A Karmic Duel
It's been a while! There have been a few fun things brewing in the Karmaka kitchen over the last year or so. Most of them aren't ready for prime-time yet, but I'd like to share something with you I think you'll enjoy: a two-player mod for Karmaka. It focuses the game into a quick, tight, two-player duel.
The biggest change is incarnation abilities – that is, an ability you have depending what incarnation level (eg. Dung Beetle, Ape...) you're at. Presenting... incarnation cards! [Note: These are prototypes I've put together from existing art & design. New art and graphic design to come!]
You can download a Print-and-Play of these (rough, prototype) cards here. Note that when playing this version you don't use the Karmic Ladder nor meeples, but instead use these cards to track and remind players what their current incarnation and ability is. Just place your current incarnation face-up in front of you - Dung Beetle to start of course - and you're good to go. (Personally I like to place it to the left of my personal Deck, with any Karmic Rings on top.)
Before I jump into details about the incarnation cards, I'll mention the two other differences in this mod:
- Before playing, remove one of each 1-point and one of each 2-point card from the Karmaka deck. (For red, green, and blue cards; leave the Mosaics as is.) So that's 5 cards removed per color, or 15 total from the deck. This increases the average point-value of cards in the deck, as there are just as many 3-point cards as before.
- At the beginning of the game, give each player a Karmic Ring. This gives players a bit more flexibility in scoring, and mitigates the impact of "take that" in the game a bit.
Back to the incarnations. First of all, you may notice there are only three levels rather than four before Transcendence in this version: Dung Beetle -> Raven -> Ape -> Transcendence. (Sorry, Snake and Wolf. You're still beautiful.) I find this makes for a great, quick, two-player game, and all your lives feel a little more connected like this. In addition, the points required to ascend are 4-6-8 rather than 4-5-6-7. That higher 8 at the end is partially offset by players' starting Karmic Ring, the higher point-spread from thinning out the deck's 1 and 2-point cards, and the Ape's ability.
Ah yes, the abilities! Each incarnation has a unique ability:
- Dung Beetle. "Whenever you play a Deed, you may move a card from your Hand onto your Future Life." This gives the Beetle the ability to zip through a life fairly quickly, assuming you want to plan for your Future. (Hint: you generally do. ;-) It's hard to keep a good Dung Beetle down!
- Raven. "Whenever you play a Deed, you may move one of your Deeds onto your Future Life." This is a surprisingly versatile and tricksy ability. I'll leave it to you to discover the various uses...
- Ape. "When you first become an Ape, decide whether or not you will play the rest of the game open-handed. If you do, gain a Karmic Ring." Yup, open-handed Karmaka – at least in part. I've actually played a bunch of open-handed Karmaka at this point and find it really interesting – it takes some of the guess-work out of the game and brings it a bit closer to "perfect information" games like chess, etc. But it's by choice here; one player may choose to show their hand in exchange for a Ring, while the other may not. It's an interesting decision to make when you become an Ape, which I like thematically as well. I believe that in some situations the trade-off is worth it, while in others it probably isn't. And while we've tested a bunch, we could use more "data" on this bit in particular. I really look forward to hearing your feedback on how you (and your rival) play this, and how it works out!
Note: if you play this mod with a new player, it may be best to leave the incarnation abilities out for the first couple of games (especially the Ape's ability) until they learn the ropes. In that case try starting players with two Karmic Rings instead of one.
That's it for now. I hope you get to give this a try with a friend or foe sometime soon. And if you do, we'd love to hear any feedback you may have! Feel free to comment in response to this update or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.