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Kombo Klash!

This is a game that initially confounded our expectations. Errant Ks notwithstanding, we were expecting from the title that Kombo Klash! was going to be a combat game: a clash between opposing forces. We were wrong. Tho' Jake Parker's anthropomorphised animals look belligerent, Kombo Klash! is actually a tile-laying, hand management game with a memory/Pelmanism element.

Designed by 'Nero' Ondrej Sova, and originally published by Loris Games as Kombo Afrika, Kombo Klash! is played with tiles, each of which shows one of eight critters. The 2–4 players each start out with a hand of five tiles and, on your turn, you can play any number of tiles from your hand to the 5 x 5 grid, which is seeded at the start with a creature tile in the four corners. A tile can be played anywhere provided it is orthogonally adjacent to a tile already on the board. Each of the animals on the tiles has its own special ability that you can optionally action or choose to ignore at the time you place the tile. These special abilities vary from immediate point scoring to tile and hand manipulation.

If you create an orthogonally adjacent group of three or more identical tiles, you can score them as a 'kombo', taking the total score value on the top right-hand corner of the tiles. When you score a kombo, you flip those tiles face down. But there are special abilities that allow face-down tiles to be flipped up, so you'll want to remember what is where... At the end of your turn, you replenish your hand back up to five tiles, so it's usually in your interests to make use of all or most of your hand. Note tho' that this is a game where the dynamics change as the board increasingly fills. When there are no more spaces, all the face-down tiles are removed to the discard pile and if you ever get to the position where the board is full but only with face-up tiles, then you clear the entire board with the exception of the four corner squares. The game continues until the end of the round where a player has reached the points target set at the start of play, and canny players can take advantage of the board sweeping to rack up a winning score.

Hub Games have done a great job of producing this game, complete with a canvas playmat to make it easier to pick up the tiles. Just be warned that you'll probably need to iron out the creases from being folded into the compact box. If you set the point target at the recommended level for a 'standard game' (75 points), then you'll find the game is likely to run to around 20 minutes, so Kombo Klash! makes for an entertaining filler-length preferably two-player game for gamers while also functioning very well as a light family game, once family members have familiarised themselves with the various special abilities.

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