Calvin’s Commentaries: KAMON

Games, where the goal is to connect two opposite sides of the board, are sort of a mixed bag in how they play – at least in the estimation of this member of The Meeple Guild.

A few are quite excellent – Tak easily tops the list.
Others, even a game many see as a classic in Hex, fall short for this writer.

So what about Kamon from designer Bruno Cathala and publisher Cosmoludo?

Well, Kamon is very much a connection game – in this case, played on a hexagonal grid of 37 spaces. The hexagonal board is quite common in connection games so nothing new in that regard.

But, Cathala has thrown a neat twist into Kamon.
The game comes with 37 tokens consisting of one blank token and 36 tokens in six colors and six symbols, with each combination appearing once. The tokens are shuffled and then placed onto the hexagonal grid as randomly as possible.
During the game, players place one of their pieces on a hex. The token on this space, for example, say a redfish, indicates where the other player must place one of their pawns on the next turn, either on a red token or on a fish token.

The pattern of each placement determining where the other payer can go is the heart of Kamon. It is what makes the game feel fresh, and creates less of the ‘straight race to the side’ on many connection games.

Players continue taking turns in this manner, and the game ends immediately when one of three victory conditions is fulfilled:
* A player connects two opposite edges of the grid with their pawns, which is the truest path to victory with Kamon.
* A player surrounds one or more hexes with a loop of their pawns without regard as to whether those hexes are empty or occupied by the opponent’s pawns. This has been used in at least another game or two and is harder to pull off.
* Or, a player prevents their opponent from placing a pawn, e.g. by occupying the yellow mountain when no more yellow tokens or mountain tokens are available. This happens quite often and is a bit of a letdown way to win, but alas must exist too.

Like other Cosmoludo games, Kamon comes in a sharp-looking ‘sort of book slipcase box’ and the ‘pawns’ are wood so that is nice too.

There are six in this ‘set’ of Cosmoludo games; Mana, Yoxii, and Oxono among the others. All look nice. All are relatively quick plays. All – certainly including Kamon – are easy to recommend as well.

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