Kaliko is a tile-laying game for 2-4 players originally
called Psyche Paths in the 1970s. I have an early 1980s
version published by Future Classics. It's now published by Kadon, and
well worth picking up for its beauty as well as qualities as a game.
The game consists of 85 clear acrylic hexagonal tiles with lines painted
on them. The lines are red, white and blue, and run from one edge of the
tile to another. Frequently they cross each other, but that has no effect
on the lines - they continue from tile to tile whether they cross or not.
The 85 tiles are all unique: they represent all the ways three lines of
up to three different colors can appear on such tiles. For example, you
can have a tile that has a straight white line running directly across
each of the three hexside diameters. The same thing with blue lines,
and the same thing with red lines means you have three different tiles
right there. Then, using the same pattern, you might have two white
and one red, or two blue and one white, etc. Because each combination
is represented, you must play all tiles paint side up - no reversing a
tile to get a different juxtaposition of lines!
Each tile that is played must always match correct colors when joining
edges: white line to white line, blue line to blue line, red to red.
The play is very simple: each player starts with seven tiles, hidden
from the others behind a screen. One tile is placed in the center of
the board as an initial pattern. Each turn you may play to the board,
or "dump" - as in Scrabble, this means to turn in a number
of your tiles and draw replacements for them. Or you can simply pass,
which is sometimes a decent option in the late-middle game.
To play to the board, you must create a scoring path. A scoring
path means you must play your tiles so that one edge of the existing
pattern is connected to another edge of the existing pattern. Any tiles
you play must contribute to this main scoring path - though you can score
secondary paths along the way, with some skill and luck. This idea of
a scoring path connecting two existing edges is the hardest thing to
grasp in the game - once you have that, you will do well at the game.
I'll try to illustrate, though it's not easy in ASCII graphics:
W / \ W
/ \ B = Blue line meeting edge
\ / R = Red line meeting edge
R \______/ R W = White line meeting edge
/ W R \ (The edges where the tiles join are Blue)
B \______/ R
In order to make a legal play, the tiles you lay must connect
two existing edges somehow, even if it takes all seven of your tiles.
The easiest connection to make in the example above is from the right-hand
Red line of the top tile to either of the Red lines in the bottom tile.
Once you've connected those, you can continue the Red line as long and
convoluted as you want - but each tile must contain that Red scoring
Scoring is similar to Scrabble. (In fact, the game seems
to draw a lot from Scrabble, such as seven tiles, hidden
from the other players, play as many as you can, the longer the chain
formed the better, secondary chains formed score extra, score after each
play, keep a running total, and so on. The main difference is that you
don't score a bonus for using all your tiles in Kaliko.)
You score one point for each tile in the main scoring path. Double this
if you make a closed loop. Add +3 for each time the path crosses over
itself. Also score for any secondary paths you create. Then draw your
hand up to seven tiles, and the next player takes his turn.
Once you get the hang of what a scoring path is, the game becomes very
engrossing and deep. Defensive play is not only possible, but a good
idea. This is because you may create a long path with 27 tiles in it,
but if the next player can add two tiles to connect the end to another
tile of the same color, he scores at least 29 ... But if you run your long
paths out as far as possible from other ends of the same color, you may
prevent other players from using the long path you just scored with.
While not for everyone, those who enjoy this type of abstract game at
all, will like Kaliko very much. Recommended if you fall
into that category!
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