Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Prospero Hall

Hurrican Games


No. of Players:

G@mebox Star



G@mebox publisher Frank Schulte-Kulkmann writes about the game:

In contrast to games like Dice Forge or Monster Lands, Kero is a game of real-time dice rolling, with the players trying to get to the desired combination of results without wasting too much precious sand in their sandtimer. Sand? Well, in Kero we better talk about fuel, because the sandtimers actually are armoured tank trucks which keep the most precious commodity of the year 2471: Kerosene.

This doesn't just remind of the Mad Max II movie, but the whole setting of the game actually seems to be closely connected to the post-apocalyptic scenario of the movie. Well, there is one difference, the game doesn't feature any combat or brutality, but otherwise the plot is similar: each player is the head of one of two opposing clans, and the players send their clan members out on missions to gather Kero, Mission Cards and Tuarek tiles and to explore new territories in the hope of finding a new home for their clan.

Taking turns, the players roll a hand of 5 Resource dice, showing the basic resources of the game: food, bricks, metal, recruits and jerrycans with Kero. As soon as a player starts rolling the dice, his truck with the sandtimer needs to be put upright to allow the sand to flow. The player may continue rolling some or all of his dice as long as he wishes, or until his sand runs out. However, that's a result which should be avoided, because getting stranded without fuel in this hostile world means that the whole turn is lost and that the sandtimer will get only a minimum refill for the player's next turn.


So, it's better to stop rolling in time, keeping as much Kero in the truck as possible. However, even if a player has enough Kero left, things do not always go as planned, and so a dice which lands on a fire result actually is useless and gets locked. Depending on how long the player continues rolling his dice, this may happen to several or even all of a player's dice - so much about handling fuel with some care!

But what are the resources used for? Most importantly they can be used for purchasing Mission cards from a row of 6 cards which is constantly available. These cards list different combinations of resources, and a player can use fitting dice results to purchase one or more of these cards during his turn. Some of these cards will provide Victory Points, whereas others may provide a variety of benefits, ranging from jerrycans or Tuarek tiles to permanenent abilities or the possibility to place a clan member on a Territory tile.


Especially the permanent abilities are quite handy, because they offer the players possibilities to enhance their dice rolls even further. Some of these abilities give the players additional resource symbols, whereas others even may provide one of the three special dice. These dice show higher quantities of resources and are more focused on individual resource types, so they are quite handy when a player wants to generate specific resources. It's very neat to have one or more of these dice permanently in your dicepool, because otherwise a player has to discard a jerrycan for purchasing a special dice just for one turn. But beware - even these special dice feature the dreaded fire symbol, locking them without providing any resources.

In this terms the Tuarek tokens are a safe bet. Living as nomads of the Wasteland, a player may acquire Tuarek tokens which grant him a one-time benefit. Once again, these benefits can be quite helpful for many different occasions, e.g. granting additional special dice for rolling, additional resources or even a refill for the player's sandtimer truck. Even though the tokens must be discarded after use, they can give the player a real edge regarding his action phase, and so the players will strive for gathering these tokens either through Mission cards or by spending jerrycans.

Talking about jerrycans, these are the most important source of Kero for the players' trucks. At the beginning of his turn, a player may spend one or two jerrycans for refueling his sandtimer truck, and the refueling procedure is handled by the opposing player rolling all 8 normal and special resource dice which are available in the game. The player now will try to get fire results on all 8 dice, and for as long as he takes the refueling player may hold his truck upside down, giving him back precious time.

Actually there is one more rule associated to the fire results. If a player actually ended up rolling two or more fire symbols during his turn, he will have to discard the rightmost Mission card from the cardrow after spending his resources on purchasing cards. Afterwards the cardrow will be replaced with new cards from the deck, giving the opposing player a fresh choice of six available Mission cards for his turn.

However, a total of 3 hidden Scoring cards have been shuffled into each third of the playing deck, and whenever a Scoring card appears the game is stopped to evaluate the four available Territory tiles. Using Mission cards and resources, the players should have placed some Clan Member tokens onto the available Territory tiles, because during the scoring these tiles will be assigned to the player with the highest amount of clan members on each individual tile. The territories will count for Victory Points when the game is over, some of them for a fixed amount, whereas others will give the player points depending on the type of Mission cards he has collected. Furthermore, the territories of the Wastelands may contain ruins from the ancient civilization, and in these ruins the players can find jerrycans and Tuarek tokens.

The game ends all too quick with the 3rd and final Scoring card, coming to a more or less expected end of the road. Now the players have to add up their Victory Points from Mission cards and Territory tiles, and the clan with most Victory Points will be declared the winner.

Despite being a real-time game, Kero doesn't turn into a hectic rush. The flow of time (and sand) is easily manageable by the players, especially if a player first has checked the row of Mission cards to see which resources he will need to roll to obtain the desired cards. But of course luck is inevitable in a dice rolling game, and so even the best-laid plans may fail.

However, a fact which I really like in Kero is the way in which the game offers some balancing for the luck connected with the dice rolling. Card abilities, Tuarek tokens and additional dice effectively increase a player's control over his clan's fate, and so the players can mitigate the risks they are taking. For my mind this balancing is very well done, perhaps apart from the fact that the appearance of the Scoring cards may be at some very unlucky moments. Especially if the third and last Scoring card is way up in the cardpile, the game can be over much quicker than expected by the players, and so a player who had been trying to follow a larger strategy may end up empty handed.

Still, the rules associated with the consumption and refilling of Kero work quite well, putting just the right amount of pressure onto the players without forcing them to make rash decisions. This gives Kero a different take on real-time gaming in comparison to the group experiences which can be found in games like Escape or Zombie 15, and in it's way Kero is quite charming because of its light-footed pace.


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Copyright © 2019 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany