Theme and What is it?
There is something odd about the Kiwetin forest: Its spirits have entered into a thrilling race. With the help of the wind, these spirits have to find their way from one branch to another and catch the Sacred Flower first. The forest will play tricks on you, though, which could be a help or a hindrance.
Kiwetin is a simple and addictive fast-paced racing board game. You play as one of the forest spirits, and your character’s caliber impacts the way you move on the board. The randomly-placed action tiles offer a unique experience during each game.
Beware of whirlwinds because you might turn everything upside down!
The core mechanics of Kiwetin are dice rolling, racing, and take that.
The goal of the game is to win. Players win by being the first to race through action tiles, arrive at the Sacred Flower (finish line), and successfully roll the Grabbing Dice to hold on to the flower.
Setting up the game is very easy.
- Unfold the long, colorful game board and set it on the table. The end with the Sacred Flower is the finish line.
- Shuffle the action tiles face down. Roll the movement die and place the first tile that number of spaces from the starting space. Roll again and place the next tile that number of spaces from the first. Continue until you reach the end of the board (do not put a tile on the Sacred Flower space).
- The players chose their spirit mini. This choice determines how challenging the spirit is to play. There are three levels (2 minis at each level): Ki, who is solid as a rock and does not move quickly but can grab more easily; We, well-balanced, it moves and braces itself with ease; and Tin, small, moves quickly but has trouble grabbing branches.
- Shuffle the Rune cards and deal three to each player, forming a facedown draw pile with the leftovers.
The game is played in turns, one player after the other, until a player wins. Each turn consists of the following steps:
- Roll the movement die (which has values of 1, 2, or 3) and add that result to your spirit’s base movement. Move your spirit to the space corresponding to the result.
- If the spirit lands on an action tile, apply its effect immediately. If that tile sends you to another tile with an action tile, apply its result too, and so on. Any action tile effect is triggered only once per turn.
- Once your spirit has come to stop, you must grab a branch to stay on that space. Roll the two grabbing dice (regular D6s with the “1” replaced with an X). One of the dice must have a result equal to or greater than your total movement (from the first step, above).
- If neither die displays such a number or if one die shows an X, you failed to grab the branch and must move back a number of spaces corresponding to your base movement. If there is an action tile on that space that hasn’t been triggered this round, its effect applies.
- If you roll two X, go back one additional space.
- If you roll the same number twice and it is greater than your base movement, you may move up one extra space.
Initial impression of this game is very good. The box is attractive, sturdy, and engagingly heavy when you pick it up.
Open the box and discover that there is a nice insert inside which holds the 6 pre-painted minis. The minis are simple-yet-sufficient sculpts and nicely (but simply) painted.
There are English and French versions of the manual and Rune cards included, and the dice fit into a nice compartment in the insert. Everything seems to be nice and tidy.
However, it initially appears that there is no place in the insert for the action tiles, so it can be a little messy inside once they’ve slid around a bit during handling. Then you realize that if you take out the Rune cards for a language you don’t speak (like French for me), the action tiles fit nicely atop the remaining cards. If you are multilingual and require both languages in the game, you can allow the action tiles to slide around all willy-nilly.
Game Build Quality
The game build quality is fairly high. The Rune cards are an unusual size which may make sleeving difficult (and the insert does not seem to support sleeved cards), and are rather flimsy feeling. But they’re sufficient for the game.
As mentioned, the insert and pre-painted minis are nice and contribute to the overall feeling that the game is solidly built.
The box is unusual in that the inner tray slides out of the box like an old-style box of matches. I comment on this only because it’s unusual — it holds everything securely, so it serves its purpose.
I like the art direction of this game. The colors are lush but muted, and invoke an ancient forest where spirits such as those contained in this box might live. There is a picture of the game in action on the back of the box, giving a view into what’s inside.
I wish the action tiles had text on them that told what they do, but after playing a few times and referring to the rulebook, they become clear enough that you can remember without looking them up.
An additional observation is that the three characters on the front of the box are a bit difficult to distinguish (since they blend into the forest background, just like forest spirits would do) until you’ve seen the minis inside. I would suggest spot UV of the characters to highlight them in a subtle, but effective, way. This is a very minor quibble — and one that can be explained away thematically — with otherwise excellent art direction.
Kiwetin is a fast, fun, light game for a group. It plays better at higher player count (up to 6) than it does at 2 players. If you play with higher player count, it is recommended that you put the action tiles next to the spaces on the board to provide more space on the board for the minis.
It is quick to get to the table, attractive once setup, and fast enough that your game group may want to play just one more after finishing.
It’s easy to teach, and there are some touches that will appeal to gamers — the action tiles and Rune cards — which add variability and some “take-that” action to the game, respectively.
Age Range & Weight
The box suggests 7+ for this game. BGG suggests 6+. I don’t have kids, so I cannot comment other than to say there is very little necessary text (just the Rune cards), and you could easily omit them when playing with younger gamers.
There is a little take-that (provided only by the Rune cards) in this game. If take-that isn’t your cup of tea, omit the Rune cards, though it is inoffensive in this game.
Kiwetin is a light game which is largely luck-based (roll of the dice).
Kiwetin is a fun, light, easy to teach game with a quick play time appropriate for kids through adults. It is attractive and interesting.
There is just enough for a more-serious gamer with the Rune cards. It is largely luck based, but light enough that you can enjoy it as a romp through the magical forest and just leave it at that.
It makes a good filler or a palette cleanser between heavier games, something you can get quickly to the table while waiting for the rest of your group to arrive.
One note: There is an updated version of the rules compared to what is in the box. They are available from BGG here. The updated rules contain some clarifications and specifications for rules and Runes, but they do not specifically answer a question we encountered upon setting up the game… Do action tiles go face up or face down on the board (the art seems to show them face up)? To be honest, I am not sure it matters since players cannot do little to impact where they land. We’ve played it both face up and face down and prefer face down as it gives a moment of tension when revealed.
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