English language edition
List Price: $35.00
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Clever & sneaky goblins! Think you can escape the wrath of Rigor Mortis while you slink about his lab, hoping to filch a dusty tome of arcane lore? Beware the withering looks of the Dark Overlord and the terrible punishments of his dreadful spells!
Standing on one foot, holding a card on your head, or talking with your mouth closed are only a few of the dire punishments that await you if you earn the wrath of an angry Dark Overlord. Have you the luck to push one of your fellow goblins into his path, maybe he'll punish them instead!
There is no way to measure how smart a goblin is. Do you believe them? Are you brave enough to find out? If you are, sneak into the private library of Rigor Mortis and see if you can claim a magic tome for your own. Beware! The Dark Overlord stalks the shelves seeking his own dark treatises. Can you avoid his withering gaze and escape his terrible spells? Maybe you should use that teleporter over there. Of course, that won't always work...
This is the boardgame version of Aye, Dark Overlord (AKA Ja, Herr und Meister!).
- 1 rigor mortis library board
- 1 rigor mortis counter
- 8 goblin counters
- 8 goblin tiles
- 6 teleport tokens
- 6 bookcase tiles
- 24 withering look cards
- 58 movement cards
- 18 magic tome cards
- 1 desk tile
Average Rating: 3 in 2 reviews
I've only played this game with adults, and so far we've all had a blast. Sober, even!
The fun of the game lies two-fold. One, it's laugh-inducing to see the current player's look at their next victim as they play a card that forces a confrontation between goblin and Rigor Mortis. Obscenities ensue as this woeful player must now take his chances with the Withering Look deck.
And this brings us to number two, the table laughs as the victim is now compelled to acquiesce to the orders given on their new card. These run the range from keeping your tongue out for the rest of the game (arguably the most infamous) to resting your chin on your head (rather tame).
The set up leads to perfect drinking game qualities amongst adult party fare. Even sober the game can be a lot of fun when spending time with friends. It's easy to learn, it keeps everyone laughing, and it gives everyone a lot to talk about. The game also presents a window to see who your friends REALLY are.
About the only drawbacks I give is that the biggest strength to the game is the Withering Look deck. And that deck does not have the variety required for multiple playthroughs. The cards are not very numerous to begin with and even still many of the cards have duplicates. A more creative and varied selection of painful inflictions for your fellow players would be much more welcome.
As it is, this game is the old standby for gaming with non-gaming friends.
Imagine if you will a game in which one person stands in the middle of the room, holding a whiffle bat. Everyone else runs towards a pile of candy bars and grabs them, pushing and shoving each other. Some are hopping on one foot, others are screaming like maniacs. The bat-wielder is just lying all around with the bat, not caring about any damage he does – and everyone is screaming with laughter. Sounds like fun? Then you’ll enjoy Kragmortha (Mayfair Games and Stratelibri, 2007 – Walter Obert, Riccardo Crosa, Massimiliano Enrico, Fabrizio Bonifacio, and Chiara Ferlito). A more chaotic and silly game you won’t find elsewhere.
This is simultaneously the game’s biggest asset and weakness. With a group of teens who adore silliness and crazy times, Kragmortha just might be their latest hit. Adults, even those who enjoy sillier games, will most likely roll their eyes and seek out more substantial fare. Kragmortha, based on the story telling game Aye, Dark Overlord! has a humorous theme of clumsy underlings attempting to appease their irate master. The game has players doing odd and often uncomfortable feats while simply trying NOT to lose. My own opinion of the game is mixed; I’ll gladly bring it out with kids, but I will NEVER even attempt it again with adults, since the wackiness factor is just too much.
The gameboard is the library of the evil Archmage, separated into many spaces, each marked with a treasure chest, scroll, potion, or gems. Some spaces are also marked with teleportation symbols, and bookcase tokens are used to block off spaces for barriers (or to make the board smaller if less than seven players are involved). A deck of magic Tome cards is shuffled and placed in four spaces in one corner of the board, and Rigor Mortis (the Archmage) is placed a couple spaces away. Each player takes a goblin tile, placing it in front of them, and the matching colored goblin counter, which they place on starting spaces on the opposite side of the board from the Magic Tome cards. A deck of movement cards is shuffled, and three dealt to each player. A deck of Withering Look cards is also placed near the board, and six teleport tokens are shuffled and placed on the teleportation symbols. One player is chosen to go first (the one who looks most like a goblin), and the game begins!
On a player’s turn, they simply play a movement card, which shows either a goblin or Rigor Mortis, and two symbols. Players move the indicated person (their goblin only) one or two spaces, if the figure is next to a space with the matching symbol on it. Some cards have a globe symbol that acts as a “wild”. If players move a goblin into another goblin’s space, they push that goblin one space in any direction (this could cause a chain reaction.)
If a goblin moves into Rigor Mortis’ space (most likely forced to), or the reverse occurs, then the player’s goblin must immediately draw a Withering Look card and head to an unoccupied teleport space. Withering Look cards are immediately revealed, and the drawing player must follow the command on the card. Failure to do so at any point will cause the player to draw an additional card. (Some cards cannot be done simultaneously and are marked by symbols – players simply draw a replacement). Examples include:
- You may speak but must keep your teeth clenched together.
- Place the card between your ear and shoulder. You must not let it fall.
- Your opponents must choose three words that you may not say.
- You must remain standing on only one leg.
- You must hold your fingers together and can only open your hand between your middle and ring finger.
When a player lands on a teleport space normally, they flip the tile located there, if any. The tile will either give them a Magic Tome card, a Withering Look card, or nothing but will always allow them to move to another Teleport space. The token is then discarded; when all six are gone, they are re-shuffled and placed back on the spaces.
When a player lands on the deck of cards in the corner or gets lucky when landing on a teleport space, they receive a Magic Tome card. This card is placed face up in front of the players (and if the player landed on the deck – they are returned to one of the starting spaces). A player may use the card’s special ability on a future turn, turning it over to show this. Magic cards include:
- You may move one extra space
- Exchange a Withering Look Card with another player.
- Move Rigor Mortis one extra space.
- Increase hand size to four cards.
- Turn a Withering Look Card face down, ignoring its effects for the remainder of the game.
The game continues until either the last Magic Tome card is drawn, or if a player gets a fourth Withering Look card. At that point the player with the least Withering Look cards wins – ties going to the player with the most Magic Tome cards – ties there going to the player with the most magic symbols on their cards.
Some comments on the game…
- Components: The game has a humorous look to it, from the
irritated Rigor Mortis, who looks rather perturbed that he has to put
up with a bunch of nimwits, to the stupid goblins, who look – well,
stupid. The cards and tokens are all good quality, and each symbol on
the board is a different shape and color for ease in recognition. The
game really isn’t about the components, but more about the silliness
of the cards. Still, everything fits easily into a medium-sized box
with funnier artwork.
- Rules: There are four pages of full color rules, and they easily
sum up the game and how it works. Oddly, there isn’t much mention on
the Withering Look cards (can you attempt to mess someone up, or is
that taboo?), but for the most part people pick up on the game
quickly. At first, new players are a little slow as to how things
work, until they realize that the game is essentially a race game.
- Racing: Yes, Kragmortha is a race game in which players dash
across a room attempting to grab the next Magic Tome card. As players
are all running in the same direction, there is a lot of pushing and
transporting occurring, and soon Rigor Mortis shows up with his
horrible penalties. I’m waiting to be convinced that the game has
much strategy at all. Players can land on a teleportation token,
which is completely random – whether bad or good, and the movement
cards themselves really don’t give a player many options. Even worse,
there are huge differences between the Magic Tome and Withering Look
cards, some being much worse/better than others. So while it may be
fun to set off a chain reaction of people moving, it’s best to
remember that the game is simply one large chain reaction of movement
- Silliness: The game’s sole purpose is in the Withering Look
cards, and the foolish actions that they make people do. This reminds
me greatly of another Mayfair game – Elixer. In that game, players
must often do silly stunts, many of them quite similar to the ones in
this game. However, while I like Elixer (in very small doses),
Kragmortha is more about the physical humor – sometimes to the point
of annoyance or pain. The one card that forces a player to keep their
mouth open for the remainder of the game is cruel at best, and may be
funny for the other players, but dreadful for the one who draws it.
Attempting to play the game with closed fists may seem like a unique
idea, but the person with clenched hands can easily enrage. What’s
worse, the more you mess up, the more Withering Look cards you
receive, compounding your misery. While Kragmortha is similar to
Elixir, the former comes across as more irritating.
- Fun Factor: This silliness, however – in both games – will most
likely appeal to the younger crowd, specifically teenagers. I have
had groups of them laughing out loud during the entire game.
Balancing cards on their heads, between their knees, even under their
armpit – all of this was taken in stride and everyone laughed at each
other. They didn’t even really care who won; it was all about getting
another player a Withering Look card. Adults will be less enthused
about this – I’m not sure it would even be a good party game, as there
is a complete lack of control.
Well, I guess my review is more negative than positive – mostly because I have to narrow down the target for this game down to rambunctious teenagers. Most others may smile at first but quickly become annoyed as they are forced to do inane things. Others still we be put off by the enormous amount of luck evident in the game, and the chaotic feel is almost jarring. If you want a swirling pot of crazy insanity and see people put their chin on a card on the table, then Kragmortha is for you. The rest of you, just sidle along now…
“Real men play board games”