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Subject: Hanamikoji - A simple game with deep decisions rss

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John Henry
United Kingdom
Wellington
West Midlands
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I've not really written reviews before, but recently got this game. This weekend when my girlfriend was over she actually requested it, which with a burgeoning game collection a game that gets recommended must have some merit, so I thought I should look into it a bit deeper.

Artwork


I personally have a soft spot for Japanese style art, and it was the artwork that immediately drew me to this game without knowing anything about the gameplay.

The geisha look stunning, with a style somewhere between traditional Japanese art and Manga. The gift cards are clear and simple, the illustrations on the action tiles are also clear and easy to understand.

On the back of some of my cards there are whit stripes where there may have been some problems with the cutting process. It's a small fault, but with the nice finish to the cards detracts very slightly, but not enough to upset me in any major way.

On the whole the artwork and quality of components for this game are very high and this is a game that I'd recommend to anyone who likes beautiful games.

Game play


But beautiful games are not ones you always want to get to the table. I have several games that I've bought for their looks but not quite got round to bringing to the table.

When I first read the rules for Hanamikoji I thought it might be a game she would enjoy, there are 7 Geisha in the centre of the table. Players will give gifts to the Geisha to try and gain their favour. If one player has the favour of 4 Geisha or has the favour of Geisha with a total of more than 11 charm points (the numbers on the Geisha) that player will win, if one player has 11 charm points and the other has 4 Geisha the player with 11 charm points will win.

So it's a game about controlling sectors in the centre, with each player playing cards on their side to gain control. My girlfriend likes this style of area control game with Omen: A Reign of War being a favourite of hers, which is why I thought this would interest her.

To start the game all of the item cards are shuffled. One item game is discarded and will not be used in the round and each player is dealt 5 cards.

The dealer will then draw a card and select one of 4 actions. There are only 4 actions available each round and the player on turn will select one each turn until each player has completed all 4 actions at which point the round will end.

The actions are:
1. Select an item card to store face down beneath the action marker. This item will be given to the relevant Geisha at the end of the round.
2. Select two item cards to discard face down beneath the action marker. These items will be discarded at the end of the round and will not be given to any Geisha.
3. Select 3 item cards from their hand and offer them face up, the other player will choose one of the item cards and give it to the the relevant Geisha. The offering player will then give the remaining two cards to the other relevant Geisha.
4. Select 4 item cards and split them into two pairs face up, the other player will choose one of the pairs and give the items to the relevant Geisha, and the offering player will give the remaining 2 items to the remaining Geisha.

Turns repeat with one player drawing a card at the start of their turn and selecting an action until both players have completed all their actions.

After all actions are complete the majorities of items at each Geisha will be decided. The player with the majority of items at a given Geisha will gain the favour of that Geisha and slide the victory marker to their side of the card to show this favour. Once this has been done the players check the victory conditions, if neither player has won then another round is started.

If on subsequent rounds a previously favoured player is tied with the other player the player retains the favour, the only way to switch the sides of the victory markers is to have the majority of item cards on that Geisha at the end of the round.

Thoughts

With 21 item cards and 4 actions this could easily be seen as a micro-game, however such a classification would mask the depth of thought and decision making in the game.

This game shines with the I-split-you-choose options of the 3rd and 4th actions. With limited information you have to assess which cards are best to offer to your opponent. Do you do this early in the round when you have a wider selection of cards, but less overall information. Or do you wait until the end of the round, when you've acquired more information about which cards are available and which Geisha you are likely to win, but risk being forced into making an offer to your opponent that is unfavourable to you.

For a game with so few cards and only 4 simple actions, the depth of thought on each turn about what is the best action to take on a given turn, and what cards you want to offer to your opponent are remarkably challenging.

Conclusion

Ok, it is a small card game, so the theme is almost non-existent, why am I splitting my items as gifts with the person who is competing for the favour of the Geisha?

But, on the flip-side without the beautiful artwork I would probably have never given the game an opportunity. This is a fantastic looking game, the cards feel like they have a light linen finish, so should be relatively resilient in their lifetime. If this had had the stark artwork of it's predecessor 21 flowers then I would have been unlikely to play it, which would have been a great shame.

Hanamikoji, is a beautiful small card game, with very simple mechanics, but simple mechanics which give rise to a deeper and richer game than you would expect.

If you like two player card games I would very strongly recommend Hanamikoji.
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Chien-Tsun Chen
Taiwan
Taipei
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Thanks for the nice review!

Quote:
why am I splitting my items as gifts with the person who is competing for the favour of the Geisha?

Japanese are very polite and would avoid direct conflict whenever possible. I think that's the philosophy behind the mechanic.
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Lars F.
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JBH1 wrote:
But beautiful games are not ones you always want to get to the table. I have several games that I've bought for their looks but not quite got round to bringing to the table.

Which ones, if I may ask?
 
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John Henry
United Kingdom
Wellington
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Florino wrote:
JBH1 wrote:
But beautiful games are not ones you always want to get to the table. I have several games that I've bought for their looks but not quite got round to bringing to the table.

Which ones, if I may ask?


Some games that need more players that I've not quite had the right environment to play like Overseers, The Black Rose, and particularly Colors of Kasane, which I really need to play again.

Tarot Storia which looks great, has nice gameplay, but is a little light.

Leaving Earth which I need to get round to learning one of these days...
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Lars F.
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JBH1 wrote:
Some games that need more players that I've not quite had the right environment to play like Overseers, The Black Rose, and particularly Colors of Kasane, which I really need to play again.

Tarot Storia which looks great, has nice gameplay, but is a little light.

Leaving Earth which I need to get round to learning one of these days...


You have a delicate taste, John. Thanks a lot for introducing me to these beautiful games, although they seem not to be available (anymore).

I think I couldn't have resisted either of those.
 
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tom tom
United States
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Missouri
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Small but important mistake. You deal 6 cards to each player, not 5.
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