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Vincent Appel
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I finally got Okko to the board today with a friend and wanted to share my impressions with others who are considering picking up this game.

Okko, Era of the Asagiri is a tactical board game for two players, using cardboard cutouts, cards and dice. The game is inspired by the comic book of the same name and allows you, for the length of a game, to lead a band of Demon Hunters or to control Evil Creatures.

http://www.okko-thegame.com

Okko was initially designed as a collectible miniatures skirmish game. Instead, the publishers decided to box up 20 characters and a modular board and turn it into a board game. They didn't do away with miniatures completely, a player can still purchase them for €23 a piece. Currently there are 6 models available.


PLAYERS: 2 (EXPANDABLE? With the characters you get in the box, it doesn't seem like it would work for more than two players. There are only 2 factions (so far) in Okko so more than two players wouldn't really work. The planned expansions may allow for more teams to participate in each skirmish, if new factions are created.)

PLAYING TIME: Roughly 30-45 minutes per skirmish, maybe shorter if your rolling poorly.

COMPONENTS
The Okko board is made up of 6 double sided maps. The map illustrations are very nice and the boards are thick and appear sturdy. The character cards and items cards look very nice too, with attractive illustrations and made of good quality material. In lieu of miniatures, Okko comes with 20 Cardboard cutouts which sit in plastic stands. Although these are also of good quality there are a couple concerns potential buyers should be made aware of:
First, if you are used to playing miniature games the 2d cardboard cutouts may be less than impressive. Even non-collectible miniature games like Tannhauser make a good use of their miniatures which adds to the realism of the game. However, these cardboard characters keep production costs of the game much lower than Tannhauser, making it a worthy trade-off for "budget" gamers.
Secondly, as anybody familiar with miniatures games will know, character facing is often an important aspect. In Okko, this is also the case. So, to illustrate character facing only one side of the cardboard cutout contains an image of the character. On the opposing side, which shows the direction the character's back is facing, the cardboard pices is black with the faction symbol indicating which team the character belongs to. The issue I have with this is that some character models look very similar in size and shape. When a character is facing away from you it is sometimes hard to determine which character you are looking at. It may have been a better idea to have an image of the characters back OR to use the plastic stand to show facing.
Finally, a couple of the characters are very small. When these characters are placed into the plastic holder the holder covers a lot of the character art.

None of these concerns are game-breaking, however, and if you NEED to have models, check your FLGS for miniatures that will work or purchase the official miniatures as they become available.

MANUAL
The Okko manual is very short, especially if you are used to more complex miniatures games like Warmachine. However, the manual sufficiently identifies the goals of the game and covers all of the information you need to play a skirmish. We didn't come across any situations where the manual was unable to help us determine what we could or couldn't do.

GAMEPLAY
DRAFTING YOUR BAND
Okko contains two primary factions: Demon Hunters and Evil Creatures. There is also a third faction of mercenaries from which both players may draw their units. As is the case with many miniatures games, players are given a budget to purchase characters and items to participate in the battle. One situation that we experienced made me realize the manual has no guidelines for determining who can buy which mercenaries. For instance, if both players planned to draft the same mercanary into their army, there are no guidelines in the manual for how to determine who gets that character. In our game we decided the second player would choose any mercanaries first, since the first player gets to deploy and act first.

MOVEMENT
Movement in Okko is handled in a way that I thought was very interesting and very effective. The basics are standard miniatures fare: Characters spend movement points to move and difficult terrain is harder to move through or over than normal terrain. The difference in Okko movement system has to do with how the movement points are spent. Each character has a CONTROL ZONE which consists of the three squares directly in front of him. Moving into any of these quares costs 1 MOVE. Moving into any other square, for instance the square directly behind you or directly to your left or right, costs 2 MOVE. Changing the direction your character is facing costs 1 MOVE per quarter rotation (so, 1 MOVE to face to your left or right, 2 MOVE to face the opposite direction you started). So if an enemy is beind you it will take 2 MOVE to actually face that enemy. In the three games we played the movement system seemed to make sense and was laid out in a logical manner.

COMBAT
Combat in Okko is done using a combination of a combat stats, die roll (1d6) and any bonuses applied. Attackers can gain bonuses by aproacing a character from behind or attacking a character while another teammate is close enough to support the attack. Characters also have certain skills that can be used to boost an attack or defensive action. Characters do not have Hit Points. Instead, they have two states they can be in while in the game: VIGILANT or SHAKEN. A successful attack can turn a VIGILANT character into a SHAKEN character (which for most characters lowers their stats). Depending on how much the loser was beaten by, they may be forced to retreat or forced to become SHAKEN and then retreat. retreated into certain squares can also cause the character to become SHAKEN, so its important to not put your characters into a place they cannot retreat from if necessary. It takes another successful attack to remove that character completely from the game. On the other hand, characters who are SHAKEN can use their actions to try to become VIGILANT again (using their WILL stat), so characters with a low defense but a high WILL stat are harder to remove from the game than they might initially seem.

An interesting thing to note about Okko is that the attacking character is not the only character that can do any damage. If the attacker rolls low enough and the defender beats their roll, the attacker suffers the same fate he was trying to force onto his target.

I enjoyed the combat mechanics of this game, although all of our games were VERY short compared to a 2-3 hour Warmachine battle.

INSPIRATION
The inspiration dice in Okko are another interesting gameplay mechanic. At the beginning of your turn you roll 4-5 dice. Each side of the dice contains images denoting elements that can be used by your team. Your dice pool is available to every player while it is your turn, and inspiration dice can be used to boost certain stats or to perform certain special ACTIONS. Once your turn is complete you can also place any remaining inspiration dice in reserve for character to use in their defense round. The inspiration dice add another stroke of luck to the game, but they also add some very good tension. Nothing sucks more than rolling 5 inspiration dice and not getting the ONE symbol you needed to wreck shop in that round.



IMPRESSIONS:

I've played a couple miniatures games before and have played many board games. I found Okko to be a fun, quick miniatures game with well thought-out mechanics and interesting characters and abilities. It's definitely a LIGHT miniature skirmish game and plays much quicker than a round of HORDES or WARMACHINE. I bought the game hoping it would fill the role of a close quarters combat game and am pleasantly surprised with how well the mechanics are put together. The game components do not suffer in quality due to the game's low cost, although many people will prefer the game with miniatures instead of using the cardboard cut-outs.

All in all a great game with a good atmosphere, cool characters with cooler character powers, and a nicely detailed game board. Recommended.
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Peter Bogdasarian
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Hi Vincent,

thanks for the review. Are there scenarios or is the primary play style built around drafting armies and fighting on random set ups?
 
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Vincent Appel
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You can play the game in skirmish mode, where each player drafts his team using a budget. If the budget is 16 zeni, the player who cause the other team to lose 12 zeni worth of resources (characters and items) wins.

The game also comes with an adventure book with a few scenarios you can play. In these games the party is usually chosen for you and you have to meet your objectives using the characters you are given. A very cool one we tried was called Little Flower. The scenario starts on the outside map. The good guys are trying to gain entrance to the building without the alarm getting set off, while the Evil Creature faction is attempting to stop them or at least set off the alarm before they get in.

Once the Demon Hunters get inside another match begins using an inside map. How well the faction handled the previous map has an effect on this map as none of the characters removed in the first battle get to participate in the second battle, and if the alarm was set off in the first phase the Evil Creatures get to move first. The Demon Hunters try to locate the kidnapped Geisha "Little Flower" while the Evil Creatures attempt to defeat them. It's a very well planned scenario and plays extremely well.

The adventure book doesn't contain a lot of scenarios, I believe there are ten of them, but they use a lot of cool mechanics and the adventure book can give you good ideas about making your own scenarios (something I plan to do and will post as they are completed). The game comes with counters that can be used to mark places or items. The secret passage and the alarm in Little Flower Act I use these tokens. They can also be used for people. In Little Flower Act II, there are 5 tokens on the board, the heroes have to search through these to find the kidnapped geisha.

-v
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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You sold me, Vincent - I've got to get a copy. I have a son who I think might find this irresistable.
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Vincent Appel
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Be sure to check out the developers website:
http://www.okko-thegame.com

They have posted a couple of the scenarios from the Adventure Book, including the Little Flower scenario I mentioned.
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Jonan Jello
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Somebody who thinks that feathers on dinosaurs would suddenly make them not-scary has never been chased by a goose.
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informative review - thank you!
I was especially concerned about those cardboard miniatures, so it was good to read your impressions.

 
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Panagiotis Zinoviadis
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Thnx for the informative review. I was going to buy the game but my gaming buddy was faster .

If only we can make a mod for the Deadlands setting
 
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Teik Chooi Oh
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vappel wrote:
A very cool one we tried was called Little Flower. The scenario starts on the outside map. The good guys are trying to gain entrance to the building without the alarm getting set off, while the Evil Creature faction is attempting to stop them or at least set off the alarm before they get in.

Once the Demon Hunters get inside another match begins using an inside map. How well the faction handled the previous map has an effect on this map as none of the characters removed in the first battle get to participate in the second battle, and if the alarm was set off in the first phase the Evil Creatures get to move first. The Demon Hunters try to locate the kidnapped Geisha "Little Flower" while the Evil Creatures attempt to defeat them. It's a very well planned scenario and plays extremely well.


ah this sounds like the plot of the 1st volume of the comic.
 
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Mark Farr
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You sold me too. I picked this up this afternoon, after reading your review in the morning. It's not as cheap here as it seems to be elsewhere (selling for almost the same price as Tannhäuser), but I'm not sorry I purchased it. Or, rather, the pain of the expenditure will eventually fade, whereas the enjoyment of having the game will remain.
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Volker Hirscher
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One question: how does this game compare to Tannhäuser regarding gameplay? I read a lot of negative things regarding Tannhäuser, but want to buy one of those games (Tannhäuser or Okko)? What would you recommend? Which game is "heavier"?
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Mark Farr
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For me, Tannhäuser is most certainly the "heavier" of the two. Okko is really very simple. What I enjoyed about it is that it's light and quick, making the simplicity a good thing. Other miniature skirmish games have had a lot more in them, yet the fun factor is the same (for me).

I still want to give Tannhäuser a fair chance though. I have not heard much praise for it (from people I know), and have not had much success with it myself, but I won't give up on it just yet. It looks too cool to be a bad game!
 
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Volker Hirscher
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Hi Mark, thanks for the reply - could you recommend another skirmish boardgame? I' looking for one, and I don't want to get into tabletop games...
 
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Mark Farr
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Hey Volker.

I'm afraid I haven't had much luck with skirmish games. My son loved Star Wars: Epic Duels, but that is out of print and very light. It is fun, and great for what it is, but I have a feeling you're after something with more substance to it.

We tried Star Wars Miniatures and The Lord of the Rings: Combat Hex Tradeable Miniatures Game, but neither of them was very exciting. My son was very fond of Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie for a while, but has gone off it. I would say that it has the same level of complexity as Okko: Era of the Asagiri, which is definitely his current favourite in this line.

I really want to like Tannhäuser for the gameplay. I love the art and the atmosphere. The figures look pretty good. The choice of equipment sounds good. The pathfindinding system appears to be interesting and innovative. Yet, when I set it all up and get started, my enthusiasm wanes. I think I need to find someone who loves the game to play it with me. That might do the trick.

I love the idea of skirmish games, and have got involved with the table top variety too (mostly The Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game), but I am afraid that they never deliver what I imagine they might. I invariably end up feeling disappointed. I hope you find something that works for you.




 
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Volker Hirscher
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Given the fact that people don't seem to like Tannhäuser a lot (including yourself ): Would you recommend Okko then? It looks quite interesting to me. Would you call Dungeon Twister a skirmish game, by the way?
 
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Mark Farr
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I'm not sure that I dislike Tannhäuser, but it's certainly not what I hoped it would be. Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations when it comes to skirmish games because they always end up feeling like I'm not really making many meaningful choices.

Okko is not bad. I would recommend it if you are prepared to accept that it is light. The first scenario, for example, admittedly intended as a learning aid, gives each player three characters. You have no ranged weapons. Both sides really just advance towards each other and take their chances with the roll of the die. Sure, the inspiration dice might give you some additional options, but it really is just rolling dice for the most part.

You could have a scenario where you surround one of your opponent's characters and, through lucky dice rolls, that character defeats all of your warriors. If that doesn't bother you, this game should work for you. I do like the look of the game, the board tiles, the cards, the lot. Even the inspiration dice are attractive.

The best praise I can give is that, of all the skirmish games I own and/or have played, Okko is the one I would keep if I had to choose just one of them. Tannhäuser looks just as good, albeit a different style, but you can explain the rules for Okko to someone in no time at all and they should be able to enjoy a game. I don't think you can get someone playing Tannhäuser without a little more effort and confusion.

I own Dungeon Twister, but haven't got around to playing it yet. From what I have read, it is not much of a skirmish game. It is often described as a brain burner, more of a puzzle than a fight, but I don't know enough to have my own opinion.

If Okko is fairly cheap where you are, I would recommend grabbing it. I really want to be wrong about Tannhäuser though! It too, looks fantastic. I live in hope that it will "click" for me at some point.
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Volker Hirscher
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I think I'm not that patient with games I don't like - I try them 2 or 3 times, if I don't find a good game in the game then, I give up and sell the game away...

So it seems Tannhäuser would not serve for me. On the other hand, if Okko is so light, it won't be for me neither. Is it all about fighting? I don't need a brainburner (and Dungeon Twister is one, indeed), but at least (as you said) I need some meaningful decisions. So, I'm afraid that skirmish game are not my type of game now... Although I like the idea of having a team of specialists that work together to achieve a certain goal, but not only regarding combat, I guess...

I would be really intested in what you think about Dungeon Twister when you tried it...
 
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Mark Farr
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I will take Dungeon Twister along to my regular Sunday meeting with another gamer and make sure that we try it. I will be sure to provide you with feedback. Okko is all about the fighting, in my opinion. There are scenarios where you need to protect/rescue someone, but it amounts to fighting, I think.

This discussion makes me want to try Tannhäuser again. I just don't want to write that game off just yet, even though I suspect that I will never like more than the look of it. Although, that game also seems to be about the fighting. I guess that's fair, when the genre is called "skirmish".

An RPG element would be great. I think I hope to find this sort of thing in my skirmish games too. Funnily enough, Arkham Horror springs to mind when you describe wanting to do more than fight. It's cooperative, of course, but the feel of having quite a bit to do, the RPG element, was quite strong. It's by no means a tactical skirmish game, but it evokes a lot of the emotion and provides the sort of enjoyment that I was hoping to get from games like Tannhäuser.


 
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Volker Hirscher
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Maybe you are right - I should not expect more than combat from a skirmish game... So, maybe I'm not looking for a skirmish game, but for a game with single figures (in contrast to squads or armies) with special abilities that act together to achieve a goal - maybe with a campaign or story mode...

And yes, I LOVE Arkham Horror. In my opinion, it is the best RPG-like boardgame I know so far, although I'm eager to try Warhammer Quest.

In general, I don't like games that only concentrate on combat - examples for such games are Runebound (basegame) or Dreamblade or Battlelore. What doesn't mean I don't like great wargames like War of the Ring or Hannibal...
 
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vappel wrote:
They didn't do away with miniatures completely, a player can still purchase them for €23 a piece. Currently there are 6 models available.


Holy crap! Why are they so expensive? Are they gold plated or something?

That's $180 US for SIX FIGURES!

Crazy talk...
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Pouchain Laurent
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Okko, first, is a comic strip.
The figures at 23euros are painted lead figures, for collection !

If you want figures to play you need to buy unpainted figures... and paint them. They are less expensive : between 8 and 12 dollars.

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Paul Bradley
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Just purchased this - and found it much more fun than Tanhausser - it is very light, but fun, easy to play and i love the artwork and setting. Regarding the minis - they are expensive, but only a bit more expensive than an equivilant Warmachine solo figure. Personally i've just purchased 2 of the demon minis, and im buying some perry mini samurai and ninjas to represent some of the other player characters to save a bit of money.
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