In Ancient Greece, develop your city-state faster and better than your opponents!
In Khôra: Rise of an Empire, each player is the head of a blossoming city-state in Ancient Greece. Expand your Military, Culture, Economy and Politics to become the greatest and mightiest city-state!
Khôra: Rise of an Empire is played over 9 rounds. Each round consists of 7 phases. The round starts with an Event Announcement phase in which a new Event Card is revealed. After that players will receive coins in the Tax Phase based on their Tax level. Durin the Dice Phase players roll their dice (two, but you can get a third die by going up the Culture track) and use those dice to choose the actions they wish to perform this round. Each action requires a minimal die value, you can lower your citizen track to increase a die value if your dice doesn't meet the required value. In the action phase the actions are performed in order of the value of the actions. The available actions are:
- Philosophy let you gain 1 scroll token. Scroll tokens can be exchanged for various benefits during the different phases.
- Legislation lets you gain citizens. You also get to draw politics cards.
- Culture lets you receive VPs based on your Culture Track
- Trade provides you coins based on your Economy Track
- Military provides you with troops based on your Troops Track and lets you explore to gain Knowledge tokens.
- Politics lets you play politics cards from your hand (but only if you meet the Knowledge requirements and/or coin costs)
- Development lets you unlock the next Development of your City tile (but only if you meet the Knowledge requirements and/or coin costs)
After the Action phase players may advance their Economy, Culture or Military tracks during the Progress phase. Each advancement costs a certain number of coins and grants one time benefits and increases the strength of actions taken during the Action phase. During the Event Resolution phase the event effect is applied. If players have fulfilled any achievements during the round they gain the rewards during the Achievement Phase.
After 9 rounds final scores are calculated and the player with the highest score is declared the winner!
The first time I played Khôra: Rise of an Empire at two players it wasn't particularly a fun experience. While I focused on Military and my opponent had a City-state that nudged her in a different direction I was most of the time leading on the Troops track. This mixed with a lot of events rewarding the player highest up the Troops track (and hurting the player lowest on that Track) it felt like Khôra favours the players focussing on Military.
After a few more plays I can say that you can't ignore Military completely. Especially in a two player game where most of the times one player is benefiting from an event while the other is not (or even hurting by the event). I think it's important for players to know this upfront when playing Khôra and for us it wasn't. This doesn't mean you have to always focus on Military, you just have to do enough military to sometimes take the lead on the Troops track and keep the other players not advancing too far ahead of you. The events overall seem to favour the Troop/Military strategy, but I thinks this was intended by the designers. Focussing on Culture, Economy or the Politics cards can also grant you a lot of benefits and points and are all valid strategies.
As with every game that features asymmetrical player powers, in Khôra's case the City tile you get at the start of the game, balance is critical. While some games nail it, most don't. Unfortunately I get the later feeling with Khôra, some factions seem more powerful than others. We get around this most of the time by just playing two games in a row and rotating the city-tiles after the first game. But this is definitely a flaw I have with the game.
Another gripe I have with Khôra is the luck involved in getting the right politics cards. During the initial draft each player gets dealt 5 cards and if you're lucky you can get the correct cards that match you city's direction. If you're not lucky you have politics cards that are not really feasible for you. You can get more Politic Cards during the game, but with that action you draw 2 and pick 1, so chances of getting the right card using that action are also very slim. On the upside I do like the fact that you need to build your strategy around the politic cards you got.
If you're a gamer that needs theme in a game I don't think Khôra is for you. If you look at it from a mechanical point of view its just a bunch of tracks. The themes mainly comes from the illustrations but I think this could easily have been a game about farming (or space, or dinos, you get the point I think). For me this is not an issue, but it might be an issue for you.
While the art is maybe a bit beige, and I've heard players call it dull and boring I personally like it. Especially the city-tiles, politic cards and event cards are all beautifully illustrated and colourful. The production and components overall are just very good.
👍 Streamlined Euro game with some Civ building elements that can be played in under a hour (2 players)
👍 Innovative action selection system with dice
👍 Multiple viable strategies possible, build your strategy around your City tile and Politic cards.
👍 Artwork and production is beautiful and high quality
➖ City tiles seem unbalanced
➖ You need a bit of luck getting the correct Politic cards
➖ Some might find the art a bit dull
➖ Some might find the theme to abstract
Khôra: Rise of an Empire
Khôra is a streamlined medium weight euro game with civ building elements that features some innovative mechanisms and ideas. While some elements might not have been executed to perfection I really enjoyed my plays so far and it thereby deserves a spot in my collection. If you need theme this game is probably not for you. If you're like me and mostly focus on the mechanics, I think you should checkout Khôra: Rise of an Empire.
Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)
Looking for alternatives or similar games? Have a look at Tapestry