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Subject: Mina's Mini Review - IKI With 2 rss

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Milena Guberinic
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Mina's Mini Review - IKI With 2


IKI is a game I backed on Kickstarter because I loved the artwork and presentation. I didn't think I'd be blown away by the game itself, but I was wrong.



The Overview


In IKI, players attempt to survive through 4 seasons and hire the best combinations of merchants, gather the most seasonal fish, purchase the best tobacco and pouches in which to hold the tobacco, and build the most impressive structures.

The game board depicts a calendar with 4 seasons and 3 months in each season. Fires break out in May, August, and November and players have to fight these fires using the firefighting power they have gathered up to those points. The main board also has a firefighting track, a "way of life" track (which determines turn order and the distance your oyakata meeple will travel through the market), 4 row houses called nagaya, each of which contains 2 shops, each of which contain 2 spaces for merchants.

At the start of the game, players will select 1 of 4 starting merchants to place in one of the 4 merchant spaces on the outer corners of the board. Each turn, the player highest on the firefighting track will select a position on the way of life track. Each turn, a player will

A) Select a merchant to hire from those available for the current season and place this merchant, as well as a free kobun meeple from the 4 he has in his supply, in any available merchant space on the board. The 4 central spaces cost 2 mon and the remaining ones are free. The 4 central spaces are blocked out in a 2-player game.
OR
Take 4 mon

B) Move his oyakata meeples through the market according to the number of spaces depicted on the way of life track. The number of spaces moved can be modified by sandals and the Ox Cart merchant. A player may then make a deal with the shop and/or merchant in the space.

The shops include:
A) The sandal shop - spend 2 mon to buy 2 sandals
B) Rice shop - spend 3 mon to buy 2 rice
C) Fire tower - increase firefighting power by 1
D) Tobacco shop - purchase a tobacco (provides 1 or 2 firefighting power) and/or tobacco pouch (provides points depicted and these are multiplied by 2 if you have a tobacco)
E) Pawnshop - exchange a rice or sandal for 4 coins
F) Fish market - buy fish (these provide end-game points)
G) Construction site - pay 1 mon to buy 1 rice or construct a building
H) Exchange shop - exchange 6 mon for 1 koban

If a player makes a deal with a merchant that does not belong to him, that merchant will level up and come one step closer to retirement. Each time a player makes a full circle around the market, all of his merchants will level up. When a merchant belonging to a player would level up past his third level, that merchant retires and goes into the player's hand.

At the end of each round, 1 mon will be added to each remaining merchant and 4 new merchants corresponding to the current season will be added. At the end of each season, players receive income from their remaining merchants and must pay 1 rice per remaining merchant. Unpaid merchants leave the game.

At the end of March, August, and November, players must fight a fire. A fire will hit a randomly drawn nagaya and spread from the outside inward. If a player has a merchant on the outer-most space on a nagaya, he must have a firefighting power equivalent or higher to that required for the month (March = 5, August = 8, and November = 11). The second outer-most space requires one less firefighting power and so on. If a player cannot fight the fire, he loses the merchant.

In the thirteenth round, the only thing players can do is move their oyakata meeple to any space on the board to visit a shop and/or make a deal with the merchant residing there.

The game ends at the end of the thirteenth round at which point points are awarded for:
A) Retired merchants and merchants on the board (1 type = 1 point, 2 types = 4 points, 3 types = 9 points, 4 types = 16 points, and 5 types = 25 points)
B) Fish tokens = Points depicted on fish + set collection bonus (1 season = 3 points, 2 seasons = 6 points, 3 seasons = 10 points, 4 seasons = 15 points)
C) Tobacco pouches - worth points depicted. Points are multiplied by 2 if a player has at least one tobacco
D) Construction cards - worth points depicted
E) Resources



The Review



1. The artwork is gorgeous and evocative of the time, place, and theme
When I'm playing IKI, the artwork helps to pull me into the world of Edo Japan. I appreciate that.

2. Clever and thematic use of rondel mechanism
I enjoy rondel games and IKI features a very interesting rondel that is thematically well integrated. Games that feature rondels generally have a more thematic game part and and a separate, less thematic rondel part (some classic offenders include Navegador, Hamburgum, Shipyard, etc.). IKI, on the other hand, integrates the rondel into the theme of a buyer running around different market stalls very well. It is thematically appropriate that a buyer follow his general route every time he sets out to market because that's the way people generally do operate (i.e. we tend to be set in our habits).

The thematic integration of the rondel into the game also contributes to making IKI an immersive and engaging experience. Typically, rondel games leave me feeling like I'm managing my spinny circle on one side and managing the rest of the game on the other. IKI's rondel never once left me feeling like I'm just spinning around a circle. It never left me questioning why things were the way they were.

Most of my favorite games feature some interesting spatial element that demands lots of planning and IKI's rondel is one of the aspects that makes it shine for me. I love the way IKI's rondel creates tense decision-making moments and tradeoffs between moving around it quickly and moving around it slowly. Moving quickly can help you level up your merchants and get them retired, but moving slowly might be necessary in order to visit all the shops you need to visit.

3. Immersive
In addition to the well-executed thematic integration of the rondel mechanism, the quality and level of decision-making featured in IKI contributes to making the game highly immersive.

IKI demands so much planning and presents players with so many options on each turn that it doesn't leave a single moment for you to sit back and just wait for your opponent to take his turn. Other players' actions will affect the options that are available to you on your turn (due to their placement of merchants, etc.), so you will want to know what is happening on the board ALL the game.

4. Strikes a perfect balance between strategy and tactics and offers players many options to gather points
IKI demands a lot of planning. It also demands responding to the available merchants for hire and the merchants that have been hired by opponent(s).

First, I'll discuss the planning/strategic aspects of the game. There are a number of routes to victory in IKI. You can collect sets of different merchants, you can use the merchants themselves to gain points, you can build buildings, you can collect fish, you can collect tobacco and tobacco pouches. You will undoubtedly pursue a number of these routes in any given game, but they are all there to be explored. Determining which routes to take in any given game may be a factor of the merchants available to hire or simply an idea you have in mind for the game.

In addition to your strategic direction for the game, IKI will force you to make all kinds of long-term plans in order to execute your strategy. You will have to plan the best way to manage your kobun meeples in order to have them available when you need them. Doing so will affect which merchants you hire (some can help level up merchants more quickly) and how quickly you move around the rondel. You will have to make long-term plans to obtain resources for building buildings if you plan to do so. It's not easy to build these high-scoring structures and doing so demands a long-term investment. You will have to make more short-term plans about coordinating your visits to the best shops and merchants.

While it demands much planning, IKI is also a tactical game about responding to the board situation at hand. You have to be aware of all the merchants that are available in the shops and all the merchants that are available for hire and respond accordingly. You can never be sure that the merchant you want will ever become available, so you have to make the most of the ones that are available.

5. Simple rules, deep and brain-bending gameplay
The rules for IKI are quite simple. Complexity arises from the game itself and that's something I love to see in games! I play many games. I need to remember many rules. A game with simple, intuitive rules that is also challenging and deep is like the holy grail of gaming for me. IKI has all those things. It is the holy grail of gaming.

6. Accommodations made to tighten 2-player game
Interaction is a central part of IKI and the turn-order track and board are tightened to make the game more interactive than it would otherwise be when played with 2. The central shops are shut out and the infinite movement option for player order is unavailable. Additionally, at the end of each round, a player will take one card from the remaining hiring pool and place that card on an empty space on the board. The card is removed when it has been used or if it burns down in a fire. This forces players to interact and plan more than they otherwise would have to do. All these changes combine to make the board tighter (i.e. fewer spaces on which to place people) while providing players with more action options (i.e. more people's abilities are available for use).

7. Lots of variability and replayability
IKI features a high level of variability and each game feels different. Despite a relatively non-variable setup, IKI includes a high degree of variability. This variability mostly arises as a result of the fact that many of the merchant cards in each season deck remain unused (i.e. not all merchants are available in every game). Also, the order in which these become available and the spaces that are available for them on the board highly alter the progress of any single game.





soblue


1. The rules are written in Engrish
The rules were obviously neither translated nor proofread by a native English speaker. The translation is poor and the English is barely comprehensible in a number of sections. Hiring a professional translator was clearly not made a priority, which is unfortunate as it does not make for a good first impression. Fortunately, the rules themselves are relatively simple and intuitive, which means that the game is playable.

2. It's probably even better with more than 2 players!
I would love to try IKI with more than 2 players because it is a very interactive game that features a lot of potential synergy between players. When one player uses another player's merchant, the used merchant can level up, which brings him closer to retirement, benefiting his owner. Hiring merchants that are attractive not only to you, but also to other players and placing them in attractive locations on the board is a key part of the game. Some of that is inevitably lost when only 2 players are playing. I don't think the game suffers terribly for this because the board is tightened and players can't hire ALL merchants they would like to use; they have to rely on the opponent's merchants as well. However, the increase in interaction and leveling-up would undoubtedly make IKI even more fun with more than 2 players. The turn order options and building options expand with more players as well, increasing the potential options. I'm still happy to play the game with 2 and it's probably even more difficult at this count due to the extra effort needed to level up your merchants, but I still feel like it holds even more potential for fun at a higher player count!

3. Players are forced to prepare for a period punishing event
I don't really mind punishing events in games when they are not too punishing or when it isn't too difficult to prepare for them. The fires in IKI fit in this category, so I don't mind them, but I bring this up because some players don't enjoy being forced to do something in order to prevent a punishment while trying to execute their strategies. While preparing for the fires is not horrendously challenging because fire fighting power can be acquired in a number of ways, some of which bring additional benefits (i.e. pipes, which double tobacco pouch points, merchants, and the fire fighting shop), it is still a task that players probably shouldn't ignore. Gambling with your merchants is typically not a good idea, but placing your workers strategically can reduce the amount of fire fighting power you actually need. Also, gambling with your merchants can be a good idea if you'd like to get rid of one in order to free one of your kobun meeples.

Some people may not enjoy the seeming randomness of the fires, but I find it fun! If you gamble and lose, it was your fault for gambling. Preparing for the fire and strategically placing your merchants was an option you didn't take. And it's really not that difficult to get some firefighting power.

Final Word


When I first backed IKI on Kickstarter, I didn't know much about it. I admit, I was sucked in mostly by the gorgeous artwork and the promise of a pretty, Japan-themed game, which was lacking in my collection (I know shake...this was, indeed, a legitimate category of game I was seeking). My craziness aside, I wasn't expecting a lot from the gameplay. It seemed relatively simple and straightforward. It seemed ok...blush

IKI is not ok. It is elegant, brilliant, challenging, and gorgeous. It is a game that combines a unique, thematic rondel with set collection and envelops these with a streamlined ruleset that belies the depth and thinkiness of the gameplay. IKI is a deceiving game. It is a surprising game. It is much, much more than the sum of its parts and will enchant you and keep you coming back for more. At least I hope it will because I have been throughly bewitched by its many charms.


MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart heart heart ALL LOVE ALL THE TIME (BEST KICKSTARTER GAME EVER!)










***



Mina's Love Meter


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To see my other reviews, visit this geeklist.
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Jeffrey Nolin
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Nice review. However, concerning end scoring, you said: A) Retired merchants...., while the rules clearly state: ..in your hand (on the board and in retirement). Under 2-player, you call it 'infinite' movement, where the (so called) poorly written rulebook makes it finite, but variable "may move any squares (1 thru 4) in the moving action."
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Ben M
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I desperately want this game. Wish I had seen the kickstarter!
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Andrzej Kaczor
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The game is good, even very good Easy to learn, not much rules, cool graphics (but you need to like such artwork) and quick gameplay.

But it does not work on 2 !!! we played once, and it was ... well, medium. Then we played with 3 and it was a blast !!

I highly recommend playing with at least 3
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Milena Guberinic
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longagoigo wrote:
Nice review. However, concerning end scoring, you said: A) Retired merchants...., while the rules clearly state: ..in your hand (on the board and in retirement). Under 2-player, you call it 'infinite' movement, where the (so called) poorly written rulebook makes it finite, but variable "may move any squares (1 thru 4) in the moving action."


Thanks!
 
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Milena Guberinic
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Bendelker wrote:
I desperately want this game. Wish I had seen the kickstarter!


I hope it comes to retail!
 
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Milena Guberinic
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AkitaInu wrote:
The game is good, even very good Easy to learn, not much rules, cool graphics (but you need to like such artwork) and quick gameplay.

But it does not work on 2 !!! we played once, and it was ... well, medium. Then we played with 3 and it was a blast !!

I highly recommend playing with at least 3


Hi Andy!

Thanks for the comment. I disagree. We enjoy it very much with 2 players, but I can definitely see how it would be even better with more.
 
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Steph Hodge
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milenaguberinic wrote:
Bendelker wrote:
I desperately want this game. Wish I had seen the kickstarter!


I hope it comes to retail!


I saw it listed on funagain
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Milena Guberinic
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punkin312 wrote:
milenaguberinic wrote:
Bendelker wrote:
I desperately want this game. Wish I had seen the kickstarter!


I hope it comes to retail!


I saw it listed on funagain


There you go! YAY! Thanks Steph!
 
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Steve Carey
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punkin312 wrote:
milenaguberinic wrote:
Bendelker wrote:
I desperately want this game. Wish I had seen the kickstarter!


I hope it comes to retail!


I saw it listed on funagain


It's been listed there for a while, but it always shows out-of-stock.
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Kin
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I had kickstarted it and introduced it to my group and it was very well received. As a result, one guy ordered a copy from The BGG marketplace and is having it shipped from Germany to Canada.

I highly recommend this game. Get a copy however you can.

As for player count, I have played both 3 and 4 player. And 4 player was better. Haven't tried it a 2 player game yet.
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Milena Guberinic
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candoo wrote:
I had kickstarted it and introduced it to my group and it was very well received. As a result, one guy ordered a copy from The BGG marketplace and is having it shipped from Germany to Canada.

I highly recommend this game. Get a copy however you can.

As for player count, I have played both 3 and 4 player. And 4 player was better. Haven't tried it a 2 player game yet.


Thanks for the comment, Dvonn! I can definitely see IKI getting even better at higher player counts and I hope I get to play it that way one day. Luckily, we very much enjoy it with just the two of us as well.
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Andrzej Kaczor
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milenaguberinic wrote:
AkitaInu wrote:
The game is good, even very good Easy to learn, not much rules, cool graphics (but you need to like such artwork) and quick gameplay.

But it does not work on 2 !!! we played once, and it was ... well, medium. Then we played with 3 and it was a blast !!

I highly recommend playing with at least 3


Hi Andy!

Thanks for the comment. I disagree. We enjoy it very much with 2 players, but I can definitely see how it would be even better with more.


Milena Well I used wrong word. It works of course on 2 but plays much better with more - that would be the correct wording

And I can see really a difference between 2 people playing and more in gameplay. As I love 2 player games I would choose rather almost any other game in my collection that this

But this is really good game with great graphics
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Definitely good fun better with 3 or 4 but because of the limited number of spaces it is impossible not to mess up each other's plans. Played one game where the same player seemed to get shafted every turn - as long as your group don't mind messing with each other a great addition to anyone's collection. Also, great art.
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Milena Guberinic
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AkitaInu wrote:


Milena Well I used wrong word. It works of course on 2 but plays much better with more - that would be the correct wording

And I can see really a difference between 2 people playing and more in gameplay. As I love 2 player games I would choose rather almost any other game in my collection that this

But this is really good game with great graphics


Thanks for clarifying! I still love the game with just 2 people. I can definitely see how it would be better with more, but I'm happy playing with just 2. And I agree 100% about the graphics! AWESOME! We need more games that look like this!
 
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Milena Guberinic
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Nagoya wrote:
Definitely good fun better with 3 or 4 but because of the limited number of spaces it is impossible not to mess up each other's plans. Played one game where the same player seemed to get shafted every turn - as long as your group don't mind messing with each other a great addition to anyone's collection. Also, great art.


Thanks for the comment! We find there to be sufficient competition with just 2 players because the center spaces are blocked off and because some spaces are always more desirable for building at certain points in the game (i.e. the firefighting shop early in the game).

 
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Ben M
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I found a dinged and dented copy at Funagain! But by the time I entered in my payment information and pressed "Place order," it had already been sold.
 
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Milena Guberinic
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Bendelker wrote:
I found a dinged and dented copy at Funagain! But by the time I entered in my payment information and pressed "Place order," it had already been sold.


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
 
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Andrzej Kaczor
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If you want to buy IKI in Poland we have two stores which have them in the stock. Planszomania and planszostrefa Planszostrefa.pl should be sending abroad for sure, if it's about planszomania I am not sure.

I have 10% discount in planszostrefa if someone would like to use it

Cheers
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I ordered from this guy:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekmarket/product/870715

And got the game within two weeks and it had all the kickstarter stretch goals. It cam down to about 69 Euro (about $76) with shipping.

Great game!
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George Triantafyllidis
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Thank you so much for this comprehensive review.I backed the game in KS for the same reasons and I am glad I did.This game is superb.
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Ben M
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I took people's advice and purchased the game off the Geek Market. Had my first playthrough tonight at a 3p count, and I thought it was absolutely amazing. Thanks for the heads up about it with this review. It is instantly a top 5 game for me. Can't wait to play this game over and over again!!
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Jacob Lee
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Well, this is a first. A game I never heard of appears, I read one review and want it really badly . . . and it's already in stock where I buy games?! That's how I like it except maybe not so good for the impulse shopper in me. Thanks for your review! I think your five heart rating might have sealed the deal for me.
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Ben M
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Get it before it's gone!
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Ben M
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It was the same for me. So glad I tracked down a copy.
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