Coralia: A Treasure or a Barnacle?April 9, 2020
Ryan reviews Coralia, a colorful dice placement game from R&R Games.
Coralia is a ocean-themed family dice-placement board game from R&R Games. In this game for 2-4 players, gamer’s are “scientists from all over the world who explore the underwater world with their diving robots and work to preserve the coral reefs. They send their ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) down to find specific species. At the same time, they keep their eyes open as to whether one or the other sunken pirate treasure can not be traced. A few pearls are also welcome to end up being not only a respected researcher but also a wealthy one.”
On a turn, players will be rolling 4 dice (3 that the previous player didn’t use and 1 you choose) and you will be picking one to play. Each of the 6 dice colors match one of the six reefs and each of the symbols on the die give a player a different action they can take. The fish, starfish or pearl allow players to take cards from their perspective deck (each deck has their own rules on how taking works) and these cards will be used at the end of game scoring. The octopus allows you to place an octopus of your color (you have 2 of them) on the reef and score points equaling the number of dice already placed on that reef. Octopuses can also score you extra points in the future (if someone goes to the island or places another octopus). Turtles can give you points or a special immediate action you can take. Turtles also come in handy because they let you lock at a die (one per turtle for up to 3 turtles) that was passed to you from another turn instead of having to re-roll. Finally there is the diver, which allows you to place a diver on the reef for end game scoring. However, if you choose to move your diver to a different reef (that may score you more points at the end) – your diver may score you a treasure chest. Treasure Chest gives you an immediate action to play. However, all these dice spaces on the board are first come first serve, which means if you roll something already taken on another turn you have the option of either choosing something else, or going to the island. The island is placing a die at the top of the board and drawing from an island deck made up of 9 cards (3 from each from starfish, pearl and fish decks). The game ends when there is only X number of dice left on your diving bell (how players pass dice) and none left in supply.
Once the end game is triggered, players first use any starfish cards they collected which give them some final actions to pull off (like getting extra treasure chests that may have not been claimed for example). Points are awarded multiple ways. For divers, it is the numbers on the reef that are around dice that have been placed. For fish there is a chart you consult based on how many different type of fish you’ve collected in a set. Finally for pearls, it depends on who has the most and then that person will use 4 pearl cards to determine their score. Second place gets to choose 2 cards for their pearl score – all other players choose their top pearl score on a single card to gain points. Winner is the player with the most points.
Gameschool Aspect: What Does It Teach?
First off, Coralia, would be a great game to place if you are learning about Oceanography or Corals. Though I admit, the theme is pasted on and its not super educational when it comes to the theme (you’re not learning any kind of facts), the art does a good job at drawing you in and its fun. It is also a good job at having the players plan ahead (What card type should I go for the most? Should I risk moving my diver for the treasure to another reef that may not get my diver as many points? When is a good time to place my octopus, early I may not get a lot of points upfront but would I make them up in the long run? Which of the 3 starfish cards to take? All the starfish cards are great, but which best fits my strategy? etc).
As for positive and negatives. To be honest, Coralia may scare some family gamers when they look at the rules. There seems like so much is going on. Really that is due to each side of the die working differently. However, once you get the game in front of you and start playing it all clicks in place and becomes pretty natural in play. The only issue I had was the ambiguous wording of end game, however I my answer from the English publisher – which is that players play in a 2 or 4 player game, until there are only 4 dice left in the diving bell (game ends with the last die taken from the supply to be added to diving bell). That said you may want to keep the rulebook on the table with this one the first few games – that way you can understand what all the treasure, turtles and starfish cards actually do, and to get the hang of the slightly fiddly octopus island rules. Since all the cards all use symbols over text, so you will need to look them up in the rulebook.
As to positives,I have played both 2-players and 3-players and the game does well with both counts, thanks to seeding each reef with one or two dice before you play (taking away some options a 4th player would have token). Of course with more players, there is a little more interaction in spaces disappearing before you can get to them. Also the more players, the less guarantee players will be able to place both their octopus meeples on the board. The biggest positive for this game besides that is fun, is its table presence from the art, to the diving bell that holds the dice, to the custom dice that sparkle on the table and board (it slightly reminds me of Sagrada in table presence due to the transparent colorful dice).
Coralia is a good example of a fun game that was overlooked by the hobby market. With some many games being released each year, there are bound for a few games to fly under the radar, this is one of those. The game not only looks beautiful on the table, but it is a great example of a family dice/worker placement game weight game. So, if you’re looking for more gateway/lightweight family games along the lines of Stone Age, The River, Wreck Raiders, Ticket to Ride – then this one will be right up your alley. This fits that category perfectly, looks beautiful on a table, and plays well once you get used to it. R&R Games did a good job with spotting this one, and bringing it over to the United States. If you get a chance to check it out, definitely do so and if you’re in the market for a new family game night game, Coralia should be on your list.
Coralia is out now in stores from R&R Games.
Thanks to R&R Games for sending a copy of the game for an honest review.