DESIGNER: Martin Schlegel
PUBLISHER: Mücke Spiele
# OF PLAYERS: 2
AGES: 8 and up
TIMES PLAYED: 3, with a copy I purchased
Much of my regular gaming is two player; my usual game group members all live at least thirty minutes away, and with commuting and work and non-gaming responsibilities I only get to game with them about once a month. I had the good fortune to marry a fellow boardgamer, though, so we play a lot of games. While many games work well with two players I am always on the lookout for games that are designed specifically for two players. While doing my research for Essen I came across ¡Adios Calavera!. After learning it was an abstract I was less interested, but decided to try it; I am glad I did.
¡Adiós Calavera!’s theme is based on the Day of the Dead. One player represents the living and one player represents the dead; after the celebration each player is trying to be the first to return to their own world before the other.
Each player takes the eight pieces of one color. Each piece is two-sided; one side represents the normal ability of that piece and the other represents the special ability. In the game described in the rules, each player chooses four of those pieces to have their special ability side up and four with their normal side up and puts these pieces on the designated spaces on the board in whatever arrangement they would like.
Whoever was last in Mexico is the start player. On your turn you choose one piece. Normal pieces can move as many spaces as pieces of either color on the same orthogonal linen- so a white piece in a row with one other white piece and two black pieces could move four spaces, since there are four pieces total in that row. Pieces only move in straight lines, but can move forward, backward, left or right. There is a space in the middle of the board that you cannot move through at all and two spaces that you can move through but cannot end on. There can only be one piece per space, and you cannot move over other pieces, either yours or the other players.
The normal side of each piece is the same, but the reverse side has a unique special ability that allows you to manipulate your movement in some way – moving other pieces, travelling diagonally or ignoring normal movement rules.
There are several proposed alternate ways to play. You can choose not to use any of the special abilities, or you can choose to use all of them. You can choose to randomly select the four special abilities (rather than selecting them), or you can go back and forth with the other player turning two pieces to their special ability side and deciding which one to keep that way until you have four. Finally, you can also alternate selecting your special abilities until you both have four; I have not tried any of these variants so can’t speak to them.
And that’s all there is to it.
MY THOUGHTS ON THE GAME
The rules are clear and took only a few minutes to go through; we were able to get started right away with no questions and it was easy to teach once I knew how to play. The mechanism by which you move as many spaces as there are pieces in your row means you have to find a balance between pulling out to a lead and trying to stay in a row with more movement options, which I enjoyed. The special powers are a great addition; they keep the game interesting, and let you set up some cool moves. Normally I dislike trying to plan moves in abstract games like this, but for some reason it grabbed me here and I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it’s held up over all plays so far. The easy-to-learn rules combined with actual strategy make this a keeper for me.
THOUGHTS OF OTHER OPINIONATED GAMERS
I love it!
I like it! Tery
Not for me.
I fear I was too late to get my comments in, but I did try ¡Adiós Calavera! based upon Tery’s recommendation. And while it’s not my type of game particularly – too abstract, and too two player – I had no difficulty in understanding the appeal for others. So while I’m neutral, this really has more to do with my preferences than with any failing of the game.