Over the years I’ve grown fond of boardgames that give the player control over his or her actions in some way. Games like the Game of the Goose and the Game of Life turned into extended dice-rolls with a lot of fluff for me. Games like Magic: The Gathering and Catan took over quite quickly as a result.
Still, there’s something to be said for pure chance-based games. There’s always that idea that you can somehow influence luck. Keltis: Der Weg der Steine (a smaller portable variant of the similar named board game) works like this. Keltis is inherently a chance based game and deviously fast to play, yet it feels as if you are in control. Pick a stone from a closed pile and decide whether or not to use it to produce columns of numbers counting down or up. If you don’t use it, it’s discarded into a commonly accessible pile.
So while the numbers you are dealt are still completely random (and influence your chances of winning), the discard/collect mechanic provide just enough control to the player to make it feel worthwhile. The major triumph of the game is when you have to discard a stone you cannot use in any conceivable way, but the next player absolutely needs. Even though it might be luck causing these events, you feel as if it is your own doing that you have to discard.
So Keltis is quite the lucky game then, making it an excellent excuse to gobble up 10 minutes of your spare time.