GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters at year's end: 1000!
9,270 Supporters
$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
17 Days Left

Support:

Recommend
57 
 Thumb up
 Hide
13 Posts

Okko: Era of the Asagiri» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Skirmish Game In Its Purest Form rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Aswin Agastya
Indonesia
Bekasi
Jawa Barat
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Okko: Era of the Asagiri is a 2-player skirmish game designed by Laurent Pouchain based on a French comic with the same title. It is originally published by Haazgard Editions, and the English version is published by Asmodee.



In Okko 1 player controls a band of Demon Hunters and another controls a band of Evil Creatures, each usually composed of 4-6 characters. It is played over a modular gridded map. Players can use the 10 scenarios included in the game or play the skirmish mode using random map and points system. Okko is played like traditional skirmish game: in a turn a player plays his phase, then the other player's phase, and then the game goes to the following turn with the same phase order. No funky alternating activation or partial band activation or seizing initiative to be the first player.

At the beginning of his phase, a player roll a number of inspiration dice, usually 4. These dice will be used by characters to increase their stat or activate their skills. Then the player activates all his characters, one by one. One character move and/or make an action, in any order. Then other character follow. The goal is to disable a certain amount of opponent's characters or by fulfiling the scenario victory condition.

The Good

Control zone is a simple, but game defining concept. Simply put, control zone is the 3 squares a character faces. Retreat zone, less vital but still important, is the three squares behind the character. Just like the name implies, a character controls his control zone. A character's control zone is deadly for his opponents. It stops movement. It automatically hurts any opponents that retreat into it. It traps opponents. And when multiple of your characters trap an enemy in their control zones, each of them gets support bonus when dealing with that certain enemy. No more skipping the fighters to get to the backliners!


Anyone within Okko's control zone is threatened in more than one way.

Minimum character bookkeeping. Each character has a standee to represent it on the map and a card. This card shows all of his combat stats (attack, defense, movement, and willpower), and skills. When a character is hit and shaken, the card is flipped, showing different stats and skills. This in itself coveys some story. Most characters get weakened when shaken. Okko, a particularly strong-willed character, does not have any of his stats reduced. The Oni Bushi on the other hand, gets berserk and becomes more offensive. If a shaken character is hit again, he's disabled and removed from the game. It is possible that a character gets outright disabled. Characters can easily return to their pristine, vigilant state by making a willpower test, although this is impossible when within an opponent's control zone. You really can't compose yourself when you're next to an angry demon!


These cards keep things simple and interesting at the same time; the ones with the red borders are shaken.

Using inspiration dice is a simple and wonderful way to use skills. Inspiration dice have 5 faces: fire, earth, air, water, and torii, Japanese gate, which is on 2 sides. You can spend them to boost a character's stats. Each stat is keyed to one element: fire for attack, earth for defense, air for movement, and water for willpower. Anyone with a bit of fantasy familiarity will easily understand this. An inspiration dice can also be spent to activate a character's skill. Most characters have several skills that may require various dice results, so it's a good idea to have characters with diverse inspiration dice requirements. Unused inspiraton dice can also be placed on reserve. Each character can hold 1 inspiration die, that can be used for the next turns, or even in opponent's phase. Having an earth die is handy when a character is perilous location!


These dice are truly inspiration dice; roll them and you know what to do in your phase! Most of the time, anyway.

Combat is more than just hack and slash. The most common combat result in Okko is retreat. But in Okko, retreat can be deadly. If a character retreats into water, difficult terrain, enemy control zone, or simply if all of the character's retreat zone is blocked, he is considered hit. This encourages tactical planning, trapping opponents in a web of difficult terrains, wall and control zones. Also, it creates story. You don't just hack Master Kanata away. You wound him (shaken), send him backwards towards Noburo who mercilessly slashes the old man's back (disabled!). Not honorable, but hey, we're ronins!


Yes, the picture is mirrored to better show the sequence of attack.

Combat is deadly and thematic. When two swordsmen attack each other, usually one is killed right away. Sometimes it's a stale mate. Other times one of the swordsmen will stumble back and his opponent goes in for the finishing move. Okko represents these well. If you've ever watched the better samurai movies (I highly recommend Akira Kurosawa's works), you know that if you're hit by a Japanese sword, it's not enough to merely lose a hit point!

Beautiful components in a very affordable package. Okay, so Okko doesn't come with miniatures, but it looks great. The art on character standees is good, but what really exceptional is the board. Okko has very beautiful boards, with great usability. Okko comes with 6 double sided boards. Each standard game requires 4 boards. These boards can be configured very easily and quickly for random maps, while retaining a gorgeous appearance. It takes less than a minute to make a playable map. And the art... wow! Gardens, creek, guard post, detailed interior and terrace of Japanese house; incredibly thematic. There are also additional downloadable boards, and these also have high standard. They are rendered in night time, so you can see lanterns, lampions and braziers giving limited lighting, creating a mysterious atmosphere well-suited for a clash between the forces of good and evil!


A dojo and a separated meditation pavillion, facing the beautiful garden with creek and storage shack.

Exceptionally well-designed scenarios. Well, I know that the scenarios are adapted from the comic, and I used to grow with and love European comics. Okko scenarios are intriguing. The first scenarios are common stuff, but the latter ones can get weird, in a good way. For example, there's a scenario that ends in a tsunami, wiping out any shaken characters. There's also some connected scenarios, in which how the first scenario plays will affect how the following scenarios go. All in all, the scenarios in Okko have various objectives, more so than the usual scenario books.

The world of Okko is unique and very interesting. Reading the rule book, scenario book, and playing the game makes me intrigued to the universe of Okko. If the comic is available here, I'll surely get it. There were some poetry in the books that's surprisingly well-translated. Also, scenarios have story excerpts and sometimes a page from the comic to describe the situation. Having the characters of the comic help explaining the rules and giving playing tips also further thrust me into the world.

The rule book is well-written. It needs some clarifications, but most of the time, it works well explaining the game, with adequate examples and diagram. Some of the smaller concepts may be a little confusing though, so you may want to especially pay attention to the differences between control zones, field of vision and line of sight. What blocks movement does not necessarily blocks attack.


Great rule book with decently laid out rules and awesome artworks.

In the end, Okko is a skirmish game in its purest form. Whether you make up own your band or playing a random map with your self-made war band, set up is really quick. The battle itself can range from 10 minutes to 30 minutes for experienced players, way less than what's written on the game box, which is a rarity in this business. It can be replayed again quickly. Admittedly, it's very light, but also very furious. The tactical element in the game, blocking retreat paths and mustering supports, keeps the game from being merely an approach-and-hack affair. The inspiration dice keep things simple while having characters with unique skills.

The Bad

Some mediocre components. I get the Asmodee first edition of Okko, and it was printed darker than it should have been. This is my main complaint. I have to squint to notice the creek if I'm not playing on a very bright room. Some of the design components on the rulebook, character standees, and cards are also obscured by the darkness of the printing. Characters' vigilant side, that should have been blue, is very dark blue that it's almost black. There were also some typos in the cards and a light misprint on the board (most won't realize it though, and it's not fatal gamewise). Finally, the images on the equipment cards seem like they are just picked randomly from the comic and slapped on. Now, the art itself is not bad. Some of the images were tinted yellow (probably depicting afternoon or moody scenes) or red (emergency situations or danger) and the rest are normal, colorful images. They lack consistency and resulting in an unpleasant feeling when looking at them together.

Luck can be a major factor. Inspiration dice can greatly help or hinder a player, and opposing roll means more randomness. Experienced player can reduce the amount luck involved, but it's still there. For a light and fast game like Okko, I don't mind this, but some people may.

It's very common that characters are stuck in a certain point of the board after the first clash. Sometimes there will be high mobility ninja straggling on the board edge, but most of the time they're just stuck there for the rest of the game. Players will try to maximize support and try to surround opponents. Being trapped in control zone makes it difficult to move around. It's not a major problem since battles are finished rather quick, and some scenarios don't suffer from this problem. On the other hand, this may turn the game into a pretty brainburning proccess, with players trying to maximize their advantage with support and blocking enemy retreat paths.


They aren't going anywhere except nudge a little.

Combat resolution requires a little bit of math and memorization. You first count all of your advantages (support, skill, stat enhancement, and probably back attack and equipment too), roll a die and add them all to get the final value. Remember the result. Your opponent does the same, count up, roll, and get the final value. The player who gets the bigger value wins. There are 3 different combat results depending on value difference. Usually it's not a problem when both players know the game well, but sometimes you need to check whether your opponent is counting his advantage correctly and forget your own final combat value. It also causes delayed victory celebration syndrome.

The theme may not be attractive to some people. Not merely feudal Japan, but feudal Japan in a French man vision. It may end up very wild and strange. I love it though, but I know it's not everyone's cup of tea. Also, there is nudity in the game. The Geisha standee is sort of censored from its French version, but there is a small artwork with female bare chest on the scenario book. One of the characters is pretty gory, and some may find it disturbing.

5/5
The game has flaws, but the good really outweigh the bad. For a complete explanation how do I rate games, please head to my profile page.


+ A quick and furious skirmish game, with simple, accessible rules
+ Minimum bookkeeping while retaining unique characters and skills
+ Unique scenarios
+ Affordable price for good components

- Some mediocre components
- Luck can be a major factor
- Games may end up rather static after the first approach
67 
 Thumb up
2.06
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Cookingham
United States
Poughkeepsie
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have been debating getting this game for some time. Thanks for the review.. I am tipping ever closer to picking it up!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Gee
Canada
St Catharines
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review, thank you. I've also been thinking about this one for awhile, but this is the first review that has described the mechanics and components in a way that compels me to pick it up. I like the way you used images to help explain things better, great job.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Bigney
United States
Alexandria Bay
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well reviewed. You really hit the nail on the head--the management of control zones is really what makes Okko as a game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Sautman
United States
Evans
Georgia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well written review. I agree with most of your points, but not with your final rating. I really wanted to like this game, but whenever I played it, I was a bit underwhelmed. It just never seemed to be as exciting and fun as I expected it to be. Ultimately, I ended up trading this and its expansion away for another game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christian Holmes
United States
Houston
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Eee-va?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You know, I was underwhelmed by my first play as well, but then I played a couple more games, and I started to see the VERY SUBTLE tactical possibilities come forth. Like the OP said, it is not just hack n' slash. There is the movement around the map that he talked about, but then there is also what skills to use, and what dice to save from turn to turn. You don't just use the dice you roll every turn, you save some of the ones that are good attacks and retreat until you can get into a good position where you can deal a killing blow.

Your opponent is doing the same.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aswin Agastya
Indonesia
Bekasi
Jawa Barat
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the kind replies

zautman wrote:
Well written review. I agree with most of your points, but not with your final rating. I really wanted to like this game, but whenever I played it, I was a bit underwhelmed. It just never seemed to be as exciting and fun as I expected it to be. Ultimately, I ended up trading this and its expansion away for another game.


I knew this was coming laugh There's no denying it that Okko is light, and there is not much 'content' in it.

Now there are few things I can think why Okko is boring for some people. It could be the lightness, the theme, or the luck factor. But in my opinion, the mechanic (control zone) itself is great. Name any other skirmish games, in which melee characters do more than just approach and roll dice. Not many . Most skirmish games 'prolong' their lives with more characters, more skills, and more body counts. But Okko is genuinely fun with all its limitations.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Was George Orwell an Optimist?
United States
Corvallis
Oregon
flag msg tools
The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil - George Saunders
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sevej wrote:
Name any other skirmish games, in which melee characters do more than just approach and roll dice.

Gladiator

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pouchain Laurent
France
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Your review is the best written and the more complete i've read !

(sorry for my english)


The second edition has double-side standups and the bases are smaller. It's really good for the eyes :p
I don't think the board is different. It's always dark :whistle:

The new Okko website is in the pipeline... it is amazing ! You'll find more scenarios and this summer i'll write 20 more. Of course, for some of them, you 'll need the expansions. sorry :ninja:

In France, the 6th tome of the comic-strip is in shops. It's a very good source of inspiration.

thank you Sevej,

laurent
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aswin Agastya
Indonesia
Bekasi
Jawa Barat
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Gladiator

Wow, that's certainly a game I'd play a few years back. These days I prefer something simpler (I'm not that old, though). But that's really the kind of game I used to like (and design). A call these games 'simple activity with elaborate details'.

Quote:
The second edition has double-side standups and the bases are smaller. It's really good for the eyes
I don't think the board is different. It's always dark whistle

If that's true, then my friend's 2nd edition must have been a defect surprise he likes it that way though. I'm editing the review a little bit.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Rogers
United States
Hoboken
New Jersey
flag msg tools
designer
badge
They're Young, They're in Love... They eat LARD
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review, Okko is fun and visually pleasing; especially if you collect and paint the miniatures (16 sculpts as of now).

Other recommended games in this genre are Claustophobia, Tannhauser revised, Space Hulk, Incursion, Melee/Wizard (TFT, 1977) and my personal favorite HYBRID.

Tactical boardgames are awesome!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
matasu Spirit
Germany
flag msg tools
I just looked around my favorite Online-Shops for Feudal-Asianstyle Skirmishes.
Okko was the first one of a very small amount of it.
I liked the miniatures from Hazgaard so i thought of buing this Game.
Your review put it on top of my list.
By the way does anybody know when the next miniaturerange will come?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonan Jello
United States
Newark
California
flag msg tools
badge
♪ I'll mourn over the marble steps ♬ Junkies of the world lay across the monuments ♫ I climb and blister on the mount ♪ Drunks take a piss where heroes once bled out ♪ ♫
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This weekend I pulled out my Okko collection (everything except the elusive Yakuza Hazu Akai expansion) and played two scenarios solitaire: The Imperial Messenger from the base set and Terror in the Fog, from the Era of the Karasu expansion. I was quite surprised how entertaining this game was as a light dice and skirmish affair, especially as I tried to sell everything off several times!

I agree that battles and characters can get bogged down in battle.
As well, the game does look beautiful for its affordable price tag.

Thorough, well written and insightful review, Aswin.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this fun game, Okko.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.