Designer: Prospero Hall
Duration: 30 min.
June 2471: The world has changed. It is a barren wasteland, and it’s hard to get around. Not that you don’t have the transportation available, but the problem is fuel. Kerosene, or Kero as it’s called. The fuel has become extremely rare, but it’s your job to take out your tanker truck and find some and bring it back to your tribe. But watch out, because you’re not the only one out there looking for it… and there are dangers out there, and its always easy to run out of fuel…
Kero is a 2 player game where you are competing tribes vying for the precious fuel. The game is partially played in real time (like Now Boarding): you will use your truck timer and role dice and collect fuel and resources. The game has elements of set collection and area control, but the heart of the game is the dice rolling: it’s intense and risky, but can be so rewarding. So will you venture out of camp and collect enough resources to keep it all going, or will you run of out fuel and be bested by your opponent?
What’s in the box?
Inside the box there is a game board, 39 cards (3 claim,1 start and 24 regular), 10 custom dice, 17 Tuareg Tiles, 27 Jerrycan tiles, 12 territory tiles, 10 permanent ability tiles, 14 explorers (7 per player), 2 fuel tanker timers and 1 start player marker.
I know, I know, I always gush about game components… but WOW, does Kero ever look amazing. The art by Piero is gorgeous, and while the game is set in a post apocalyptic theme (which usually are very drab), Kero paints a colourful palette of a revitalized world, with gorgeous nature overtaking mankind’s technology of the past. It takes its greys and browns and adds colour to make it all come alive. The cardboard is also thick, the wooden explorers are nice and the custom dice are great.
But the main attraction are those fuel tankers, and they are just about some of the best game components ever made. They’re huge (over 6 inches long) and have awesome details. Using them during the game just adds to the excitement and intensity. And the box has an amazing insert that fits everything perfectly. Hurrican really did an amazing job on the production and it enhances the gameplay greatly.
So how do you play?
To begin, place the board between both players, and make the deck of cards. Sort the regular cards in 3 piles, and add one claim card to each pile, and shuffle it in the 3 piles, and then stack the piles together and place the start cards on top. Draw the first 6 cards and place them in their respective spaces on the board. Place the coloured dice and tuareg tiles on their respective places on the board, and the jerrycans tokens and permanent ability tiles next to the board. Shuffle the territory tiles, and draw the first 4 and place them on the board. Each player chooses a colour, gets 2 jerry cans and 2 tuareg tiles, and placed their 7 explorers out on the board, and takes their tanker truck. The player who last fuelled up gets the start player token and the 5 white dice, and the game begins!
During each turn, you will be rolling dice to gather resources and place explorers, but how you do it is the fun part. Before you roll, you will take your tanker truck and flip it your tanker truck cab up, and then when the timer (fuel) starts flowing, you will roll the dice, with the ability to keep any ones you want aside and roll until you are satisfied and put your truck down signifying you are done. But be careful… fires can start! If you roll a fire symbol, that dice has caught fire and you can no longer roll it and it must be put aside for the turn. Additionally, you can spend a fuel (or gain a special ability) to add any or all the coloured dice to rolls for the turn. So let’s see the actions you can do once you are satisfied with the dice rolls:
- Take cards: if you have the sufficient resources rolled (and/or with a special ability), you may take one or more of the face up cards and place them in your card are, and gain any resources or permanent abilities on the card.
- You may spend a recruit and metal symbol and move one of your explorers onto a face up territory (some card and the blue die can also allow you to do this).
- Collect fuel or buy tuareg tiles with the fuel symbols.
If anytime during your roll, your tanker runs out of fuel, your turn immediately ends and you don’t get anything… but you do get a free refuel. Wait… what is a refuel? Well… before your turn, you may spend 1 or 2 dice to do 1 or 2 refuels. To do this, your opponent takes all 8 dice in the game, and you will turn your tanker cab side down, and and your opponent will immediately start rolling all the dice (and they have to do it with one hand only!), setting aside any fires as they roll them over and over… when they have rolled and set aside 7 fires. When the 7th fire is rolled, they will roll 5 more times or until they roll a fire with the last die, whichever comes first. Then the player will immediately put their truck back down. Important to note, when you get your free re-roll if you run out of fuel during your turn, your opponent will only roll 5 dice (but you can spend a jerry can and refuel with the 8 on your next turn before you start again).
It’s also important to note that when you roll 2 or more fires during your turn, at the end of your turn you will burn the last card in the row, meaning you will draw at least one new card that turn… but why is that so important. Well… remember those claim cards? They’re kind of like the epidemic cards in Pandemic, and because of how they were shuffled you have an idea of where they may come up, but not exactly sure. When a claim card is drawn however, you will score the 4 face up territories. The player with the most explorers on a territory will claim it and take the tile for end game points, as well as receiving any resources or bonuses printed on it.
When the 3rd claim is card is drawn, the game will end. If the 2nd player draws it, the game will end immediately, but if the first player draws it, the 2nd player will get one more turn (so both players get equal number of turns). After that is done, players will tally their points based on their cards and territories, and the player with the most points is the winner!
Is it any good?
I’m a big fan of dice games. I didn’t use to be, but they’ve grown on me, and I enjoy a press your luck element. Sometimes, the biggest worry is that there will be too much luck and it will take away from your strategy. And Kero is all about the dice rolls… but the games makes it all work because of the options.
The game has a lot of mechanics in its and that works really well, because when you roll the dice there’s gonna be a lot of options available. You can put your explorers out, get some cards, get some fuel, there’s always options. Even if you roll some fire’s, rarely are there rounds where you get nothing, and getting fuel is always good as you can use to to buy those extra coloured dice, which are really useful when you’re trying to get something specific.
The cards are really great, especially the ones that give you a permanent ability. Those permanent abilities are great, especially the ones that give you extra dice, a free symbol every round or a fuel every round. They can give you a one up before you even roll the dice, and it’s a great way to make dice rolls better. It’s also important to have fuel, as those timers will run out and if they do in the middle of your rolling, then your turn is basically over.
The area control is really great too, especially for a 2 player game. The tiles all coming out randomly is great because you never know which are coming out and when the ones that you want come, you’re going to have to race for them because they’re not going to be around forever. And that’s another great mechanic: the claim cards. Kind of like Pandemic, you never know exactly where those cards are in the deck or when the game is going to end. That adds tension, not only for when the tiles will be distributed out but when the game will end. I also like that each player gets equal number of turns, even if the first player ends the game.
As I said before, the component and art are truly amazing, especially those trucks. And the theme really shines through into the gameplay, especially the fuel mechanic. Using fuel to roll dice, creating fires, and even the refueling mechanic are great, and so intense. It really feels you’re in a rush scavenging and and you gotta get it before you run out of gas.
While there are ways to mitigate the dice rolls, sometimes there are bad ones. Sometimes you’ll roll 3 fires, and it’s just defeating and sometimes you just take what you get. It can happen that you get nothing on a turn, but it’s very rare and if you have some permanent tiles you’ll have something to help you out
All and all, Kero is a fantastic 2 player game with stunning components and the gameplay to back it up. It has a real time feel, mixed with some dice rolling, area control and set collection and it all blends in perfectly. This is one of the best 2 player games, and if I re-did my Top 5 2-player only Games today I would strongly consider adding Kero in. This is a game you need to play, as the experience and intensity can’t be described enough, it needs to be truly experienced. I can’t recommend this game enough.
- Intense dice rolling! The most intense I’ve ever seen in any game.
- AMAZING components and art, especially those truck timers
- Great mechanics that bend well together, especially the area control
- Not knowing when the game will end really adds to the tension
- The theme really shines through into the gameplay
- The dice rolls can sometimes work against you, but there’s always a way to come back