Juna remembers the day when she sneaked out of her village for the first time to go into the forest alone. She was always fascinated by the huge ancient trees, the mossy stone circles and the earthy smell when the sun warmed the forest floor. In a clearing she discovered the rotten tree stump, which had something magical about it. Little lights were dancing around and she had the urge to touch it. As her fingers stroked over the cool wood she suddenly heard a loud crackling sound. A hand grabbed her right shoulder. Scared, she turned around. "Daddy" - Juna screamed in relief.
In expectation of a huge thunderstorm Juna looked at her father - but he just said: "Let's go - we have a lot to talk about". That day Juna realised for the first time that she belonged to the tribe of the forest shamans. The tree stump was the heart of the earth - a megalith from a past tournament that the shaman tribes held once a year in spring. Such megaliths still have their magical powers years later and it is wise not to touch them.
Juna is now fourteen years old and tomorrow is her big day. For the first time she is invited to the big spring tournament when her father competes for the tribe of the forest shamans against the tribe of the water shamans ...
Preparation for the Spring Tournament
Cairn takes two players into the fantastic colorful world of shamans, who lead the tribe of water or forest shamans against each other in a duel. The shaman tribe that builds three megaliths first wins the game. That sounds quite simple, doesn't it? However, even after the first games we had to realize that behind the colorful and playfully illustrated world of Cairn is a first-class tactical game where you have to think hard.
The tournament square is quickly set up. On each side, the shamans and the point markers are placed according to the tribe (two in the village and two in the row in front of the village but not on the totem fields). Two megalithic tokens are placed on each of the two stone circle squares in the middle of the game board and on the corresponding squares at the edge. In addition, the action and transformation tiles are placed randomly on the corresponding fields at the edge.
On them with a roar?
Probably better on them with brainpower. A round in Cairn always consists of one of three possible actions and checking the transformation effect. The actions possible in the round are shown on the corresponding tiles:
- Place a shaman from the village on a white or black totem field.
- Move a shaman perpendicularly/waaghwise or *diagonally
- Skip an own or an opposing shaman.
The possible transformation effect is shown on the token. This is checked after the action. If own and opposing shamans are in the formation shown and one of the involved shamans has been moved this turn, the player may erect a megalith and gets one point.
However, this is not the only way to score a point in the game. If a player leaves the board via the opponent's village, the opponent also gets a point and may also build a megalith. If a player cannot perform any of the three actions at the beginning of his turn, he loses the game. As soon as a player has three points, he wins the game.
Meghalites are a coveted loot in Cairn, as they provide the points that are important for victory. However, they also help the players directly on the field. Megaliths are always erected on free fields and have certain effects. These effects are activated as soon as a player is placed (or moved) on a field with megaliths. This also makes chains of actions possible. Knowing which possibilities the respective meghalites have is therefore quite advantageous.
The shaman speaks
With Cairn, Matagot brings a tactical treat for two. The game is quick to set up, but not as quick to play as expected. For the balance of the game it is important that both players know what effects the megaliths on display have. Then it becomes really interesting to combine actions and effects and make life difficult for the opponent.
The game pieces are in a very good quality for a board game and invite to be colored. The tidy box also contains a mini-expansion with three additional megalites. All in all, a successful overall package that convinces with the beautiful illustration and the tactical demand.
Finally, it only remains to be clarified whether Juna's father won the first spring tournament that the little one was allowed to experience. Honestly, I don't know. Maybe it's time for you to take over the forest shaman tribe and find out for yourselves?
Cairn was kindly provided to us free of charge by Board Game Box. This has no influence on our rating.