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Tsukuyumi: Full Moon Down» Forums » Reviews

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*This review is based solely off of the print and play material. There are only 3 factions available to me (of the 5 in the base game, or 8+ with the expansion), limited tiles, and cards may change.*

Tsukuyumi is not quite the game I expected going in. I assumed it would be a game in the style of Risk... a world domination game where you'd constantly battle your oppoenent's forces, systematically wiping them out as you balancing aggression with defense and try to hold the most strategically beneficial positions. But while Tsukuyumi does share a lot of those mechanics (most notably the stategic positioning), at its core it is a very different game. Tsukuyumi is, above all else, a game about prioritization.

Prioritizing is at the heart of every decision in Tsukuyumi. Continuing my comparisons with Risk (for explanation purposes, since it is an area control game most are familiar with), in both games you prioritize where to deploy your troops and where to attack, but in Risk you are then free to attack to your heart's content. In Tsukuyumi, you are limited to the number of attacks you make per turn, and must even decide whether getting an extra attack or two is more important than an extra move action, event card use, or recruitment of extra units. On top of that, you must then decide whether it's more important to use your attacks to conquer an area (which nets you victory points at the end of the game) or to deal damage to your opponents' units. Do you charge in to your opponent's area and use a battle action to kill their units so you can use another battle action to claim the area, or do you skirt around to undefended areas so you can capture two areas this turn instead of one?
Do you keep your units in one big squad, allowing them to capture specific target areas but leaving them vulnerable to big attacks, or do you spread them out, leaving individuals vulnerable but giving you more reach? Do you raise your initiative so you can attack early in the round, crippling your enemies before they can strike, or do you lower your initiative so you can go last in a round so you're the one that captures the center of the moon for that extra victory point? From start to finish, Tsukuyumi is FILLED with these kind of interesting decisions.

One of the biggest draws of Tsukuyumi is the asymmetric gameplay. Each faction has vastly different units, rules, and attack cards. I can only speak for the three factions available in the print and play (Kampfgruppe 03, Dark Seed, and the Nomads), but they all felt remarkably unique and powerful in their own ways. The Nomads had a relatively small force, but they were cheap to replace, moved quickly, and were very powerful attackers. This allowed them to stage precise strikes, clearing out specific target areas before retreating back to safety. Dark Seed had a massive army with insane growth and reach, allowing them to cover the entire board at times, and then conquering any and all undefended areas. Kampfgruppe 03 only ever has 5 units available, two of which are gigantic, while the other three are powerful support units. Because of KG3's insane burst damage, enemy units risked being wiped out if they ever formed too large a group. In addition to a unique gameplay style, each faction brings with it 2 missions... one personal mission (that is typically very difficult to accomplish) and one mission that everyone is allowed to complete. This means that not only will you change your strategies based on what your faction can do, and not only will your stategies change based on what your opponents factions can do, but your overall strategy will also change based on which quests are in play. Throw in different map layouts and each game you play should be a very unique experience.

Though I love asymmetric games, I was worried before playing Tsukuyumi since asymmetric games are fun but inherently hard to balance. Again I can only speak to the three print and play factions, but I am incredibly surprised at how even things were at the end of all the games I have played. The game's creators claim it has been playtested hundreds upon hundreds of times, and it shows. Each game I played was decided by a margin of only 1 or 2 victory points, and all the players were in the runnings till the end. I believe this has a lot to do with the restrictions placed on players. The Dark Seed may have a huge army with a unit on every space, but since their attacks per turn are limited, they can't freely conquer everything. Likewise, Kampfgruppe 03 can wipe out opponent's units extremely effectively, but there's very little incentive to do that since they get no victory points from it. Each faction may have powerful strengths, but they're kept in check by the systems of the game.

I won't touch much on the art or the lore of the game, as you can check it out for yourselves and make up your own mind on it, but personally I think it's fantastic. Each faction is really unique and cool, and their gameplay tweaks mesh with that fantastically.

While I have a lot of praise for the game, I can't claim it's a game for everybody. If you're going into it expecting a more combat driven game (as I did), you may be disappointed at the restrictions placed on the players and the focus on strategic prioritization rather than simply killing all your enemies. You won't get the same snowball feeling the winning player does in Risk where you're an unstoppable force of destruction; Rather, every player has a shot at winning up until the very end (which you may or may not prefer). You also rarely get the satisfied feeling of accomplishing everything you want to in a turn (though when you do manage to pull off a great turn, it is highly satisfying).

Another weakness I'll note is that it seems very easy to pick on a specific player. Since there's so much prioritization, if a player decides that instead of trying to win they're going to try to prevent another player from winning, there's little that can be done to stop it.
Similarly, it's also really easy for two players to team up against another if they so choose. If you have a good gaming group, this is really a non-issue, but it's worth noting for those with more volitile gaming groups.

So in summary, if you like asymmetric games, strategic area control games, and games with an emphasis on prioritization, Tsukuyumi may be the game for you. I've had a blast with it so far, and can't wait to try it out with the other factions.
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Brendan McGovern
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Always appreciate more reviews.

The fact that the game is “less” focused on combat is what draws me to it. I love area control/war games, but my wife hates combat driven games. I believe this game will bridge that gap. And if the English play through video accurate/similar to your own experience, I have no doubt this will become a fast favorite.

Thanks
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Andre Fricke
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Thanks for the review! I had the same feeling when we recorded the playthrough. It was my first game with the current set of rules and I was really surprised how balanced it felt in the end, even though I didn't start off too well. I'm really looking forward to playing the other factions, even though I'll keep burning for the Cyber Samurai ^^
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André Winter
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Actually the picking of players goes all-round as soon as someone really starts with it. Cuase if you don´t do it chances are that someone might get a lead that is hard to counter if it is not attended for some time. So, it is in the ineterest of all players to keep the balance most of the time.
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Marcela H.
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brenmcgovern wrote:
Always appreciate more reviews.

The fact that the game is “less” focused on combat is what draws me to it. I love area control/war games, but my wife hates combat driven games. I believe this game will bridge that gap. And if the English play through video accurate/similar to your own experience, I have no doubt this will become a fast favorite.

Thanks


I just received an early draft for the two player version from, which now commences the playtesting phase. From what I see I have good news for you!

Because I myself am not an area control game aficionada either. Initially, I had a hard time with the game, because I kept having these urges of building an engine. But this is my gateway game into the field of area control exactly because it's not solely about bashing in each others head and that's it (though there's plenty of that aswell), this game is about beeing clever, about beeing flexible, about reacting to the ever-changing situation. It makes me leave behind my normal gaming pattern and it opened me up to a new play style.

I think if you approach this game from the narrative direction and first let your wife understand the struggles each faction is fighting, she will become more sympathetic to the idea of leading a group to their victory.

And that's anyway a way more fitting approach for this game, because if you'd describe this as a simple area control game, you'd be undervalueing it's rich back story and the innovation in it's mechanics (particularly the beauty of the element that the attacked party determines the costs for an attack). This game rewards flexibility, tactical velocity, planning and sneakiness. And depending on the faction, so much more.

I can see fan groups of certain factions in the future the way people are either Rebels fans or Imperium fans, because it's so easy to find one faction that perfectly suits you individually. I think you will have fun gaming nights with your wife once the initial hurdle of getting through the first game is overcome. Because the game is so minimalistic and intuitive in it's gameplay that you can easily focus on the immediate challenges.
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Duo Maxwell
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Nice Review. I wonder if there is a way to incentivize attacking someone else. Most area control games including Cosmic Encounter have some bit of ganging up on the leader (leader bashing). The game Adrenaline give you less points for killing someone you already killed so it incentivizes you to go after someone else.
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Duo Maxwell
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SoopaSte123 wrote:

One of the biggest draws of Tsukuyumi is the asymmetric gameplay. Each faction has vastly different units, rules, and attack cards. I can only speak for the three factions available in the print and play (Kampfgruppe 03, Dark Seed, and the Nomads), but they all felt remarkably unique and powerful in their own ways.

I won't touch much on the art or the lore of the game, as you can check it out for yourselves and make up your own mind on it, but personally I think it's fantastic. Each faction is really unique and cool, and their gameplay tweaks mesh with that fantastically.


So in summary, if you like asymmetric games, strategic area control games, and games with an emphasis on prioritization, Tsukuyumi may be the game for you. I've had a blast with it so far, and can't wait to try it out with the other factions.


Yeah, this game is definitely for me. As someone who loves....adores balanced asymmetrical games like

Chaos in the Old World
Cthulhu Wars
Cosmic Encounter
Forbidden Stars

I am eager to get this one.
Even though, I pledged for Lords of Hellas and Heroes of Land, Air and Sea....I am more excited for Tsukuyumi: Full Moon Down.
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