Theme and What is it?
Galaxies don’t build themselves. Well, I guess they kind of do. But not in Kaosmos. Players must create their own galaxy with the materials they have been given. This creation process of epic proportions must all be completed in one minute.
Kaosmos is a tile drafting and rotation game. Players begin by drafting nine tiles. Each player is dealt nine tiles and they keep three and pass the other six to the left or right. Then they pick three from their neighbor’s hand and so forth. Once each player has drafted nine tiles, a Kaos card, which was picked randomly before the draft, is flipped revealing any rule changes or other oddities that will take place during this round. Usually players will then have one minute to create a 3×3 layout to score as many points as they can between the three planet regions (zones) and a string of astroid belts. Players keep score on individual play mats. Play continues for four more rounds (five total). Each round a new Kaos card is flipped to cause havoc in the upcoming round. After five rounds points are totaled, and the winner is declared. This is where something very interesting happens. Final scores are decided by adding the astroid belt score and the lowest score of the three planetary regions. The two higher scores are tossed out!
After reading through the rulebook, I knew I had found a great game! Kaomos has lots of action and very little downtime. It starts with the tile drafting and moves right into a timed portion where all players simultaneously build their galaxies. The building phase can be chaotic as players scramble to place their tiles in optimal positions. During this phase, players can also grab bonus tiles if they think they have the highest scoring zone. If they are correct, bonus! If they are wrong, they lose points. All of this adds up to tremendous fun and plenty of anxiety created finishes. Also, because only the lowest planetary region scores, players must try to keep all regions balanced and not neglect any single zone to build up other ones. It is a great dynamic and one that I found very unique.
Game Build Quality
Everything involved with Kaosmos is of great quality. The only complaint I have is with the bag being too small. But even the bag is very nice, just not the right size. All of the cardboard components are thick and built to last.
The art is Kaosmos is very fun. It captures the feel of a galaxy in tumult. It is very bright and sits very well on a table. It will definitely be an eye-catching game. One thing that I loved was the detail to the planet objects on the tiles. Most of them are unique and only repeat a few times on other tiles. I really love when the art directors think to add details like that into their design.
There is plenty of fun to go around in Kaosmos. I feel it can be a great gateway game because it is easy to set up and teach and new players can jump right in and find a few strategies that work for them. There is enough depth to keep gamers happy too. And the way you score changes the way you approach the game. Your lowest score being part of the equation, forces you to look at what you are doing with all the scoring components in the game. The only path to victory is maximizing all your moves to make sure each planetary quadrant is scoring as high as possible. It all makes for a really fun dynamic. I only had one major issue with Kaosmos, which everyone playing saw as a problem. The bag that you place all the tiles in to shuffle them and to use to draw for the draft was not big enough to really make it effective. We ended up doing the shuffling outside the bag then using it to draw for the draft.
Age Range & Weight
The age recommendation for Kaosmos is 10+. I feel that younger kids would be able to play Kaosmos without many troubles, especially if they have some tile laying in their gaming background. The only reading involved is on the Kaos cards; however, these can be read to players who can’t read. Players need to be able to figure out how to shift around tiles to create zones that will score points. They will also need to know about the importance of their lowest scoring zone. This will be a strange concept to kids and may need some extra explaining. Adults should decide if the players are old enough to understand how the game works and if the young player will enjoy it and not get flustered.
Tile games are some of my favorite games. It may go back my love for the timeless classic Carcassonne. Because I love this category I either really like a game or find it very lacking when it doesn’t meet my standards. Kaosmos quickly landed on the “really liking” it side of that scale. I did have only one minor issues with it. The bag to shuffle the tiles was not what I wished it would be, but once I played the game I really enjoyed it. It played at a great pace and all players were engaged in the game the entire time. Scoring in such a unique fashion was a great way to keep everyone on their toes. Kaomos is an easy addition for game nights, especially ones with new gamers. It combines some classic elements that can be used with other games and new unique ways of looking at a game. Because of its vibrant colors it is pleasing on the eyes and because of the fast action it keeps the mind engaged. That is a win-win in my book.