This entry I thought I would do something more fun and a little out of the ordinary!  Instead of highlighting a theme or mechanism, I decided to do something more obscure….a Monster.  The Kraken is a legendary sea monster that terrorizes boats and seamen in the northern European waters.  This fabled creature has been haunting explorers, fishermen and merchants for centuries, never knowing when it may strike and to what damage it may bring.  Needless to say, there are very few survivors that would ever be able to spread the story and even fewer who have felled the enormous squid.  In this entry, I will look at the games that do the best, in my opinion, of implementing this heinous creature and the terror it might bring into their game play.  So without further delay, here are the Best 3 Games with…The Kraken!

3.  Abyss w/ Kraken Expansion

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I don’t know if this is cheating or not but you need to have the expansion for Abyss to have the Kraken apart of the game.  Abyss, by Asmodee, is a game about influencing certain factions in an underwater world.  Each person plays as a citizen vying for control of the Abyss and the power that it comes with.  During the game you will gain favor of certain races in the game by influencing the councils of their respective race and buying the loyalty of certain Lords of each race.  The currency that you use throughout the game are pearls, one of the best currencies ever!  With The Kraken expansion it introduces a new race of a single person….The Kraken.  Think of The Kraken as a Mob Boss!  You can call on the help from the Kraken to buy the favor of any Lord.  The Kraken is a “wild” and can be used for any color of race….but it comes with a price.  When you use the Kraken to stiff arm a Lord, you get Nebulis Pearls with it.  These are pearls stained with blood.  It’s a very good way to gain power throughout the game but the person who has the most Nebulis at the end of the game will lose points.  Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevallier use the Kraken in Abyss in a solid way to add a little decision making on when and if you want to use something like the Kraken to gain an immediate action with long term consequences.

2.  Champions of Midgard

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The Kraken in Champions of Midgard, by Grey Fox Games, is not very prevalent and in fact you may not ever see it in multiple plays but when it shows up it certainly leaves a mark.  When you travel out to distant lands to fight monsters you will have to go on a boat.  You put warriors and food on the boat to make sure you survive long enough to get to the monsters.  On your journey, and before you face the monster, you will have to flip over the Journey card that is associated with the monster you are going to fight.  That Journey Card could conceal the Kraken.  If the Kraken shows up, you will have to fight it before you even get to the monster you want to take out.  The Kraken is no slouch either!  I have seen an entire boat of warriors go down before they even had the monster in view.  If he doesn’t take out all of your warriors, he most likely will take out a few, making it harder to fight the monster who is your ultimate goal as well.  Designer Ole Stieness does a great job of giving you that tension of when, if and where the Kraken will strike…..and when it does, it hits hard enough for you to be effected for the rest of the game.

1.  Cyclades

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Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc designed the Kraken in Cyclades very similarly to Champions of Midgard.  You are not sure if the Kraken will show up in the game or if anyone will use it to their advantage.  The thing that makes it different is that it could have a very drastically different effect when it comes out.  The Kraken in Cyclades is a straight up beast that takes no prisoners.  There is no fighting it, you just want to use it before others can use it against you.  Anyone has a chance to purchase or summon the Kraken in Cyclades.  When you buy the Kraken and summon it, you then place him on the board anywhere you want and it immediately destroys any ships in that section.  Meanwhile, you can pay to move the Kraken any number of spaces also destroying everything in its path.  This is where it plays much different in the beginning of the game rather than later.  At the beginning of the game there might not be very many boats on the board, but later in the game the Kraken could dismantle multiple boats in a single turn. Asmodee’s game Cyclades utilizes the Kraken in a very fulfilling and game changing way that changes the strategy for everyone in the game in a very short amount of time.

-Tim