Date: 27th January 2006
Game played: Celtica ( Ravensburger ) BGG Id: 21293

First up tonight was a new game by Wolfgang Kramer & Michael Kiesling, a tried-and-tested partnership with several great games to their name, so we were really looking forward to playing it. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to expectations.

Celtica is a game about manipulating druids, who are on a journey to the central gathering place in the land, in order to collect pieces of amulet and avoid getting raided by vikings. The five druids can be moved by any player by playing a matching coloured card and each card played moves the druid to the next location on a single set route. The locations will reward the player moving the druid there by allowing him to pick up a number of amulet pieces, collect an extra movement card, or penalise him by having vikings raid and steal pieces of amulet. If you do get raided, you are compensated by collecting an experience card to be used later on the journey or at game-end to manipulate your and others' holdings of amulet pieces. Once a druid reaches the final location, the round continues to conclusion, experience cards are spent, and whoever has the most complete amulets wins.

Reading the rules made it sound light but with some tactical decisions to be made. However, in practice, the decisions are either obvious or forced by your position. You have no control over the cards you pick and hence the druids you move so the game effectively boils down to who picks the right cards at the right time. In our game, I started disastrously, losing all my amulet pieces on the first round. However, I then collected some decent cards and used my experience cards to push me to some decent locations and grab plenty of amulet pieces. I managed to push a druid to the very lucrative last space with my last card of a round and nobody following me was able to achieve the same with other druids. Then came the spending of experience cards, none of which I had left. All the other players tried to mess with my largest uncompleted amulets (yes, all the other players including Chris!) However, I just had too much of a lead that Phil, who was my only close rival, was unable to match my third largest incomplete amulet.

Ratings suffered as we were all very disappointed in this one. If it hadn't been Kramer & Kiesling, my rating may have been a notch higher as it was not completely without interest, but it still is unlikely to be played again.

Mark G

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