C3K is K4Me
I don’t believe there’s anyone alive in the world of board games who’s managed to corner the Awesome Light Wargame With Badass Mythological Miniatures niche so well as Matagot, as evidenced by Cyclades being one of the best games of 2009 and Kemet knocking everyone’s socks off in 2013. Proof, and more proof (at least for the Kemet half of that claim).
Now Matagot has put out an expansion aimed at anyone who owns both of those masterpieces. It’s C3K, or the Creatures Crossover Cyclades/Kemet expansion, and it’s… well, let’s take a look.
Cyclades Just Got a Bit Better
If I had one problem with Cyclades — and I pretty much only had one problem with Cyclades — it was that its ultra-cool creatures only stuck around for a single round, going about their awesome business and shaking up the course of the game until they decided to abandon your cause forever at the beginning of your next turn. Sure, it was more balanced than letting you gain their loyalty permanently, but it was still sort of a letdown. The Hades expansion added Heroes you could pay for prolonged services, but the mythological underpinnings of the game cried out for epic monsters locked in titanic struggles, and, well, that’s one of the main reasons I prefer Kemet.
The good news is that C3K lets you add all seven of Kemet’s creatures to Cyclades’ ever-shifting menagerie of mythological cards, and they stick around like regular troops. And so long as you can pay for their special attack (which only costs one coin; so if you can’t afford it, you’re probably losing anyway), which is pretty much the same as gaining the favor of Ares and moving your army normally, only this time you have an awesome monster tagging along.
Their powers are appropriately game-upsetting. For battle bonuses, the Scorpion kills an enemy troop the instant he arrives at a fight, and the Elephant lets you plan certain wins by always rolling a three in combat. Others provide movement bonuses to catch your opponent off guard, like the Snake’s ability to cross a water space without the aid of a ship, or how the Sphinx teleports his army to another island before you make your move. The others confer even stranger options: the Mummy takes control of the enemy troops he kills, the Phoenix resurrects fallen allies back home, and a victorious Scarab can transform one conquered building into another type, propelling you closer to meeting the requirements for getting those Metropolises built. Without exception, they’re exactly the sort of thing I wanted from the creatures in Cyclades from the start.
However, there are a couple limitations to these newly crossed-over creatures. I already touched on the first, which is that you need to activate a creature’s special attack in order for its power to kick in. This means they aren’t much use in defense, only counting as a generic extra troop.
The second limitation is that these new creatures are mixed right into the original Cyclades creature deck, so it’s entirely possible to go an entire game only seeing one or two — or even none — of these fantastic additions.
Kemet Just Got a Ton Better
Since all of Kemet’s power tiles are available for purchase from the get-go, Kemet doesn’t suffer from this same problem. This means all five of Cyclades’ creatures (and a sixth if you have the Hades expansion) make the transition to Kemet much more smoothly than Kemet’s creatures do to Cyclades. It also helps that Kemet made much better use of its monsters, casting them as ultra-powerful generals that led your armies into battle and letting you tailor your fighting force to different strengths.
These new creatures are no exception. Chiron may be a pansy, but he’s a pansy that can travel with another creature, and that makes him a pansy who can turn the tide of many a battle. The Minotaur is the perfect option for anyone sick of soldier-killing cheap shots — like Raining Fire, certain Divine Intervention cards, and wound-dealing creatures — because he blocks damage unless it comes straight from a Battle Card. The Medusa has the opposite effect, dropping your opponent’s protection to zero and therefore upping the body count significantly. Polyphemus is the most straightforward, since he just increases the size of his army, but any veteran of Kemet knows that a bigger army is a huge bonus. The Cerberus (from the Hades expansion) follows the Cyclades tradition of only sticking around for a single round, but he’s affordable and makes one of your territories completely immune to attack, so he’s the perfect option for when you need to retain a particular temple until the night phase. And lastly, the Kraken lurks in the Nile itself, boosting the strength of your armies when they fight adjacent to water. And if that seems like a wimpy bonus, remember that most of the game’s temples (and the Sanctuary of All Gods) are situated right on the river.
Limitations? None. Well, you have to pay for them, which means you have to have the right pyramid level and enough prayer points, but once you’ve made your purchase, you can settle in, slaughter your foes, and harvest the ensuing victory points.
Hm, maybe my love of Kemet is bleeding through.
Is C3K Worth It?
The big question is whether C3K is worth the price, since it only comes with six tiles, seven cards, and some rules and reference sheets in a bunch of languages.
First of all, you’ll need both Cyclades and Kemet, and if you want that last Cerberus creature, you’ll need the Hades expansion for Cyclades as well. If you don’t have all that, C3K isn’t going to do much for you besides prompt a discussion with your local game store owner about why you can’t return opened products.
If you have both games, I’d say that this is a must-buy for any fan of Kemet. The Greek creatures are a welcome addition, providing new strategies and ways to customize your warmongering Egyptians. When it comes to Cyclades though… well, if you love Cyclades, this doesn’t strike me as a harmful addition, but it certainly isn’t necessary.
Ultimately, since I’m in love with Kemet, this is a great expansion for my group — it’s just a given that all the creature minis are now going to be stored in the Kemet box.
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C3K is one of the best crossover board game expansions ever made. You know what else is a great crossover? Space-Biff! and Amazon. Okay, it’s not all that amazing, but still, you can support Space-Biff! when you use this fancy link to buy C3K. Well done, stranger.