Designed by Titus and Schensted, currently published by Kadon
These comments copyright 1998 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated November 28, 1998

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. No exceptions.

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 path.

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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