There is hardly a board game that implements the basic theme of the “colorful underwater world” as consistently as Michael Rieneck and the publisher Huch !. A brightly colored game board that competes with the Great Barrier Reef with its colorful design. In addition, there are heaps of cubes and colorful wooden octopuses, which are able to hold the even more colorful cubes for transport and thus ensure particularly intense splashes of color on the game board. You can also play with all the material.
Ouch! Hasn't ripped off when it comes to Coralia's production. The equipment is terrific: figurines, cubes, cards and a small research station as a 3D plug-in set are available for around 33 euros, which are used as a price for the board game - fair. If the playful part could convince now, nothing would stand in the way of a blind purchase. And there is the subjunctive again ...
A ton of colorful dice - and octopuses and divers and cards ...
Michael Rieneck's idea - he is known from games like the Follett adaptations "Die Säulen der Erde" or "Todes der Welt" - is thematically framed in a modern underwater setting. Players use their dice, which at Coralia represent remote-controlled diving robots, to explore the water world and to recover treasures and discoveries. Dice and yikes? Players have known since Rajas of the Ganges at least that this can go well together.
What happens on the table in Rieneck's board game works mechanically well, but - in keeping with the water theme - splashes over longer distances. This is only a shortcoming at first glance, because Coralia offers solid entertainment value at the same level when measured against the playing time of around 30 minutes. You will look in vain for real highlights.
Roll the dice, choose an action, pass it on
The diceplacement is simple: As the active player you roll the dice, choose one of the dice and pass the rest on. Each side of the die stands for a specific action. In this way you can bet on different actions, such as completing a set of fish or collecting pearls. Or you can go on a hunt for treasure with the diver.
In addition, there are various underwater animals, each of which opens up its own play options. When the supply of dice is used up, the game ends. A wise decision of the author: Nothing is stretched, nothing artificially lengthened, but no small-scale optimization is required from the players. It's about short-term planning: dice want to be used cleverly, actions need to be planned sensibly. Last but not least, this is due to the different rating options.
You shouldn't have any illusions. The material from Coralia is clearly in the foreground, but Michael Rieneck and Huch manage to pick up the players from the first time the game box is opened. This board game once again poses the central question: does a board game have to be profound and epic or is it enough to provide entertainment for a manageable amount of time? Each player and each playgroup has to answer the question for themselves. In any case, the entertainment value at Coralia is there.
Long planning is not necessary with Coralia. The game concept does not produce that - and in the end the time is too short for that. Experienced players rattle off a game in record time, even beginners do not need much longer than the estimated half an hour. Whether you have to see this as a shortcoming is largely a matter of taste. It is obvious that the tactical depth and also the course of the game suffer from this.
Pairing a strict round limit with a luck factor is not a rare game mechanics concept, but it can lead to moments of frustration: For example, if a plan that has been found to be good suddenly no longer works because the end of the game is inexorably closer. Yes, you can take that into account, but it ultimately leads to the need to resort to more immediate strategies for point generation whenever possible. The willingness to take risks decreases noticeably. Sometimes so far that players hardly pursue a correct tactic anymore, but rather go on a chaotic-looking chase of points. Tricks like the turtle as a dice memory are dramatically devalued.
In the end, Coralia is not the hoped-for strategic diceplacement board game with aspiration, but a material-based point hunt that is most of all visually convincing. Because disappointed expectations do not necessarily mean disappointment in a game, Coralia should be given a chance, especially if it is not the development of tactics that is important to you, but the playful sprinkling of the game. Families - especially with children - will get along well with the game concept and will be able to gain a lot from the entertaining underwater excursion.
Number of players: 2 to 4 players
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 30 minutes
Long-term motivation: medium
Author: Michael Rieneck
Year of publication: 2019
Cost: 33 Euro
Coralia stands out for its great material. To call the board game a blender would hardly be fair if you seriously consider the framework. A title with this equipment, whose playing time is given as 30 minutes, will hardly be able to withstand a comparison with complex strategy games. So simplifications have to hide somewhere.
Despite some weaknesses, Coralia presents itself as a successful family game that can also be played with children without any problems - and not only because of the material it should be fun for the youngsters. The comprehensible set of rules and the overview of the individual game actions is supported by two essential factors: The board game is completely language-neutral and the symbols used can be assigned within seconds. The instructions are therefore available in several languages. In any case, the topic is well received: As a scientist, exploring a colorful underwater world is an exciting thought.
The concept is carried by the colorful hodgepodge of material components. Colorful cubes, wooden animals, cards, a mini research station - everything is there. Coralia is a board game with no real mistakes, no low points - but the high points are also missing at the same time. One could almost think that potential has remained untapped here.
The question that arises at the end is: Why shouldn't you just bring a simple diceplacement board game to the table that can teach you the basics of dicing in around 30 minutes?
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