When you think of a strategic puzzle game, publisher Blam! might not immediately come to mind. Better known for 'push your luck' games such as Celestia, Blam! are diverging from the norm with their game Chakra.
In Luka Krleza's deceptively mild looking game, 2-4 players must align their energies to cleanse their aura, harmonise their chakras and earn points. Each Chakra must be filled with three matching coloured energies, which are randomly pulled out of a bag and placed in a pool. Players may then choose to take up to three energies of different colours to place at the top of their board, or spend an inspiration token to place the energy directly into a chakra.
But don't judge a board game by its cover! The beautiful visuals from Claire Conan hide a much more complex strategic puzzle as you must then use your inspiration tokens to move energies in specific preset directions into open spaces in your chakras track. The trick being to maximise the movements available before having to recall your tokens, and weighing up the benefit of placing energies directly into a chakra vs the cost of losing a token until that chakra is filled. In addition, you will inevitably have to work around a negative energy or two: these take up spaces in your chakras and must be guided to the bottom of the board in order to ground yourself, where the negative energies can be kept for bonus points or swapped with an energy in the bag which could be just the colour you're after to complete a chakra!
While the layout of the instructions may not be the most intuitive, the mechanics of the game are simple once grasped and encourage you to consider not only what is happening on your board but also which energies your opponents might be after. There is little in the way of direct interaction in this game other than over the choice of energies: though there are equal amounts of each colour for all players, if and when they turn up in the game will vary depending on the pull of the bag.
Chakra is a pleasant brain teaser which brings up thoughts of Mastermind (Pressman/Invicta), in that placing the right colours in the right movements will lead you to Nirvana and victory over your friends!
(Review by Claire Woodward)