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Kraken Attak

LOKI’s cooperative, seafaring board game Kraken Attack has players desperately trying to protect their ship, repair damage, and fight off the Kraken and its many tentacles.

Designed for children, Kraken Attack has you move the Kraken’s tentacles closer to the board each turn and take actions around the ship. How exactly does it play, and is it a game adults can enjoy too?

Gameplay

The board features a ship in the center that is divided into four spaces. There are four tracks on either side of the board with four spaces on each track (the bubble zone, the cannon zone, the pistol zone, and the saber zone). Each track also has a specific fish associated with it, so you can match the track to the dice results you roll during the game.

Players put the eight ship rails on the boat, four on each side, with one guarding the ship against each of the tracks. You then place four blue Kraken tentacles on the four tracks on one side of the board and the four red ones on the opposite side. Next, each player chooses a pirate, takes that pirate’s ten action cards, and places their pirate’s pawn on any of the four boat spaces. You shuffle your ten action cards and draw two, placing them face up in front of you.  Finally, you place the Kraken on the start location of the Kraken tracking board.

On your turn, you start by rolling the Kraken dice. At the start of the game, you begin with two, one red and one blue. The Kraken dice can roll blanks (in which case no tentacles move), the Eye of the Kraken (in which case each tentacle of that die’s color moves forward one space) or a fish. When a fish is rolled you check the tracks marked by that fish, and then move the tentacle that matches the die’s color, which is on that track, one space closer to the ship. If a tentacle would move onto the ship, it destroys the railing; if there is no railing present, you place a hole token on the boat, either way, the tentacle is then moved back to the bubble zone, which is the farthest from the ship. If there are ever four hole tokens on the ship, the players lose the game.

After moving the tentacles, you then play one of your two cards. Each card has a number of actions shown on it which you can take in any order (you may also choose not to take an action shown on your card). Actions include moving, which allows you to move to a different space of your ship (you cannot move diagonally), repair, which allows you to replace a previously destroyed ship railing (you cannot repair ship holes), and attack. Each space on the ship covers two tracks on one side of the board. There are three types of attack: pistol, saber, and cannon. A tentacle must be in the zone which corresponds to your attack action and on a track that is within range of your ship space, in order to push the tentacle back to its bubble zone. Finally, there is also a wild action that can be used to perform any one of the other actions.

Once you have played your card and taken your actions, you move the card to the bottom of your draw deck and draw a new one. Your turn is now over.

Some action cards also show a picture of your pirate making a funny face. When you play one of these cards, the Kraken moves forward one space on the Kraken tracker. When he reaches a space that holds a die, you take the die off the tracker and add it to the pool that you will roll each turn. So, while you start the game by only rolling two dice, as the game progresses you work your way up to rolling six.

Once the Kraken has reached the final space on the tracker, you choose one of the tentacles on the board and replace it with the Kraken figure. The Kraken will move forward on the board when its track’s symbol is rolled, when an Eye of the Kraken is rolled, or when a funny face action card is played. It damages the ship just like the tentacles do. In order to win the game you must perform three successful attacks against him, pushing him back to his bubbles zone three times in order to win the game.

Kraken Attack Components

Review

Kraken Attack is a great family board game that’s designed for kids, but adults can have fun with it as well. The table presence is top notch, with some really beautiful components and fun game pieces, and the gameplay itself is accessible and challenging without being so hard that children will grow frustrated.

There is a beautiful escalation built into the game, starting out with only two dice being rolled each turn, having more and more added to the dice pool, as the Kraken slowly moves closer to the boat. This gives the game a fun tension, gives young players a chance to grow familiar with the gameplay and strategy, and leads to a fun showdown.

Since players always have two cards face up in front of them, you have the chance to make plans and talk strategy, while also keeping in mind that you’ll never be entirely sure where the tentacles will be by the time your turn rolls around.

The game does a good job of visually communicating the various elements of the mechanics. The actions on the cards are represented with icons that match things around the board or are intuitive to their purpose (such as a boot for moving), and each zone of each track has an image of the fish that has to be rolled in order for its tentacle to move.

There are also a couple of ways to tweak the complexity and difficulty of the game. Each pirate has a unique ability such as being able to ignore any Eye of the Kraken results they roll or being able to perform one of the abilities on their card twice. You can play without these abilities to simplify the game for younger children and only require the Kraken to be hit once in order to win. Meanwhile, if you want a more complex game, there is a variant with whirlpool tokens that are spread across the board, which allow a tentacle to move two spaces when reached. These options allow you to further adapt the game based on the ages of the children playing.

Kraken Attack is an excellent cooperative game for families and children. It’s not a game that adult-only groups will likely be playing and it’s not intended to be, but you absolutely have a good time playing this with younger players. It’s bright and colorful. Once the rules have been learned, children will have no difficulty setting up and playing through the game themselves. Its difficulty level hits just right and can be enjoyed by both parent and children alike.

Pros: Good iconography, great table presence, good difficulty level and escalation

Cons: Not intended to be played by adult groups

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.