Clans of Caledonia is a game by Karma Games in which the players plays as one of the clans in Scotland during the period of the industrial revolution. Due to the rise of factories, raw materials could be processed faster into valuable products that could be traded. The best-known Scottish example is of course whiskey.
Every game starts with the fact that all players choose which clan they play with. Each clan has its own special abilities that you can try to benefit from. For example, the clan Cunningham is the only one that can sell milk for a fixed high amount, the clan MacKenzie makes extra tasty (and therefore expensive) whiskey and the clan Campbell knows how to build the most efficient (and therefore cheap) factories.
The game consists of 5 rounds with four phases each. In the first phase there is an administrative phase in which you prepare everything for the new round (think of replenishing stocks, turning used chips and taking men home). The second phase is the heart of the game. In this, the players perform actions in turn, trying to make their clan more prosperous, until everyone passes. Later more about this. In the third phase, everyone receives income based on what you have built up so far. And in the fourth phase you get points. At the start of the game, five chips are drawn from a pile, stating its valued at the end of each round. Sometimes you get points for certain goods in your stock, the other time for how many men are on the board or for how many places of a certain value you have occupied on the board. Because a different combination of chips can be draw in each game, every game is slightly different.
The core of the game is therefore the second phase in which you gradually expand on the economic potential of your clan. There are eight different actions that you can perform. You can, for example, invest in shipping so that you can build channels or lochs on the other side, or you can hire a trader who can buy or sell goods for you at the market. Or you invest in the tools of your lumberjacks and miners so that they earn more money for you in each round.
The most important action is that during the game you will build farms, factories or workmen on the board. Every player has a sign in front of them at the start of the game with everything that can be built. The building price is also shown on this sign (for example, a sheep farm costs 8 money, a grain farm 18 money and a whiskey distillery 10 money). You also have to pay for the land you want to build on. The price is indicated on the board and varies from 1 to 6 money. As soon as you build something, you will see how much income you will get in the income round. For example, a dairy farm produces milk and a grain farm grain. Some buildings entitle you to process unprocessed goods into processed goods. For example, you can make a barrel of whiskey from grain in a whiskey distillery and make cheese with a cheese dairy.
The goods you collect in this way can then be used in different ways. First of all, you can start trading on the market, so that you get more money with which you can carry out more actions. But you can also use them to fulfill trade contracts. When fulfilling trade contracts you deliver a certain combination of goods and receive a combination of points, money, merchandise and other advantages in return. With the commodities you can collect in the contracts, you can score a lot of points at the end of the game.
After five rounds, the game ends and there is a final evaluation in which points are awarded for money and goods you have left, for those who have the most contracts and who has built the most settlements on the board. The player with the most points wins the game.
Conclusion: Clans of Caledonia, fuel for the enthusiast.
Clans of Caledonia is fuel for the enthusiast. The game is largely streamlined and therefore easy to learn, but secretly there are a lot of small rules which I could not remember well the first time. In your own turn you can choose from 8 actions, but because many of these actions can also be executed in different ways, the number of options you have is many times greater. For example, if you choose to build, there are already 8 different things that you can build and there are always several places on the board where you can build them. For the fanatical multi-player the enjoyment is endless. It is important to have something of a strategy, but in the meantime you have to remain flexible to adapt to what the other players are doing. The disadvantage of this is that the playing time can increase considerably. Count on an average of half an hour per player. Clans of Caledonia is therefore a game that for many people will take too long and is too complicated.
But if that does not apply to you, then I think it’s a great game for you. Every time I play it, I discover new things that I can benefit from. Because each time you use different clans and score rules and the board is different as well. Every game will be different and every game you have the opportunity to explore new strategies. After every game you probably want to play the again to try out new ideas.