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Subject: Intense Shuffle/deck builder duels rss

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adam kouzmanoff
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Sakura Arms was a total lark for me at Gencon 2016. I was passing by the NECO import booth (thanks Chris) they were selling it at, and saw the neat board for it. I asked a few questions about it, but ended up buying it without a full demo.

First off, the cards/board/rules are all great quality. I was given the translation pack with my japanese copy, as all of the cards are in Japanese. There's also a spoiler contained in the game, for reasons I'll go into shortly. They were kind enough to also translate this spoiler. Additionally, if you read Japanese, there's an online spoiler on their site that shows the cards which I got to by using the QR code on the spoiler itself. Kind of redundant, but it's helpful if both players want to look over the spoiler in secret.

The setup for the game almost seems to be part of the game itself. Both players draft 2 starting characters from a set of 6. Each character has a set of 11 cards. 7 standard cards, and 4 special cards. From your cards, you build a "deck" of 7 cards and 3 special cards. You can just use one of your two characters, but the idea is that you pick a pair of characters that compliment each other, and using the spoiler, build a card set that punishes your opponent's character's weaknesses.

The duel itself is complex. During your turn, you can play most of your cards for free, and you can spend vigor (or discard cards) to move, focus energy, or collect energy. You earn a point of vigor every turn, so you'll often be doing a slight bit of energy manipulation each turn, and sometimes discarding several cards to panic and move things around when it's really important.

The energy system is the first thing that drew me to the game, and it feels really clever. The same tokens are used for the distance between the characters, the energy you use for special attacks, your life, and your "Aura," or shield. The flow of energy is such that when you move closer to your opponent, that energy token marking distance moves to your aura (and vice versa for backward movement.) You can use vigor during your turn to convert aura to mana, and when you take life damage, it turns to mana as well. These steps go to making the game feel like something like Street Fighter (or maybe more like UNIEL, seeing as moving forward builds meter too) where zoners give up aggressive versatility in favor of distance, and damage turns into a sort of resource to be spent to retaliate.

The weird part so far to me is hand and deck management. You play/discard down to 2 cards at the end of your turn, and draw 2 each turn. with a 7 card deck (your special cards don't sit in the deck,) I felt like I was running through my cards way too quickly, and your options when out of cards are to reshuffle your deck at the cost of 1 life (you can actually do this early if you lost something you really want back,) or take 1 damage each time you can't draw a card. With a starting life of 8, this seems like the games are going to be swift and brutal, and once you've gone through your deck a few times, your opponent really only needs to land one or two unshielded blows to end the fight. This might not jive well with people who don't like to customize or tweak decks (maybe more like hands, since a deck is 7 cards,) since it seems like you'll be spending about as much time picking characters and building loadouts than you will actually playing the game, but I really like the concept.

All 6 characters are good at doing different things, and invite some neat combinations. My favorite is the stance switch character, whose moves do different things depending on whether her umbrella is open or closed.

I haven't gotten into too many games of it, but so far, it's one of those games that I feel like I want another game of the very second the game finishes.
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Adam Rouse
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I don't suppose they mentioned if this would be made more widely available? I was interested before, and this review certainly makes it sound like my kind of game.
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Chris Castle
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The booth was Nippon Entertainment Content Organization (NECO).
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Marguerite Cottrell
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ukato wrote:
Sakura Arms was a total lark for me at Gencon 2016. I was passing by the NECO import booth (thanks Chris) they were selling it at, and saw the neat board for it. I asked a few questions about it, but ended up buying it without a full demo.

First off, the cards/board/rules are all great quality. I was given the translation pack with my japanese copy, as all of the cards are in Japanese. There's also a spoiler contained in the game, for reasons I'll go into shortly. They were kind enough to also translate this spoiler. Additionally, if you read Japanese, there's an online spoiler on their site that shows the cards which I got to by using the QR code on the spoiler itself. Kind of redundant, but it's helpful if both players want to look over the spoiler in secret.

The setup for the game almost seems to be part of the game itself. Both players draft 2 starting characters from a set of 6. Each character has a set of 11 cards. 7 standard cards, and 4 special cards. From your cards, you build a "deck" of 7 cards and 3 special cards. You can just use one of your two characters, but the idea is that you pick a pair of characters that compliment each other, and using the spoiler, build a card set that punishes your opponent's character's weaknesses.

The duel itself is complex. During your turn, you can play most of your cards for free, and you can spend vigor (or discard cards) to move, focus energy, or collect energy. You earn a point of vigor every turn, so you'll often be doing a slight bit of energy manipulation each turn, and sometimes discarding several cards to panic and move things around when it's really important.

The energy system is the first thing that drew me to the game, and it feels really clever. The same tokens are used for the distance between the characters, the energy you use for special attacks, your life, and your "Aura," or shield. The flow of energy is such that when you move closer to your opponent, that energy token marking distance moves to your aura (and vice versa for backward movement.) You can use vigor during your turn to convert aura to mana, and when you take life damage, it turns to mana as well. These steps go to making the game feel like something like Street Fighter (or maybe more like UNIEL, seeing as moving forward builds meter too) where zoners give up aggressive versatility in favor of distance, and damage turns into a sort of resource to be spent to retaliate.

The weird part so far to me is hand and deck management. You play/discard down to 2 cards at the end of your turn, and draw 2 each turn. with a 7 card deck (your special cards don't sit in the deck,) I felt like I was running through my cards way too quickly, and your options when out of cards are to reshuffle your deck at the cost of 1 life (you can actually do this early if you lost something you really want back,) or take 1 damage each time you can't draw a card. With a starting life of 8, this seems like the games are going to be swift and brutal, and once you've gone through your deck a few times, your opponent really only needs to land one or two unshielded blows to end the fight. This might not jive well with people who don't like to customize or tweak decks (maybe more like hands, since a deck is 7 cards,) since it seems like you'll be spending about as much time picking characters and building loadouts than you will actually playing the game, but I really like the concept.

All 6 characters are good at doing different things, and invite some neat combinations. My favorite is the stance switch character, whose moves do different things depending on whether her umbrella is open or closed.

I haven't gotten into too many games of it, but so far, it's one of those games that I feel like I want another game of the very second the game finishes.


i picked this up as well as twelve heroes from the NECO booth

A little birdy told me we'll be seeing Sakura Arms in english next year. Not to worry.

I want to try and make paste ups and sleeve the cards as i don't read japanese. the demo was fun as heck though!
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Christian K
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Uh english version, juicy news
 
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