns placing one die on the big wave in one of the indicated spaces until each player has three dice on there.  In addition, three neutral dice are placed on the wave.  The wave will then break on the board (you push it gently until it tips over).  Any dice that fall completely off the board are put back on the wave by their owners, where they will remain until the wave breaks again.  If more than half of the dice leave the board, put them all back and try again.  Any dice that are straddling the line between waves are pushed onto the wave that is closer to the beach.  You add up all of your dice, and the player with the highest number on the board goes first.  Players will then place two more dice on the wave.  Your creatures are then spread out around the Kraken based on player order.

On your turn, you either build a reef or load the wave, then you move your creature, then you pick up dice, then you move the shark.  Your first choice is whether or not you want to build a reef or load the wave.  To build a reef, you take a coral tile and place it so that it is either next to your reef, or stacked across two coral tiles.  This is the same basic system as used in Antics – you have to build across two tiles, and you can’t build an overhang.  We’ll find out how this action helps as the explanation progresses.  If you choose to load the big wave, you’ll take a number of dice (depending on your highest wave symbol on your reef) and place them on the wave in appropriate places.  You can always place at least one die whether you have a wave symbol or not.

Next, you move your creature (aka “motion in the ocean”).  You’ll be able to move ONE creature on the ocean board a number of spaces based on the highest arrow symbol on your reef, and always at least one space whether you have an arrow or not.  You’ll be following a preprinted path, moving at least one space and ending in a space different than the one you began in.  You can’t enter the space containing the shark (obviously), but you can enter spaces containing other creatures (including your own).

Next, pick up dice.  This is your eating phase, and it’s optional.  You may choose to pick up as many dice as your highest eat symbol (always at least one).  These can belong to you or your opponent, though your opponents will get a movement bonus if you eat their dice.  You can either store the die to eat later, or eat it now to free one of your friends.  Storage is limited by what you can keep on your reef.  If you eat, you can eat dice you just picked up or dice you have stored.  Each tentacle on the Kraken tracken shows a different combination of dice that must be met to free the friend – 7 total pips, a low double (1-2-3), a high double (4-5-6), three in a row, three of a kind, and four different.  You can only free one friend at a time by doing this, and you get the top safe-place token as a reward.

image by dicemanjnr

Time to move the shark.  The space you landed on has a shark picture and a number.  Move the shark that number of spaces in the direction it is facing.  It follows the same path as the creatures, but always criss-crosses in the center of the board, making a figure eight (creatures have the option of going straight there).  The shark eats any creatures in its way.  This results in you having to put a skeleton token on your reef, effectively killing the symbol there.  You can then place your creature at either end of the board (it’s their long-lost brother, or something).  Whenever a shark moves through a die space on the board, place a neutral die on the big wave.

After this, you’ll check to see if the wave is about to crash.  It’s full if there are 9 dice in a 2-player game, 12 with 3, and 15 with 4.  Excess dice are not loaded if it’s already full.  You’ll crash the wave just like you did in the beginning.  You’ll also turn the shark so it is facing the opposite direction.  You’ll total your dice on the board and take a bonus if you want/can:

  • 3+: Place a die on the big wave.
  • 7+: Place two dice on the big wave.
  • 12+: Move two spaces on the Kraken tracken, or peek under one Kraken coral.
  • 16+: Remove all skeletons from your reef and peek under one Kraken coral.
  • 19+: Immediately free your nearest friend (clockwise from the head of the Kraken) and take the corresponding safe place token.

Play continues until one player has freed all of their friends from the Kraken.  Everyone will then get one final turn.  If you eat dice, you may be able to claim a Kraken coral tile by either getting 3-6 or 7-10 (or one of each).  Kraken coral give you bonus points: one per arrow, eat, or wave symbol showing on your reef; +3 if you have no skeletons/-1 per skeleton you have; or Poseidon’s trident, which can count as any of the others.  At the end, players will add up their safe place points and the Kraken coral bonuses.  The winner is the one with the most points.

One thing you can say about the Lamonts: their games are definitely original.  I can’t think of anything that’s like this, other than Antics.  The Lamonts did a similar revisiting of a game with their previous pair, Snow Tails and Savannah Tails.  With Poseidon’s Kingdom, I particularly am really interested in the big wave, in seeing how that works.  It sounds like a really cool component, though I’d really like to see some images of the wave in action so I can get a better idea about how it tips.  I’m also wondering if dice already on the board will get bounced around once the crash happens.

Scoring seems pretty straightforward, but I can imagine it would be really hard to strategize a victory.  If you rescue friends early, you have a better chance to get high numbers on the safe place tokens.  Kraken coral tiles add some serious randomness to the game, and it seems a little unfair to maybe randomly get negative points if you draw the wrong tile.  I guess that’s why you use a bonus to peek.

This is a game I’m interested to play, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get a chance.  900 preorder copies sold out in a few days, but there’s no guarantee that a domestic publisher will reprint the game.  Other than Shear Panic and Snow Tails, I don’t think any Fragor games have crossed the pond.  The games are pretty component heavy, but I think there would be a market.  This is one I know I’d like to try.  Thanks for reading.

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