Konja Up Some Clouds
Cape Town is currently experiencing one of the worst water shortages it’s ever seen so it’s only fitting that this game was launched smack in the middle of it. A 2 player dice rolling collection game, you control one of two shamans who are battling to summon Chango and bring rain to the dry land. Does Konja wet our whistles or dry our trousers?
Konja comes in a great solid box (the same size as Snowblind, another great game by Pleasant Company Games) with artwork by the inimitable Rob van Zyl. His artwork is a great match for the theme of voodoo-flavoured dice rolling. The tokens are solid and the little wooden relics are extremely cool. The Kickstarter edition comes with little stickers to enhance the relics, which really make them stand out. Konja is the spiritual successor to Ancient Terrible Things and it shows. If you’ve played ATT, you’ll pick up Konja in no time. But how about the newbies?
The basics are as simple as ABC: Ancestor, Bones, Collection. On your turn, you choose a Relic Ancestor out of a possible five, each one granting a different favour, like allowing you to buy clouds, refresh your spell cards or acquire more tokens. Each Ancestor has a Blessing and a Favour. The player who chose the Ancestor gets the use of the Favour and then both players gain the Blessing. For instance, if you choose the Spell Ancestor, you may discard some of your spell cards as the Favour and then both players draw up to hold 3 cards as the Blessing.
No Bones About It
I should mention that each player begins the game with three spell cards, 2 gold tokens, 2 spell tokens, 2 focus tokens and the following three relics: At, Fieya and either Oodoo or Shayka (Oodoo for an aggressive game, Shayka for a friendly variant). After choosing your Ancestor you roll the bones – 5 green dice and 2 white.
Scoring is as follows:
- any single die above 4 gets you a green token.
- a double of any value nets you two blues
- a run of three or more gets you as many gold, so a 2-3-4-5 would get you 4 gold tokens
- a triple, quadruple or the word which means five will get you either a 3, 5 or 7 cloud.
Once you’ve rolled, you can use your relics or spell cards to enhance your roll. If you’d rolled 2-2-3-4-5 this would net you two blues and two greens. You could then use your At relic by placing one of the white die on the card and tapping it (turning it sideways to indicate use). At would allow you to lock two green die for the cost of two green tokens and re-roll the remainder. So you could choose to lock the 2s and re-roll the 3-4-5 and hope for a triple. You could even use spell cards by paying in the blue token cost indicated on the top of each card. Once you are happy with your roll, you move on to the Collection phase.
Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
It is at this phase where the other player can choose to use his Oodoo which allows him to roll a red die which will replace any die equal or lower to the red die. What’s the point you say? Say you rolled 3-3-3-3-5. That’s a 5 cloud and a green token, a pretty decent roll. Now I come along and roll a 4. I can swap a 4 out for a 3, preventing you from getting the 5 and having to settle with a 3 cloud and two green tokens. We chose not to play this card often as we preferred to play the friendly side, Shayka. (We have a variant that we play, we’ll explain it later)
Once you collect your spoils it moves to the next player. Once all 5 Ancestors have been used they are reset and play continues with fresh dead Ancestors. First player to reach 21 cloud points triggers the endgame, and both players take their turn before tallying up the score. So if I had the starting player token, you’d get one more turn. Highest cloud points wins.
Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
I really enjoy this game. The components are top quality and the game play is surprisingly deeper than you’d think. There are many strategies to employ and the spell cards and relics give you the feeling that even though the dice are random, the control is still yours. The initial setup of the game takes a minute or two to set out the boards and tokens but once you’re playing, it’s very easy to play multiple games. If you’re anything like us, you’ll find yourself shouting “OODOO!” or “FIEYA!” in your best shaman voice whenever playing spells or relics. The names are fun and really help you get into the spirit.
Mark’s Verdict: Konja
If you need a fun little 2 player game and you’re a fan of dice rolling, this game is highly recommended. There are a lot of spell cards and relic cards to memorise but you find that after a game or three, you won’t even need the handy reference sheet any more. This is one of those games that my wife rolled her eyes at because of the number of pieces but now she pushes for a game most evenings. And mornings. Afternoons too. Some people will be put off by the dice but if you don’t like dice games, don’t play this. Actually, no, give this a try. It might surprise you.
To spice things up, we play the following variant: each player receives At and Fieya as normal but Oodoo is returned to the deck and two random relics are dealt out between the players. This adds a little more variety to the game.
When we review games, we like to try play at least 5 games or more, with various different players, to get a feel of different reactions to this game. This game is pushing 30+ plays in just under 2 months! It’s an oft-requested game and one I love teaching people.
Publisher: Pleasant Company Games
Designer: Rob van Zyl, Simon McGregor
Players: 2 players
Play time: 20 minutes per player
- Great fun game for couples or when you're having coffee with a friend
- Amusing little voodoo names
- Great art as per Rob's normal standards
- Only 2 players, although you could technically add on another set for additional players
- Dice rolling is not for everyone
- Not a game you can quickly pull out if you only have 5 minutes