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Okko: Era of the Asagiri» Forums » Reviews

Subject: THE Skirmish Miniatures Boardgame rss

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Walter Owzarski
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Okko: Era of the Asagiri, by Asmodee Games, achieves what it sets out to do: create a versatile skirmish "miniatures" game without the bulk and cost of its peers. It becomes a game that is both fast-paced, but intricate in its manouvering and rythym.

Theme: The game draws heavily from an Anime-inspired view of Japanese Samurai fighting the Oni (Demons) in the early ages of Gunpowder. One side takes the Samurai (Demon Hunters) and the other the Oni (also comprised of Oni-sympathetic Evil-doers).

Components: Every piece, from the custom dice (Inspiration Dice), to the characters, their cards, and the tiles for the play area are all high-quality stock. They even have quick-reference cards and enough dice for each player to have his own.

The board tiles are double-sided and thick, with semi-gloss texture and clear indicators of terrain effects. The cards (character stat-cards, a-la Warmachine, and items) are neatly organized and clearly written, with symbols and text clearly legible. The artwork fits well and is suitably colourful and themed. There is also a scenario booklet and detailed rulebook, both clearly stated and well organized.

One of the more "polished" games I've seen in a while.

Gameplay: Each player chooses a "faction" (Samurai/Oni/Neutrals!) and chooses a point value at which to play (represented by coins on the cards). Neutral characters can be hired by either side and most items (represented by cards) can be employed by the relevant side, keeping in mind the agreed-upon limit. The map is constructed by placing the tiles in a 2x2 square. A D6 (six-sided die) is then rolled by each player, with the high roller getting to deploy first, choosing their side and placing their characters in the first row of squares along their edge. The second player takes the opposed side and play begins with the first player.

They roll their "inspiration" dice to determine what abilities they can use, then their characters get to activate, one at a time, until all have done so (movement and attack/ability). Unused inspiration dice can be retained, one per character card, and they remain there until used, re-rolled in a later phase, or the card is turned over. Inspiration dice can also be used to increase any skill by 1, such that both movement and attack could be boosted for one turn, with defense being in reserve for the opponents turn.

Character cards have two sides, a "Vigilant" side and a "Shaken" side. the Vigilant side is your characters starting stats and abilities representing full capabilities. The shaken side has reduced stats and abilities and anything that would "shake" a shaken character kills them. A character can, on their turn, make a moral check (rolling under their moral stat) to become "ready" (refreshed to their original card-facing). This does use up an action, leaving them with movement and reserved dice.

Terrain factors heavily into the game, with rough terrain costing more movement points (your Move stat), and walls forming natural chokepoints for your enemy. As with Space Hulk, turning and sidestepping are present, as is backwards movement, the latter two taking more points to do, but help you maintain zones of control. Enemies moving into a zone of control must stop immediately, and if they start in a ZoC, they cannot move, or they become shaken, and shaken enemies can only turn in-place (without becoming shaken again).

Combat: Battle is resolved by tallying up bonuses from control zones(each character has a zone of control, yielding a +1 to both defense and attack for each ally that also has the target in theirs) flank attacks (if all movement that turn was out of the enemys front arc, +1), relevant abilities (such as Perfect Cut, which yeilds +1 and removes any dice the target had in reserve), and Stats (Attack, Defense, Movement, and Morale) before rolling a D6 and totals. Attack Vs. Defense, winning characters can be either defender or attacker with the difference of 1-2 making the loser retreat to one of his hind squares, 3-4 shakes him and forces retreat, and 5-6+ killing him outright.

Retreat into "rough" terrain, or no possible retreat also shakes the character, making a 3-4 into rough terrain a kill. With careful planning, you can "herd" characters or lure them into such traps.

Closing: Though the game can feel random, it still rewards the player who carefully and wisely manouevers his men before attacking, dividing the enemy and killing them off one at a time. Yes, there will be times when, even with a significant bonus, you can be beaten back, and you might not get all the "inspiration" dice to roll perfectly, but when it is all said and done, you can reduce the risks significantly.

First, choose characters who represent all the symbols on the dice, such that no die is ever "wasted". Also, you can take a character who has the "civilian" tag to add one inspiration die to your pool (only one civy per team) to increase your chances of getting what you need. There are also items, and the terrain itself to consider, making the game almost chess-like in it's plays, with threatened squares and choke-points.

For me, the mark of a good strategy game is that it still has an element of randomness, but that a good general can, through careful planning and a quick wit, lessen the effect of any twist of fate or unforseen circumstance, achieving a result that rewards his efforts with the predicted outcome or memorable defeat.

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Universal Head
Australia
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Humungojunk wrote:
Okko: Era of the Asagiri, by Asmodee Games, achieves what it sets out to do: create a versatile skirmish "miniatures" game without the bulk and cost of it's peers. It becomes a game that is both fast-paced, but intricate in it's manouvering and rythym.


Nice little review. Excuse me for being an obsessive grammar Nazi, but there's no possessive apostophe in "its". Drives me nuts!
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Walter Owzarski
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Fair enough. Was early and I love contractions. Thank you for the feedback.
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Wired Earp
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whistle What's an 'apostophe'?
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Universal Head
Australia
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Professional creative visual communication: www.universalhead.com
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Game summaries and reference sheets: www.headlesshollow.com
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Ah. Whoops. Wipe that egg off my face will you?
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Michael Matecha
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HA!!!

Nice review and enjoyable misgrammerizations.
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