Calavera: Pushing Roses and Dodging SkullsOctober 28, 2019
Benny looks at the roll and write, Calavera.
Today we are exploring Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos via a German game designer and publisher. To their credit, the publisher, moses Verlag GmbH commissioned beautiful artwork for this game. That said, the theme is pretty loosely applied. I’m always intrigued when I see Klaus-Jürgen Wrede (Carcassonne) has designed something new. This is not his first foray into roll and writes, previously he designed the Tetris-like Bloxx (Noris Spiele).
In Calavera (Spanish for Skull), the players are pressing their luck by rolling the dice up to 3 times. The player chooses any one color or the Roses. They fill in as many of the color or number of Roses as any one color on their player sheet track for that color. The opponents will take one of the remaining colors to fill in on their sheet also as long as at least one Skull was rolled. In the event 3 Skulls are rolled, the player ends their turn immediately and the opponent selects one of the colors to add to their sheet.
This sets up a really tricky game where the dice roller is trying not to give their opponent helpful colors of dice. Alternatively, though the dice roller may want to give dice that push their opponent into the Death zone (Grey with Guitar Player) of the color track. On the player sheets, the player will note that there are Rose sections, the player must have rolled at least that many Roses (but not have claimed them to mark the spaces) in order to freeze their score in that space. Freezing all of the colors ends the game. This is tricky because when the player moves into the Death zone, they automatically freeze on the space they end on. This could be 0 or even negative points!
I found Calavera to be a lot of fun, but also tricky with pushing my luck to mess with my opponents. Do you have an opponent in the gold section for points but they haven’t frozen yet? Send them that color to try to tip them into the Death zone! Or take the color for yourself, but do your best to get that freeze for points, but do you push it beyond 4 to try to get 8 and 10?
Calavera is an incredibly enjoyable game! If you like games where you are pushing your luck and trying to get just the right dice, this one is a must. For those who prefer something more substantial and less luck based, consider Calavera, but know that it is neither of those things.
The publisher, moses. did include history about Dia de los Muertos in the rules, which I feel is a very nice touch. Celebrate the dead when you can and enjoy learning about this beautiful culture and people! (Coco is a really neat movie about Dia de los Muertos, as an aside).
Love to all out there reading, you are special skulls, every one of you!
Full disclosure: I purchased Calavera through www.amazon.de as it was not available in the US. I do not have any connection with the publisher or designer. The review title is a nod to the television show “Pushing Daisies” which I really love and recommend watching for quirky humor about death.