Disclaimer: This preview is from a prototype copy of the game that was provided by Ta-Te Wu to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Publisher: Sunrise Tornado Game Studio
Design: Ta-Te Wu
Mechanisms: Pattern building, Tile placement, Area majority/influence
Number of Players: 2 – 4
Game Time: 20 – 30 minutes
Description: Save the kitties! In Cleocatra, players compete to score the most points by rescuing cats from the pyramids. Players take turns placing/moving tiles and their meeples, trying to score points by aligning different colored pyramid triangles together before triggering a scoring.
The first round consists of each player drawing and placing a tile, and one of their meeple “Rescuers” onto it, in the middle of the playing area. Play then resumes with the first player. On a player’s turn, they take two actions from the list below (either a Tile and Rescuer action or two Rescuer actions; a player cannot take two Tile actions in the same turn):
- Scout: Draw a tile (if any remain) and place it adjacent to one or more other pyramid tiles already in play.
- Search: Take an unoccupied tile (a tile with nothing on it) and move it to a different location. This cannot create holes or split the pyramid into more than 1 group/area.
- Dispatch: Place a Rescuer on a tile you just placed or moved (via a Tile action).
- Team Up: Place a Rescuer on any tile adjacent to one you already occupy.
- Rescue (Score): Choose a Rescuer that is not on a tile with an Inspector, and score 1 point for each unique (differently colored) tile in its area: the tile it’s on and the three adjacent tiles. Score 1 bonus point for each Rescuer you have on those adjacent tiles. Then, place an Inspector onto the tile you initially started the scoring from (or move an Inspector from any other tile if all three are already on tiles) and remove all your Rescuers that scored back to your supply. Note: If this is the first action you take on your turn, you don’t get to take a second action and your turn immediately ends.
Play continues until a player reaches 23 points, at which time you end the current round and the player with the most points wins!
There is also an advanced version of the game where the tiles have special abilities and there is an additional Rescuer action that allows you to move one of your Rescuers to any tile adjacent to the one they started on.
Review: For a game with only 13 tiles (14 if you get the limited edition starter tile) there is a surprising amount of depth and strategy packed into this little game. It’s an area majority Euro played as a tile placement/manipulation game in under 20 minutes. And it has adorable cat art. What’s not to like?
The main chunk of the rules teaches you the “base” game and gives you a solid understanding of the mechanics underlying how the game works. You learn the main Tile and Rescuer actions, and it’s a good introduction. I recommend playing this version at least once to get the hang of the basic tile manipulation, meeple usage, and scoring.
The real meat of the strategy, however, comes with the “advanced” game where you can move your Rescuers (rather than just place them) and the tiles have actions you can use while you have a Rescuer on them. It creates even more interesting choices and decision-making and really makes the game shine. Being able to move a tile that is occupied, or suddenly swapping two Rescuers and then scoring for extra bonus points, can lead to really fun strategies and “oh wow” moments when you pull off something crazy.
One thing we at OSG especially love about Ta-Te Wu’s cat games is the incredibly cute and lovable art. Take an already good game and give it cute, chibi-like art of kitties and you’ve got us going “I MUST HAVE” and Cleocatra is no exception. I want to save ALL THE KITTEHS because they’re cute and adorable, and it’s a fun way to apply the theme to this game, which is a cool theme (I’m generally a fan of ancient Egyptian themed stuff).
Kickstarter Information: Cleocatra is on Kickstarter now! The project concludes on April 11th and has already met its funding goal. There are a couple mini expansions, and a limited edition starting tile, available with the various pledge levels in the project!
Scott – The Solitary Meeple