Tsukuyumi - Full Moon Down Review
At its core “Tsukuyumi – Full Moon Down” is an area-control game with several different factions. The factions do not only differ visually, but each also has a unique playing-style. The game is not just the game and some nice graphics but also comes with a fleshed-out background-universe. The following review will not repeat the rules (which you can download on BGG together with the Print&Play-Set) because I hate it when I have to wade through retold rules that are much longer than the review itself, so I will just provide you with a quick overview of the rules and then move on quickly to the review.
What already at first look differentiates it from many competitors is the modular playing-field and the cardboard-standees for the units. But more about this later.
The main goal of Tsukuyumi is to get as many victory points as possible, the interesting part is how this happens and that every faction has a different way of achieving this goal, which allows for its asymmetrical gameplay. Many points can be collected by controlling areas but also some by fulfilling missions. But one does not only play against the other gamers, one also plays against the game itself in the form of the Oni, which are alternatingly controlled by the gamers and card-effects.
The core phases of the game consist of bidding for resources, then the execution of actions. This way the gamers are constructing their individual action-sets. The last phase is more or less a clean-up which also includes executing the actions of the “neutral” Oni-faction. The game ends when the last Oni-card is drawn, this way the gamers always are aware how close to the end of the game they are and can act accordingly.
One caveat: I played the prototype of the game, so I will just judge from that point of view. If after the Kickstarter something changes that will change my opinion about some aspects of this game I will update this article accordingly.
Setup and Takedown time
First setup and takedown will take some time but once one gets familiar with the game this will stay below 10 minutes, which is similar or even better than with comparable games from e.g. FFG. There´s a lot of stuff in the box, but it can be easily distinguished by size, form and coloring. Actually most of the time for setup will be spent on deciding which faction to play and that´s not because they are hard to understand, but because they all offer interesting gaming options. All in all the setup and takedown for a game of this complexity is on the really good side. During the Kickstarter it was mentioned that the game will come with plastic bags and maybe some cardboard-inlays. If done in a good way this would help with speeding up setup and takedown.
The rules are not the shortest ones, so be prepared to invest 30-40 minutes before playing the game to read the rules. The rules are quite streamlined and use many diagrams to make reading and understanding as easy as possible. But still, with all the options and the huge background-fluff, at least one person should read the rules before the game starts to speed things up. Teaching the rules should be done with examples displayed on the board, because some mechanisms are easier tu understand visually.
Components and Production Value
No, there are no wooden or other fancy parts coming with the game. Currently everything is made from cardboard (except for the stands). But to be honest: I don´t care! The most important thing for me is whether the material increases the gaming-experience or not. And Tsukuyumi uses cardboard in a way that does exactly this. Every bit of necessary information is where I would expect it to be. Be it the stats of the units on the units or the abilities of my faction on my faction-board. The unit-standees are the size I would expect and don´t block sight beyond what is absolutely necessary and the board-tiles have the right size. The game might at first look somewhat crowded but as soon as one gets into the game one always has a clear view of what goes on on the board. Good color-coding and a good choice of colors for certain elements of the game also increase the visibility of what is important information.
In a way Tsukuyumi is quite simple. But it is also complex. The core mechanics are easy to understand and remember after the first two rounds, the same goes for the faction rules. Where the complex comes in is the interaction of those rules. It´s not so much that it gets complicated, but one has a nice range of opportunities to choose from and what works against one faction does not help against another one. One has to adapt the own tactics all the time. Some abilities even can change the board-layout. To grab an old cliché: Tsukuyumi is not that difficult to learn but it will take quite some brains to master it. But this also increases the replayability, since there is not the one sure tactic to win the game.
Interaction is the heart of the game and as such everywhere. Every move will set events in motion that most of the times will make every player reconsidering his plans. This does not mean that the game is absolutely random, but that you most of the times need to have a master-plan that can be tweaked quickly, according to the evolving situation on the board. Tsukuyumi has a very high level of interaction and there are not that many games out there that reach this level.
Deep and engaging gameplay?
Definitely! A lot of it stems from the high level of interaction but also from the huge amount of background-lore. There is no boring down-time, because all the time one thinks about how to achieve goals, how to counter the moves of other gamers or how to make other games play in a way that furthers your goals without them really realizing it. One really gets immersed in the world of Tsukuyumi and you are always on the edge how things will develop. And that´s up to the last minute. During my test-games I never experienced that a player mentally gave up, all players tried until the end to get as much victory points as possible. That´s what I really like about this game, even until the end there is a valid chance to win the game if you did your best. And even if you don´t become king of the hill you are really happy with what you achieved during the game.
Very high! The games is very modular in its design which allows for modules to be replaced by others. The main modules are of course the factions and already during the Kickstarter new factions in an expansion box are offered. Having played with/against units from the first expansion I can assure you that they easily fit in with the core factions. Further new factions inspired by the suggestions of backers and testers, a 2-player-mode and a campaign-mode have already been announced.
No matter how many players, the game plays very well with 3-6 players. It remains to be seen how the promised 2-player-mode turns out. One thing that is not so perfect is the fact that it says 3-6 players but the core game comes only with 5 factions, i.e. one has to buy the expansion to play with 6 players.
Thanks to the modular playing field, the many factions and the many opportunities to act each faction has replayability is quite high. It will take several games just to fathom the potential of all factions in the core box and even more to explore all possible interactions between the factions. Add to this the diverse missions one can fulfill in addition to the main-goal of a faction and you have hours upon hours of gaming before you. It becomes clear quite early into the game that Felix, the designer of the game, has his roots in the RPG-scene, since the game in many ways plays like a RPG. It is story-driven and gives you some basic tools, but most of the adventure is up to you and your decisions.
What I really hate is when a game dangles the carrot of many options in front of me but in the end I am forced to go down a certain road to win the game. Now, does Tsukuyumi play me or do I play it?
Thankfully the game offers a lot of options and never do you get the feeling that you are forced in any way to do something you do not want simply to win the game. Some decisions may not turn out as wanted, but never due to the game design, but because an opponent countered your move or the game developed in a different direction than you expected.
As with many other complex games Tsukuyumi lends itself quite well to analysis-paralysis. If you really want to you can stall the game by calculating every option. But, on the other hand, the game is designed in a way that lends itself quite well to playing it fluidly. During our test-games there was always a gentle but not oppressive air to think your next moves through during your own down-time. And the game lends itself quite well to this, since most of the needed information is always visible to you. Sure, situations might change, but if you get used to having a master-plan that is adaptable to changing details there is not much need for analysis-paralysis
One more game
To be honest, Tsukuyumi is a long game that will take a whole evening, so immediately after a game of Tsukuyumi you will probably not play another game, but invite me to another game of Tsukuyumi in the following days and chances are very high that I will say yes.
For me Tsukuyumi is in many ways a dream come true. I can do most things I do want to do and still I don`t get lost at what to do. It does not drag on and on, but still is a game that takes some time to play. And even after being familiar with the game you now and then realize that there are still new ways how to counter your enemy. Just recently I realized, that I don´t need to pull al whales together to kill a dragon, I simply need to explode/throw a whale at the dragon to get rid of him.
Tsukuyumi is surprisingly smooth for a first game of this size and it shows how much playtesting went into it. I can only say: Whatever you think about it, give it a try and play it at least once.
- Last edited Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:24 pm (Total Number of Edits: 9)
- Posted Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:58 pm
Digging it, thank you for taking the time. Excited to see how the game evolves during the campaign and afterward.
Great review. I do suffer from analysis paralysis sometimes but I will have to get over that because this game is a must have for me. This is an instal-back in my opinion on Kickstarter.
Great review, particularly because you've structured it so clearly that I can easily skip to the point's that are most important to me.
Thanks a lot for your positive feedback. At first I had some doubts whether this review would be accepted, because it lacks a repetition of the rules. But now I think I am on the right track.
Btw. does anyone know how I do make my pictures larger? The markup-language of BGG gives me some headaches...