Keltis

“I’ve captured you fair and square, Leprechaun, and by the ancient magics, you must tell me where to find your pot of gold.”

“Aye, tis true, ye spiteful house-ape, I am bound to tell ye the way, but I curse yer bones and hope ye are lost for all time in the kitchenware aisles of Ikea.”

“Enough talk, Lucky Charms. Where have you hidden your treasure?”

“Five paths of stone ye may travel to find my enchanted coins, but if ye choose a path and do not journey far enough, ye will feel my ancient Irish wrath.”

“Why would I travel more than one path?”

“Because those are the rules! Be silent ye shaven donkey! Along the way, ye may choose mystic tokens from the dark stones, which will help ye along yer way. If ye play yer cards right, ye will find yer way to great riches.”

“Exactly what kind of riches are we talking about?”

“Well, um, I have to do some math there. Do ye have a pad of paper?”

KeltisCreated by prolific designer, Reiner Knizia, Keltis is essentially an expansion of the mechanisms utilized in his classic two-player game, Lost Cities. Both games were published by Kosmos, but Keltis earned long neglected Knizia a Spiel des Jahres in 2008. The game supports up to four players from ages ten and up; although, I think that younger players would do just fine. You can easily finish a game of Keltis in less than an hour.

Like Lost Cities, Keltis has players managing a hand of numbered cards of five different suits. The cards are numbered from 0 to 10, and there are two of each card for a total of 110 cards. Players may choose to advance their tokens along five paths of nine stones, one path for each suit, by playing cards in an ascending or descending sequence.

If you choose to travel along a particular path, you must be prepared to move at least a few spaces; otherwise, you will pay a penalty at the end of the game. Along the way, you can pick up bonus tiles on the path, which will allow you to take additional moves or score bonus points. Players have to manage their hand of cards in such a way to gain the most benefit from the paths they choose and the tokens they collect.

I think Keltis is a very well designed and enjoyable family game, so why is this not on your shelf? Well, Keltis was never released in the United States. In it’s place, we received Lost Cities: The Board Game, which was almost the same game, but slightly different. Not as different as Kirk and Mirror Universe Kirk, but still different enough to be distinct. It’s more like the difference between vanilla and French vanilla. I think it was a mistake to create two games. By creating a different version for release in English, they took away all of the possible name recognition from the SdJ. I realize that they could not predict an SdJ win, but it still seems like a bad marketing strategy. I prefer Keltis over Lost Cities: The Board Game simply because I think that Keltis is a better looking game. I love the theme and the bits. It’s a very pretty game.

Keltis board

By the end of the day, I hope to have my very own copy of Keltis. I found a used copy online for a reasonable price. I could have gotten a new one for about the same price if I had ordered one through Amazon.de as part of a group order, but this way I can play it on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe I’ll make my own shamrock shake with green food dye and vanilla ice cream. I’ll probably use French vanilla instead of regular vanilla. Have fun on Monday and if you decide to drink a lot of green beer, make sure you have a designated Leprechaun to get your drunken butt home safely.

spiel_des_jahresThis is part of my Spiel des Jahres winner series. If you would like to comment on the 2008 winner, Keltis, then please do so on this post. If you would like to discuss or comment on the Spiel des Jahres award in general, please do so on the Spiel des Jahres series post.

5 Comments

  1. Lost Cities: TBG has a problem (the non-straight progression lines make the board difficult to “read” while playing), a caveat (there’s a cool expansion for Keltis that never got published in English), and a different playing time. (LC:TBG assumes you’ll play 3 games in a row and total the scores – so there’s a different system for scoring “shamrocks”.)

  2. I believe you and I played Lost Cities: TBG before I ever played Keltis. I remember enjoying it, but I do prefer Keltis. I love stuff with celtic knotwork. It’s funny how much art can influence how much we enjoy a design.

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