Ka Pai is a roll and write from first time designer, Mads Floe. I was lucky enough to catch up with him at Essen Spiel and grab a review copy from him, along with a pad of alternate scoring sheets.
As with most roll and writes, the components are simple:
- 2 Dice
- Scoring Pad
- 4 Pencils
Each player gets a score sheet and a pencil. The youngest player goes first so takes the dice and rolls them.
Each turn, one player rolls both dice, and all players use the result by drawing the symbol(s) on their sheet. If both dice show the same symbol, all players must draw both symbols.
If the symbols are different, players choose one of the two rolled symbols to draw.
You can draw your first symbol anywhere on the sheet (but not filled spaces or totem spaces), all subsequent symbols must be put orthogonally adjacent to another symbol. Any symbol can be placed next to any other symbol, they don’t need to match. When identical symbols are rolled and you must draw both, they must be placed next to each other if possible.
When a player has a set of three matching symbols in a vertical or horizontal line, these count as a group. Draw a ring round it to make end game scoring easier. Symbols may never be part of more than one group. Triangles, squares, and circles will all score you points at the end of the game. Any groups with slashes score differently. After making a group of three of these, players mark off a bonus field space on the right of their sheet. These will grant extra points at the end of the game.
The game ends when all players have filled in all the spaces on their sheet and players score.
Players get points for:
- Groups of symbols: Count the number of groups of each type of symbol and write that at the top of the score sheet then use the appropriate multiplier.
- Totems: Count the number of totems connected to another totem with an uninterrupted link of the same symbol. Score points for the highest number of connected totems in the same network.
- Bonuses: Count the marked number of bonuses for each symbol and multiply this by the number of groups of each symbol.
Add all the points together and the player with the most points wins!
Now, Ka Pai isn’t adding anything really new or exciting to the roll and write genre, but that’s not to say it’s not good. Tring to join the totems up for those extra points is tough (especially considering there’s five squares in the top and bottom row which then messes up your groups of three!) that square in the middle is tough as diagonal symbols are not considered connected. Choosing where you get bonus points can be tough, especially early game when you have no idea what’s going to show up later. Ganz Schon Clever is one of our favourite roll and writes but we have friends who consider it too ‘mathy’ and in this case the symbols in Ka Pai are a great alternative.
I was also lucky enough to get some alternative scoring pads adding something a little more to this game. A great little filler and a nice game for large player counts as it can be played with unlimited people!